From John Suchet's enthusiastic introduction, to the last resounding 29 bar sequence of fortissimo c major chords that are the finale of Beethoven'sFifth Symphony, last night's audience at the Sheldonian Theatre were treated to a musical treat con brio driven by Tristan Fry's timpani, with a little light 'Fur Elise' relief between monumental fifths.
The orchestra was delightfully led by Marios Papadopoulos with little shakes and bows of the head, precision finger flicks and wide encompassing sweeps of the arms but this style was subsumed somewhat whilst playing the piano concerto. And the piano sections in the 'Emperor' also felt at times like constructed connections between the orchestral parts, perhaps underlined by the lyricism of the piano sections and the monumental bravura of some of the orchestral responses. The roiling of the adagio round the orchestra's sections throughout the piece and the dynamic range of the response of the piano led to a resounding rondo finale.
It was great to see a larger orchestra fill the Sheldonian with their chords, counter-points and tremendous crescendos of sound. I hope they were more comfortable than the sell-out audience crammed onto the somewhat warm benches. The horn section understandably made full use of the refreshments available from The White Horse during the interval to appropriately moisten the embouchure to meet the demands of the symphony and particularly the trombones who patiently waited for their glorious moment in the fourth movement.
These two iconic and internationally recognisable pieces of music were appropriate choices for this week-long celebration of the 70 years Oxford has been twinned with Bonn. But the music is now such an iconic part of world culture it transcends geographical and cultural boundaries, emphasises the common appreciation of music across nations and, if last night's performance by the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra is anything to go by, clearly demonstrates that the sum can be so much greater than the parts. Such music and the pleasure brought and shared at last night's concert should not be taken for granted but should be celebrated and applauded as enthusiastically as last night's performance. A Bonn Anniversaire indeed. Bravo!