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Under Gardiner's baton, Beethoven rocks
"Missa solemnis," completed in 1823, a year before the Ninth, originally was intended to be played at Archduke Rudolf's elevation to Archbishop of Olmuetz but Beethoven couldn't complete it in time. With its use of four vocal soloists, there are echoes of the Ninth in much of the writing across the five movements. And concertmaster Peter Hanson had a beautiful, sweet violin in the Sanctus on Saturday.
Gardiner's tour began in September with a performance at Pisa's Duomo and moved on to Cologne, Germany; Amsterdam; Baden-Baden, Germany; Bern, Switzerland; Vienna; Budapest, Hungary; London; and Chapel Hill, N.C.; before arriving in New York.
The tour ends Monday and Tuesday at the Segerstrom Concert Hall in California, where the Philharmonic Society of Orange County says it will refund the ticket price to anyone who attends the second night's performance and doesn't think it is the best Beethoven Ninth he or she has heard.
Based on the New York performance, it's hard to envision the need to return any cash.