BBC Proms Diary 2018: MusicAeterna play Beethoven

It’s best I get Prom 18’s diary entry written and done with as quickly as possible. Short and sweet. Quick and to the point.

I’m not a massive fan of Beethoven though there have been some notable exceptions (the late quartets, the Emperor Concerto and a wind ensemble arrange of the seventh symphony).

MusicAeterna brought a different perspective on symphonies 2, 5 and (a bit of) 7. Death-defying speeds, extreme dynamic contrasts, and blistering articulation. It was a fresh perspective, but it didn’t really work for me – I found it a bit ‘showy-offy’.

It was without doubt brilliantly executed – fast, exhilarating, taut. But it was a performance that left me entirely cold. It didn’t say much to me. I couldn’t connect with it.

Not everybody shared my view. It’s easy to see when there’s a different audience engaging with a performance because different voices appear in my social media feed. In that way, Sony Classical and the BBC Proms will have done a good job securing a different audience. But from my perspective it wasn’t necessarily a group that entertained the idea of conflicting views. When a Sony Classical Exec ‘liked’ one of the push-backs to my mildly critical tweets, it struck me that the evening was a big moment for the record label. Not the kind of evening for a range of views unless they unequivocally pro-MusicaAeterna.

It was a hyped night. The conversations about it made me feel detached and alienated. There was a sense that ‘if you didn’t like it, then you’re part of the problem’. I don’t consider that I am, but I know that others do. Maybe it wasn’t really intended for the likes of me anyway.

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