Austin Symphony / Andre Watts : 5 of 5
I decided to see the Austin Symphony's last performance at Riverbend Center (since their next will be at the new Long Center), and I'm so glad I did, since this special night of French composers was one of the best concerts I've seen in the past few years! The program began with Francaix's The Flower Clock, which was interesting since it uses about a half-size orchestra, and because of the great solo oboe by Beth Sanders, a long-time member of the symphony. This was followed by Roussel's Suite in F, which expanded the number of musicians on-stage, and this piece was theatrical and exciting with lots of percussion! After the intermission, Andre Watts was the featured performer for Saint-Saens' Piano Concert No. 2, and I can't even begin to describe how great it was! The first movement is full of fire, and it just keeps increasing - by the time the third movement began, I was sure Andre Watts had three hands, and they were flying! Normally when the applause starts, there's the usual lag time before people start deciding to stand up. But when he hit the last note, the entire audience jumped to their feet - it was an instant standing ovation! It was certainly some incredible energy and enthusiasm for a "refined" classical concert! Finally, the program ended with Debussy's La Mer, which I've been a fan of for some time, and it was wonderful to see the orchestra expand even more for this huge piece. It's amazing that it takes two harps to pull it off! This was certainly an exciting night at the symphony, and I'm looking forward to seeing them again at their new venue!