Last Saturday evening’s final Ridgefield Symphony concert for this season provided a telling illustration of the importance of live musical performances. When we attend a play featuring a fine actor who has, in effect, gone beyond just memorizing the playwright’s words to assimilate his character’s thoughts and emotions, it is the actor rather than the playwright who communicates, both aurally and visually, the “essence” of the playwright’s words to us. Just reading the play or listening to a recording of it comes up short.
The same communication phenomenon applies to a musical performance. The distinguished conductor Michael Lankester was on the podium Saturday evening and cellist Adrian Daurov was his soloist in a program that included Mikhail Glinka’s Overture to Ruslan and Ludmila, Dmitri Shostakovich’s first Cello Concerto, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (the Eroica). Like a fine actor, Maestro Lankester, conducting without scores, had obviously memorized all of the music’s notes and rhythms, but it was his assimilation of the memorized scores’ varying moods and emotional subtleties that brought the music to life through his expressive visual movements, first for the orchestra and therefore ultimately, both visually and aurally, for the audience as well.