Dave and I went to see the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for the first time in 13 or 14 months last night and were absolutely thrilled. This isn’t going to be anything like a professional review, just a few words to say how much we enjoyed the performance and how glad we are that the orchestra was able to finally get the strike behind it and play.
Peter Oundjian was the guest conductor. The program was:
- Overture to The Magic Flute (Mozart)
- Les Offrandes Oubliées (The Forgotten Offerings) (Messaien)
- Suite from The Firebird (1919 version) (Stravinsky)
- Piano Concerto #21 in C Major (Mozart)
- Boléro (Ravel)
The program was almost as warhorse-y as they come, but there’s a reason pieces become warhorses: They’re good and crowd-pleasing. The Messaien was the most obscure piece yet fit very well with the others. We warmed to it readily. The Mozart piano concerto is my favorite concerto of all composers’; the soloist was Jeremy Denk and he appeared to have plenty of fun while exhibiting his virtuosity. The only issue I could hear was that, sandwiched between two 20th-century works, the concerto seemed quiet and sedate, but that’s only appropriate as orchestras in Mozart’s day were smaller. Boléro was just magnificent. It’s very rare I’ve wanted to hoot and holler at any concert; I had to restrain myself. There were four curtain calls at the end because the audience was so enthusiastic. Hell, there were curtain calls after every piece! I’ve never seen that before.
We had balcony seats — we always try for main floor, but the audiences have been mad for tickets during this spring season, and we weren’t sure about making it until about a week ago. There are no bad sight lines in the house, and the acoustics are at least good everywhere, though the strings get overwhelmed by the horns when you’re in the balcony.
I’m awfully glad the orchestra is back. I’d really missed seeing and hearing it. It’s still too early to tell what the long-term effects of the strike will be. This spring season looks really good but it’s not really what the orchestra had been doing before as far as repertoire goes. It’ll be interesting to see how many unusual works and world premieres will be scheduled this fall. The orchestra still sounded great and was a joy to hear.
A special note to my Ontario friends: Go see Peter Oundjian at the Toronto Symphony. He does so well with Detroit’s, I can’t imagine how pleasureable it would be to see him with his own orchestra.