18. Oct. 2008 – The Stamford Symphony Orchestra's 89th season kicked off with Beethoven's Majesty, and majestic it was. During the Behind the baton pre-show lecture, Maestro Eckart Preu referred to the program as a "Beethoven Sandwich" - 2 Beethoven pieces with a Schubert symphony in the middle. Lots of interesting background, as we discover that Schubert was definitely a worshipper of Beethoven, to the point of semi-stalking him, yet too shy to actually talk to his hero. Fascinating insights.
Beethoven's Coriolan Overture, Op.62 started the program on a short, punchy note. Grand, stirring, and packed with feeling, it was a wise choice for an opener. In contrast, Schubert's Symphony No.9 in C Major, D.944, The Great was a long, long piece. It unraveled languidly, with elegant melodies passing through strings and brass and back again. During the Andante Con Moto section, I felt myself quietly submitting to the spell of the music - peaceful, tranquil, relaxed. It was a bit spiritual in a way. As the symphony built to it's conclusion, I felt as if I had just experienced a true piece of audio art.
After the break was the piece I'd been salivating for - Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.5 in E-Flat Major, Op.73, Emperor featuring guest pianist Vladimir Feltsman. Feltsman's fingers are a thing of legend and he did not disappoint. From the lusty opening arpeggios to the subtle chords and melodic flourishes, Feltsman was a true master at work. His hands made passionate love to the piano, caressing the keys with adoration. Big, noble, confident, this piece strutted and preened at times, showing 'Toven's assured hand at perhaps its peak. Ending with a punchy climax, the crowd flew to their feet to honor Feltsman, Preu, and one hell of a symphony! A powerful start to the 2008 - 2009 season!