Austin Symphony / Anton Nel : 4 of 5
This particular symphony experience was unique for a couple of reasons. First, I decided to experiment with balcony seats (I usually sit up close), and although I really enjoyed the great view of the full orchestra (I like to watch the percussionists in the back), I felt a little disconnected being that far from the sound (although the acoustics were excellent). Second, this was the first program in a long time where I wasn't already familiar with any of the pieces being performed, so it was nice to be introduced to totally new works! The concert began with Messiaen's The Ascension, which was much more modern than I expected, but the way the movements used different sections of the orchestra was fascinating. The guest performer was pianist Anton Nel, who played on two major works (which was nice, since most guests only do one piece) - a short Schumann and the Mendelssohn concerto, which were both incredible. The slow movement of the concerto was particularly fantastic, and it really makes me want to hear more Mendelssohn (I don't have much of him in my iTunes library)! But my favorite work of the evening was Respighi's Church Windows, which uses huge instrumentation (including an onstage piano) and is filled with booming drama and symbolism. I'm a big fan of Pines of Rome (which I first heard in Fantasia 2000), so it's no wonder that I enjoyed this four movement masterpiece so much - I've already put the CD on my wish list! As usual, going to the symphony was an exciting and peaceful experience - but I think I'm going to see what the Mezzanine feels like next time!