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Don Juan is a legendary lover and on Saturday evening, Cristof Perick and the San Diego Symphony made love to our ears with an all German concert.

The concert began with Richard Strauss and his tone poem Don Juan. This piece of music is good old fashioned overblown post-romantic schmaltz, and I loved it.

The orchestra played with confidence and beauty but principal oboist Sarah Skuster stole the show with her exquisite solo in the middle section of the piece.


After Strauss, it was time for concertmaster Jeff Thayer to steal the show with the Goldmark Violin Concerto. The Goldmark concerto is somewhat esoteric at this point but at one time is was staple of the violin repertoire.

Mr. Thayer’s intonation was perfect. Every, single, note was in the middle of the pitch. Having faced pitch issues for most of my singing life, I’ve become something of a pitch-bitch and I’ve got nothing. Thayer’s playing was more than pitch perfect, it was also devoted and expressive.

After intermission, it was time to take a walk in the countryside with Beethoven's Symphony No. 6: The Pastoral. From the look of it, the orchestra loved playing this masterpiece.

The second movement, the Scene by the Brook, could have gone on all night so far as I was concerned. I don’t know that I’ve heard the orchestra sound more beautiful.

Cristof Perick conducted the score from memory, as he’d done with Don Juan and his rapport with the players was obvious. Maestro Perick conducted the piece without any sentimentality, he allowed the beauty of the music to be it’s own.

It is tempting to get precious with the transition from the storm in the shepherd's song but Perick did not allow the storm to tarry as it receded. At the very end of the piece when the strings restate the shepherd theme for the final time, Perick didn’t take any grandiose pauses but let the music continue without inserting himself.

I hope to see more of Maestro Perick with the SDSO. He is a most welcome guest.


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