Friday, November 07, 2008

Znaider and Blomstedt, Brahms and Nielsen

This week's program at the San Francisco Symphony is simply wonderful, highlighted by the debut of the 33-year-old violinist Nikolaj Znaider playing the Brahms Violin Concerto.

His initial appearance was rather startling, since he looked more like a football player than a violinist, but he played the dainty instrument beautifully and clearly, with emotion but not an ounce of schmaltz.

I attended the Thursday matinee concert with my friend Louisa...

...and the mostly elderly, female audience was wonderful, except for the pair of serious coughers in the row right behind us who'd wait for the most delicate sections of the Brahms to explode in respiratory distress.

The second half of the concert was devoted to the Danish composer Carl Nielsen's Third Symphony from 1911 which has the delightful name, "Sinfonia espansiva." It was a great performance of a sunny, beautiful piece of music, highlighted by Eugene Chan and Katherine White stepping out onto the terrace behind the orchestra during the second movement Andante and singing "Ah......"

There are $20 rush tickets available for tonight's (Friday) performance, so get yourself down there if possible, or check it out on Saturday evening.

Plus, Nikolaj, after changing from red cumberbund soloist to handsome nerd, is signing CDs in the gift shop afterwards.


Nancy Ewart said...

Ah Mike - not only do you have an ear for music, you've also got an eye for a handsome man.

Matthew Hubbard said...

A friend of mine said the European nerds are often much more calm and socially comfortable than American nerds. The nerd-jock dichotomy isn't such a big thing over there, probably because no sport uses European universities as an unpaid farm system.

Axel Feldheim said...

I caught the Friday night performance & enjoyed it very much. I also saw Znaider in his Herbst Theatre recital earlier this year. I had the same reaction as you the 1st time I saw him. He's huge & a totally unlikely-looking violinist. The violin looks like a toy in his hands.

I sat in the 1st tier, directly across from the soprano, but I could barely hear her from there. I assume it was an acoustic trick of the hall & that she was perfectly audible from other locations.

Civic Center said...

Dear Alex: Glad you heard the concert, and though there may have been an acoustic trick involved, she wasn't all that audible from the orchestra either. It didn't matter, though, since the two "Ahhhing" voices were sort of a filigree.