Part of the pleasure of watching a football or cricket match comes from an intimate knowledge of the rules: without even being a player yourself. The same could be said about classical music.
To be sure, years of listening can develop an intuitive understanding of the way music works its magic. But a more disciplined study of music history and theory – whether formal, private or self-motivated – adds greatly to one’s appreciation and understanding of the art of its greatest practitioners, whether they be composers or interpreters.
On this occasion we had the benefit of both: the music of three of the greatest exponents of the Classical symphony, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven – and two masterly interpreters, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and principal conductor Asher Fisch – in a highly entertaining and informative lecture-demonstration-concert.
Such mastery of the classical symphony’s conventions and idioms was underscored by an astonishingly good performance of Haydn’s Symphony No 31 played a prima vista. Fisch’s point was that many of Haydn’s symphonies were first performed like this, without any rehearsal at all.
Certainly, the famous Mannheim court orchestra could have pulled off...