This is what puts people in seats for a classical music concert. This is what keeps them coming back. This is what builds the organization artistically, structurally, spiritually, and as a consequence, financially. It starts with this – with the art and the artist.
The interpretation doesn’t necessarily have to be revelatory, it’s communication that matters. That ability to communicate is a very special gift: a disciplined harnessing of technique in service to the music while retaining spontaneity of expression and generating an emotional involvement that expands out into the audience, drawing them in and making them active participants in the performance.
ASO concertmaster David Coucheron was soloist tonight in the Mendelssohn Concerto, with guest conductor Roberto Abbado. David is a performer, and if you have only heard him from the bleacher seats in his normal role, you owe it to yourself to go hear him in this other capacity. It’s a conservative performance, without a lot of overly-romanticized gestures. But more importantly than that, it’s a performance that communicates. The obligatory standing ovation that greets the end of every concerto played in Symphony Hall these days was in this case spontaneous and heartfelt. He’s an engaging personality and he gets the audience on the side of the home team. And that is what it’s all about.
At the third curtain call, following some sincere and well-chosen words, he played the Paganini Caprice No. 7 for an encore. I think the audience would have been content to stay for the twenty-three others, but the soloist still had two Mendelssohn concerts ahead (see below). However, I certainly hope the objective of putting those few critical minutes on the clock was achieved…
There was some other music on the program – but this was the main event, and it should have been a highly instructive event for anyone charged with the administrative future of the organization. I can guarantee nearly everyone who came tonight will make it a point to come the next time David plays a concerto. And they will get the word out to others.
So then why were there so many empty seats tonight? It’s not like he just appeared on the scene, and if there was any doubt about the draw he has quickly become, all you had to do was observe how many people left at intermission. Hard even for the “Lone Ranger” to complete with David and Mendelssohn. So it seems there’s a disconnect somewhere. Unfortunately, I also had to leave due to work schedule, but I suspect the house, which appeared to be about 75% sold to start, was probably down to about 50% after intermission – not very encouraging for those remaining on stage.
But it doesn’t have to be that way for the next two concerts. David’s still growing as an artist and interpreter and we may not be able to keep him forever, so enjoy now while you can. And go as well for the Berio and Rossini pieces. Please get to Symphony Hall and support our ASO: Saturday, March 9 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, March 10, 3:00 p.m.
After all, how many times will you get to see a grand slam?