Saturday, December 31, 2011

SFCO: I Like Ludwig

San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, 12.30.2011 Pre-concert talk for San Francisco Chamber Orchestra concert at Herbst Theatre.The San Francisco Chamber Orchestra had a full house for their meaty all-Beethoven program at Herbst on Friday night. The Coriolan Overture had snap. The hammer-blow chords, as well as the silences between, were precise, with clean cut-offs. The 1st violins played strongly. The audience clapped tenatively after the Overture's soft ending but applauded every movement after that. Conductor Benjamin Simon led a vigorous performance of Beethoven's 2nd Symphony which emphasized tight articulation & strong accents. He made a clear contrast between the active 1st movement & the more legato 2nd movement. There were nice flute & bassoon solos, & I liked the dialogue between the strings & the bassoon in the 2nd movement. The final movement was rollicking & high-spirited & made me think of Rossini.

Violinist Robin Sharp was soloist in the violin concerto, which occupied the entire 2nd half. Her playing was stately & grounded. She has a smooth bow arm & can really dig in, though her sound is never raw or crunchy. Her high notes are strong yet sweet. Tempos were not pushed, & the 2nd movement was expansive. The orchestra accompanied supportively, & the string section played with bite. Ms. Sharp received cheers from the audience & applause from the orchestra.

Maestro Simon is an eager & enthusiastic speaker. He gave the pre-concert talk & addresed us before & after each piece. The encore was a sing-along to 3 verses of Auld Lang Syne. Maestro Simon pointed out the 4 verses printed in the program & told us to "pick any three."

§ 2011–2012 Main Stage Concert #2: I Like Ludwig 
San Francisco Chamber Orchestra 
Benjamin Simon, conductor 
Robin Sharp, violin 

Ludwig van Beethoven: Coriolan Overture, Op. 62 
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony #2 in D major, Op. 36 
Ludwig van Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61 

Encore: Auld Lang Syne

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