Beethoven Symphony No.5 in C minor, Op. 67
If the Second Symphony can be perceived as a symbol of renewal in Beethoven’s creativity, the Fifth Symphony is a full-fledged departure from traditional ideas and an open embrace of Romantic consciousness. It achieves a perfect balance of musical and formal techniques, while reaching into the depths of emotion, struggle, large-scale narrative, and ultimately victory and triumph of life.
It took Beethoven more than four years to complete the Fifth Symphony. Its conception dates to early 1804 yet many other projects interfered with its progress. Indeed, it was a period of feverish activity and relentless productivity: among the contemporary works were the Fourth and Sixth Symphonies, the Fourth Piano Concerto, the Violin Concerto, Coriolan Overture, Mass in C major, the “Razumovsky” String Quartets, and many more.
Regardless of how true Beethoven’s assistant Schindler’s recollection of the ‘Fate’ anecdote is, Beethoven’s choice of the key of C minor for the symphony is no doubt of special significance. This key held a particular meaning for the composer for he already had published multiple large-scale works in C minor such as the Piano Trio Op.1-No.3, Piano Sonata Op.13 “Pathetique,” String Quartet Op.18-No.4, Violin Sonata Op.30-No.2 and the Third Piano Concerto Op.37. All these works are highly dramatic and rather defiant in character.
The opening pounding of the Allegro establishes the stormy temper. This gesture becomes the cell of thematic motion in every movement: Beethoven built the whole formal structure based on the opening cell. Even the contrasting second theme, tranquil and peaceful, is accompanied by the lower strings insisting on the opening motive. A poignant oboe cadenza embellishes the recapitulation and the massive powerful coda brings the movement to a definite end. The second movement marked Andante con moto is an unusual continuous set of variations with two contrasting themes. The first theme played by the lower strings is gentle and sweet in nature; the second theme introduced by the winds in the same key A flat is comparatively heroic. A sudden triumphal C major statement looks ahead at the final measures of the fourth movement. Throughout the second movement the two themes are intertwined and varied separately covering the widest range of emotions. It is very possible that Beethoven intended to make the opening arpeggio of the Scherzo resemble the last movement of Mozart’s G minor Symphony. After the mysterious introduction the tempestuous character of the first movement makes a return, and the ‘fate motive’ is presented in the horns. After a hurried muscular fughetta in the trio section, the scherzo returns into a transitional section, where the heartbeat of the timpani, rising in intensity, leads into the exhilarating beginning of Finale. A jubilant, brilliant, and fierce movement, the Finale trumpets victory across the land. Added trombones, piccolo, and contrabassoon, provide a richer, deeper, and grander core to the sound of the orchestra. The fate motive, relegated to its rhythmic essence, provides stoic support, and the recall of the Scherzo movement in the development section furthers the notion of unity and completeness for the composition. The affirmation of the power of art is nowhere more radiant than in the coda, passionately affirmative of the supremacy of C major. A journey from darkness to light is complete and a new life emerges!
Beethoven Symphony No.2 in D major, Op.36
In words of Maynard Solomon, Beethoven’s Second Symphony is a work “both retrospective and prospective,” standing at a pivotal moment in its creator’s personal life and compositional development.
By 1802 Beethoven was already well known as a piano virtuoso and a notable composer, yet he was still to prove himself to be a worthy successor to the symphonic tradition of Haydn and Mozart. Also around this time the composer was facing the most horrifying period in his life facing hearing loss. Realizing the permanent nature of his deafness in October of 1802 Beethoven wrote the so-called “Heiligenstadt Testament” – an expression of utter despair and suicidal thoughts. However, one sentence stands out and provides a backdrop for the composer’s entire life: “I would have ended my life, only my art held me back. It seemed to me impossible to leave the world until I had produced all that I felt was within me.” Maybe this is why the Second Symphony is filled with such cheerful, optimistic and humorous air. Perhaps its composition served as a healing motivation to the great composer, a reminiscence of happier times, and an expression of determination.
In the first movement, a rather long and dramatic introduction foretells a style to be expanded upon in later symphonies. The development of a simple unison texture into melodic richness, which juxtaposes major and minor modes show a stark departure from the language of the First Symphony. The introduction runs into the Allegro con brio without a pause, the galloping first theme starting off softly with the strings. The fragmentation of this fearless and brisk theme is used and revisited in later movements, giving unity to the whole composition. The entire movement is based on elementary scales and arpeggios, but its effect is masterfully brilliant. The lengthy yet lively coda with the help of brass and percussion leads to a fanfare-like vivid ending. The Larghetto moves at an easy pace, tenderly and leisurely. The character of motion was indeed intended, as Beethoven added quasi andante to the marking when he arranged this symphony later for piano trio. Beethoven presents a simple song as a theme then varies it with embellishments and diverse instrumentation. Although the development passage is richly harmonized, it never loses Beethoven’s light-hearted Ländler-like mood. Regarding the third movement, Beethoven was the first to employ the term Scherzo in this particular symphony eventually leading it to replace the traditional Minuet during the Romantic era. The joking character here is not only wildly playful with constant passing figures among the instruments, but also it has capricious and surprising gestures achieved by sudden dynamic contrasts, abrupt changes of keys, and contrasts so typical of Beethoven. The energy of the third movement is matched and bested by that of the last movement. The explosive and high-spirited finale, Allegro molto was indeed new to the audiences of 1803. It is filled with unpredictable harmonic changes, which would sound quite foreign to an unaccustomed ear. The victorious coda is built on the joke-like rhythmic first theme rooted in repeated dominant-seventh chords. The music’s impetuous pace reveals no desperation, no hesitation and no doubt.
