COSTA MESA — As good as Brahms is for many people, he just can't seem to top the timeless passion evoked from the notes of a famously disgruntled Russian. That's surely why four standing ovations kept the crowd on their feet at the end of the Tchaikovsky concerto, and then for two more after the short, quiet encore.
And all that was just before the intermission.
That's not to say Thursday's lopsided season-opener concert of the Costa Mesa-based Pacific Symphony, however, was not enjoyable. It was, and very much so.
But when playing Brahms' Symphony No. 2 after Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, the maestro magicians don't save the best tricks for last. Still, good music is still beautiful music, whenever it's played.
Canadian pianist Jon Kimura Parker, the soloist for the series, gave a pre-concert talk that was as engaging as his performance. He recalled playing for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun's 80th birthday party, giving recitals in the Canadian Arctic and performing for Queen Elizabeth II — an experience "as regal as you think it might be," he said.