When the concert ended I said, “We are so lucky to have such an amazing orchestra in town!” Jaap van Zweden, the soon-to-be music director of the New York Philharmonic conducted, and he and the LA Phil really sang.
Beethoven’s Fifth unspools from the clearly defined cell. It’s almost minimalism. But it’s the opposite of pattern-making: there’s an urgency to it. The stately second movement is like a diagram of grandeur—there’s the pomp, but it is ordered to symmetries beyond any specific occasion.
Then came the contrast of the Shostakovich Fifth, in which nothing is clear. Is it earnest? Is it ironic? There are moments of jubilant ruckus, and moments when the ruckus seems presented as a nightmare. He follows his moods where they take him—an assertion of individuality that seems heroic as Beethoven’s.
It was a funny evening, with the hall packed with visiting high-school band members from across the nation. And then four days later came the bombshell that JvZ was taking Deborah Borda back with him to NYC!