Having a viola as soloist was a change from the usual piano or violin guest artist. I was laughing reading the program notes saying that Berlioz Harold in Italy was written for Paganini, who complained that it did not allow him to play enough. Because Berlioz wrote a different kind of piece.
While it may not have satisfied a violin virtuoso, what Berlioz gave us was a conversation. Instead of the violin soaring exuberantly, we were treated to viola, harp, and flutes passing their lines to one another. Each different, yet fitting together like old friends engaged in conversation.
My wife and I have not been married long, but we sometimes get to enjoy the moments where we can talk about subjects ending with the wonder "you think about that too!?", the times when we can finish each other's thoughts (which is real useful when one has trouble coming up with the next word), and "magic" around the house. But, in our unsentimental times, we have some understanding of how the "magic" happens, it is the paying attention to each other and around us, and it almost seems natural. So it is with the first movements of Harold. The principals are not the type to overwhelm with brilliance, instead we hear them play with each other, bow, pluck and wind. Appreciative both of the differences and their ability to be together. And hoping life will be like that as well.