The Cleveland Orchestra, that is. The sublime Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by Franz Welser-Möst, and recognized as one of the “Big Five” American symphony ensembles, will be gracing Baghdad by the Bay for two nights this April, performing at the exquisite Davies Symphony Hall for the first time since 2005.
Built in 1980, and a component of the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall is coolly modern and visually elegant both inside and out. Acoustical refinements completed in 1992 have brilliantly accommodated the Hall’s large volume and seating (2743 p. capacity)—at one time a detriment to an ideal otic experience. Listening to a concert there now, while not as intimate as in smaller venues, can be awe-inspiring. There’s no doubt the Cleveland Orchestra will fill it to the brim with its shimmering and evocative sound.
Among the program highlights: Kaija Saariaho’s Orion, commissioned by the Cleveland Orchestra in 2002. It can test a large orchestra, but Mr. Welser-Möst’s detailed attention to dynamic shadings, mercurial shifts and overall subtlety keep it restrained and yet impassioned. It contrasts wonderfully with Mendelssohn’s inspired and plucky Scottish Symphony, and Shostakovich’s own polyphonic masterpiece of spring, joy, and youth, his Sixth Symphony. Davies Symphony Hall. April 15-16, 2012 | 415-864-6000
If you’re still in town from April 19-22, you might want to double your concert-going pleasure. Piano virtuoso Jean-Yves Thibaudet healines at the Davies Symphony Hall with the San Francisco Symphony and conductor Stéphane Denève. Combining manic dexterity with an almost languid grace, Jean-Yves Thibaudet performs Saint-Saëns “Egyptian” Piano Concerto, an exotic hotchpotch of melodies and harmonies.
Thibaudet will also assail the carnivalesque Berlioz Roman Carnival Overture, and Roussel’s Symphonic Fragments from The Spider’s Feast. The influences on Roussel’s first ballet were not just the spiders of the title but insects of all types—the results bombinating, sultry, magical. Completing the list: Stravinsky’s evergreen Firebird Suite reanimated. Davies Symphony Hall. April 19-22, 2012 | 415-864-6000
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