Wednesday, May 16, 2012

concert review: San Francisco Symphony

It's a good thing MTT told the audience that the three disparate works on this program had been put together because they all have a tone of bucolic nostalgia, because we probably would not have figured out the common factor on their own.

The most obvious choice for that description was Beethoven's Pastorale Symphony. Nostalgically bucolic performance, soft and gentle. Beautiful wind work, and Nicole Cash on first horn was A-OK Number One Plus.

Also, Blumine, the wistful slow movement that Mahler excised from his First Symphony. Strangely, although the First is the only Mahler symphony I actually like, I'd never heard the Blumine before. Maybe it works better in the context of the rest of the symphony, though not working in that context is supposedly the reason Mahler excised it.

And the Violin Concerto No. 4 by Alfred Schnittke, with regular concertmaster Alexander Barantschik as soloist. I hope that wasn't the precious Guarneri that he was bashing away at in this work. True, this concerto has some moments of bucolic nostalgia, but since it also has moments of Every Other Possible Emotion under the sun, it having been written at the height of Schnittke's polystylistic mania, So What?

Had moments in which the solo violinist is upstaged by another solo violinist, playing hidden up in the terrace. Had moments when the solo violinist mimes, silently, playing frantically. If only some more of this nice friendliness were to spread about in Mordor, half my trouble would be over.

On the way up, stopped off at the local observatory's gift shop to buy some eclipse-rated eyeglasses for the annular that's passing through on Sunday, and yes, I'm going up north to the actual annular zone. For dinner, I finally tracked down the place in the upper Hayes where the catfish is supposed to be great. It isn't.

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