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Between 1804 and 1806 Beethoven was almost exclusively occupied with the composition of his first opera, Leonore. This difficult and painstaking work was essential for his development as a composer of works outside the genre of opera. When in April 1806 the performances of Leonore were abruptly cancelled – presumably for financial reasons – Beethoven was relieved, since he could return to his core compositional work. During the following years he wrote many important symphonic, concerto and chamber works – not merely successively, but simultaneously. Remarkably, Beethoven’s development as an opera composer had a direct impact on his instrumental music. From 1806, he entered into a second, new phase as a composer – the so-called ‘heroic period’.
In this production, Le Concert Olympique and Jan Caeyers illustrate how the Rasumowsky Quartet and the Fifth Symphony were conceived in a totally new musical language, and that it is important to interpret and hear them in the context of Leonore. Written almost simultaneously in the autumn of 1806, these were the first products of Beethoven’s post-Leonore period. It is interesting to explore how Beethoven, whilst always using the same musical language, finds totally different solutions in these two different genres to the question of how to write a piece in C – especially in the case of the Rasumowsky Quartet, which for the first time in music history was composed for a public audience. Consequently, this production also shows how Beethoven’s ‘heroic’ character can take different forms depending on the size of the musical gesture.
The conductor and renowned Beethoven biographer Jan Caeyers, together with the 45 musicians of Le Concert Olympique – taken from leading European orchestras such as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra – are committed to performing the music of Beethoven and his contemporaries in artistically outstanding interpretations. The orchestra debuted in 2010 with two acclaimed concerts in deSingel in Antwerp, where it has been based since its foundation. As well as performing in some of the most important concert halls in Belgium, since 2012 Le Concert Olympique has appeared on stages throughout the world. In the 2017/18 season, the orchestra will guest at the Beethovenfest Bonn, Philharmonie Essen, Vienna Konzerthaus, Amsterdam Concertgebouw as well as the Berlin Philharmonie.
Le Concert Olympique not only performs Ludwig van Beethoven’s well-known symphonies and concertos, but also lesser-known and rarely played pieces including the composer’s major choral works, which will be performed in the coming season with the renowned Viennese Arnold Schoenberg Chor. Additionally, the orchestra performs music by Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn and other composers from a historically-informed perspective.
Le Concert Olympique comes together just once a year for its ambitious projects. The festival character of the performances is underlined by the fact that the orchestra is dressed in clothing by the Antwerp fashion house Maison Anna Heylen. This partnership illustrates the aim of the musicians – to combine classical tradition with modern experience.
The orchestra’s name refers to Le Concert de la Société Olympique, the renowned Parisian concert series which took place between 1782 and 1789. Le Concert de la Société Olympique created a sensation with the commission of six symphonies from Joseph Haydn – the Parisian symphonies – in 1785. This is generally considered as the birth of the modern classical symphony.
Ilya Gringolts, violin
Anahit Kurtikyan, violin
Silvia Simionescu, viola
Claudius Herrmann, cello
A captivating listening experience and a first class performance thanks to the Gringolts Quartet’s playing and Christian Poltéra as second cello: a full and at the same time deeply focused sound allows the listener to experience the pieces as if from the heart of the action – one feels completely cocooned in this strangely unfamiliar yet hugely appealing music. RONDO MAGAZIN, Michael Wersin, 06/02/2016
The Zurich-based Gringolts Quartet was founded in 2008, born from mutual friendships and chamber music partnerships that cross four countries: over the years, the Russian violinist Ilya Gringolts, the Romanian violist Silvia Simionescu and the Armenian violinist Anahit Kurtikyan frequently performed together in various chamber formations at distinguished festivals; the German cellist Claudius Herrmann played with Anahit Kurtikyan in the renowned Amati Quartet. What unites the four musicians is the immense joy they get from performing together and their passion for the high demands presented by the string quartet repertoire. more