Music Director & Senior Conductor, Daejin Kim
Daejin Kim has successfully consolidated the well-deserved status as one of the leading pianists and pedagogues in Korea. He won in 1985 the first prize in the prestigious 6th Robert Casadesus International Piano Competition (presently, the Cleveland Competition). In 1986, Mr. Kim made his New York debut and received an exceptionally favorable review from the critic for the New York Times who wrote that "Daejin Kim demonstrated all the accouterments necessary for a successful solo career.” Since then, he has performed in recital and with orchestra in major cities throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.
In 1994, Mr. Kim family moved to Korea and since then he has become a prime example of that rare individual who is able to successfully combine both the demanding careers of a concert artist and the most productive teacher. His master classes have drawn international recognition and at the same time, he has been able to maintain a full schedule of performances such as a historic one-day performance of the complete Beethoven's Piano Concertos(2001) and the complete cycle of the Mozart Piano Concertos(2002-2004). His recent discography includes2 Piano Concertos by Mozart (K.488 & K.453), which he conducted the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra from the keyboard (Sony Label).
In 2002, he received 'the Professor of the Year' Award by the Music Association of Korea, and most recently, received a decoration for ‘the Artist of the Year’ by the Ministry of Culture in Korea in 2006.
Prof. Kim has been on jury member for the prestigious competitions such as the Busoni, the Gina Bachauer, Clara Haskil, the Beethoven (Bonn), the Cleveland International Piano Competition, the Sendai, the Hamamatsu in Japan and the Paderewski, the Rachmaninov (Moscow), the China International Competition among others. He will be on the jury for the Leeds International Competition in 2012 and the Queen Elizabeth International Competition in 2013.
His students have earned the prizes in the major international competitions, including the Rubinstein and the Busoni Competition. Recently, his student at the Korean National University of Arts has won the first prize at the 2005 Clara Haskil International Piano Competition and the first prize at the Leeds International Competition in 2006.
Daejin Kim earned a Bachelor's, a Master's, and a Doctoral degree from the Juilliard School where he studied with Martin Canin. He has been a member of the associate faculty at the Manhattan School of Music and has taught at Yale University as a Woodward Fellow. He is currently the Professor of Piano at the Korean National University of Arts and the Music Director of the Kumho Chamber Music Society.
After close collaboration with the Suwon Philharmonic Orchestra which is regarded as one of the prestigious orchestras in Korea, as soloist and conductor for many years, he became its Conductor and Music Director in 2008. Recently, Mr. Kim and the Suwon Philharmonic Orchestra made very successful debut concert at the Carnegie Hall and he is now making the complete cycle of Beethoven Symphonies and Concertos.
Suwon Philharmonic Orchestra
Since its establishment in April 1982, Suwon Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the prestigious orchestras in the country, has played a leading role in the classical music society in Korea.
The orchestra has built its mastery under both nationally and internationally renowned conductors, such as Song Tae Yok, Du Young Jung, Mong Phil Kim, Nan Sae Kem, Eun Seong Park, Toyama Yuzo, Ewald Christian, Vancho Cavsarski, and Andrea Bonatta. As the sixth Music Director, Daejin Kim, regarded as the best pianist and conductor in Korea, has introduced the orchestra to the world to enthusiastic reviews.
Performing over sixty concerts a year, the orchestra is famous for its unique, heart-rendering sound. The beautiful executions of melodies that entice the audience are created in collaboration with acclaimed artists such as Kun Woo Paik, Dong Seok Kang, David Kim, Daejin Kim, Seon Wook Kim, Yeol Eum Son, Dong Min Lim, Mikhail Petukhov, Olivier Garddon, Julius Berge, John O’Conor, and Daniel Gaede.
The orchestra’s numerous successes in its international concerts and tours has introduced Suwon to the world as “the City of Culture.” The successful concerts include the Suwon International Music Festival with Myung Whun Chung, Sumi Jo, Andrea Bocelli, Emilie Simon, Michaella Martin; the Osaka Symphony Hall Concert for the Asia Orchestra Week; Tour concerts in the U.S., Canada, Thailand, England, Spain, Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, and China. In June 2009, the orchestra, led by Daejin Kim, furthered its eminence with a sold out concert at the Isaac Stern Auditorium in Carnegie Hall.
Nationally, the orchestra has secured itself as the most beloved orchestra through memorable concerts in Korea’s largest music festival, “Seoul Arts Center Symphony Festival,” for two consecutive years in 2008 and 2009.
Now under the mastery of Daejin Kim, Suwon Philharmonic Orchestra strives to continue delivering the power of classical music through its visionary programs for both ardent and neophyte listeners, ranging from Music Class, Family Concerts, Youth Concerts with Daejin Kim, to the full Beethoven Cycle.