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Category: Symphony

MAHLER’S GORDIAN KNOT OF A CANTATA

MAHLER’S GORDIAN KNOT OF A CANTATA

SAN FRANCISCO—The young Gustav Mahler undertook painting a huge canvas in his cantata “Das klagende Lied,” a rich hour-long piece undertaken even though he’d never heard a note of his own orchestration. This weighty vocal-orchestral opus unfurls a somber fairy tale in German—not Grimm, but at least grim—that got an even greater production from the San Francisco Symphony, which added sets, costumes in a lavish but stillborn near-operatic staging. This flickering creation is an obsession of Music Director Michael Tilson…

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SHOSTAKOVICH, BERNSTEIN SURPRISES

SHOSTAKOVICH, BERNSTEIN SURPRISES

SAN JOSE, CA—The San Jose Chamber Orchestra has evolved over the years and appears to benefit from the transition. Formerly an almost-all-women ensemble playing only recent music, it now has a 50-50 gender balance and longer season while playing a predominantly 20th century repertory of better-known works written by concert pianists. It drew a good-sized audience at the Trianon Theatre Jan. 8. While the grand piano still overwhelms the otherwise bright and laudable hall acoustics, the theater (formerly Le Petit…

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POETIC, BUT NOT REALLY POE-ETIC

POETIC, BUT NOT REALLY POE-ETIC

ROHNERT PARK, CA—To catch important musical works, it can take an hour’s drive out of an arts capital to reach them. Credit the Santa Rosa Symphony and amalgamated choruses for bringing out that very eloquent but little-known choral symphony of Sergei Rachmaninoff, “The Bells,” given in the concerts of Dec. 3-5 here. The composer called it his number one achievement. Coming from his palette in 1913, the 35-minute piece contains some of Rachmaninoff’s most skillful musical effects. If you only know…

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BERLINERS GO VIENNESE IN SAN FRANCISCO

BERLINERS GO VIENNESE IN SAN FRANCISCO

Both sides of the Berlin maestro Simon Rattle were evident and resplendent in the tour concert given on Thanksgiving eve: The formalist/modernist in the Second Vienna School, and the sensual interpreter of Brahms’ Second Symphony—two realms of music many miles apart, though all heavily weighted to Austria. The impact was quite overwhelming, with wild audience huzzahs at each conclusion. Half the program went over to Schoenberg, Webern and Berg, a thicket of often rebellious, impenetrable music that rewrote almost everything…

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SHAKE AND WAKE THE PATRONS (The L.A. Philharmonic)

SHAKE AND WAKE THE PATRONS (The L.A. Philharmonic)

On Halloween (Oct. 31) the Los Angeles Philharmonic knocked the socks off almost every one at Davies Hall with Tchaikovsky’s familiar Symphony No. 4, playing it like a true virtuoso orchestra and sounding like a European ensemble. Music Director Gustavo Dudamel’s melding with this group is total. And, in today’s era of strict tempos, he stretches tempi in heart-warming ritards and rubatos that were commonplace till about a century ago. He has pillowy-soft descents from brassy heights into wind-and-string valleys….

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A DYNAMO OF A CELLIST

A DYNAMO OF A CELLIST

Alisa Weilerstein Shares Stage with Heras-Casado Stemming from a distinguished musical family, Alisa Weilerstein seems determined to be the dynamo of the younger performing generation. Last week back east she squeezed two recitals into one, playing all six unaccompanied Bach suites for cello in one intensive three-hour swoop, a feat that could leave both audience and performer in a sweat-drenched tingle. With the San Francisco Symphony in a more subdued mode, she played the Schumann cello Concerto in A Minor…

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STRAVINSKY REVISITED IN BERKELEY

STRAVINSKY REVISITED IN BERKELEY

BERKELEY—Esa-Pekka Salonen brought his Philharmonia Orchestra from London to Zellerbach Hall to do a two-program tribute to Stravinsky, recalling the 1968 opening ceremonies of the same site. The 2,000-seat hall is a major site, filling a big yawning void at the University of California for nearly half a century. The Londoners are supreme performers. As one colleague noted after “The Rite of Spring,” the muted horns played so softly, so subtly, it was as if they were offstage. Overall however,…

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A FLOOD OF INSPIRED STRAVINSKY

A FLOOD OF INSPIRED STRAVINSKY

As London’s Philharmonia Plays Berkeley BERKELEY—Esa-Pekka Salonen brought his Philharmonia Orchestra from London to Zellerbach Hall to do a two-program tribute to Stravinsky, recalling the 1968 opening ceremonies of the same site. The 2,525-seat hall is a major site, filling a big yawning void at the University of California for nearly half a century. The Londoners are supreme performers. As one colleague noted after “The Rite of Spring,” the muted horns played so softly, so subtly, it was as if…

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A UNIQUE, EMPTY-PODIUM TRIBUTE

A UNIQUE, EMPTY-PODIUM TRIBUTE

Again, Cabrillo Does It its Own Way By D. Rane Danubian artssf.com, the independent observer of San Francisco Bay Area music and dance  Week of Aug. 15-22,  2016 Vol. 18, No. 85 SANTA CRUZ—The high affection of the Cabrillo orchestra members for outgoing conductor Marin Alsop resulted in a tribute probably unique since the days of Napoleon. They commissioned composer Kevin Puts to write a piece for her, to be played with an empty podium. Puts’ “Last August,” to mark…

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ORCHESTRAL PUZZLES, SCI-FI VENTURES

ORCHESTRAL PUZZLES, SCI-FI VENTURES

Cabrillo Festival Mantra: Never Look Back By Paul Hertelendy  artssf.com, the independent observer of San Francisco Bay Area music and dance  Week of Aug. 14-21, 2016 Vol. 18, No. 84 SANTA CRUZ—-Astute programming brought off the Cabrillo Festival concert featuring a knuckle-busting violin concerto, a sci-fi-oriented score, and a scherzo with a puzzle. Take note of Bay Area composer Mason Bates, 39, who marches to a very different drummer from the rest. His “B-Sides,” inspired by terminology of recordings, combines…

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