Herbert Blomstedt conducts Mozart and Bruckner
Thu, Feb 25, 2010 2:00pm
Davies Symphony Hall
San Francisco Symphony
Herbert Blomstedt, conductor
Mozart: Symphony No. 36, Linz
Bruckner: Symphony No. 6
On arriving for this weekday matinee at Davies Hall, I headed for the ground floor men's room, only to stop short when I saw women coming out of it. I guess for these performances they convert the men's restroom to a ladies' room to accommodate the numerous female patrons attending by the busload. I'm glad I was paying attention.
Blomstedt used a reduced orchestra for the Mozart "Linz" Symphony. I counted only 18 violins, 4 cellos & 3 basses. Blomstedt stood on the floor instead of a podium, almost in the middle the orchestra. He led without a baton or a score. It was a gentle, low-key performance. He gestured as if he were pushing or rolling the sound out of the orchestra. Blomstedt's range of motion has become smaller as he has gotten older, but he is still vital & alert. He looked very happy, & the final Presto was energetic.
He led the hour-long Bruckner 6 without a score as well. He looked like he was cuing everything, though I feel like the orchestra does not play as precisely & transparently as they did when he was their music director. The romantic 2nd movement had an underlying tension that was held just barely in check. The raucous 3rd movement had a blazing yet controlled ending. The 4th movement built steadily, & Blomstedt ended it with a big upward swoosh of his baton, the music lifting off instead of coming to a weighty finish. It was a feeling of exaltation.
During the 4th movement, a violist had a severe coughing fit from which she could not recover, & she had to leave the stage during the music. I hope she is all right.