Anne-Sophie Mutter at San Francisco Symphony

Anne-Sophie Mutter brings schwing to symphony hall When a great artist performs one gets to ask questions of interpretation and style and artistic integrity. Anne-Sophie Mutter had that in spades last Monday at S.F.’s Davies Symphony Hall, wowing the crowd in three Brahms violin sonatas and returning, after multiple standing ovations, for four encores. Spilling out of her tight trademark dress, she appeared daisy fresh but dead serious. Her long-time accompanist Lambert...

Continue reading

Oakland East Bay Symphony’s ’Notes from Persia’

Reaching across great divides Before the start of the second half of Friday night’s Oakland East Bay Symphony concert, Music Director and Conductor Michael Morgan stepped to the microphone to comment, “We need to come together face to face, rather than listen to what our governments tell us to think about each other.” His remarks met with enthusiastic applause and verified the political intent of the program, in case anyone had mistaken it for a purely cultural...

Continue reading

Sarah Cahill at Berkeley Arts Festival

Sarah Cahill gives moving piano tribute to Ornstein in Berkeley premiere Well-known pianist and radio show host Sarah Cahill played a program dedicated to the later works of Leo Ornstein at Berkeley Arts Festival’s new temporary digs, on Shattuck Avenue in downtown Berkeley. Most of the material at the Friday, Mar. 5 concert has never before been performed, and the concert coincides with Cahill’s soon-to-be-released CD of Ornstein’s later works. Ornstein’s life...

Continue reading

Kronos Quartet in Terry Riley’s Sun Rings

Kronos performs dreamy plasma at Stanford In 2001 the Kronos quartet was contacted by NASA to see if the group was interested in “the sounds of space,” recordings of plasma waves from spacecraft. A plasma is a gas so hot that its electrons have been separated, transforming the neutral gas into a sea of charged ions. Our solar system is filled with a tenuous plasma, a solar wind that laps at the shores of worlds and interacts with planetary magnetic fields....

Continue reading

Deborah Voight sings Strauss and Barber with San Francisco Symphony

Lustrous mix of music by SF Symphony In a concert of Strauss, Knudsen, Barber and Beethoven at San Francisco's Davies Symphony Hall last Saturday, Beethoven was the clear winner. Michael Tilson Thomas set aside the score and threw himself into the conducting with a palpable directness that illuminated each musical strand....

Continue reading

John Adams’ ‘Flowering Tree’ at San Francisco Symphony

John Adams conducted the US premiere of his own masterwork, A Flowering Tree, at the S.F. Symphony this past weekend for three sold-out performances. Inspired by Mozart’s Magic Flute, Adams drew on an ancient text translated into English by the Indian scholar and poet A. K. Ramanujan. Like the best fairy tales, this one had its audience wide-eyed and spellbound. We wore eveningwear, but it felt like feet-pajamas. A Flowering Tree is magical, mysterious and...

Continue reading