Skip to main content

Blomstedt conducts the San Francisco Symphony in Tchaikovsky and Sibelius 

The soloist Yundi was an up and coming star in the piano world until Lang Lang came along and stole the limelight. So it was a delight to get a chance to listen to Yundi play Tchaikovsky piano concerto no 1. The opening movement had a certain briskness to it. Yundi's long phrases were punctuated by percussive interjections from the brass section of the orchestra. Apart from a few slips, this movement was well played. The second movement had an unsteady start - with Yundi pushing for a brisker tempo than what the orchestra was prepared to give - so the first few phrases rocked a little. But everyone was soon back in "concert". The last movement was probably the best - the orchestra kept pace with the soloist. The fiendishly difficult cadenza gave Yundi the opportunity to show off his virtuosity - fingers flying cross the keyboard.

The second half of the concert was Sibelius second symphony. This gave me the real opportunity to hear the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra at its home the Davies Symphony Hall. The brass section was fabulous - they had this wonderful sonorous sound that was warm yet punchy. The strings were pretty good too - a very tight section. Blomstedt took the work at a brisk pace and maintained momentum throughout. While there was little wallowing in the big moments, I felt there wasn't quite enough introspection and passion. It was too 'cool' for my liking. Would love to have the opportunity to hear the band under MTM - one day.


Popular posts from this blog

Bruckner 7 and Haitink's last appearance at the BBC Proms

I was lucky to have gotten a ticket to see Bernard Haitink conduct the Vienna Philharmonic in Bruckner 7th Symphony. No doubt it is a work that Haitink knows well - he did it without score. The movements were broad, had shape, and above all nuanced rather than bombastic. His mildmannered gestures were in starck contract to Andris Nelsons's rendition of Bruckner 8 (earlier in the season). It was a real treat to see this maestro still deliveirng the musical umph at 90. A memorable concert that was.

Káťa Kabanová, Royal Opera

Katya, sung by Amanda Majeski, had the passionate timbre making her role convincing. Boris (Pavel Cernoch) was ok, and his duet with Majeski was a delight. Susan Bickley's Kabanova was steely and overpowering. Antony McDonald's design and Richard Jones's direction worked well together - the faux 70s decor and costumes added a certain softness to the harsh reality of the society Janáček portrayed. Edward Gardner did the score justice, bring out fabulous melodic lines, nature and the edgy textures.

Death in Venice, the Royal Opera

Thomas Mann's novella Death in Venice is packed full of atmoshperic details of the characters surrounding Gustav von Aschenbach. David McVar's production of Britten's last opera brought these characters - leading and incidental alike - into vivid portrays on the Royal Opera stage. Vicki Mortimer's set gave the production a cinematic quality - stark sunshine on the beach, foggy canals and dingy Venetian corners. Mark Padmore's von Aschenbach was weighted without being stodgy. His diction was superb. His singing was nuanced. Gerald Finley amazingly morphed from one character to the next - so unless you knew in advance he played the Traveller, Old Gondolier, Hotel Manager, Elderly Fop, Hotel Barber et al, you wouldn't know that was sung by the same singer. Hats off to that.

Leo Dixon was Tadzio - his movements portrayed vividly both the youthfullness of the character and the allure that was key to his interaction with von Aschenbach. The rest of the dancing cast …