Classical at home: watch Beethoven’s symphonies for free on MPO TV

The MPOPlaysOn digital concert series, under conductors Naohisa Furusawa and Gerard Salonga, has so far garnered 60,000 views. Photo: Dewan Filharmonik Petronas

Celebrate legendary German classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven’s 250th birthday bash with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra’s (MPO) ongoing digital concert series.

Called MPOPlaysOn, you can catch some of Beethoven’s finest works under the batonship of conductors Naohisa Furusawa and Gerard Salonga.

Traditionally, Dec 17 is celebrated as Beethoven’s birth anniversary.

From Beethoven’s playful and energetic 4th symphony to his melancholic and uplifting 7th, let the MPO transport you to a symphonic world, all from the comfort of your home.

The MPOPlaysOn online series premiered last September with Beethoven’s Symphony No.4 on its MPO TV Youtube channel.

The Beethoven series was part of MPO’s Beethoven 2020 original programming.

With 17 pre-recorded digital concerts to date (all completed in September last year), MPOPlaysOn has so far garnered 60,000 views.

Now, that’s what you call a birthday gift to a classical master. The best part is, the concerts are completely free.

The Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (MPO's home) has remained closed since March last year (at the start of the movement control order).

The MPOPlaysOn campaign is an initiative to provide high-quality orchestral performances to the public digitally during the pandemic.

It is a continuation of digitalisation efforts by Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (DFP) and the MPO which started last April with MPO at Home.

This was a digital campaign comprising a series of short videos featuring the MPO and the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (MPYO) musicians performing virtually from their homes.

Its most popular videos - MPYO’s Star Wars and MPO’s Tanah Pusaka - got over three million views on Facebook, over 39,000 views on Instagram and over 58,000 views on MPO TV.

More digital concerts are in the pipeline under the MPOPlaysOn series, including a new programme that promises to take its audiences on a musical trip to many countries and explore their musical attractions.

Our border may be closed but who says we can’t travel the world with music. Here are some top picks under MPO’s Beethoven series:

The Elegant 8th

Rhythmic and humorous, Beethoven’s 8th Symphony is often eclipsed by the relentless 7th and epic 9th symphonies.

Sandwiched between these two greats, the 8th Symphony offers a witty exploration of essential musical questions.

“I’m really lucky to be able to conduct this. This is such a powerful symphony and a difficult one too. Orchestras rarely play this. Since 2012, the MPO hasn’t played this symphony,” offers Naohisa.

Also part of this concert is Danish composer Carl Nielsen’s elegant Little Suite For Strings.

Beethoven Pastorale

For something more relaxing, catch Beethoven’s 6th Symphony, also called the Pastoral Symphony.

Experience the composer’s nature-loving side as the scene unfolds in the Viennese countryside. Listen to the birds chirp sweetly and the villagers celebrate with dance until a storm arrives.

Also part of this concert is Swiss composer Arthur Honegger’s short symphonic poem called Pastorale d’été which offers an idyllic Swiss alpine village.

Fate And Refuge

The 5th Symphony is possibly Beethoven’s most recognised symphony. Conductor Gerard Salonga leads the MPO orchestra in this electrifying and thumping piece.

These hammer blows of fate are arguably classical music’s most memorable moment.

Salonga also conducts Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s contemporary masterpiece, Fratres. Minimalist yet majestic, this contemplative journey manipulates bell-like resonances through time and space

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