A brisk Beethoven as Gardiner does Philly

Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra
Philadelphia Inquirer

By David Patrick Stearns

Period instruments and a revisionist approach won over a Kimmel audience.

If Philadelphia was foreign territory for Sir John Eliot Gardiner and his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, their all-Beethoven program on Tuesday converted the Kimmel Center audience in a matter of minutes, judging from the long, loud applause.

The period instruments and all-around revisionist approach represented by Gardiner & Co. aren't unknown here; Tempesta di Mare has the instruments, and Ignat Solzhenitsyn, with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, liked his Beethoven nearly as brisk as Gardiner does. But Gardiner's local debut was a concentrated dose and bordered on being a manifesto, pointing a way into the music that felt extremely focused and undiluted by an extraneous sound. The Philadelphia Orchestra's, for example?