Thursday, January 13, 2011
Friday at the Symphony con Amigos
I went to the first San Francisco Symphony concert of the year last week and was a dull boy. The concert first attracted me because they were playing an "Elegie" by the contemporary Ukranian composer Valentin Silvestrov, whose music is reportedly powerful and depressing. In the event, it was only six minutes long with a chamber-sized string orchestra, which felt like a total cheat, particularly since the young guest conductor Kirill Karabits (below) is a Ukranian compatriot who knows the composer.
This was followed by Helene Grimaud (above) playing the Schumann piano concerto, which wasn't particularly enjoyable because I was suppressing a hideous cough during the whole piece and feeling close to choking on my own phlegm. Since Ms. Grimaud was a complete goddess playing Bartok's 3rd piano concerto a couple of years ago here, the only conclusion is that the fault was mine.
The real joy of the concert was stumbling across online buddies all evening, including Patrick the claustrophic poet, Cedric the French philosopher, Terrance the Quentin Crispy aesthete, and the ineffable Opera Tattler who confessed that she had recently moved from Civic Center to Alameda. This news put us all into a state of sad shock.
Kirill Karabits (above), looking like an Eastern European version of Justin Timberlake, conducted Rachmaninoff's last major piece, the "Symphonic Dances," which was totally agreeable schlock, but really, Silvestrov has written seven symphonies. Bring one of those next time instead and the cognoscenti will give you some real cheers.