This weekend the Houston Symphony will play some of Beethoven’s greatest hits in Andrés Conducts Beethoven’s Fifth, as we celebrate the return of Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada to lead the orchestra. The program features Beethoven’s iconic Fifth Symphony, as well as his sparkling “Triple” Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Piano featuring Concertmaster Yoonshin Song, Principal Cello Brinton Averil Smith, and world-renowned pianist Yefim Bronfman. A few weeks ago, we spoke to Principal Cello Brinton Averil Smith to discuss his approach to the Concerto, and today, Concertmaster Yoonshin Song shares her perspective below.
Houston Symphony: How much does performing a concerto with three soloists add to the complexity of the work? How do you cope with the added complexity?
Yoonshin Song: In this piece, all three solo parts have very individual voices but also often work together to form a line, so it is an interesting mixture of soloistic playing and chamber music making. But I like to look at this complexity more as an interesting puzzle rather than an added difficulty and sharing the solo parts with Yefim and Brinton definitely makes it even more fun.
HS: Will the three of you rehearse together before joining the full Symphony onstage? Have the two of you performed in this capacity (in a small chamber ensemble) with Yefim Bronfman before? What do anticipate/look forward to about this experience?
YS: We expect to have a rehearsal with only the three of us before joining the rehearsal with the full orchestra. We will share our thoughts on musical ideas beforehand and would communicate with Andrés as well. It is my first time playing with Yefim and Brinton (outside of playing in the orchestra), although I had a few chances of playing chamber music with Brinton before. I am a fan of the musicianship of them both, so I can’t wait to play with them.
HS: How do you make artistic decisions as an ensemble?
YS: We share our ideas, discuss phrasings and try to find a unified way to execute them as a whole picture of what we think could be closest to the composer’s intention.
HS: This will be Music Director Andrés’ first concert with the Houston Symphony since February 2020. What are you most looking forward to about his return?
YS: It will be exciting to see him and to play with him again. We have been in contact with him with the help of technology periodically through this pandemic, but I think it will be a special moment for everybody, musicians and the Houston Symphony family, when we will be together onstage and making music again after such a long time.
HS: Which movement is your favorite to play and why?
YS: It is hard to pick...but if I must, the 2nd movement. It is beautiful and special and reveals the most precious and sweet part of Beethoven’s soul.