[Casa Magazine] Beethoven the Great
By Daniel Kepl, Casa Magazine
Link to article
Conducting the first two works of the evening from memory, conductor Nir Kabaretti offered an informal mini-history lesson before last Saturday night's performance by the Santa Barbara Symphony at the Granada Theatre. Reminding this audience that Beethoven had studied composition with Haydn, Kabaretti illustrated the similarities, but also the generation gaps between the two geniuses by opening the program with Haydn's overture to the opera Armida, his last work in that genre.
Haydn's flare for musicial imagery was apparent as he canvased emotional issues that would appear later in the opera's archaic plot--an innovation in opera overtures of the period. But Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21 which followed, revealed even in this early and non-narrative work the student had surpassed his teacher, its innovative structure and orchestration bustling with vigor and imagination. The Symphony winds played with particular taste and balance throughout and while Kabaretti tended to err on the side of safe tempi, the effervescence and energy of Beethoven's restless genius made for a satisfying performance.
After intermission, the petite and precocious young violinist Caroline Goulding took on Beethoven's Concerto in D Major, Op. 61. Running nearly 40 minutes, it is his only concerto for the instrument, but has been a staple of the repertory from the get-go. Goulding played the concerto with her music in front of her Saturday night, perhaps because of the fascinating and fresh cadenzas she brought to the musical table. (Minions relate that she did not use music on Sunday afternoon's repeat performance.) Despite some balacning problems that occassionally sacrificed the delicate voice of her General Kyd Stradivarius to the larger orchestra palette, Goulding charmed with a gentle, lyrical interpretation of Beethoven's robust score.