Wednesday, March 04, 2020
Two weeks ago the concert started off with Funeral Music for Queen Mary (after Henry Purcell), a modernist riff on the 17th century English composer by Steven Stucky which Salonen had commissioned while leading the LA Philharmonic. The orchestra was brass and percussion heavy with no strings, and this was followed by Britten's Les Illuminations song cycle where the chamber orchestra was nothing but strings. Soprano Julia Bullock sang the obscure French poetry with such conviction and resounding beauty that I for one was stunned, and it helped that I had bought a rush ticket for the front row and was able to hear her full blast. The seating didn't work so well for Ravel's Mother Goose Suite in the second half because the colorful writing for the back of the orchestra (winds, brass, percussion) becomes muffled. (All orchestra photos are by Brandon Patoc.)
I heard the half-hour concerto in 2011 with the SF Symphony and soloist Leila Josefowicz, for whom the concerto had been written, and she was back with the composer conducting again in 2020.