B-cat expects these to be his busiest few months in grad school (MSc in Physics), so we used up our free vouchers from Vancouver Symphony Orchestra while he had a weekend to spare. The first concert that sounded interesting was Tchaikovsky and the Mermaid: mainly Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major and Zemlinsky’s The Mermaid.

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Great seats at the Orpheum

As mentioned last Hallowe’en, I haven’t been attending VSO concerts regularly, partly because I get my classical symphony fix through ballet and opera. Another reason is that, after years of $10 student tickets followed by years of free tickets (a close friend worked for VSO), the experience just didn’t seem special anymore.

What a crass, first-world complaint. I know.

If all guest musicians were as good as Augustin Hadelich, though, things might be different. Often the long, unaccompanied solos by the singer or violinist or pianist simply become tiring hurdles to get over before the orchestra kicks back in. Even with Lang Lang.

But Hadelich is skilled without sounding like he’s exercising skills. Not only does he play beautifully without the ridiculous, grotesque heaving and writhing many violinists affect on stage — like actors who say every word dramatically, without regard to meaning — but at one point that evening his sound was pure music seemingly far removed from any earthly instrument, an energy flowing from the stage and filling the theatre like light.

It was the most unreal feeling. I’d never had such an experience with VSO.

And then Hadelich played us an encore piece.

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The next concert in VSO’s Masterworks Diamond series will be on March 12. Of course there are other concerts before then, but Beethoven’s Emperor is a particularly good one. I actually wish I appreciated it more.

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