9.13.2010

Austin Symphony / Andre Watts : 4 of 5

I always enjoy going to the first concert of the symphony season each year, but attending the opening of Austin Symphony's 100th season made it even more special! The featured soloist was the famous pianist Andre Watts, who showed off his years of experience with an impeccable rendition of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4. It was wonderful to see this piece performed, since I recently heard it discussed in a documentary, and I was amazed at how many of the melodies in all three movements that I could hum along with, although I don't have it in my CD collection (yet!). I loved the interesting chord progressions and incredible extended trills (talk about carpal tunnel!) of the first movement, as well as the moody call and response of the second movement. I think Austin audiences are a little spoiled by guest performer encores, since no one would stop applauding for Andre Watts, but I'm sure he was exhausted from such a trying piece! The rest of the program was interesting since there was a short piece by Schuman (notice the single N) as well as a symphony by Schumann (notice the 2 Ns)! The New England Triptych included some fascinating tympani work, although the rest of the piece wasn't really my style. Schumann's Symphony No. 2 was marvelous, however, with some fantastic woodwind sections in the slow movement, and plenty of huge bombastic flourishes to end the first and fourth movements. As always, I enjoyed being exposed to new classic works and re-discovering familiar ones. I'm looking forward to seeing much more of this triumphant 100th season!