Friday, September 27, 2013

concert review: San Francisco Symphony

Thursday's concert was organized like an old-fashioned instrumentalist recital. The biggest piece (in this case Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto, with Emanuel Ax) was in the first half, along with a semi-hefty opener (Mahler's Blumine, a movement he deleted from his First Symphony, and which should have stayed forgotten). The second half was a series of six short pieces by different composers, which MTT insisted on playing together as a suite, without breaks for applause between them.

It wasn't exactly a collection of bonbons or encores. Five of the six were wistful, mostly quiet. They were all played exquisitely well, and most of them expressed the quiddity of their composers with profundity. Our Town was intensely Coplandesque, Valse triste graciously Sibelian, and On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring (a piece not played here since Beecham did it 60 years ago) richly Delian. The only problem was that it was a little jarring turning from the quiddity of one composer directly to that of another.

Interesting concert. Ran long, despite the nominal 36-minute span of the six-piece suite.

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