I really enjoyed last night’s concert of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. It began with some dancey fun in the form of three dance variations from Bernstein’s ballet “Fancy Free.” It was a vivacious start to the evening and the musicians sounded great under the capable baton of Peter Oundjian.
Next we heard David Coucheron solo in Saint-Saëns’ violin concerto no. 3. This was very well done. I find that Saint-Saëns’s work can be kind of boring for me if someone isn’t actively trying to interpret it rather than just getting the music out of the score. Fortunately, Oundjian brought a dramatic flair from it that really held my attention. Coucheron, too, did very well in that regard: there was a lot of personality in his playing. It occurred to me that this wasn’t really a piece that I’d have wanted to hear him play back in his first few years as the ASO’s concertmaster, but his technique has continued to develop steadily since landing the gig. In particular, he seems to be pushing better sound out of the soft, slow bits and exhibiting greater control in general. That’s not to say that he was a shabby player before, only that he’s clearly continuing to develop as a musician.
The symphony for the evening was Beethoven’s 7th. For some reason I thought it would be the 6th and was modestly disappointed that it was 7th. Not that I dislike the 7th at all, but it’s a very different piece and I was liking the idea of losing myself in the 6th. Anyway, it was a clear and strong performance. The dynamics were excellent, particularly in the 2nd movement where the balance between high and low instruments created a wonderful fantastical soundscape. Like the rest of the concert, it was really good stuff.