The Power of Beethoven

Spring 2002 Concert

Tina Johns Heidrich, Conductor
Joe Jacovino, Accompanist
Connecticut Master Chorale Orchestra

Saturday May 18, 2002 - 8:00pm
St. Rose of Lima Church, Newtown, Connecticut

- Soloists - Review -

Our tribute to the great Ludwig van Beethoven opens with the rousing Hallelujah from his only oratorio Christ on the Mount of Olives (1804). This is a magnificent outpouring of praise and has been described by critics as full of life, veracity, warmth, freshness, breadth and power.

Our second selection, Mass in C (1807), has very dramatic moments and shudders with earthly excitement. It is the result of Beethoven receiving the commission to write a mass celebrating the name day of the wife of Prince Esterhazy – an annual effort previously fulfilled by Haydn until his retirement earlier that year. Beethoven’s Mass falls into the composer’s mature style. It is a very solid and appealing work of both reverence and celebration, and is widely recognized as a substantial, well-crafted composition.

Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven

Elegy (1814) is a choral part-song and was dedicated to one of Beethoven’s closest friends, Physician Johann Freiherrn von Pasqualati. It was composed in memory of the doctor’s wife who had died in childbirth. The poem, by an unknown author, (perhaps the Physician himself) drew some of Beethoven’s most tender and sweetly caressing music.

Beethoven wrote only one opera, eventually called Fidelio after the name assumed by the heroine Leonora. In the story, Leonora disguises herself as a boy and takes employment at the prison in which her husband Florestan has been unjustly incarcerated. This escape opera ends with the defeat of the evil prison governor and the rescue of Florestan - testimony to the love and constancy of his wife. The Prisoner’s Chorus resounds when the prisoners temporarily gain their freedom, after Leonore persuades the governor to let them walk in the garden. Fidelio was first staged in 1805 and mounted again in a revised performance in 1814.

Our finale is Beethoven’s grandiose Choral Fantasy (1808) for piano, soloists, chorus and orchestra. In the premier performance of this masterpiece Beethoven himself was the piano soloist, but for our concert our exceedingly talented accompanist Joseph Jacovino, Jr. will display his extraordinary gifts. An exhilarating work, Choral Fantasy comprises variations on Beethoven’s song Gegenliebe, reminiscent of the theme in the finale of his Symphony No. 9. This melody flourishes throughout with a vocal climax praising the arts.

Our selections were all composed within ten years during Beethoven’s middle period when his most powerful and expansive works firmly established him as the greatest composer of his time. It is because of this characterization our program is entitled "The Power of Beethoven".