The main event Wednesday, Tchaikovsky’s symphony, balanced bombastic highs with gorgeous lows, and Stutzmann emphatically brought out this wide opposition in dynamics and feel. In a quiet section at the opening to the second movement, a rich tangle of sonority grew primordially from the low strings, pulled out slowly by Stutzmann’s flowing hands. Though all too brief, this was the most heart-stopping moment of the night, a scene-setting device so profound and wonderfully played that this first impression masked minor performance issues later in the movement. Elsewhere in the symphony, Stutzmann reveled in soaring, thunderous melodies, spreading her arms wide and letting the orchestral thunder crash into her. At times, her conducting moved away from showing strict beats and seemed to become more focused on conveying emotion, showing the musicians how to feel the music.
The ASO’s search committee had a daunting task. How do you replace a music director who has made the city his home, and the ensemble his own, for more than 20 years? Stutzmann will have to ease into her new role. She still has two other significant positions, and for at least her first season as ASO music director, she will be commuting to Atlanta from her home in Europe. It’s easy to pin this season as an inflection point — tiptoeing back into live performances with a number of new faces in the ensemble — and feel that significant change is on the horizon. But instead of a swift shift, simple stability after years of wondering what’s next for the orchestra is more likely. Change, where its needed, will come incrementally. The announcement of a new music director is just the beginning.
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
8 p.m. Oct. 13. Additional performance on Oct. 14. $23-$99. Symphony Hall, 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-733-5000, aso.org.