Tuesday, February 28, 2023

concert review: San Francisco Symphony

And once again - third time in a year - SFCV has sent me up to the City to review the premiere of a new piano concerto. What made me an expert on unknown piano concertos?

I didn't enjoy listening to Sam Adams's effort as much as I had that of Mason Bates, but I could tell it was written with care and imagination, it was never tedious or wheel-spinning or ineptly balanced (the flaw in Magnus Lindberg's), so it deserved a good review.

When I read (in the program book) Adams's testimony that he's now trying "to write more directly communicative music," of course I thought immediately of Aaron Copland, who was about the same age (Adams is 37) when the same insight struck him. Up to that time, Copland's music had been difficult and bristly - a conductor had once joked that Copland's next step would be to commit murder (if that's a joke) - but after it, he spent the next decade writing things like Rodeo and Appalachian Spring before reverting to form. Adams's past music - I've reviewed him before - isn't anywhere near as alarming as early Copland, and I didn't find this concerto all that different in idiom - more assured, maybe; Adams's music has previously struck me as being made up as he goes along instead of planned ahead, relying on his native talent to keep it upright - but I wish him luck with his newfound insight.

This is also the third time I've reviewed Bruckner's Sixth Symphony, my favorite of his but one I've always thought neglected: perhaps not.

This was also the day I spent five hours watching Oscar-nominated shorts in a movie theater (also in the City) - see previous post - and quite fortunately I was able to do it all without getting exhausted. Bringing along something to eat instead of trying to dine during the 80 minutes (including 15 minute bus ride) between movies and concert helped a lot.

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