Beethoven In The City begins – at Stationers’ Hall, London
The Hanover Band’s year-long celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday started at Stationers’ Hall on 2 March, and comprised a school workshop and a concert.
The workshop involved students from St Paul’s Cathedral School, who enormously enjoyed the unique experience of working with the Band’s musicians, and learning about period instrument performance.
The concert, timed to benefit City workers on their way home and designed to engage informally with young people, played to a near-capacity audience in the marvellous acoustic, reckoned to be the finest in the Square Mile, of the 17th-century Hall.
From the first, fortissimo chord of the Overture to Egmont it was clear that we were in for a treat, and so it proved. The Band, inspired by Benjamin Bayl’s enthusiastic conducting, played with outstanding musicianship and authentic style, in an environment similar to those of Beethoven’s time, and with a similar number of players.
The central feature of the programme was, of course, a Beethoven symphony, and it is interesting that the Fourth was chosen to start the series, sandwiched as it is between the majestic Third (Eroica) and the ever-popular Fifth, and by comparison being little known. Similarly, we know little of the situation in which he composed the symphony. His range of thought and emotion at this time is particularly evident in the touchingly beautiful and technically brilliant Adagio, regarded by some as the finest example of delicacy and tact in all of Beethoven’s symphonies. The Minuet features cross rhythms and sudden changes, with a charming Trio, while the finale is in effect a ‘perpetuum mobile’ with instruments each taking a solo before handing over to the next player. The Band executed this to perfection and to sustained and well deserved applause.
The Master Stationer, Trevor Fenwick, spoke for everyone when he thanked The Hanover Band for an outstanding concert and wished the project every success. (Alas, Fate was already knocking at the door; future concerts have had to be postponed in response to the ravages of Covid-19.) His impromptu invitation to post-concert drinks in the Stock Room was a great opportunity for the audience to mingle with the players, and for first-time concert goers to comment on their experience. From the very positive feedback, it seems that capacity audiences are to be expected, once the series resumes later in the year.
Past Master Noel Osborne
For full details of The Hanover Band’s 2020 celebrations see:
Photography: Richard Hanson Photography