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Hide and seek with a battle axe

Beethoven and Prokofiev at San Diego Symphony.

Vadym Kholodenko
Vadym Kholodenko

Who knew that Beethoven was a fan of hide and seek? While that might not be historically accurate, there is certainly a sense of tiptoeing around in the opening measures of his Fourth Symphony.

During the first movement, I was puzzled. I knew that all the notes were there and I knew that they were all in tune and beautiful but something didn’t feel right.

During the second movement, I wanted to shout “hooray” for the horn solo but my sense of discomfort continued. Discomfort might be too strong a word. I’ve become accustomed to a specific type of feeling from the San Diego Symphony and I wasn’t getting it.

I’m greedy that way.

It wasn’t until the last few measures of the final movement that I figured it out. Whereas Brahms has always been spectacular with maestro Ling, Beethoven isn't always his bag.

I’m not saying Beethoven has been bad — well, there was the the time a departed trumpet player changed the chord in the finale of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, but that’s not on the conductor and that issue has been handled.

Beethoven’s Ninth during last season was good, but Beethoven’s Fifth was spectacular. However, Christoph von Dohnányi conducted the Fifth.

No conductor can be all things for all composers. Leonard Bernstein’s Beethoven wasn’t his strong suit and isn’t how he is remembered — and loved — as a conductor.

Fortunately, Prokofiev brought his battle axe to the concert and pianist Vadym Kholodenko wielded it with authority. Prokofiev gave his battle axe a name. He called it his Second Piano Concerto.

The symphony has added an overhead camera to show the pianist's hands. I found it to be a distraction and preferred the side view. The overhead view made it look like a virtual pianist app or something — Piano Hero?

Piano hero, indeed. Kholodenko was my piano hero.

I’ll admit that I have an affinity for Prokofiev because he’s got mountains of swag, but his music always has a sense of humor.

Tchaikovsky’s Waltz and Polonaise from Eugene Onegin concluded the concert. After the Prokofiev I completely forgot about Tchaikovsky, but I was soon reminded.

This was the best I've heard the San Diego Symphony play Tchaikovsky. There was an overriding sense of enjoyment in the orchestra and their pleasure in playing this music made me enjoy it even more.

Their smiles made me smile.

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Vadym Kholodenko
Vadym Kholodenko

Who knew that Beethoven was a fan of hide and seek? While that might not be historically accurate, there is certainly a sense of tiptoeing around in the opening measures of his Fourth Symphony.

During the first movement, I was puzzled. I knew that all the notes were there and I knew that they were all in tune and beautiful but something didn’t feel right.

During the second movement, I wanted to shout “hooray” for the horn solo but my sense of discomfort continued. Discomfort might be too strong a word. I’ve become accustomed to a specific type of feeling from the San Diego Symphony and I wasn’t getting it.

I’m greedy that way.

It wasn’t until the last few measures of the final movement that I figured it out. Whereas Brahms has always been spectacular with maestro Ling, Beethoven isn't always his bag.

I’m not saying Beethoven has been bad — well, there was the the time a departed trumpet player changed the chord in the finale of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, but that’s not on the conductor and that issue has been handled.

Beethoven’s Ninth during last season was good, but Beethoven’s Fifth was spectacular. However, Christoph von Dohnányi conducted the Fifth.

No conductor can be all things for all composers. Leonard Bernstein’s Beethoven wasn’t his strong suit and isn’t how he is remembered — and loved — as a conductor.

Fortunately, Prokofiev brought his battle axe to the concert and pianist Vadym Kholodenko wielded it with authority. Prokofiev gave his battle axe a name. He called it his Second Piano Concerto.

The symphony has added an overhead camera to show the pianist's hands. I found it to be a distraction and preferred the side view. The overhead view made it look like a virtual pianist app or something — Piano Hero?

Piano hero, indeed. Kholodenko was my piano hero.

I’ll admit that I have an affinity for Prokofiev because he’s got mountains of swag, but his music always has a sense of humor.

Tchaikovsky’s Waltz and Polonaise from Eugene Onegin concluded the concert. After the Prokofiev I completely forgot about Tchaikovsky, but I was soon reminded.

This was the best I've heard the San Diego Symphony play Tchaikovsky. There was an overriding sense of enjoyment in the orchestra and their pleasure in playing this music made me enjoy it even more.

Their smiles made me smile.

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