On Friday night we braved the wind and cold to venture uptown to Lincoln Center for a New York Philharmonic performance of Bruckner's Symphony No. 8. It was my first time seeing former Philharmonic music director in person on the podium, but Bruckner was the main reason I was there. The 8th Symphony is a massive work: 80+ minutes of gorgeous brass chorales, shimmering string chords, and beautiful woodwind solos. Mehta led the orchestra through a well-paced reading of the symphony, taking things a bit slower than I expected in the first and second movements, but always with a sense of motion and energy. The third movement built to climax after climax, culminating in perhaps my favorite moment in the entire work, a tremendous explosion with a cymbal crash. (One thing I like about hearing this piece in person is watching the percussionists on cymbal and triangle, who sit behind the timpani for the entire work only to play a few measures in the slow movement.) The finale thrilled me as always, from its terrifying opening to its glorious conclusion. Mehta seemed to be much appreciated and well-received by the audience. As with Mahler, if the Philharmonic is playing Bruckner, I'll do whatever I can to be there.
A couple of other notes:
There were plenty of empty seats in the first and second tiers. I guess Bruckner isn't as beloved in New York as Mahler.
The audience laughed and applauded after Alec Baldwin's recorded announcement to turn off cell phones. I didn't see anyone on the orchestra level with phones out during the concert. And I saw ushers on either side of the orchestra level, near the side doors, taking turns keeping an eye on things.
The young (college-age?) kid in front of me conducted and cued a tiny orchestra in front of him for most of the concert. His girlfriend didn't notice or didn't care. The guy next to him seemed exasperated and left quickly after the concert ended. It was more than a little distracting, and I was sitting behind the kid. I might have kicked him if I'd been next to him.