Conductor Pablo Heras-Casado (courtesy of the San Francisco Symphony)
This week Pablo Heras-Casado will return to Davies Symphony Hall as guest conductor of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS). Heras-Casado has a reputation for finding just the right blend on the adventurous and the familiar in his programming. This week’s program will begin with Esa-Pekka Salonen’s “Helix,” a work for which he developed an original formal design, based on the geometry of the cone, to provide a framework for a broad diversity of instrumental colors. These will be the first SFS performances of “Helix.”
Almost as adventurous will be the concerto selection on the program. This will be the last concerto written by Dmitri Shostakovich, his Opus 129 (second) violin concerto in C-sharp minor. Shostakovich may have chosen this key because it had been the key of Sergei Prokofiev’s final (seventh) symphony, his Opus 131. Prokofiev, in turn, may have chosen the key because it was the key of another Opus 131, one of Ludwig van Beethoven’s “late period” string quartets. In addition, given Shostakovich’s appreciation for the music of Gustav Mahler, it is worth noting that C-sharp minor is the key of Mahler’s fifth symphony. The concerto soloist for Heras-Casado with be SFS Concertmaster Alexander Barantschik, whose personal repertoire generously accommodates all of these composers. The second half of the program will then settle back into the familiar with a performance of Johannes Brahms’ Opus 68 (first) symphony in the less remote key of C minor.
This concert will be given three performances in Davies, all at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 1, Friday, March 2, and Saturday, March 3. Ticket prices range from $30 to $99. 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 Davies Box Office, whose entrance is on the south side of Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street. In addition, the event page has a free podcast about the Brahms symphony hosted by KDFC’s Rik Malone, as well as sound clips from previous SFS performances of that symphony. Flash must be enabled to listen to both the podcast and the sound clips. Finally, the Inside Music talk will be given by Elizabeth Seitz, beginning half an hour before the performance. Doors will open fifteen minutes before the talk begins.