Ludwig’s everywhere

Beethoven abounds in Boulder this week

photo by Keith Bobo

It´s a good week for Beethoven.

Friday and Saturday, the Boulder Chamber Orchestra (BCO) opens its 2011–12 season with a concert that includes the exuberant Symphony No. 7 — so rhythmically exciting that Richard Wagner called it “the apotheosis of the dance.”

And Tuesday, the CU Faculty Tuesdays series offers violinist Edward Dusinberre, familiar here as first violinist of the Takács Quartet,  and faculty pianist David Korevaar playing a program of Beethoven sonatas.

The Boulder Chamber Orchestra, since 2004 the brainchild of conductor Bahman Saless, plays every program once in Boulder and once in the Denver area (details and ticket information: Works on the first program will be Mozart’s overture to The Abduction from the Seraglio, Mendelssohn’s soaring Violin Concerto played by soloist Lindsay Deutsch, and Beethoven’s Seventh.

These days it seems that everyone gives their season a name, and the BCO is no exception: All of 2011-12 is “Road to Mastery,” and the concert of Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 is “Liberation.”

“We actually have a name for every season,” Saless says. “I want to connect all the pieces within the concert in a certain way, and then connect all the concerts under the same heading. So ‘The Road to Mastery’ is my idea of pointing out the various pillars, in this case six different pillars, of what a composer goes through to reach mastery.”

In addition to the first concert, “Liberation,” the other pillars covered by the BCO season are “Piety,” “Festivity,” “Joy,” Reverence” and, at the end, “Mastery.” And whatever you think of this recipe, Saless has a clear idea in mind.

“The first concert I call ‘Liberation,’” Saless explains, “because the Seventh Symphony is where Beethoven kind of left everything behind him. Especially in the last movement he just completely lets go, so he’s completely liberated.

“The Mozart is probably the craziest overture he ever wrote. And the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto immediately starts with the violin singing this beautiful song — there’s no introduction. So I thought that all of those are good examples of the composer being liberated and trying something completely new.”

If the BCO leaves you wanting more Beethoven, you will want to wander over to Grusin Music Hall in the CU Imig Music Building by 7:30 p.m. Tuesday for Dusinberre and Korevaar’s sonata program. Together, the two artists will play the first and second sonatas of Beethoven’s Op. 30 for violin and piano, and Korevaar will play the “Tempest” Sonata for piano, Op. 31 No. 2.

The concert is an extension of a recording project the two artists have undertaken together of Beethoven’s last two violins sonatas, the imposing “Kreutzer” Sonata and the gentler Sonata in G major, Op. 96.

The pairing of the Op. 31 No. 1 and No. 2 sonatas offers a similar contrast, but with the gentler piece first.

“Op. 30 No. 1 is a little bit like Op. 96,” Dusinberre says. “It’s extraordinary for Beethoven, a very genial, gently humorous, rather dreamy, lyrical piece. It’s just extremely intimate and beautiful.

“And the Op. 30 No. 2 in C minor is completely the opposite. It’s absolutely sort of Sturmund Drang, a very dramatic, blustery piece.”

As Dusinberre acknowledges, a comprehensive approach to programming would suggest that all three sonatas of Op. 30 would be played together.

“Admittedly we thought maybe we would do all three, but actually as a program that wouldn’t quite be satisfying,” he says.

“I’m a little bit less fond of No. 3. I don’t think it’s quite as interesting piece as the others,” Dusinberre explains. “So I think the combination of No. 1 and No. 2 is great. They couldn’t be more different from each other, so that program just seemed to make more sense to me than doing all three.

“I think the audience will greatly enjoy hearing David play the ‘Tempest’ Sonata. I think it’s going to be a more balanced, a more interesting program that way. And for me, it’s quite nice to get a little break in the middle!” The performances might look like the start of a complete Beethoven sonata cycle, but Dusinberre is cautious about raising expectations.

“We don’t have any plans [to record more Beethoven]. I think we’re gradually exploring the cycle together, we will have done five of the 10 sonatas together, and I’m sure in the next three or four years we’ll try to play the other ones. And then we’ll see where we are.”


On the Bill

The Boulder Chamber Orchestra with violinist Lindsay Deutsch performs on Friday, Sept. 30, in Boulder, and Saturday, Oct. 1, in Denver. For more information, visit Edward Dusinberre and David Korevaar play Grusin Music Hall on the CU campus on Tuesday, Oct.4. For more information, visit