Symphony No. 6, the “Pastoral”

Cruising around YouTube today, I had a pleasant discovery in finding a recent reinterpretation of the Sixth Symphony, the “Pastoral,” by Ludwig van Beethoven.

“A ‘Pastoral’ for the pandemic” is shortened at 21:44 (versus anywhere from 42 to 50 minutes, depending on the conductor and orchestra). A much smaller orchestra plays the piece and is spread throughout the La Redoute building in Bonn, Germany to ensure safe, physical distancing for the conductor, Dirk Kaftan, musicians of the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn, and the production crew. The shorter arrangement is by Lars Lange.

The videography and sound are superb; a joy to watch and hear. And I agree with a video commenter who found the individual lines more evident in this version. The power of the fourth movement’s famous storm (it builds from about 14:45 then whips up suddenly at about 15:10 in the video) seems unaffected by the lower count of musicians creating the booming aural representation.

This excerpt from the notes to the YouTube video sums the project up nicely:

Speaking about this performance, Dirk Kaftan said, ‘Music is not only connected to the time in which it’s composed, but also to the time in which it’s performed.’ And indeed, this special concert is very much a direct response to, and a reflection of, the time in which it was performed.”

I enjoy the original full-length, full-orchestra version of this piece though there is also something appealing in this version’s brevity. Maybe that’s a symptom of living in a society that feeds attention deficits. At the same time, the abridging of the piece does indeed seem to reflect the needs of the time in which it was produced, to minimize potential exposures.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the video from the DW Classical Music YouTube channel:

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