Beethoven’s music emerges over tech issues in retooled Second Symphony

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Elaine Rinaldi and Don Cannarozzi performed Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 in a duo-piano version Sunday afternoon.

As part of Orchestra Miami’s monthlong Beethoven for Miami Festival, the project is presenting the first eight of Beethoven’s nine symphonies, in arrangements for duo piano.

The second installment in this retooled Ludwigiana came Sunday afternoon with music director Elaine Rinaldi and Don Cannarozzi tackling Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 in D major in a live-streamed performance.

If Beethoven’s first essay in the genre shows more of the galant Haydn influence, the Second Symphony, written at age 32 in 1803, is fully mature Beethoven—quirky in its aggressive energy and antic humor and exploring a striking depth of expression in the Larghetto.  

While Rinaldi is well known as conductor and pianist, her partner Sunday was something of a surprise. Don Cannarozzi is most prominent as the former public defender of Broward County (now retired) yet he is also a musician. Cannarozzi majored in organ performance before turning to a legal career, and clearly has kept his keyboard chops in admirable estate.

The relaxed presentation was streamed from the empty First Presbyterian Church of Delray Beach. Rinaldi led off the program with introductions and verbal program notes, which were apt and user-friendly though perhaps at over fifteen minutes went on a bit longer than ideal for those wanting to get to the music.

The Zoom meeting format wasn’t ideal. With some of the two-dozen audience members leaving their computer cameras on, one was forced to share the performance with simultaneous visuals of other listeners’ faces, including one gentleman who dozed off during the slow movement. The direction was serviceable, though an overhead camera would have provided the best vantage point for both pianists’ hands.

The main issue was the quality of the stream itself. In fast and loud passages the sound became congested and distorted in fortissimos. Worse was the video, which was fuzzy, beset by hiccups and rarely in sync with the audio, always appearing fractionally behind the music. As David Fleshler noted re the same issues with last week’s orchestral program, after a while it was simply less exasperating to just listen to the audio and ignore the vid.

Musically, however this duo-piano performance of Beethoven’s Second—using the Hugo Ulrich arrangement— was strong and often excellent. While there were a few scattered clinkers, Rinaldi (playing the primo role) and Cannarozzi proved simpatico partners throughout.

The slow introduction set the scene atmospherically with the swing into the main Allegro vital and energetic, the tricky hand-crossing handled fluently. 

The pianists showed a sure feel for the long line, conveying the relaxed introspection of the Larghetto with the contrasting sections also underlined. The Scherzo was buoyant, leading into a lively and rollicking finale.

Note: Elaine Rinaldi said Monday that the festival chamber concert on November 21 would not be using Zoom. That trio program (of Farrenc and Beethoven) will employ a professional five-camera setup and will be streamed through Orchestra Miami’s own platform. Streaming access is free and live in-person tickets are also available.

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Mon Nov 16, 2020
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