I felt like I heard two orchestras onstage these past few days: the one that played Tchaikovsky's second and third symphonies, and the one that played Tchaikovsky's fourth and fifth.
The first orchestra played the notes and the passages with all the unremarkable familiarity of a morning commute, like it happened, like it left no lasting impression and that was the end of it. You left, you arrived and that was all.
Then there was that other orchestra, the one that managed to somehow blaze new trails through even the most well-trodden of musical paths, the one that made new discoveries within oft-repeated ideas.
This is how I succinctly characterize the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra's two appearances in Costa Mesa's Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall on Oct. 13 and 17.
The famed Russian ensemble from St. Petersburg — brought locally thanks to the Philharmonic Society of Orange County and led by Valery Gergiev — was, at its numerous highs, the listener's ladder to Tchaikovsky-infused heaven. And when not enjoying the air up there, we were Earth-bound and in mere contentment.