The Tucson Symphony Orchestra is getting close to finishing what it started back in September — performing all but one of Beethoven's nine symphonies this season to commemorate the composer's 250th birthday.
This weekend, with Music Director José Luis Gomez at the podium, the orchestra will perform a two-fer with Symphony No. 1 and No. 6. It is the second time this season that Gomez has programmed two Beethoven symphonies on a single program.
Gomez said the two works are perfect complements to show the growth in Beethoven's symphonic writing. Beethoven wrote No. 1, obviously, at the beginning of his symphonic output. He composed the Sixth in the middle, in conjunction with his famous No. 5.
"One and six are the two symphonies that themselves are very recognizable. One is the first experimental symphony form that he did, with all of the things that he did differently from all the composers" of his day, Gomez explained. No. 6, dubbed "Pastorale," was Beethoven's "only symphony that we can actually attach a story to it. Each movement was described by him as a description of nature. ... He's telling us through music the feelings he has for nature and how nature makes him feel."
The orchestra will perform the concert twice — on Friday, Feb. 14, and Sunday, Feb. 16.
After this weekend, the TSO will have only Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 "Eroica" left.
"For me it is one of the most complete of his symphony catalogue. That's why I left it at the end," said Gomez, who paired No. 3 with Mozart's Concertone for Two Violins and Orchestra.
The orchestra will perform that concert four times between Feb. 28 and March 1.
Symphony No. 5 "describes him best, but 3 has much more of the ingredients of what we see in Beethoven's music," Gomez said. "Once you listen to it from that opening to the funeral march to the finale which is one of the most amazing examples of theme and variation, you go back and say the Fifth is great but this has something very special."
The orchestra will perform Beethoven's Ninth Symphony next season.
Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4642. On Twitter @Starburch