Have you ever been to a concert that just blew your socks off? You know, one that you talk about years later, that you just can't forget because there was something extra special. It was just perfect playing, all the notes hit at the right time, no mistakes, that sort of thing. It was that something magical happened, where your spirit was touched, the way your heard music was changed.
Well that's what happened at one concert this fall with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. It was the last concert before the musicians and management came to a standstill in contract negotiations and the decision was made to stop work altogether and lock out the musicians.
The audience seemed to know what was to come and the energy in the air was a bit wild, sort of anything goes. Danish conductor Thomas Dausgaard was conducting and I had never seen him before, but had heard his many beautiful with Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Swedish Chamber Orchestra and I wanted to see him in action.
I was also curious about the clarinetist who had been singled out for an Avery Fisher Career Grant a few years ago and would be playing one of my favorites - and not often heard - Nielsen Clarinet Concerto.
It was a night to remember with the audience giving the musicians a standing ovation that lasted many minutes even before they played a note. But it was the music performed under this conductor that was like something I had never heard before. New details, shadings and something fresh came from the orchestra.
And when Alexander Fiterstein came out and took over the stage for the complex, witty and thoroughly virtuosic Nielsen, I was floored. Who is this talent? And how is he able to make music and seemingly tell a story all at once?
Yes, it's fair to say, I was blown away.
Luckily for us, Alex teaches at the University of Minnesota and so is around town enough for us to hear him somewhat regularly - and next week, he takes off on a Midwest tour that includes a good number of outstate cities including International Falls, Virginia, Wilmar and Slayton and he'll be back in the Cities for a concert at the U in late March.
Don't miss hearing Alexander Fiterstein. You too will have one of those "best concert" moments.