Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Eroica Trio at The San Francisco Symphony

This week's program at the San Francisco Symphony looked dull on paper, but it turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable concert.

The first piece was Opus 2 of the British wunderkind Thomas Ades, his 1990 Chamber Symphony, which he wrote at the age of 18 after giving up a solo piano career. After hearing his Chamber Symphony, I can finally understand why everyone got so excited when Ades burst on the scene. Though the symphony is written for only 15 instruments, the mixture of density and clarity is amazing, and the piece often sounds as if there are 80 instruments playing.

This was followed by Beethoven's 1804 Triple Concerto for Violin, Cello, Piano and Orchestra which can be very boring music, but not at this performance, especially with the Eroica Trio playing the soloist roles while looking like a concert hall version of Charlie's Angels.

The Eroica Trio has probably played this concerto innumerable times since forming in 1991, but they attacked it as if it was the freshest, most exciting music around and the feeling was infectious. The orchestra, conducted by the interesting Alan Gilbert, backed them up beautifully.

Mozart's 1788 final symphony, "The Jupiter," followed after intermission and it was fine, but I may have heard this piece once too often. Plus, I will probably never get Sir Thomas Beecham's recorded version, which I grew up on, out of my brain.


Eric said...

Nice post about this concert. I finally got around to going to the concert last night. I completely agree with your sentiments on the Beethoven Triple -- somehow, it has always seemed to me that this piece (especially the first movement) has an excessively expansive structure, given its thematic material, which is sometimes downright plain. I've never really enjoyed listening to this piece much on recordings, and so I figured that if I had any chance in the world at enjoying the Triple, it would be in a live performance. As you said, the Eroica Trio played enthusiastically, and I felt myself engaging with this piece in a way that I hadn't prior to this performance. The Triple will never be my favorite piece of music, but I think that I look on it a bit more favorably now than before.

The Ades was a delight. As for the Jupiter -- it's a fantastic piece of music, but for me, there was nothing particularly mind-blowing about this performance.

Lisa Hirsch said...

The Eroica's cellist is BUFF. I went last night, with The Standing Room, and we sat in the side terrace seats, so we could tell.

That said, man, I wish it had been an all-Ades concert.