Friday, October 26, 2018

concert review: San Francisco Symphony

Better cover this one before I forget about it.

Cristian Măcelaru was guest conducting; he's music director at the Cabrillo Festival, and this was half a Cabrillo-like concert with Cabrillo-like composers.

Anna Clyne's Masquerade is a brief, light, chirping piece sounding rather as if Clyne had been commissioned to write the film music for some historic sailing-ships naval movie. Or imagine Gustav Holst trying to write "Uranus" or "Jupiter" a century after he actually did.

Kevin Puts premiered his Silent Night Elegy, an orchestral suite - continuous symphonic portrait, actually - from his opera about the spontaneous cease-fire along the Western Front at Christmas 1914. Melodically it wandered a bit, but dramatically it was impressively incisive, more so than his works originally for orchestra that I've heard. He may have found his true métier.

The other half was the first time I've heard Măcelaru conduct standard repertoire, rather than what they have at Cabrillo. It was lucky to hear the suite from Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier now, for while SFS is repeating this concert on Saturday, I'll be reviewing the same piece being played by somebody else. This is a symphonic portrait like the Puts. All the good tunes are crammed into the second half. Overall the music was made big and colorful.

So was Lalo's Symphonie Espagnole, which, like all Lalo's orchestral works, is amenable to a big thumping heavy sound, one with which soloist Ray Chen could barely compete. I exaggerate, but not by as much as I'd like.

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