Levine's Wagner has texture and force, an ebb and flow that creates great import, yet a lightness that lets all the colors shine . . . [Levine's Schubert] was grand and lavish with an arch that intensified toward the conclusion.
. . . the channel between Levine and his orchestra remains spectacularly intact. . . . the prelude to "Lohengrin" planed in a languorous updraft. In Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto, the orchestra swiveled and swooped like a flock of starlings around Evgeny Kissin's piano . . . the sounds that his orchestra made in the hall rushed around with a ferocious, exuberant grace.
The festivities ended with the massive stresses and heroic sprawl of Schubert's 9th Symphony, played with taut propulsion, abiding grace and dynamic flair . . . This wasn't just a concert. It was a celebration.
. . . one of the greatest living American conductors . . . he led a serene, poised and glowing account of the Prelude to Act I of Wagner's "Lohengrin" . . . This was Mr. Levine at his best . . . this was a day to celebrate his return and bask in his musical glory . . . Mr. Levine excelled in this demanding Schubert work . . .The first movement was grand, stately and exciting . . . The scherzo was at once buoyant and incisive. And the finale, which can seem repetitive, was thrilling, played with momentum and restlessness, yet without any loss of grandeur, clarity and musical architecture . . . Mr. Levine's return was a triumph.
. . . [Schubert 9]: a number of places where the Met Orchestra sonority seemed more imposing than I've ever heard it. No showy surface details, but a sense that he and the musicians were a well-oiled musical mechanism, sailing through beautifully managed transitions that made the piece's ideas follow each other with a divinely inspired inevitability. Or, rather, Levinely inspired inevitability. In the "Lohengrin" Act I prelude, not a nanosecond was taken for granted, conveying the first blush of discovery, but backed up by Levine's lifetime of experience, study, and artistry. Such qualities are what music lovers live to hear but don't often encounter.