I don't usually write reviews of concerts I attend; I'm not a music critic. But I attended a concert of the Oakland East Bay Symphony tonight, and I have to talk about this.
The concert ended with the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, op. 15, with Sara Buechner at the piano. It had been a good concert - a rousing Russian Easter Overture, a lively Petrouchka, a new piece from a young composer. But the Beethoven was - amazing. Sara Buechner played the piano like no one I've ever heard - her playing was crystalline, and yet strong. The piano sounded so light that at first I thought it was a fortepiano, and then I remembered two things:
One, Beethoven didn't use the fortepiano; in fact, Beethoven is largely responsible for the modern concert grand.
Two, I've never heard a Beethoven piano concerto performed live before (really!). I've only heard recordings. And on recordings, they over-mike the piano to make it sound more "muscular." This is what the real thing sounds like - I just didn't realize it.
Frankly, I thought the performance was pretty close to perfect, although Maestro Morgan took the first movement a little slower than the recording I'm used to; but once he got into it, the first movement sounded wonderful, and the precision of the piano took over. And the third movement just ripped - I thought it would take the roof off the hall! That's why you go to live performances, in fact; you go to hear events like this - and it'll never be available on CD. The OEBS doesn't usually cut CDs. But it got a five-curtain-call standing ovation, from an audience that hadn't come to its feet all evening; and I ran into one of the French horn players after the concert, and he thought it was brilliant too.
Brava, Ms. Buechner! Brava!