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Location: Houston, Texas, United States

My name is David Stone. I live in Houston, Texas. I am a 30-something single white male. I am an Orthodox Christian and am a member of an English-language parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Vienna Philharmonic

Last Sunday afternoon I was able to attend the concert by the Vienna Philharmonic at Jones Hall in Houston.

This was probably a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to hear what many believe to be the world's finest orchestra. It was truly a dream come true.

The orchestra was performing in Houston in a Society for the Performing Arts concert as part of its North American tour.

The orchestra was led by Italian conductor Riccardo Muti.

The program consisted of the Rosamunde Overture by Schubert, the Haffner Symphony of Mozart, The Tragic Symphony of Schubert and the tone-poem Death and Transfiguration by Richard Strauss.

As an encore the orchestra and Maestro Muti performed Giuseppe Verdi’s Overture to La Forza Del Destino.

The Vienna Philharmonic lived up to all of the hype I have heard over the years. They were without doubt one of the best orchestras I have ever heard,

The string section in particular was phenomenal. There were passages in Death and Transfiguration where the playing was amazingly passionate and also brilliantly executed technically.

The brass section also sounded very good and the tuba player had a very rich and powerful tone.

Muti gave very solid and traditional interpretations. Everything seemed very natural. The Strauss and the Verdi pieces really stood out.

The only, somewhat odd, thing I noticed was that at some of the big climax points in the Strauss the pivotal chords would be “staggered” by a single player entering just a split second before the rest of the orchestra. This happened a few times so it was obviously an intended effect. I've never heard that approach before.

I really can’t think of the last time I heard such great orchestral string playing except for the time the Philadelphia Orchestra came to Houston back in the late 1980s. If memory serves Muti was also conducting at that performance since he is a former Music Director of that orchestra.

Here is a link to a review of the concert in the Houston Chronicle.


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