Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hilary Hahn Plays Tchaikovsky

San Francisco Symphony
Fri, Nov 28, 2008 8:00pm
Davies Symphony Hall

James Gaffigan, conductor
Hilary Hahn, violin

Tchaikovsky: Voyevoda, Symphonic Ballad, Opus 78
Tchaikovsky: Concerto in D major for Violin and Orchestra, Opus 35
Glinka: Kamarinskaya
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 1 in F minor, Opus 10

Thanks to an indulgent benefactor, I was able to attend this splashy program of Russian works & to hear Hilary Hahn for the 2nd time in a week. There is no denying her clean & crisp technique. Even her vibrato is very fast & tight. I'm sure that she hit every note in the score. I found her interpretation emotionally cool, however. She obviously had a lot of fans in the hall, & they gave her a standing emotion. In return she gave us an encore, the Sarabande from Bach's Partita #2 in d minor, I believe. It was pristine.

Associate conductor James Gaffigan was visibly busy & hard at work on the podium for this packed program. He's boyish & enthusiastic. At one point during a bouncy portion of the Kamarinksaya, he turned to the audience & yelled something, in Russian, I presume.

I like the way the piano leaps out of the orchestra in the 2nd movement of the Shostakovich. Since Shostakovich was a piano virtuoso himself, I can't help thinking that it's meant to represent him. There are important solos in the final movements for all sections. I liked the nice fat-sounding solos from Barantschik & Grebanier in the last movement. During final bows, even the timpanist got singled out for his exposed drum roll passage.

P.S. Mr. Gaffigan is on this week's NACOcast podcast doing color commentary on the tonality & structure of Beethoven's 1st Symphony.


Anonymous said...

He yelled "Bravo!" and pointed to the clarinet.

Axel Feldheim said...

Thanks for explaining that! That was a cute thing for him to do. I wonder if he did it every night, or did the clarinet do an especially good job that evening? It might be kind of fun if the audience started to do the same when we heard something we liked.