My wife and I donate a minuscule amount of money to the Colorado Symphony, and this year they had what they called the “First Annual Donor Concert,” which was a potpourri of favorites that will be played during the season. I think the concert was somewhat of an apology to fans of the orchestra for the incredible shoddy treatment that happened to subscribers during the transition to a new publicity firm. The president of the orchestra claimed that this was the most successful donor campaign ever, as well as the most successful subscriber season, although I really find that hard to believe.
When I looked at the list of pieces, my first thought was that these were all very, very familiar pieces, and that might result in a dull concert. Conductor Douglas Boyd stated that they had almost no rehearsal time (he had flown in that afternoon), but it sure did not show in their performance. It turned out to be one of the most exciting concerts I’ve heard. Although some of the pieces I had heard many times in person (I’m almost sick of Berlioz at this point), there were several pieces I know very well but had never heard in person.
Also, I had forgotten how much I missed the sound of the orchestra. It’s been almost four months since I heard the CSO and two months since the NY Phil concerts we heard. The opening notes of "Die Zauberflöte" sent chills down my spine just hearing the orchestra. The orchestra had a couple of rough patches early on in the concert, but all was quickly forgiven.
No matter how many times I hear Beethoven’s Fifth, it still moves me. The tempo was bit fast, but it was a great performance.
One of the highlights of the night was hearing the new principal flautist on “Afternoon of a Faun.” Debussy was brilliantly inventive not only harmonically but orchestrationally. The instant she began playing there was a gorgeous sound from the orchestra, which grew throughout the piece. I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard this piece in person either, even though it is one of my favorites.
Perhaps the most peculiar mood change came with a speedy transition from “Greensleeves” to Brahms’ “Hungarian Dance.” Both pieces were very well played, but the programming sounded like someone changing stations on the radio.
The second highlight of the evening was the Finale from The Firebird. I’ve played this piece before, in Carnegie Hall, no less, but I don’t think I’ve heard it in person. Like the Debussy, this is an orchestrational showpiece, and brilliantly performed by the orchestra. I’ll say it again, this is one of the best orchestras in the country. The crowd went crazy, and I think everyone who left the hall left excited to hear the upcoming season. I know I am. Alas, our first tickets are not for another month. I’ll be waiting.