From an interpretive standpoint, Goto's musical choices worked best in the finale, with Beethoven's jaunty tunes containing ample spirit and playfulness. Whatever disagreements Levine might have had about Goto's approach to this concerto, he provided the soloist with beautiful and rhythmically solid accompaniments that any performer would be happy to receive. As for Goto, he's an artist who holds considerable promise.
The first half of this “Pristine Visions” concert featured Antonin Dvorak's “Symphony No. 8 in G Major,” generally considered the sunniest of the composer's nine symphonies. Like Beethoven, Dvorak often works with melodic or rhythmic fragments which he then pieces together to form a harmonious whole.
In some respects, Dvorak could be considered the Czech equivalent to Brahms. His orchestral writing is melodically innovative and orchestrated in a highly distinctive manner. The brass added weight and brawn to the opening movement while the second featured a warm burnished sound.
The Allegretto brought to mind Dvorak's “Slavonic Dances,” an unmistakably Czech approach to melody and lilting rhythms. In the finale, Levine's careful pacing made certain that no matter how many detours Dvorak made along the way, there was never any doubt that this movement was headed to an inevitable and exciting climax. It proved to be just the right tonic for a wintry evening.
— Rick Rogers