Wednesday, January 25, 2012

concert review: San Francisco Symphony

If you order by the yard the kind of music that Mozart composed by the yard, you get a concert full of yard goods. Such was the part of this evening's event that consisted of Pinchas Zukerman playing and vaguely leading one and a half Mozart violin concertos. The one was K. 216 and the half was made out of two scattered movements, K. 261 and K. 373. The last of these in particular is pure hackwork and you can't make anything else out of it, so you'd be better off not trying. Tucked in among these, Zukerman traded his violin for a viola, not that you'd notice, and gave out Hindemith's Trauermusik with the mute button on. It was such a crabbed and repressed performance that Zukerman had to start waving his arms at the audience to let them know it was over so they could applaud.

After intermission, our hero returned without an instrument but with a baton and turned his full attention to the orchestra for a decidedly non-yard goods piece of Mozart, the "Great" G-minor symphony K. 550. The orchestra hitched its metaphorical pants up and delivered, very well, a fleet, fine-boned performance, soberly and classically shaped, designed to give the lie to words like "urgent" and "explosive" in the program notes.

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