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The Ninth

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Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth stands at the pinnacle of his tumultuous and usually politically motivated ’odd-numbered’ symphonies with their exhilarating finales. He composed it to fulfil a commission from the London Philharmonic Society, and it is telling that he greatly admired England’s system of government, the constitutional monarchy. A fervid champion of the values of the French Revolution, he later ennobled – or perhaps ’sublimated’ – his zeal into a more generalised humanistic utopia: ’All men shall be brothers!’
Recently Beethoven’s symphonies have received surprising new readings from historically informed performers. The prizewinning conductor Jordi Savall belongs to this ’school’; he takes Beethoven’s metronome marks at face value, relying on sharp changes of tempo
and dynamic contrasts. The name of his orchestra is a byword for its pan-European philosophy: Le Concert des Nations.

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