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Stravinsky’s Firebird soars below Esa-Pekka Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony – Seen and Heard Worldwide


United States Kidane, Sibelius, Stravinsky: Golda Schultz (soprano), San Francisco Symphony / Esa-Pekka Salonen (conductor). Davies Symphony Corridor, San Francisco, 7.10.2022. (HS)

Esa-Pekka Salonen (conductor) © Marco Borrelli

Daniel KidaneSolar Poem (San Francisco Symphony Fee, U.S. premiere)

SibeliusLuonnotar

StravinskyThe Firebird (full)

Esa-Pekka Salonen obtained positively athletic as the ultimate measures of Stravinsky’s The Firebird approached. The place different conductors make a easy gesture or nod to the violins as they lay down the sustained tremolo for the brass to intone their majestic chords, Salonen challenged the San Francisco Symphony strings together with his whole physique. He lashed his baton like a whip to get a crisp assault, and his entire physique vibrated as he inspired them to dig into the unison with every little thing that they had.

The ultimate chords appeared to lift the roof of Davies Symphony Corridor on Friday night time. Paced neither too quick nor sluggish, the peroration put a gleam on a perfectly detailed efficiency that also managed to circulation because it discovered an applicable sense of wildness.

This was the second consecutive week that includes repertoire that was within the wheelhouse of Salonen’s predecessor. As with final week’s Mahler Symphony No.2, this spine-tingling Firebird added to the proof that San Francisco audiences are getting precisely what that they had hoped in December 2018, when Salonen shocked the music world by accepting the put up that had been Michael Tilson Thomas’s for 25 years.

Traversing Stravinsky’s full ballet rating which debuted in 1910, Salonen harnessed tempo, tone, textures and steadiness, all key components to create a sensational musical journey. The stage was filled with an even bigger orchestra than the one for which Stravinsky later wrote the suites, and brass gamers have been deployed within the high reaches of the corridor for added impact. There have been even some yips and calls from across the corridor at a number of factors.

Hushed ostinatos within the basses and cellos appeared to materialize out of nowhere within the introduction, shifting a bit sooner than what we may be accustomed to however not rushed. The backyard scene glowed with muted colours. The orchestra growled and gyrated to create a visceral impact when the firebird wrestles with captors. Salonen turned to the viewers when he performed the trumpets arrayed in the back of the corridor, itself a dramatic impact.

The music appeared to come back alive, a beast when referred to as for however portray refined colours within the quieter sections, such because the lullaby and berceuse that present moments of repose within the suites. It took little creativeness to see in our thoughts’s eye how dancers may be telling the fairy-tale story that Stravinsky captured so nicely within the music.

It’s tempting to match this interpretation with what San Francisco audiences heard when Tilson Thomas performed it. As with the Mahler, Salonen appeared to achieve for putting contrasts, each with tone and sheer quantity. Like his predecessor, although, he can handle a buckle-your-seatbelts crescendo, main ever so progressively to a powerful peak. That’s the way it completed, and it was unforgettable.

Earlier than intermission this system provided a uncommon Sibelius deal with, the composer’s setting for soprano and orchestra of Luonnotar. The poetic creation fantasy from the Finnish epic Kalevala tells of a female spirit who leaves her ingredient – air – to drift in water for hundreds of years, finally creating the complete cosmos when birds lay eggs on her.

Golda Schultz © Dario Acosta

Soloist Golda Schultz was much more glowing on this than she was final week within the Mahler Second. Her sustained, burnished sound added richness and depth to the ballad-like musical strains. A Finnish conductor mixed with a Finnish composer’s music for a Finnish poem undoubtedly lies in Salonen’s wheelhouse. The form of the solo line (sung by a South African singer) and the feel of the orchestral panorama felt good.

A brand new piece by British composer Daniel Kidane opened the live performance. His Be Nonetheless, a beautiful meditation that obtained its U.S. premiere final yr in a San Francisco Symphony video performed by Salonen, made a robust impression on me. This one, Solar Poem, registered extra modestly in its U.S. premiere. A San Francisco Symphony co-commission, it was premiered earlier this yr by the London Symphony Orchestra.

In introducing the piece, Kidane mentioned he was impressed by the start of his son. In its fifteen minutes, the music centered on repetitive rhythmic motifs, spiky however quiet dissonant harmonies and tightly wound melodic materials. All of it felt introverted, and it appeared to speak extra nervousness than pleasure.

Harvey Steiman

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