Yesterday evening was the final musical installment for guest conductor Olari Elts – a bespeckled, tailless wonder who appeared to be the nerdiest maestro ever atop the Schnitzer podium. Fitting into P-Town’s geeky ethos perfectly, the Estonian marvel (refreshingly) did not say a single word to the audience, allowing his delightful precision and intense attention to momentary details speak for themselves. After celebrating the King of Fairies’ arrival with Weber’s über-charming operatic overture to Oberon, Olari and the Oregon Symphony shifted gears and a few seats for the program’s first-half highlight: Symphony No. 2 by none other than Herr Ludwig van Beethoven.
Now if you’re an LvB devotee like the Beavs, 2013 has already been an astounding year for Beethovian magic at the corner of SE Broadway and Main. Not only were we Portlanders treated to André Watts knocking out the Emperor Concerto back in January, it was a mere two weeks ago that the band and their resident choir gave us the tremendous gift of The Ninth. Last evening’s Symphony #2 was the proverbial icing on the German chocolate cake – and not only because it’s such a mischievously fun composition. You see, gentle reader, back when I was an uncouth, Top-40-listening collegiate sophomore in Cleveland, I finally journeyed to Severance Hall and took in Beethoven’s legendary Fifth presented by Christoph von Dohnányi and C-Town’s big band. It was my very first orchestral experience, and it would still be another decade or so before the classical bug hit me hard, but an offhanded oath was made that night in University Circle: I vowed to experience all nine of Beethoven’s epic symphonies before Fate itself came a-knockin’ at my door. This symphonic bucket list may have been casually created back in the 90′s, but its successful fulfillment has now taken hold of me with a revitalized sense of urgency and necessity. Thanks to the Oregon Symphony I’ve only got one more to go (!), and after the glorious sounds of Greeney’s sweet calfskins and Carin’s cheeky bassoon faded into applause last night, my thoughts were immediately drawn to the band’s upcoming announcement of their 2013/14 season, and with every handclap, I offered up a silent plea to the gods that Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 would appear on the soon-to-be-revealed docket. Oh dear ~ Who’s the nerd now?!