A funny thing happened the last time I was taking in a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (just a few minutes ago). Right smack in the middle of the blaring finale, the conductor reminded me that the composer’s contemporaries “accused him of being drunk when he wrote these pieces.”
The baton-swinger, Esa-Pekka Salonen, didn’t have to stop the Philharmonia to tell me this, because the performance I was watching wasn’t live, but playing on an iPad. Nor did the sound of his voice obscure the main aural attraction, since his words were running as a subtitle track sandwiched in between four different simultaneous views of the world-class ensemble and a “curated score” of Beethoven’s famous work, its notes running across my screen in real time.
Welcome to The Orchestra—a flat-out astounding new app produced by Touch Press, the Philharmonia Orchestra and its principal conductor Salonen. At $13.99, it’s not only one of the best albums—you know, a longish compilation of music—you could purchase for someone this holiday season; it’s an app that could easily change how you consume classical music outside of the concert hall. Or how we introduce new listeners to symphonic works in the first place.
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