Midori performs these works with the Festival Strings Lucerne on a recording made in early March 2020, just prior to the global pandemic lockdown.
The recording sessions had originally been planned around a concert performance with the orchestra at the KKL, Lucerne’s Culture and Congress Centre, and subsequent concerts in the UK, Singapore, China and Korea, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation or postponement of the entire tour. The Swiss concert was cancelled at less than 48 hours’ notice as Midori and the orchestra were already in the midst of rehearsals.
Midori explains: As everyone’s health and safety were of paramount concern, we were naturally obliged to follow official guidance. Nonetheless, we were grateful to receive permission to move ahead with our recording. Just beyond, a new and dangerous world was lurking … In retrospect, the recording experience felt as if we were racing against the clock, to still be making live music, in direct company of each other, breathing in harmony.
Through all of that, Beethoven guided my colleagues and me, his work focusing and inspiring us, our concentrations heightened, enveloped together in our musical efforts … Beethoven has provided a fortunate focus for me in such fraught times. I am reminded that he was a man of strong beliefs and a morality to which he fully committed, as an activist who took firm stands on many major issues of his day. At the same time, he maintained the discipline that allowed him to create profoundly beautiful, often serene music despite his many personal disappointments and struggles.
Beethoven’s determination still provides a model for humankind, leading us to recognize the best in our world as we reach toward the many achievements of which we are all potentially capable. Finding my place, as a musician, interpreting several of Beethoven’s masterpieces, grounds and inspires me today, as we all face many challenges ahead.