Wow, what a magical evening!
My sister and I were still rambling on about the concert the next day.
From the relaxed and fun concert preview by conductor Edward Cumming, to the closing notes of the Beethoven Symphony No. 8 it was shear perfection.
It's one thing to see and hear top professional musician's perform because they can, it's another thing altogether to see them perform because they want to.
This was a stage full of people who love to play, and an audience full of people who appreciate these musicians, and love to listen.
Once the orchestra was all seated, signaling it was time for the first violinist to enter and "tune" the orchestra, all chatter in the audience suddenly stopped dead, like you'd pulled the plug on a stereo. I mean instant and complete silence, not a whisper, not a cough, nothing. You could have heard a feather land on a pillow. That's respect.
The Ives Symphony No. 3 was interesting, and the Beethoven Symphony No. 8 quickly reminded you that you were listening to musicians at the top of their game (incredible, and great fun).
If you aren't familiar with the No. 8, I highly recommend finding a good recording, or better yet a live performance by a top-notch orchestra like the HSO.
But the highlight of the evening was definitely Jeffrey Biegel's performance of the Lowell Liebermann Piano Concerto no. 3 for piano and Orchestra, Op. 95.
The audience was literally on the edge of their seats. If it had been a rock concert, they would have been crowded around the stage :-)
Jeffrey's well known mastery of the keyboard was clearly evident, but just as important to me was the obvious joy he felt in performing the piece and the wonderful respect he and the HSO had for each other.
The Concerto is a wonderful piece that certainly shows of the versatility (and virtuosity) of the pianist, but gives equal time to the talents of the orchestra.
When it was over, the audience was on their feet, and they wouldn't let Jeffrey go. After his third trip to center stage, he thanked the audience and gave us a little treat.
I believe it was titled "the Road to Hong Kong".
A short piece that was fun to listen to, in which, as my sister said, "his fingers moved so fast, they were a blur".
If you get the opportunity to see Jeffrey perform the Liebermann, do yourself a favor, go!
(schedule is on his site, www.jeffreybiegel.com
Thank you Jeffrey, and thank you Mr. Cumming and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, it was a night I will remember for a long time (I'm still smiling when I think about it).