On Saturday, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic will present its “All Beethoven” Masterworks concert at the Embassy Theatre. While there are only three works on the concert list, do not think this will be a simple event.“Beethoven was one of these people who pushed the limits,” said cellist Andrew Shulman. At the time when he wrote this work, the composer had an active performance career in motion. “(Beethoven was) an amazing pianist ... an amazing improviser. The pieces he wrote are actually like a shadow of what he would do live,” Shulman said with enthusiasm.
On the concert will be the Lenore Overture, Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony and the Concerto for Piano, Violin, Cello and Orchestra (generally referred to as the “Triple Concerto”). While the overture and symphony are fairly typical orchestra fare, the Triple Concerto is something different because it requires three soloists to coordinate with the orchestra, instead of the regular single soloist.
According to Shulman, “The Triple Concerto is a really uplifting piece, full of great melodies … (And it) is great because you can share the spotlight with two other soloists.”Also featured in this concert will be violinist Sabrina-Vivian Höpcker, and pianist Fabio Bidini. The three soloists will meet in Fort Wayne to rehearse the concerto together before the performance. “We’ve all done the piece before with other people,” Shulman explained. “(We) know the piece really well. It’s like coming back to an old friend.”
However, it is an old friend with some technical fireworks that will make the soloists work. In explaining the difficulty of the work, Shulman noted that the Triple Concerto is one of the most technically difficult of all concertos – especially for the cello. It goes into the violin range, which means that the notes are noticeably higher in pitch than those that a cellist usually reaches. But, Shulman isn’t worried. “I enjoy a challenge,” he said, with a smile in his voice.
And he should know – Shulman, originally from Britain - currently resides in Los Angeles, where he is a professor of music at the University of Southern California. In his career as a musician, he has worked as an orchestral conductor and as a concert cellist, having performed each of Beethoven’s nine symphonies, his 18 string quartets, and “certainly everything he’s written for cello!”
Shulman has also worked with recording studios, and has more than 26 recordings to his name. One, in particular, stands out as a non-classical experience.
“I was called on the morning of Princess Diana’s memorial service by George Martin – the fifth Beatle,” Shulman explained. Shulman was asked to help record the Elton John song, “Candle in the Wind” after the singer had performed it at the service for Princess Diana.
Although the cello was not part of the memorial service, it was recorded at Townhouse Studios in London’s Shepherd’s Bush on the same afternoon as the service. “Elton sang it at Westminster Abbey, then he rushed off… (to record) his vocals and the piano,” Shulman said. Later that day, Shulman also recorded the cello part and within seven days, the CD was in music stores.
For the concert this Saturday, Shulman will certainly have a little more time to prepare before the performance.
Although it will be his first time in Fort Wayne, he is enthusiastic about the music and about Beethoven’s works in general. “Beethoven is … just one of the great composers. There’s so much variety, so much emotion. You can find new things all the time.”
Beethoven Saturday night
What: All Beethoven Concert
Where: Embassy Theatre
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Cost: Tickets start at $19
Information: click on www.fwphil.org or call the box office at 481–0777