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Orchestra of the 18th century succeeds with Schubert symphony

Conducted by Frans Brggen.
Beethoven's Symphony No. 7
and Schubert's Symphony No. 9.
Symphony Hall, March 13.

By Jonathan Richmond
Advisory Board

The Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century played Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 well, but did not quite grip the audience with the frenzy of excitement that spells Beethoven's name. Music director Frans Brggen took the symphony at a fast crack, as is now traditional for "original instruments" performances, but while there were passages where tensions were well built, there were others where the music did not quite take hold. The Andante con moto, played with grandeur and reflectiveness, was perhaps the most successful movement. The concluding Allegro con brio just didn't have enough oomph, though it was pleasant to listen to nonetheless.

Schubert's Symphony No. 9, in contrast, was done with complete success. Brggen brought to life a work that can often sound overly long and tired, keeping everyone's attention throughout. The brass played a spectacular role, particularly when they spoke to each other across the orchestra with sounds of fire and jubilation. Woodsy flutes added a special grace to the multitude of melding textures; there was a beautiful flute solo in the Andante con moto. The third movement came across with soul and warmth, the final was bracing and full of life. There was constant delight to be had from the details Brggen brought to the fore during the performance, and in the variety he found in this work from first note to last.