Wow, it felt so good being back at the Symphony!! And to be welcomed back by such a program!
It began with Beethoven's dramatic, beautiful Egmont Overture. I had never heard this piece before – actually, I had never even heard of it, period! – but man, am I so glad I got to hear it live on Friday. It was my second favorite piece of the entire night! The PSO was in excellent form and didn't once let the music overwhelm them. The Overture was sumptuous, and it would have, in lesser hands, been easy to get lost in.
The second piece of the night was Mozart's Symphony No. 38 "Prague". Written in the city it was named for, Symphony No. 3 was very pretty, very classic, but, after following such a powerful piece as the Overture, seemed almost…light. To me, it had no real sense of urgency or steam behind it, and as a person who gravitates more towards music with a bunch of drama to it, I wasn't overly excited about "Prague". It was an amazing piece, don't get me wrong, but just not for me.
Now, my absolute favorite moment of the night was after intermission, when violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann came to the stage and, with the PSO, magnificently performed Beethoven's Violin Concerto. Funnily enough, my absolute favorite violinst, Joshua Bell, recorded this piece some odd years ago, and it was inevitable that I began to compare the pieces and how the two men interpreted such a war horse.
Both men attacked it with vigor, both men played passionately, but whereas Joshua Bell wrote his own cadenza, Frank Peter Zimmermann stayed with the score through and through and really showed it off. The third movement was especially stunning, if only due to the intense speed at which Zimmermann was playing. What a performance!
By far, my favorite part of the night. :)
However, I must say that a close second -tying with the Beethoven Overture – was the encore Mr. Zimmermann played after the Concerto. It was incredibly fun and very impressive. If he ever decides to record that coquettish little tune, I'll definitely buy it!
*Contented sigh. What a marvelous way to come back to the Symphony.