“I can almost foresee a crisis in Yugoslavia.” Thus speaks Göran Eriksson as he starts the penultimate movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the only movement he will play until he reaches 3 p.m. Tuesday. The violinist first performed the piece last year with the Cleveland Orchestra — the longest ever played for Beethoven’s ninth symphony — and found that his stamina was shot.
On Monday, he performed it with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in a marathon that lasted 15 hours. (“It’s also a record for the opera.”) The piece is a virtuoso piece that requires coordination among all its members, but Mr. Eriksson, who is 36, is one of only three violinists in the world who can play the movement as he writes it. A fourth will join the two players on Tuesday, he says. “A quartet composed by Beethoven is a very fragile object. It’s fragile in performance.”
Much has been written about Mr. Eriksson’s masterpiece over the years. Here’s a refresher for those who missed it in America last year (it’s hard to say how it’s played in a significant American orchestra because of copyright restrictions):