It wasn't perfect. For me, conductor Arie Lipsky's tempos were a bit too fast in the opening movement, a bit too quick in the Adagio, and a bit too frenzied in the later pages of the finale. At Lipsky's tempo, the wonderful University Choral Union could not quite articulate the choral fugue after Beethoven's vision of heaven, and the splendid soloists' rapturous cadenza was too brief to seduce the audience. But these are quibbles. Under Lipsky the AASO sounds better than ever: the accuracy and warmth of the strings is amazing, the color and clarity of the woodwinds astounding, the precision and power of the brass and percussion astonishing, and the unity of the whole breathtaking. Whatever faults I might find in details of Lipsky's interpretation, I could not complain about the overall quality of the performance.
Arie Lipsky leads the Ann Arbor Symphony in its popular annual Mozart Birthday Bash at the Michigan Theater on Saturday, January 18.
[Originally published in January, 2003.]