Sunday, January 02, 2011

New Years Eve Concert at the SF Symphony 2: Concert

The music for the evening was was essentially a pops concert of dance music from the Austro-Hungarian empire, with the Vienna Philharmonic New Year's Eve concerts as the template. Conducted by Dmitry Sitkovetsky, the music was unexpectedly wonderful, with the conductor stepping in as violin soloist in his own arrangement of Bartok's Romanian Folk Dances and Kreisler's "Liebesleid."

Sitkovetsky (above) was also an amiable host, explaining that he was born in Azerbaijan, studied in Moscow and New York, and conducts everywhere in the world with London as home base, "which I suppose makes me perfect for a Viennese concert in San Francisco." Strauss waltzes and polkas, along with Dvorak and Brahms Slavonic/Hungarian dances, are light, idiomatic music that can easily fall flat like a souffle, but the orchestra was superb and made one want to dance.

There were four pairs of dancers from a group called "Dance Through Time" (above) who appeared sporadically to demonstrate complicated waltz patterns on the stage apron. Though the women seemed a bit clumsy at times in their huge ball gowns on the limited space, the dancing was perfectly pleasant and didn't get in the way of the music.

The only real disappointment was the soprano soloist Katie Van Kooten (above), who sang "Csardas" from Strauss' "Die Fledermaus," Richard Strauss' song "Morgen," and "The Jewel Song" from Gounod's "Faust." It may have just been the huge Davies Hall defeating yet another vocal soloist, but the hilariously charming old German couple sitting behind us gave her a definite thumbs down.

On entering Davies Hall, I consulted the indispensable fountain of information Meredith Clark (above) for advice on how to navigate the evening, and as usual she knew all.

"Be sure to quickly get to the food and drink tables in the lobby at the end of the concert," she advised us, "because it turns into something of a crush."

We did just that, not staying for the encores in the auditorium, but sneaking out to the delicious finger food instead where we could eat and drink in civilized peace...

...joined by the delightful Denver couple above who were celebrating Bob's 70th birthday in San Francisco that evening.

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