'Tis the season!
Yes, dear music lover, it's that time of year again -- the time when people's hearts are filled with joy and brotherhood. I'm of course referring to...Beethoven's birthday!
As Peanuts readers will recall, December 16th is the birthday of Schroeder's favorite composer. And as veteran listeners know, WFCR broadcasts a series of Beethoven's nine symphonies every year in celebration. Usually, the performances come from a new complete set; in recent years they've featured Paavo Järvi conducting the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Bernard Haitink conducting the London Symphony Orchestra and the late Sir Charles Mackerras with both the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra. Same notes, very different music. That's why we play different performances each year.
One couldn't go wrong with any of the above sets if the Beethoven Nine were on your holiday shopping list. Of course, there are many excellent choices for a complete set, including perennial contenders such as George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic and Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic. But before you nail down your choice, give a listen to this year's set. It features Maestro Riccardo Chailly and the venerable Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig, who have been doing some of the best work around in the standard symphonic repertoire over the past few years. Rather than characterize them here -- and they do not lack for character -- I'll let you come up with your own description. The symphonies will appear during the 10:00 hour over the next nine weekday mornings, starting today with the First and culminating with the mighty Ninth on December 22nd. Happy 241st, Ludwig van!