Atlanta Journal-Constitution music critic Pierre Ruhe made that observation a couple of years ago in a print conversation with a rock critic colleague. Colin Davis is exactly the sort of musician he had in mind.
Sir Colin (as everyone in the British music world refers to him) celebrates his 80th birthday today. He is evidently taking this evening off, but he is certainly not slowing down.
This week alone, he conducts the London Symphony Orchestra in two different concerts at the British capital's Barbican Centre: a "Pure Beethoven" program featuring the Third Piano Concerto (with Evgeny Kissin) and "Eroica" Symphony on Sept. 27, and a "Pure Mozart" program on Sept. 30 offering the Piano Concerto No. 27 (with Mitsuko Uchida) and the Requiem.
Davis and the LSO have a very close relationship, of course: his dozen years as the orchestra's principal conductor are widely considered to have been an artistic golden age, and when he stepped down from that position at the first of this year (succeeded by Valery Gergiev), he became LSO president.
The maestro and his band are celebrating together for much of the next month: On October 3, they perform the Mozart Requiem again, this time paired with Elgar's Violin Concerto (Gidon Kremer is the soloist). Davis conducts Haydn's The Creation on October 7, with Ian Bostridge, Dietrich Henschel and Sally Matthews as soloists.
Ten days later, Davis and the London Symphony begin a three-concert New York residency to open Lincoln Center's Great Performers 2007-08 season. On October 17 at Avery Fisher Hall, they'll give a repeat of the "Pure Mozart" program, this time with Imogen Cooper as piano soloist; there will be some differently "Pure Beethoven" on October 19, with, in addition to the "Eroica," Paul Lewis playing the Piano Concerto No. 4. And the afternoon of October 21 will see another performance of Haydn's Creation. And finishing off the Davis/LSO American tour will be a performance of the "Pure Beethoven" program at Chicago's Symphony Center.