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San Diego Symphony: Top Shelf

We saw the best of professionalism on Sunday at The San Diego Symphony.

Pianist Stephen Hough played both of the piano concertos by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt. Liszt is most known for his virtuosic piano music and Mr. Hough happens to be a virtuoso.

Every now and then we see a professional who appears invincible--who is performing at an elevated level and yet appears to be exerting minimal effort.

I'm thinking of Tiger Woods at his peak or Michelle Kwan at hers. I'm thinking of Michael Jordan shrugging his shoulders after making his 6th 3-pointer in the first half of an NBA Finals game. I'm thinking of instances where a tremendous amount of energy is being created in an almost casual manner.

That is what watching Mr. Hough play the piano was like on Sunday. I felt as though he could have done anything he wanted to with that piano.

He could have folded the 9-foot concert grand into a neat little square, put it in his pocket, shrugged his shoulders a la Michael Jordan, and walked out the door as if nothing had happened.

I do not mean to imply that Mr. Hough played the piano causally or without energy. That was not the case at all. He played with the freedom of an artist who has prepared to such an extent that his limits weren't challenged by the music he was performing.

Mr. Hough appeared to be a performer who has sweat blood in the practice room so that we can have complete access to the music he is playing.

Even though Mr. Hough's hands appeared as if they could crush my head like a grape, there were moments when he finessed the musical phrases to such an extent that I wasn't sure if he had played the final note or if my ear had inferred it.

In the first of the two piano concertos, his duet with principal cellist Yao Zhao made my hair stand on end. I was impressed by the trust between the two musicians.

The communication and trust between Mr. Hough and conductor Jahja Ling was also profound.

Once again, The San Diego Symphony gave a top-shelf performance.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkUBN5Ydjao

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HY0WgCz5xPs

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We saw the best of professionalism on Sunday at The San Diego Symphony.

Pianist Stephen Hough played both of the piano concertos by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt. Liszt is most known for his virtuosic piano music and Mr. Hough happens to be a virtuoso.

Every now and then we see a professional who appears invincible--who is performing at an elevated level and yet appears to be exerting minimal effort.

I'm thinking of Tiger Woods at his peak or Michelle Kwan at hers. I'm thinking of Michael Jordan shrugging his shoulders after making his 6th 3-pointer in the first half of an NBA Finals game. I'm thinking of instances where a tremendous amount of energy is being created in an almost casual manner.

That is what watching Mr. Hough play the piano was like on Sunday. I felt as though he could have done anything he wanted to with that piano.

He could have folded the 9-foot concert grand into a neat little square, put it in his pocket, shrugged his shoulders a la Michael Jordan, and walked out the door as if nothing had happened.

I do not mean to imply that Mr. Hough played the piano causally or without energy. That was not the case at all. He played with the freedom of an artist who has prepared to such an extent that his limits weren't challenged by the music he was performing.

Mr. Hough appeared to be a performer who has sweat blood in the practice room so that we can have complete access to the music he is playing.

Even though Mr. Hough's hands appeared as if they could crush my head like a grape, there were moments when he finessed the musical phrases to such an extent that I wasn't sure if he had played the final note or if my ear had inferred it.

In the first of the two piano concertos, his duet with principal cellist Yao Zhao made my hair stand on end. I was impressed by the trust between the two musicians.

The communication and trust between Mr. Hough and conductor Jahja Ling was also profound.

Once again, The San Diego Symphony gave a top-shelf performance.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkUBN5Ydjao

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HY0WgCz5xPs

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