Because he had gotten there so early we were able to get the best seats, the ones on the side "balcony" - this level is barely above ground level but has the wonderful swivel seats and great close views. The Sat afternoon rehearsal is free to anyone, and is called "No Ties Allowed". It is a comfortable, relaxed event. People come and go throughout, and children are more than welcome, noise and all. The director speaks to the audience, and in this case so did the soloist.
The first two pieces were warm, enjoyable pieces by William Walton and Rimsky Korsakov. Then, after a break, the wonder: Rachmaninov's third piano concerto. No cadenza this aft, because the soloist needed to save his energy for tonight. The soloist, 35 years old, winner of the Tchaikovsky piano competition in 1995 (only the second American to do so - Van Cliburn was the other), was warm and funny and immensely likeable. Rehearsals like this really give people a sense of the fun musicians often have together.
And the concerto was wonderful, wonderful. I took a few pix of the audience and symphony and a few short videos of the performances, and of course I didn't use flash. I listened to the videos after. It's amazing that I could take a little camera with me and record sound like that! Even though they are short. There was a little baby in the second row, six months old, bald-headed, facing backwards, held by his mommy. He was looking at a woman a couple of rows back, who was making little gestures at him. He was so delighted, would light up and smile the smile only a baby can offer and get so excited, without making a sound! I have no idea how that happened! But it was wonderful to watch that baby as the piano and orchestra notes floated over and surrounded us all.