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The San Diego Symphony started their concert with Too Hot Toccata. It was not long but it was hot. After the heat, things cooled off in a hurry.

Even though we are in the midst of a Santa Ana, the Sibelius Violin Concerto chilled the air in Symphony Hall. The strings brought a gentle dusting of snow to the opening bars of the piece before the solo violin began its lamentatations.

Sibelius' best music is full of the long nights of the Finland winter. He makes us wait in suspense wondering if dawn will ever arrive. The Violin Concerto is some of Sibelius' best.

In the second movement, soloist Ray Chen spun a beautiful tone out of his instrument which warmed the air. We were inside by the fire, safe from the cold, enjoying an old and melancholic story.

When the Sibelius concluded, Chen treated the audience to not one but two encore pieces. The first was Pagannini Capriccio No. 1 but the second piece was Bach's Gavotte and Rondo.

After Sibelius and Pagannini, Bach was like taking a sip of orange juice after downing a gallon of chocolate milk. I loved it.

What can be said about the Brahms Symphony No. 4? The SDSO and Jahja Ling are turning Brahms into their patron composer.

Last season the Brahms Third Symphony may have been the strongest performance of the season and the Fourth continued that trend.

It is no small task to make Brahms memorable. His music is thick, dense, and difficult to navigate as an audience member, let alone as a performer.

After playing on their tip toes to accommodate the violin solo in Sibelius, the orchestra was present, full, and sonorous with Brahms.

As with the Third Symphony, maestro Ling expressed his mastery of the piece by conducting the Fouth from memory without a score.

Next weekend brings Gustav Mahler and his Symphony No. 5 to town. A brief piece of advice, GO to it.

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clavessin Oct. 30, 2012 @ 10:20 a.m.

And another brief piece of advice, if you want to hear Mahler #5 go on Saturday or Sunday so that you can also attend Concerto Koeln (Vivaldi, Handel and Telemann) on Friday (Irwin M. Jacobs Qualcomm Hall at 8pm). This is also a concert not to be missed.

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