My Week in the City

I’ve just spent a quick week in the city. The city, of course, is San Francisco. The week was exciting for a number of reasons. So, here we go… City Hall from Davies HallCity Hall Street LevelCity Hall Light Trails from Passing CarsCity Hall through Trees Yes, this weekend included St. Patrick’s Day. City Hall was green for the occasion.… Continue reading

San Francisco Symphony, Daniil Trofonov, Rachmaninoff

The Sibelius symphonies were lovely. Really. I shouldn’t downplay their performance. But… Now, let’s talk about what we really came to hear: Daniil Trofonov’s performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3! Russian pianist Daniil Trofonov more or less slithered out onto the stage with his long straight hair covering his face. He never looked at the audience. He just walked… Continue reading

A San Francisco Symphony Concert Review & Epiphany

You’re walking along. You’re minding your own business. It’s just another day in the day-to-day existence of another human being on planet Earth. Without a sound, as you meander about, a meteorite from some godforsaken corner of some galaxy you’ve never heard of bonks you on the head! I mean, what are the chances, right?! This is my story from… Continue reading

What Just Happened?! [Updated]

I was completely unfamiliar with Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No 2 in G minor, which pianist Denis Kozhukhin performed last tonight. Words fail me in describing this musical experience. The piece is insanely difficult, filled with explosive, muscular rhythmic dissonances that create a complex musical texture accompanied by powerful, angular, quasi-a-tonal melodic machinations that survive the fray generally under the pounding… Continue reading

By Comparison: SFS/ASO

I suppose we become spoiled bit by bit, without really being aware of the process. When we repeatedly experience something marvelous, and are even acutely aware of how extraordinary the experiences are, we still seem somewhat unaware that our expectations for this new, higher level of perfection are also growing. I recently had this expectation of excellence clearly defined for… Continue reading

Back from San Francisco

Yes, we bought a little place back in San Francisco, and I spent this past week setting it up—well, mostly. The special-order furniture has yet to arrive, but the basics are now in place. I’m always amazed at how much time is required to set up even the smallest apartment, especially when you don’t know the area. When it’s all… Continue reading

Ravaged by the French

This past weekend we went back to San Francisco for a concert by the San Francisco Symphony, a gift from the French: music from Bizet‘s Carmen Suites (1874), Ravel‘s 1930 Piano Concerto in D major for the Left Hand (Jean-Efflam Bavouzet playing), and Saint-Saëns‘ 1886 Symphony No. 3, Opus 78, the Organ Symphony (Jonathan Dimmock at the console). The conductor… Continue reading

San Francisco Symphony, Elgar, Moussorgsky

This concert was not part of our season tickets; we purchased it extra. I simply had to hear both of these pieces. I haven’t heard the Elgar Cello Concerto in forever, and, as shocking as it may be, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard any live performance of the Ravel orchestral version of Moussorgsky‘s Pictures at an Exhibition. That… Continue reading

The Rachmaninoff 2nd Piano Concerto

If I were forced to pick only one piece of music as my favorite work, it would probably be Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto. The now forgotten music critics of his day bashed the 2nd piano concerto as emotional drivel, in fact, tended to bash Rachmaninoff’s work in general. But this work in particular, along with many others, remains a favorite… Continue reading

Night at the San Francisco Symphony

About that concert1 last night… Samuel Barber: Adagio for Strings, Opus 11 (1936) This is among my favorite short symphonic works. I think everyone in symphony hall literally stopped breathing as this performance came to an end. Denève held the hall in complete silence for at least a minute as the last sound faded from this earth. I was slane.… Continue reading