Due to my unpredictable work schedule, I don't have a subscription and usually book tickets a few days before the performance to take advantage of online discounts. I sat in the third ring side directly overlooking the stage where for the first time I could closely observe the woodwind and brass sections.
What a difference! The grandeur of Beethoven was heightened by the movements of the players and the Third in particular sounded truly heroic.
The program also featured Gil Shaham in Karl Amadeus Hartmann's Concerto funèbre for Solo Violin and String Orchestra (1939; rev. 1959). The piece was full of angst, which wasn't surprising since the composer was inspired to write it after Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia. From the program notes:
he sorrowed “for his country and countrymen and his foreboding of the fate that awaited them all.” Writing about his intense, emotional concerto to conductor Hermann Scherchen, the composer said that its structure was designed to reflect “the intellectual and spiritual hopelessness of the period... contrasted with an expression of hope in the two chorales in the beginning and at the end.”It was a dark and deeply introverted piece which provided a nice contrast to the Eroica after the intermission. Here is the first section of Hartmann played by Karel Ancerl and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.