I was lucky to hear the Boston Symphony Saturday night, in a concert I was excited about - Berg's Violin Concerto (although I could never remember who the soloist was supposed to be) and Mahler's Ninth Symphony with James Levine conducting.
It turns out I'll never forget the violinist, Christian Tetzlaff, ever again. It was stunning music making - sublime, passionate and beautiful. The orchestra rose to the challenge and was coaxed, inspired and put through the paces by Levine, who showed the energy of a man half his age, and an interpretation of a maestro twice his age.
Tetzlaff danced, shook, and encouraged the notes of Berg's concerto with skill, panache and sometimes ugliness - not in a bad musician way, but an harshness that certain moments needed. It was stellar. And his solo Bach encore was to die for.
After intermission, Mahler's final complete symphony was in the hands of an orchestra who played as if their life depended on it. Pianissimos were soft yet clear, fortissimos were heavy but passionate and again, Levine was almost cartoonlike, again in the best sense, for this powerful and touching work. Levine took charming liberties with the tempos, allowing long phrases to make their full impact.