Daniel Barenboim conducted a pair of fine performances of Beethoven’s later symphonies with the West–Eastern Divan Orchestra. He included many Western performing traditions but these relatively youthful performers gave energy to the music in a way that more established orchestras often do not sustain.

The Eighth was played before the interval and the Seventh was last item in the programme, an interesting reversal of order that worked well and showed even more conclusively how Beethoven’s development of the symphonic form had come to a cross-roads by the end of his seventh symphony.

I’m now keenly awaiting Friday’s performance of Beethoven’s Ninth, my doubts from the Pastoral now firmly laid aside.

Michael Barenboim played the solo violin for Pierre Boulez’s Anthèmes 2. A technological feat to stage this performance in the Albert hall, with sound generated by the  IRCAM live electronics coming from five or six apparent locations around and above hall. Boulez’ conversation in the piece between melody and rhythm fitted the programme of the Eighth and Seventh symphonies except that the sheer density of intellectual content was completely different to the apparent experimental, almost quizzical, form of Boulez’s Anthèmes 2.

Beethoven: Symphony No. 8 in F major
Pierre Boulez: Anthèmes 2
Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A major

Michael Barenboim, violin
IRCAM live electronics
West–Eastern Divan Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim, conductor