Wednesday, November 18, 2009

SFS: Bychkov conducts Sibelius

San Francisco Symphony
Bychkov conducts Sibelius
Fri, Nov 13, 2009 8:00pm

Semyon Bychkov, conductor
Gautier Capuçon, cello

Henri Dutilleux: Métaboles
Schumann: Cello Concerto in a minor, Op. 129
Ravel: Pavane pour une infante defunte
Ravel: La Valse
Sibelius: Symphony No. 5

At the top of the program, an announcement was made that Mr. Capuçon was unable to perform due to a “medical emergency”. This must have happened quite suddenly, as the Schumann was replaced by 2 relatively light Ravel pieces. I think this makes the 3rd time I’ve heard SFS perform La Valse within a year.

Henri Dutilleux’s tone poem Métaboles was given a loud & somewhat lax performance. I enjoyed the playing of a high-pitched cello solo & pizzicato double bass solo, though. As for the 2 Ravel pieces, I may be suffering from over-exposure; I kept thinking I was listening to KDFC. When Bychkov was already on the podium about to the start the Pavane, one of the bassoon players decided he was in the wrong chair, & there was a pause while the bassoons rearranged themselves.

Though the orchestra was allowed to play out for the entire Sibelius Symphony, I found it lacking in tension. Most telling were the curiously limp rests between the final chords of the piece. However, I had fun watching the double bass section play their counter-melody at the opening of the 3rd movement with great vigor. Throughout the evening the orchestra members looked quite relaxed. They were quite chatty amongst themselves during the breaks.

I heard that Mr. Capuçon recovered for the subsequent Saturday night performance. I am sorry to have missed both him & the Schumann.


Stephen Smoliar said...

According to today's Chronicle, the "medical emergency" was an appendectomy. The surgery was on Thursday afternoon. The fact that he could perform on Saturday says a lot for modern medicine! I was in Davies on Thursday afternoon and came away with rather different

sfmike said...

Dear Axel: I'm so glad we felt exactly the same way about that concert since the newspaper critics were swooning over that very mediocre Sibelius performance along with the dull first half of the concert. And I see our Philip Anschutz writer is whoring out his "impressions" again. Jeesh.