Mstation Classical Reviews

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Thu, 30 Mar 2006

Ramallah - Beethoven No. 5

Live in Ramallah 	- Beethoven Symphony No. 5
- Mozart  Sinfonia Concertante, K297b
Daniel Barenboim
West-Eastern Divan Orchestra
CD, Warner Classics

The key to this orchestra is the peace. Founded by two exceptional human beings, Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said, artists and intellectuals alike, the aim being to create an environment for cross-cultural contact, musical study, and the sharing of knowledge. Orchestras are the ideal democracy, with all involved creating equilibrium with the next - without this, music would not happen. This is a key concept in the situation they were playing.

The concert took place in the West Bank, the rehearsal guarded by armed troops, but the atmosphere inside one of calm and relaxation. The unusual nature of the concert comes about due to participants: Israeli, Arab, and Andalusian citizens performing as one united orchestra - the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. The name came about through a collection of poems by Goethe, the significance here being Goethe.

"He was the first German to be truly interested in other countries - he started learning Arabic when he was over sixty".

Understandably, no person involved believed for on minute that this concert was going to solve the political problems faced in the West Bank and it's surroundings. There was however a meeting of two cultures on a friendly term. The musicians, and families alike had the chance to get to know each other.

"The only political aspect that permeates the workshop is the understanding that there is no military solution".

The music is of exceptional quality, with a perfect ensemble particularly giving the live performance. Mozart opens the programme creating a friendly, chatty, but not flippant atmosphere. This is followed by Beethoven's Fifth. A much more serious piece of music, this is a good test of the emotional quality of the players. All stand up to the challenge creating an exciting, powerful, and most of all uplifting performance, which must be ranked amongst the best. Finally, the Elgar creates an emotionally fitting ending to the concert, and leaves with us all a sense of progression, a sense of purpose, and a feeling of peace and courage both now and in the near future.

Please listen to this music and really remember what it is about. If you need to listen to it again to understand the nature of the event, take a day off work and listen to it throughout :) (E Walton)

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