The real story of last Sunday's Met Orchestra concert was off-topic: the world premiere of Charles Wuorinen's poorly-named ("Time Regained, a Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra") piano concerto to real audience acclaim. Was he ashamed to be writing such a piece? His program note (from which Tommasini drew most of his review) went on and on about the piece's source material (pre-baroque masters' music in various denatured forms) and didn't even mention the familiar three-movement form in which it's cast. (Unfortunately, he didn't just use sonata form for the first movement, which in fact doesn't go much of anywhere at all -- the latter two are excellent, though.) At any rate, Wuorinen seemed unprepared for the genuine enthusiasm (most, I think, would gladly hear it again) and warmth with which his piece was received by the conservative crowd. Enjoy your bow! And forget about the Proust nonsense next time.
But there was an unscheduled vocal highlight as well. Joyce DiDonato opened each half of the program, the first with a lovely "Ch'io mi scordi di te?" (with, of course, James Levine on the piano obbligato) and the second with La Regata Veneziana (in an orchestration by Douglas Gamley that makes nice use of pizzicati). I've always pictured Anzoleta (the protagonist of this late-Rossini trifle in Venetian dialect) to be, in character, a bit like Angela Gheorghiu, but DiDonato used her comic skills for a winning tongue-in-cheek rendition.
Afterwards the audience got a small taste of what a full virtuoso recital in the main hall could have been like, with an encore of "Non piu mesta", Rossini's Cenerentola finale. The way DiDonato's precise, energetic, and deliciously-ornamented singing rang in this larger space was a marvel, though the closer confines of Zankel did give an affecting intimacy to her Handel concert two days before.
DiDonato capped her virtuoso display, incidentally, by throwing in a messa di voce at the end. Her amazing "Scherza infida" (Friday) didn't make it to as many listeners as it could and should have, but her name and talent this day did.
The afternoon finished with an almost implausibly lively account of Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony. An embarrassment of riches.