"MTT conducts Berlioz" read the concert description on the ticket. But he didn't.
Tonight's concert went through two program alterations on the way which eliminated both of the pieces originally scheduled to be on it. Gone was Berlioz, and gone was the US premiere of a piano concerto by some German composer, probably never written, or at least I could find no reference to it on his website.
Instead, we got, as a curtain-raiser, Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks, very nicely done, followed by a premiere in the form of Pandora for string orchestra, by associate concertmaster Mark Volkert. This had been originally scheduled for October, but since, according to the program, it was written two years ago, dilatoriness of the composer is unlikely to have been responsible for the change.
Volkert's piece seemed to me to consist of shrieking and screeching. As I'm not formally reviewing this concert, I'm not obliged to describe it any more fully than that, nor to try to pretend that I liked it.
Then came Yefim Bronfman to play Beethoven's Emperor Concerto, which I'm sure I enjoyed infinitely more than I would have the new concerto he was originally scheduled to play. I would just like to remind anyone who holds to the theory that ugly times demand ugly music that Beethoven wrote this concerto while Napoleon was invading Vienna. Beethoven hid in the cellar with pillows over his ears, trying to protect the remains of his hearing from the sound of cannon. Yet in the midst of this he composed what, by dint of its slow movement, is the most beautiful concerto ever written. It received a beautiful performance tonight.
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