As the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) subscription season makes the transition from October into November, Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) has planned two weeks of programs featuring visiting pianists.
At the end of this month Rudolf Buchbinder will be giving his first performances with SFS. However, this will not be his first appearance in Davies Symphony Hall, as he performed with the Dresden Staatskapelle under the baton of Daniel Harding when that ensemble visited under the egis of the Great Performers Series in October of 2010. On that occasion he performed Ludwig van Beethoven’s Opus 54 (fourth) concerto in G major; but about two years ago Profil released his latest recording project, the complete piano concertos of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a nine-CD set in which he is both soloist and conductor of the Vienna Symphony. For his SFS debut Buchbinder will play one of the most dramatic of those concertos, K. 466 in D minor.
The “overture” for this program has a rather unique connection to Mozart. The program will begin with Gregorio Allegri’s setting of the Latin text of Vulgate Psalm 50 (Psalm 51 in most English versions of the Old Testament), “Miserere mei, Deus” (have mercy on me, Lord). This music might have been forgotten had not the fourteen-year-old Mozart heard it on a visit to Rome and transcribed it from memory. It was scored for two choirs, one of which will be the men of the SFS Chorus (Ragnar Bohlin, Director) and the other the members of the Pacific Boychoir (Kevin Fox, Director). Following the intermission, the symphony selection will be Johannes Brahms Opus 73 (his second) in D major.
This concert will be given four performances, at 8 p.m. on Thursday, October 27, Friday, October 28, and Saturday, October 29, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 30. There will be an Inside Music talk given by Laura Stansfield Prichard that will begin one hour prior to each concert. Doors open for these talks fifteen minutes before they begin. Ticket prices range from $35 to $139. They may be purchased online through the event page for this program on the SFS Web site, by calling 415-864-6000, or by visiting the Box Office in Davies Symphony Hall, whose entrance is on the south side of Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street. The Box Office is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday. It will also open at noon prior to the Sunday concert. Finally, the event page also includes hyperlinks for listening to free podcasts about both the Mozart concerto and the Brahms symphony hosted by KDFC’s Rik Malone. There are also links for sound clips from both of these pieces.
In addition, this week’s performances will be preceded by the first Katherine Hanrahan Open Rehearsal of the season. This special behind-the-scenes experience begins at 8:30 a.m. with coffee and complimentary doughnuts, followed by a half-hour introductory talk by Scott Foglesong at 9 a.m. The rehearsal itself begins at 10 a.m.; and, of course, the pieces rehearsed are at the conductor’s discretion. General admission is $30 with $40 for reserved seats in the Premiere Orchestra section, the Side and Rear Boxes, and the Loge. Tickets may be purchased online through a separate event page.
The following week Yuja Wang will return to Davies for the final concert previewing the repertoire that SFS will take on its tour of Asia between November 9 and November 22. The second concerto that Wang will perform while touring with SFS will be Frédéric Chopin’s Opus 21 (his second) in F minor. For this program the “overture” will be one of MTT’s own compositions, “Agnegram.” The symphony selection after the intermission will be Anton Bruckner’s seventh in E minor. MTT last conducted this symphony with SFS in March of 2013, and it is of particular interest since its second movement seems to have been influenced by Bruckner’s knowledge that Richard Wagner was dying.
This concert will be given only three performances, all at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, November 2, Thursday, November 3, and Friday, November 4. Laura Stansfield Prichard will again give the Inside Music talk, which will begin one hour prior to each concert. Doors open for these talks fifteen minutes before they begin. Ticket prices range from $15 to $169. They may be purchased online through the event page for this program on the SFS Web site, by calling 415-864-6000, or by visiting the Box Office in Davies Symphony Hall, whose entrance is on the south side of Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street. Finally, the event page also includes hyperlinks for listening to a free podcast about the Bruckner symphony hosted by KDFC’s Rik Malone. There is also a link for sound clips from the Chopin concerto.