A stunning review for veteran pianist Emanuel Ax with relative newcomer Krzysztof Urbanski.

Memorable and magnificent things happen when great musical minds meet. That was the case on Jan. 16, when young, Polish conductor Krzysztof Urbanski made an astonishing debut with the San Francisco Symphony, performing Beethoven’s Concerto No. 5, “Emperor,” together with veteran pianist Emanuel Ax, plus a blistering interpretation of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95, From the New World.

Both Ax and Urbanski are of Polish descent (although Ax moved to Canada with his family as a child) and they are both professional musicians, but that is where the similarities seem to end. Generations apart (Urbanski is half Ax’s age), they may well have nothing in common at all, and on stage they even seem to be each other’s opposites when it comes to stature, bearing, and degree of theatrical exuberance.

But when it comes to musicianship these two brilliant artists are definitely kindred spirits. Together they gave life to a deep musical understanding that turned this performance of the“Emperor” Concerto into something fabulous and extraordinarily imposing.

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