On the evening of Friday, February 24th, the first of three extraordinary concerts were given at Carnegie Hall by the superb musicians of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under the masterful direction of Franz Welser-Möst, one of the greatest living conductors.
The program—aptly devoted to Viennese music, which dominated all three concerts—opened with the lovely, uncharacteristically Rossinian Overture to Die Zauberharfe, by Franz Schubert, heard here in a sterling account. This was followed by the American premiere of Time Recycling by contemporary composer, René Starr, which was notable for its accomplished orchestration.
The second half of the evening was devoted to the brilliant tone-poem, Ein Heldenleben by Richard Strauss, magnificently rendered by the musicians. Enthusiastic applause brought forth a delightful encore, the Frühlingsstimmen Waltz of Johann Strauss Jr.
The program on the following evening opened with a dazzling performance of the great Piano Concerto No. 1 of Johannes Brahms, featuring the deservedly celebrated Rudolf Buchbinder as soloist who rewarded the audience's spirited ovation with a marvelous encore, “Soirée de Vienne,” Op. 56, Concert Paraphrase on Waltzes from Die Fledermaus (after Johann Strauss II), of Alfred Grünfeld.
The second half of the concert was just as remarkable, opening with a glorious account of Schubert's exquisite, if ubiquitous, "Unfinished" Symphony in B Minor. This was followed by an equally impressive performance of the excellent The Miraculous Mandarin Suite by Béla Bartók. Another round of excited applause elicited another enjoyable encore, the "Frauenherz" Polka-Mazurka, Op. 166, of Josef Strauss.
The concluding program, presented on the afternoon of the following day, was also superlative, opening with a magisterial version of the Arnold Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht, one of the masterpieces of late Romanticism, while the second half of the concert enchanted with a wonderful account of Schubert's titanic Symphony No. 9, the "Great." The audience's joyous reception of this performance was reciprocated by one final encore in this thrilling series, the thoroughly pleasurable "For Ever" Polka, Op. 193, of Josef Strauss.