Make no mistake, when the New York Philharmonic plays well, they play fantastically. The evening of the eleventh of April they had every reason to. Christoph von Dohnányi effortlessly provided a gloved, crushed velvet support in the first Brahms Concerto for the British pianist Paul Lewis, who was sincere, heartfelt and soulful. If the orchestra’s opening exposition lacked luster, the pianist’s entrance (almost diffident - his untucked, unassuming grey smock made a statement: “Don’t look at me; listen to the music”) had a remarkable dignity, humility and forthrightness which compelled the conductor, orchestra and audience.
An appreciation for the first movement was somewhat ruined by an elder’s hearing aid, apparently lost in her bag (impossible to fault any true music lover). Nonetheless, this pianist’s depth and warmth was a constant through what will be undoubtedly a rich and rewarding relationship with this institution.