For the Record – With Elaine Chia

Beethoven Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92

Simon Rattle, Berliner Philharmoniker


This symphony has been described as euphoric, but for me it’s the wave of emotions from start to finish that I love. I think it’s even more enjoyable once you hear it over and over – you know what is next but that only makes you appreciate the subtleties more.


Under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle, the orchestra is like a finely tuned engine. It ignites quickly with the upward stroke of the baton, and hums along. Soon it is ready to unleash its unparalleled horsepower, but at the same time, in absolutely no hurry to do so.


The second movement is my favourite. The processional march – slow, sombre, unhurried with small, even steps.


Third movement, and we’re back in the sun. It’s bright outside and there’s excitement in the air. The orchestra is slowly winding up a toy car, turning in half revolutions to tighten the spring. You hear a full fanfare. Then it drops lower, and pauses, then unleashes. The spring has been released.


The final movement – Here we go! The music is really taking lively shape now. You must absolutely watch the video of this piece on Berliner Philharmoniker’s Digital Concert Hall to see that Sir Simon is having the time of his life. I love how he conducts with his eyes! You can see the smiles on the musician’s faces as one section picks up a thread and plays it for a while before another section plays it back to them before passing it on.


I imagine riding a wave that has started way out in the ocean. It’s strong but not overpowering. You swim towards it, turn, catch it and hang on… you ride it all the way to the beach. It breaks – white water everywhere.

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