Classical musicians tend to wear their mileage proudly. Conductors supposedly hit their stride at age 60, probably because they no longer care what people think of them, while pianists continue practicing their art without the pitch worries that plague senior violinists.
Two opposite maturity scenarios unfolded Friday as the Philadelphia Orchestra revved up for this week's Florida tour with frequent guest conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, 79, and one of Philadelphia's proudest exports, pianist Andre Watts, 66, in a Beethoven/Hindemith program.
Having suffered health problems over the last year, Frühbeck conducted most of the Verizon Hall concert sitting down. But infirmity didn't keep him from stepping outside his Mediterranean-colored repertoire in favor of Hindemith's brainier, normally black-and-white Concert Music for Strings and Brass (Op. 50), whose contrapuntal writing had entire sections playing in boldly drawn unison. Frühbeck gave the piece more heat, even anguish, than I previously imagined. Why isn't it heard more often?