In 1801, Ludwig van Beethoven was beginning to experience early symptoms of hearing loss that would ultimately lead to profound deafness some 14 years later. He wrote to friends of the difficulties it was causing professionally and socially.
Three contrasting works originating from this point in the composer’s life were juxtaposed in Havant Chamber Orchestra’s exclusively Beethoven concert.
The concert opened with the overture from Beethoven’s only full-length ballet, The Creatures of Prometheus, in which the orchestra gave an agreeably energetic performance.
This was the perfect warm-up for Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No3 in C minor with Roger Owens as soloist. Owens gave a superbly expressive performance, driving the music forward with assured and crisp precision, particularly the long and difficult cadenza, while lingering on more tender passages with an impeccable lightness of touch.
How to match that in the second half? The mighty Symphony No5 in C Minor with its famous opening was a clever choice, leading us from minor-key darkness to sparkling major-key light.
Aside from a few fleeting lapses and untidy moments in the first movement, the orchestra and conductor Robin Browning are to be credited for conveying the sheer power and possibilities of this wonderful music in all its complexity.