Ludwig van Beethoven was made famous, among other things, for his Ode to Joy, the last movement of the 9th Symphony which became the official hymn of the European Union. Or his 5th, with his famous “Pom, pom, pom, pom”. But the German composer was also fond of Celtic music! And that is much less known. The Orchester national de Bretagne (ONB), which will meet again on Thursday and Friday at the Couvent des Jacobins in Rennes after several months of abstinence due to a pandemic, has embarked on a great challenge to start its season: to make this known unknown facet of genius by highlighting his collection “Scottish, Irish and Welsh Songs”.
A commission of Celtic melodies
“In 1810, like many composers, a collector of Celtic melodies commissioned him. It was very fashionable at the time, ”explains Marc Feldman, director of the ONB. The hard-of-hearing German then sets to work. But instead of writing only a few melodies, he writes nearly a hundred. Pieces from the traditional and popular world whose writing comes at the same time as that of his 7th symphony. Hence a certain porosity between the two. “We always said it was his happiest, most dancing symphony. But that’s normal. It is because certain Celtic melodies were in the symphony ”, underlines Marc Feldman. Something to inspire the ONB.
Carlos Núñez and Bryn Terfel
The Brest composer Benoît Menut was thus asked to orchestrate these melodies with real traditional instruments, and to compose a Breton part to complete a sort of Celtic world tour. For these two concert evenings at the Jacobins, Beethoven’s 7th will be interspersed with movements of his creation. All performed by two renowned artists: Carlos Núñez, who will come with his bagpipe and Celtic flutes; and Bryn Terfel, an international opera singer. All under the direction of Grant Llewellyn.
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