I meant to blog about the concert I attended at the Concertgebouw last Thursday, but with all I’ve been busy doing, I somehow forgot.
The concert was, in a word,  sublime.

The program was Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and Prokofiev’s Sixth Symphony. They don’t provide a printed program unless you buy it,  which I didn’t.

Seats were slow to fill up. The audience lingered in the lobby drinking coffee, tea, wine, and champagne. I should say “lobbies,” as there are multiple bars both on the main level and in the balcony. Eventually the place filled up, and I only saw a handful of empty seats.

The hall is stunning,  box-shaped, with names of famous composers (and a few not-so-famous) along the walls. There’s some seating behind the stage too.

The couple sitting next to me wished me “Goedavond” (good evening), and I returned the greeting and then said that was the full extent of my Dutch. So they asked me where I’m from and we got to chatting; they are regular attendees and everyone is very excited about this program because it’s a Danish violinist and a Russian conductor, so very international.

The concertmaster didn’t make a special entrance, something they do in the USA that seems silly and unnecessary. He just stood up when it was time to tune. The oboist also stood up. I wondered where the conductor and soloist would enter from, since there is no stage door.

The orchestra on stage
The audience

They eventually (after a long delay that spurred laughter from the audience) entered from the door up at the top next to the organ and came down the stairs to the stage.

The Beethoven was astonishing, played so beautifully and lyrically. Maybe it was the fine acoustics, but this violinist had such a gorgeous tone, especially on the high notes, and the orchestral playing was in turns subdued and grand.

The ovation from the audience went on and on afterwards, and finally the violinist came down and played an encore, a solo piece by Bach, I think, that was also wonderful.

Then it was intermission,  and the hall emptied. I don’t mean partially, I mean almost completely. There were maybe ten or fifteen people who stayed put; everyone else was out in one of the lobbies drinking wine.

The Prokofiev was brilliant and bombastic and energetic; it was almost hard to believe it was the same orchestra that had played Beethoven with such delicacy.

Another standing ovation, many returns to the stage by the conductor, many bows for standout performers in the orchestra, and then it was over. The couple next to me said that the audience is always very appreciative, but this seemed moreso than usual.

A great night of great music!

Tonight,  the Verdi Requiem at the Oslo Opera House.

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