Beethoven 9

4 - 15 August 2012


MESSIAEN Prayer of Christ ascending towards his Father, from L’Ascension   
BRAHMS Geistliches Lied               
BEETHOVEN Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage       
BEETHOVEN Symphony No.9  


Richard Tognetti Artistic Director and Lead Violin
Choir of Clare College, Cambridge (Graham Ross Director)
Lucy Crowe Soprano
Fiona Campbell Mezzo Soprano
Allan Clayton Tenor
Matthew Brook Bass

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The ACO's internationally-acclaimed Beethoven symphony series reaches its climax with Symphony No.9, "Ode to Joy", featuring one of the finest British choirs and an exceptional line-up of soloists.

Critics called the ACO's recent Beethoven concert in London “the finest concert of the summer” and spoke of “thrilling playing”, “vibrant drive” and “total involvement”, concluding, “this compact chamber orchestra matches anything Europe can offer in energy, precision and interpretative rigour.”

Building to the symphony, a trio of serene yet intense works, swelling to Beethoven's depiction of a sea voyage.


The Australian

“Superlatives seem inadequate for this latest and consummate instalment of the Beethoven cycle by Richard Tognetti and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. In short, it is simply a triumph. Intoxicating and exhilarating, this is a performance for the history books."

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Cumberland Press

"Not only a thrilling performance of the Choral Symphony with a superb set of soloists, but also two companion pieces which showed off the choir's tonal beauty and faultless control ... This latest tour shows the versatile band in traditional guise, fleshed out by guest musicians and all playing period instruments, from gut strings on the fiddles and violas to the narrow bore of the trombone and more intimate tonal palette of the woodwind ... a brilliant climax to Tognetti's survey of the Beethoven series."


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Sydney Morning Herald

"The Australian Chamber Orchestra's exploration of Beethoven's symphonies has been a logical and rewarding extension of the chamber orchestra domain: logical because the Viennese classics have always been a core strength, and rewarding because the orchestra play particularly well when the fire is in their belly, and nobody puts it there like Beethoven ... The choir of Clare College, Cambridge, was warm, true and magnificent ..."

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E. Bacon - Audience feedback

"January 1960 I first heard the Beethoven 9th performed at the Festival Hall London conducted by Kemplerer with the young Joan Suttherland soaring above the orchestra and choir. Until today this had always been my benchmark for all symphony performances. Today however the ACO has set a new standard for me, particularly in the first movement. It was a powerful and emotional experience which I think came from the precision with which the music was produced and the standing ovation was thoroughly deserved. Sensational!


M. Farnan - Audience feedback

"Wonderful concert in Canberra last night. Brought out lots of the interesting complexities in the Beethoven 9. We adore the ACO here, but don't see many standing ovations, it was well deserved! (The clarinet in the Messaien probably deserved one too.)"

J & J Gray - Audience feedback

“Today’s concert was an amazing experience, just brilliant, truly beyond superlatives!!

We first ‘discovered’ the ACO when they performed at St James’ Church and the women players wore beautiful gowns in colours of the ultraviolet . We so enjoyed the orchestra’s performances then and they have gone on to even greater achievements with this year’s concerts being really fine performances."


V. Marquis - Audience feedback

“I am still ‘in the moment’ after yesterday’s stunning performance of Beethoven’s 9th and the wonderful programme, with such a marvellous choir.  Richard’s energy should be bottled." 

C. Schneider - Audience feedback

"If only that Beethoven 9 had been filmed! The adrenaline poured right out into the audience [and] the choir and soloists were magnificent.  I was pleased also to see the wonderful bass player on the cover of the program.  He is a wonderfully talented musician.  We are so lucky to have this orchestra and its leader."

"Lead as always by Richard Tognetti from his 1743 Guarneri del Gesù violin, the band of many period instruments provided a particularly thrilling interpretation...The Choir were the highlight of the symphony. They have a youthful voice and vigour of presentation which brought a brightness and newness to the familiar choral movement...An enraptured audience rewarded the orchestra, choir and soloists with a standing ovation and drew the principals back repeatedly for acclaim. It was an invigorating concert..."

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The Age

"...a triumphant performance...The Choir of Clare College is a small ensemble of just 30 voices, yet when they joined the was evident that their projection, diction and musicianship were going to make for a special Ode to Joy.  Richard Tognetti's direction - leading with his instrument and conducting - energised all his artists to deliver a jubilant performance."

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The West Australian

 "...Richard Tognetti and the good ship ACO have navigated Beethoven's Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage and tempestuous Choral Symphony not only successfully but with a passion and intelligence at once confounding and terrifying...the result of unmatched technical virtuosity and profound yet flexible musicianship...

The choir's rich yet clear sonority and firm yet delicate expressiveness made the strongest possible impression."

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"Performed on period instruments, the brass section had a wonderful raspy character, which gave it a raw energy. Coupled with some thrilling string playing, the first movement was red hot, containing an almost primeval energy, the wonderful drama of Beethoven’s writing being exploited to the full...All four soloists were outstanding. It is easy to forget that the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge is made up of students and there were only 29 of them competing against a full orchestra. Much of the last movement is consistently loud and high in the vocal range, although there were no signs whatsoever of vocal fatigue. The singers produced a full, vocally mature sound, filling the hall in an impassioned manner with Schiller’s great words of hope. The cheers at the end of the work and the standing ovation spoke for itself."

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