If you missed the Meadows Symphony’s performance this past weekend, you should be, quite simply, kicking yourself. Joaquín Achúcarro, beloved professor of piano in Meadows and world-renowned concert artist, gave a performance of Beethoven’s 4th concerto that will go down as one of the finest Meadows performances of the year. Achúcarro played with a level of subtlety seldom heard; many concertgoers may have in fact complained that he played too softly. This is a misguided judgment, for Achúcarro played loudly when he needed to, but only then, and was never percussive—traits of immense wisdom and a true understanding of how to really play the piano. Overall his playing proved the power of dynamic restraint to create a consistently warm and clear tone, and most importantly to let the music itself do the talking rather than the pianist.
This is where Achúcarro is a model to us all—he plays with an intense degree of humility despite his fame and musical authority. Indeed, his respect and admiration for the composer, the music, and the art as a whole is immediately self-evident as soon as he sits down at the piano.
The orchestra was for the most part crisp, clean, and expressive, though occasionally it should have been softer in order to match the soloist. This reviewer couldn’t stay for the second half of the program, but the MSO undoubtedly proved itself more than capable in its rendering of the Brahms Fourth Symphony. It has been a wonderful season and we should all be looking earnestly forward to the Spring.