Ruth Leon recommends… Beethoven Choral Fantasy for Queen’s Funeral – SlippediscSlippedisc

norman lebrecht

September 19, 2022

Ludwig van Beethoven: “Choral Fantasy” op. 80 – Seiji Ozawa, Martha Argerich

I’m not sure why, but when I was trying to think of a piece of music to play in this week of the Queen’s funeral, it wasn’t Brahms German Requiem or the Faure Requiem or even the Verdi Requiem that came to mind. It was this, the Beethoven Choral Fantasy in C minor for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra.

Perhaps it is the sight of this legendary Japanese conductor, Seiji Ozawa, now 87, being helped to the stage by the equally legendary Argentinian pianist Martha Argerich, now 81, that I find so touching and appropriate for this week’s memorials for a 96-year old Queen.

They look happy but elderly as they greet the young members of the orchestra at the Saito Kinen Festival in Matsumoto. Every summer since 1992 Seiji Ozawa has gathered some great musicians in Matsumoto, Japan, to play with the young musicians he is famous for encouraging. Since 2015 Saito Kinen Festival has been better known as the Seiji Ozawa Festival.

And here they are, these octogenarians, looking frail as they advance to the podium and the piano bench and then, with the orchestra and huge chorus, playing the hell out of the Choral Fantasy. All frailty banished. Not in evidence anywhere. Just pure artistry.
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