The San Antonio Symphony's fall performance season starts on Saturday. Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing's enthusiasm for the performances ahead is catching.
"We have the great, great American pianist Emanuel Ax coming in to play Beethoven's Fifth Piano Concerto, The Emperor. Now, if you look at the program it looks like 'God, these are the most standard pieces in the repertoire'," he says.
Lang-Lessing encourages the audience to look deeper than just the surface.
"It's the context when it was written. The aftermath of the French Revolution and the reaction that followed. We always say that is destiny knocking at the door. No, no, no, no!" he exclaims, hitting his desk to the beat. "This is the prisoner rattling with his chains and the bars of his prison and trying to escape and trying to fight back."
You may never hear Beethoven's Fifth the same way.
"And if you see how Beethoven Fifth finishes, going from the C Minor to this C Major glorious liberation, it is a revolution!"
The evening starts with the Egmont Overture, and Lang-Lessing sees more human drama there.
"And Egmont is all about an oppressed country. The Spanish, that oppressed Belgium and the Netherlands. But it is also about the Revolution and the uprising against oppression," he says. "We want to bring this music to life to a degree to which it actually has a relevance to us now, and I think that all these pieces have that in common – an extreme revolutionary and exhilarating relevance to us."
Unlike most symphony performances, the Symphony's Saturday Tobin event is one night only.
"We are really looking forward to it," Lang-Lessing says.
Find more on the symphony debut performance here.