The Best Gift: Emanuel Ax, Andres Cardenes & the PSO playing just for me! – Naomi Yoran

At the start of the season, looking through the concerts’ schedule, I realized that the title for the last concert in April: EMANUEL AX RETURNS  coincided
with my birthday. I was delighted. The final performance on April 29 I
entered the "Mid Life Span of the Baby Boomers" (you figure it out…)
and I told myself: "This will be the best gift. I will imagine that Emanuel Ax will play just for me.." Then I detected Shostakovich’s 9th Symphony and I could not but smile. Not only do I LOVE this composer, but I have a "personal relationship" with this Symphony. I was looking forward to this concert and hoping that nothing in the program would change.

My expectations were modest compared to my experience on April 29,
2006 between 7:00 PM to 10:30 PM. The last concert was one of the very best of the season (so far) and I felt so lucky!

First, at the pre-concert introduction, Emanuel Ax and Sir Andrew Davis came on stage (in their sweaters…), set down to the piano and played the Dolly Suite by Gabriel Faure. Not only was it charming & witty, so typical for many of Faure’s short pieces, but having the Soloist & the Conductor appear in their "sleepers" prior to the concert & offer a "pre concert encore" was extra-ordinary!
To see them enjoy themselves while playing four hands on the piano and
later, leaving the stage like "old buddies" who just had a great time
"playing around" was as charming as Faure’s Dolly.

In my mind, not only Emanuel Ax (whom I adore and collect all
his released CD’s) but the whole concert, from program to the
orchestra, the conductor, the encores– the whole evening was
"tailored" to my wishes… The (2000+ ) audience, were my guests! 

Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending was lyrical & delicate as a cherished poem one would wish to have "in his pocket" forever. Andres Cardenes’ violin transformed me to the soul of the lark…

Shostakovich’s 9th Symphony, with it’s clever response
to Stalin’s desire for adulation, full of encoded pain transforming to
exagurated happiness… The musical jokes, the hidden revenge…the
atmosphere of a perpetual circus… And yet: even if I would know
nothing about the Soviet Union & the 70 years of oppressive
Bolshevism, I would still feel that this is a beautiful musical puzzle.

Beethoven… The God Father for all music composed after him… His 3rd Piano Concerto (in a Minor key,my favorite) performed by a master – Emanuel Ax – was as beautiful as my best dream ever. Ax, who could not leave the stage following the public roar  (remember: they are my guests!) set back to the piano & played one of Chopin’s Waltzes. Chopin! The most intimate composer I know… So Emanuel Ax did play for me…

Richard Wagner: as by now, whoever reads these blogs knows, I
would never "invite for tea." I even would not care to see him across
the street if he were still alive. (In comparison, I would give
anything just to sit quietly in the company of Shostakovich.) But The Tannhauser is still beautiful music. Maybe not the best to listen to following Chopin…

And than another surprise: the orchestra played an encore! Another Wagner!… (Was I being tested?) Die Walkure!   Was it a little over the top? The music filled the air in full blast! (What would Chopin think?, as far as I know these two composers never met for tea!..)

I was a little out of my elements… Later I got it: It was my birthday &
as sometimes happens, an uninvited guest appears with the best
intentions and lots of vigor & a thousand colorful balloons! The PSO performed as gloriously as one could just imagine and Davis was the hero, the Master of ceremonies, the organizer of my celebration!

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