10.12.2009

Austin Symphony / Chee-Yun : 4 of 5

I was looking forward to the latest concert of Austin Symphony's 99th season for quite a while, since I love Mendelssohn's famous violin concerto and I was interested to see the soloist Chee-Yun for the first time. Maestro Peter Bay began with some friendly, insightful comments - although there were technical problems with his microphone, it was a good opportunity to show off the acoustics of the Long Center, since he was easily heard just speaking normally from the stage! He mainly spent time preparing the audience for Bruckner's 4th Symphony, which was entirely new to most of the audience (including me). But first was the Mendelssohn, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I've always loved the first movement the most because of its emotional intensity, and Chee-Yun brought that out beautifully. I tend to enjoy hearing the "mechanics" of the instrument, and I enjoyed the somewhat "rough edge" feeling to her playing (not to mention that her 300-year old Stradivarius violin was fantastically resonant!). After a beautiful second movement, the incredibly difficult third movement was executed wonderfully. Although I'm always astounded at the technicality of this movement, unfortunately I've heard it so many times that it's hard to just sit back and enjoy it anymore. It was time for Bruckner after the intermission, and even though the piece wasn't something I would want to listen to everyday, I was happy to be exposed to it. Everything Peter Bay mentioned was certainly true, with each section playing lots of rhythmic unison like parts of an organ, and the full brass section sounded particularly spectacular (I just wish there had been more percussion than tympani). I had trouble appreciating Bruckner's extensive repetition, but I had a nice time watching all of the musicians and enjoying their intense concentration as they played. As usual, it was another great night at the symphony and I'm looking forward to the rest of the season!