Monday, October 03, 2011

MTT conducts Mozart, Adès, and Stravinsky

SF SymphonyOn Friday I heard my 1st San Francisco Symphony concert of the season. This was at the kind invitation of John Marcher, who himself arrived direct from an afternoon at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. The program opened with Mozart's Haffner Symphony. There was a large string section, & the orchestra played with a full, rich sound & tight ensemble, though the interpretation was a bit blunt. I heard an unchararcteristic squawk from the woodwind section in the Presto.

A long screen divided into 3 frames was lowered over the orchestra for Thomas Adès's Polaris. The huge orchestra included 2 harps, & the brasses were arrayed in 5 groups around the terrace. The piece opens with a flurry of notes from the piano but soon involves the entire orchestra. The brass players always seem to enter in sequence, from highest to lowest, & it was fun to hear some extremely low notes from the tuba. There were also piercingly high pitches on the violins & piccolos. The piece is atmospheric & evoked tides & the sea for me. It builds to a dark climax near the end, & its 15 minutes felt short. The accompanying video triptych depicted stars, circular openings & 2 women grappling with seaweed on a rocky beach. It looked like we were watching the same movie started at different times on each screen. Mr. Adès & filmmaker Tal Rosner appeared on stage for the ovations. The poor 1st stand violinist dropped her bow when she stood up to shake hands with MTT. I hope her bow was not damaged.

Every section of the orchestra played out for Petrushka. The principals punched out their solos, making the piece into a concerto for orchestra. Ensemble was tight, & the orchestra made a brash sound. As a bonus, MTT gave us Stavinsky's toe-tapping Scherzo à la Russe. On the last note the entire orchestra stood & faced us triumphantly, a maneuver executed with startling synchronization.

§ MTT conducts Mozart, Adès, and Stravinsky
San Francisco Symphony
Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor
Tal Rosner, video artist

MOZART: Symphony No. 35 in D major, K.385, Haffner
ADÈS: Polaris: Voyage for Orchestra (with film by Tals Rosner) (2010)
STRAVINSKY: Petrushka (1947 Version)

STRAVINSKY: Scherzo à la Russe

Fri, Sep 30, 2011 8:00pm
Davies Symphony Hall

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