If the greatness of an orchestra is measured by its commission program, the Dresdner Staatskapelle is hitting it out of the park. It plays so well that composers such as Vivaldi, Schumann, Liszt have wanted the orchestra to premiere their stuff. It gave the opening of Tannhauser, The Flying Dutchman, Salome or Der Rosenkavalier. Wagner was the music director for a while. Mozart, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Berlioz, Stravinsky collaborated with the orchestra. That's big shoes to fill and quite a legacy to perpetuate: the performance Sunday night at Davies of the Staatskapelle was fine, but not as impressive as the resume.
Pianist Rudolf Buchbinder lived up to the lofty expectation in Beethoven's 4th piano concerto. He is an impassible pianist, without any extraneous gesture. He has been around the block a few times, but only once in SF, back in 1996. While is body language is anything but flashy, he extracts a suave tone, rich in color, delineating bass lines and counterpoint with a confident left hand. It was a faithful and straight to the point reading.