Thursday, March 15, 2007

Yundi Li at the SF Symphony

I attended this subscription performance on Wednesday evening. The conductor was James Gaffigan, who was a new name to me. He's the new associate conductor of the SF Symphony, so I suppose I will be getting to know him much better.

The 1st half of the program was Brahms 3, which I am always happy to hear. Bill Bennett did a beautiful solo in the 3rd movement. However the orchestra seemed kind of detached from the conductor. I felt that Gaffigan was conducting along with the piece instead of leading it.

After intermission Yundi Li played the Liszt Concerto in E-flat major. Of course he's another technical prodigy. In one of the lyrical sections, he played the fastest trill I think I have ever heard on the piano. In passages with rapid chords his hands were just a blur. His understated, delicate style of playing was at odds with the virtuoso character of the piece, & this made it a very interesting interpretation. For instance, the 1st movement has some of those extravagant runs that you would expect to be played with a big flourish. Instead, Yundi Li executed them lightly & evenly, in a more Mozartean way.

The program ended with Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé Suite No. 2, which is fun to listen to (2 harps & 9 percussionists!), but also always reminds me of when the plane lands in the opening of Fantasy Island.

I sat on the last seat at the left hand end of the row, half way down the orchestra section. The sound was fine & I had a good view of the keyboard.

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