We mustn’t quibble. Daniel Barenboim’s innovative series juxtaposing Beethoven’s five piano concertos with Schoenberg may have been destined for London (Paris later this week), but Saturday’s single Birmingham concert was better than nothing.
More than that it was a triumph, both for Barenboim himself and the remarkable Staatskapelle Berlin he has directed since 1992.
Few string works are more emotionally draining than Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht, and as the electrifying opener it seethed wonderfully with transparent multipart textures and solo lines that erupted from the musical cauldron of expressionistic brooding.
Yet, despite all the heart-searching, there was also intimacy, notably in the bittersweet conclusion.
On the other hand Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto was full of heroic confidence.
Barenboim, directing from the keyboard (and how well co-ordinated this listening orchestra was), structured much of it symphonically, allowing the solo part to emerge more as a highlighted instrument than star turn.
And in encouraging his colleagues to share the limelight with him, this phenomenal artist demonstrated the spirit and generosity of a truly great musician.