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Clank or no clank, a fun opening night in Vail

Nevada Lee/Special to the Vail DailyJaap van Zweden takes the stage for Bravo!'s opening night performance of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra on Wednesday in Vail, Colorado
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VAIL, Colorado –The iPod is one of the best things to happen to Vail Valley music lovers. It’s also one of the worst things to happen.

I can get Brahms’ Fourth Symphony – in fact, all four – at 2:30 a.m. for $11.99 and change. I can crank up the Fourth as loudly as I would like without bothering my co-workers. I can take Johannes wherever I would like, say on a jog, if I were somehow inclined. (Not happening.)

And as an added bonus, this recording would probably not include the sound of a wine bottle clanking down the stairs during the second movement of the piece.

But as much as an iPod brings convenience, variety and affordability to a classical-music fan, Wednesday’s opening Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival concert reminds us that music at its best is a communal experience.

I often think one of the reasons I enjoy the symphony experience is linked to my “real” career as a sports writer. A concert is a live, organic event with 70-something musicians, a conductor to lead them and 2,000 or so attendees who are all linked together. Anything can happen and often does.

Wednesday was my first time seeing Jaap Van Zweden lead the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, so I didn’t have the casual relationship that I’ve had as a local concert-goer with his predecessor, Andrew Litton. I saw many familiar faces at Wednesday, but I didn’t know the people with whom I was sitting.

And as is usual at the Ford Amphitheater, the range of musical knowledge ranged from the devotee to a person who probably couldn’t tell a violin from a bass. (Hint: One is a lot bigger.)

Yet for two hours we all came together as one in a musical experience, something which is all too rare. At the risk of getting meeply deaningful – pun intended – we don’t have these opportunities to be a community, even though technology is supposedly pulling us together. If anything, technology, like the iPod, pulls us apart

This is what makes the concert experience. All you had to do was hear the “ahh” of recognition when the DSO played a portion of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 as a encore.

And that is why when I listen to Brahms;’ Fourth on my iPod again, I’ll find an empty bottle and roll it down some stairs.

• Welcome back, Dallas. Lovely to have you back.

• Wednesday’s program was traditional, but then again it wasn’t. It is so good to hear Mozart at the amphitheater, as opposed to being confined to the Vilar, except in celebratory years like 2006. Mozart’s 27th Piano Concerto was an interesting pick, though. Traditionally, you’d think that we’d hear “Coronation” (No. 26) or the 20th if for no other reason that its second movement is very familiar.

Mozart’s 27th, his last piano concerto, always leaves me wondering what his hypothetical 28th Piano Concerto would have been like had he lived past 35. In the 27th, you hear all that is quintessentially Mozart, but you also hear touches of the Romantic Era in the cadenzas, especially in the third movement.

• And Orion Weiss is how old? The answer is 26, and maybe it’s because he’s been growing up in front of us each summer. He performed Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto last year.

• I want to say something profound about the performance of Brahms’ Fourth. It was great. What do you want from me?

• Sunday is Saint-Saens’ Second Piano Concerto and Tchaikovsky’s rousing Fifth Symphony. (Yes, the phrase, “Tchaikovsky’s rousing” is redundant, but the Fifth is even rousing by the Russian’s standards.) While Tchaikovsky is a staple at Bravo!, we’re hearing more Saint-Saens which is greatly appreciated.

• Wednesday is Mahler’s Fifth. Yes, Mahler is difficult for some, but trust your friendly sports editor, you’ll be the better for it.

Sports Editor Chris Freud, when not out covering games is usually found in his office corner listening to classical music, can be reached at 970-748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.


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