Friday, January 19, 2024

concert review: San Francisco Symphony

This was going to be an MTT concert, but he's been frail and ill enough to decide to reduce his two-week residency to one. He'll be here next week to conduct Mahler, but I won't be here to listen to it. The podium for this week was handed over to Dalia Stasevska, whom I heard last season conducting Sibelius.

Wearing what looked like a white lab coat with black splotches all over it, this time she led Dvořák's New World Symphony in an exciting, pile-driving performance of the old warhorse. In the first movement, an ultra-slow mysterioso introduction jumped into a ringing clarion call of the main theme, and finishing up with a whip-snap stretto coda. The Largo underplayed the music's sorrowful side and was punctuated by shattering fortissimo explosions, I bet you forgot they were there because they're not usually this dramatic. And so forth all the way through, with plenty of expression in tempo and volume and a lot of typically dazzling SFS playing.

Along with it, Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto with Seong-Jin Cho, whom I've also heard before. He managed to be both crisp and lyrical at the same time, while the orchestral playing was more sedate than in the Dvořák. But both piano and orchestra were brilliantly colorful, and that was the main virtue of the performance. Cho's encore was one of Liszt's soggy Petrarch sonatas: you take what you can get.

Overall a good show, and I'm glad I got to this one.

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