The highlight of the night followed, with 82 year-old pianist Leon Fleisher playing the Concerto for the Left Hand by Ravel. Ravel makes a nice companion piece to Debussy. This is a piece I had never heard live before, and I have to say it was enthralling. The opening of the piece is much more dissonant than most Ravel, and builds to a huge orchestral climax, leaving only the piano to state a very major-key theme. I can't help but think that the opening is meant to represent the loss of the right arm, and the piano solo is a way of saying "everything is going to be all right." (Or perhaps "all left." I never could pass up a bad pun.) It's a wonderful piece, but very bizarre seeing someone play with only one hand.
The finale of the evening was the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique. The performance was indeed fantastic, especially the percussion section (although the bass trombone was so loud it sounded like contrapuntal flatulence; the second violins could not keep a straight face during this section). I'm pretty sick of this piece, it was WAY overplayed by American orchestras, and in the last three years, I've heard three different orchestras play it. Nonetheless, it was a rousing finale to an excellent concert.