The San Francisco Symphony

We got to enjoy the San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, play a couple of my favorite pieces. Going into this, I knew it would be a night to remember.

By Janarth Dheenadhayalan

Krannert Center for Performing Arts

Out of all of the events that I get to go to this semester, this is the event I was looking forward to the most. In fact, I had already purchased tickets for this back in September when they were available. The two pieces being played, Mendelssohn violin concert and Beethoven Symphony no. 3, are two of my favorites.

Before the performance

This was the busiest I have seen Krannert all semester. It seemed like many other people were equally excited to see what SFS and MTT had in store for us. In addition, I feel that because the rep consisted of classical and romantic era pieces that were popular, people would have an easier time relating to them.

In the concert hall

The first piece played was interesting. It was essentially a mashup of a series of famous riffs from the likes of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and some others.

I did not enjoy the interpretation of the Mendelssohn violin concerto played by Alexander Kerr. I thought he was far too light in general and did not play aggressively enough. To make matters worse, it seemed like he was not familiar with the music as well as he should have been. I feel this way because he was timid with his high notes and he clung to his sheet music. Lastly, during the third movement he rushed ahead of the winds and it gave me a sour taste in my mouth. I was surprised by his poor performance because his technique was on point. For example, the start of the third movement requires up-bow flying spiccato, which he played perfectly. I was sorely disappointed by the amateurish interpretation of a piece that even middle school students today can play proficiently.

Fortunately, Eroica was much better than the Mendelssohn. SFS performed perhaps my favorite interpretation of it out of the dozens I have heard. After this, SFS played a single encore which was a Brahms Hungarian Dance. It put a lovely end to what was a lovely performance by SFS notwithstanding the lackluster performance by Kerr.

For me, the piece that I will remember the most is Eroica. I thought the second movement in particular was phenomenal. The depth and darkness of it was unlike anything I have experienced in other interpretations of this movement. It is something I will surely remember for a long time to come.

I was intrigued by MTT’s style of conducting. It was easy for me to follow all of the cues he was giving and I understand how he is able to make SFS create such a powerful and emotional sound now. It is sad that he is going to retire next year, because the music world as a whole will lose another genius.

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