Wednesday, February 19, 2014

concert review: San Francisco Symphony

Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos is one of the few conductors still around who were already famous when I first began learning about classical music. Though apparently not famous enough, as nobody whom I've mentioned his name to has ever heard of him. ("Rafael who? Kubelik?") He's a little old man who likes to waggle his baton a lot, and in this manner he conducted a bifurcated program.

One half was all Haydn, and very early Haydn at that: his "Le Matin" Symphony and 1st Cello Concerto, the latter whipped off with ease by Alisa Weilerstein, a woman hefty enough to look as if she really can play the cello.

The other, from some 120 years later, was that giant wedge of orchestral wodge, Scheherazade. It was a well-shaped performance with drive and liveliness. The orchestral sound, though, and just the sound, seemed a little coarse and internally disconnected, a rather unusual sound for the contemporary SFS.

Scheherazade has a lot of violin solos representing the titular character. These were played by Nadya Tichman, the #2 concertmaster and on duty in the #1 chair tonight. She also played the violin parts of the numerous solos in Haydn's symphony, which was written to show off the instrumental talents at the composer's new post at Esterhazy.

But my favorite spot in this symphony is the "sunrise" introduction, which is resembled by nothing else so much as the introduction to Franz Berwald's Sinfonie singulière.

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