In August, the Houston Symphony returned to the cradle of classical music for a weeklong series of concerts in four different European cities and three separate music festivals. For the quick jaunt, the orchestra was joined by its former music director and current conductor laureate, Christoph Eschenbach, in what appeared to be the final hurrah between the two before the symphony cuts the umbilical cord and picks a new music director this fall. The tour, with stopovers at the Rheingau Musik Festival in Wiesbaden, the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in Hamburg and the Lucerne International Festival in Switzerland, was a chance for the musicians and patrons, including new board president Rodney H. Margolis, to revel in the symphony's lofty status among American orchestras, a position attained mostly through the baton of the man standing on the podium for these concerts. At Lucerne's new concert hall, the Culture and Congress Center, a picturesque and acoustically pristine venue that is surrounded by water on one side and mountains on the other, the Houston Symphony charged the Swiss audience with repertory favorites that, according to the orchestra's Web site, left the crowd asking for more. The musicians responded... More >>>