This is the finalé of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra season finalé we’ve been attending for two weeks. Jeffrey Kahane has conducted and performed seven great Beethoven works so far, returning from his months of recovery from hypertension with a Herculean performance. The piano introduction to the Fantasia sounds as difficult as any of it, but tonight we hear a couple of small mistakes early on. He’s human after all, a relief, but will he make it through the piece? To our gratification he pulls it together, warming up to his usual confident, fluid style. The piece still feels a little under-rehearsed when the orchestra and Jeffrey fall a bit out of time, but the joyful effects of the music are almost enhanced by this tension. I’m amazed at how buoyant I feel at the end of the piece.
The performance of the great Ode to Joy is not at all sketchy, and part of the joyousness is the knowledge that Jeffrey has successfully performed all the piano works he set out to perform. He’s not resigned in the least bit though – he conducts every moment with great gestures and a body full of visible enthusiasm. The symphony is gripping from beginning to end. When the full choir joins in the final movement, it’s impossible to resist. The hair on my stood on end at times, and Ann said hers was doing the same through the entire piece. Thank you Jeffrey Kahane and Ludwig Van Beethoven, I wish everyone could have this experience at least once.