MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? Comes to San Francisco Symphony

Quite looking forward to tonight’s San Francisco Symphony concert, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, which brings John Adams’s most-recent piano concerto to Davies Hall. Vikingur Ólafsson is the soloist, and on the basis of this morning’s open rehearsal, this should be a performance to remember.

We had a good one in January with the Seattle Symphony and Jeremy Denk, Adams himself guest conducting.

The rest of the program includes a beautiful work by the late Steven Stucky, Radical Light (also an SFS premiere), and Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony.

Filed under: Esa-Pekka Salonen, John Adams, San Francisco Symphony

San Francisco Symphony Announces 2022-23 Season

San Francisco Symphony today announced the program for its 2022-23 season. Lots of great stuff is lined up. Esa-Pekka Salonen’s third season with SFS promises world premieres of works by Samuel Adams, Magnus Lindberg, and winner of the 2021 Emerging Black Composers Project Trevor Weston, as well as the U.S. premieres of Daniel Kidane’s Precipice Dances and works by Danny Elfman and Outi Tarkiainen, along with the West Coast premiere of Julia Wolfe’s Her Story.

There will be a two-week theme focus in October on music involving “myth, magic, and horror,” including the suite from Béla Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin, Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, HK Gruber’s Frankenstein!!, the suite from Bernard Herrmann’s Psycho, Franz Liszt’s Totentanz, and Modest Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain.

Some other highlights: Igor Levit will be Artist-in-Residence and will give a rare performance of Ferruccio Busoni’s wild, choral Piano Concerto. The orchestra will present Gabriel Kahane’s emergency shelter intake form, and Music Director Laureate Michael Tilson Thomas returns for four weeks of programs. The orchestra will tour in spring 2023 to Paris, Luxembourg, and Hamburg.

EPS and SFS are also undertaking a four-year partnership with Peter Sellars, launching in June 2022 with a staged production of Igor Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex. Kaija Saariaho’s Adriana Mater comes in June 2023, and future seasons will present new Sellars-staged productions of Olivier Messiaen’s La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ (2024) and Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen (2025), the latter featuring SFS featuring Collaborative Partner Julia Bullock.

States Salonen: “I don’t believe in the concept of canon, especially canon as something finished or immovable. If you look back at concert programs from 150 years ago, what then was understood as canon is very different from today. We don’t need the concept of canon as long as music is a dynamic thing that keeps changing, because we keep changing. There’s a tradition of these works we love and want to take care of, there’s a sort of gardener’s duty that we have. We have to take care of the old trees, but we also have to make sure that there’s new growth everywhere, because without the new growth the trees actually won’t survive. Ultimately, it’s all about relevance. Every day that goes by stretches the virtual rubber band between, say, us and Beethoven. And the fear of course is that one day we come to the point where it snaps, and we no longer feel that it’s relevant, which would be a catastrophe in a way because it’s wonderful. The only way to keep that relevance and connection is to make sure that there’s new music. There’s new growth, new composers, new artists who keep this art form alive and take it places that we cannot even imagine. That’s the most important thing—the surprise, the new directions. I want to be part of that process. That’s why we want to commission works from young composers and support new artists. We want to engage new performers and expand the horizons of what we do.”

You can see the full listing for the 2022-23 season here.

Filed under: Esa-Pekka Salonen, music news, Peter Sellars, San Francisco Symphony

Covid fan tutte

Very much enjoying this “update” from Finnish Opera of Mozart’s ingenious opera buffa, which has just opened the company’s season. With Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting and staging by Jussi Nikkilä, this abridged version of the original features a libretto by Minna Lindgren rewritten for today and referencing the coronavirus pandemic and reality shows.

Cast: FIORDILIGI Miina-Liisa Värelä, DORABELLA Johanna Rusanen, FERRANDO Tuomas Katajala, GUGLIELMO Waltteri Torikka, DESPINA Karita Mattila, DON ALFONSO Tommi Hakala, INTERFACE MANAGER Sanna-Kaisa Palo, MOUZART Ylermi Rajamaa, COVID VIRUS Natasha Lommi

Meanwhile, here’s a recent tribute to the amazing Karita Mattila, who plays Despina in this production.

Filed under: COVID-19 Era, directors, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Mozart

The Weimar Republic at LA Phil

Esa-Pekka Salonen is back in Disney Hall to lead the second weekend of programs exploring the musical ferment of the Weimar Republic. Tonight brings the orchestra’s collaboration with director Simon McBurney for a staged presentation of Hindemith’s Murderer, the Hope of Women
and two Weill-Brecht creations: Das Berliner Requiem and The Seven Deadly Sins. And I’m wishing this had not become so relevant…

Filed under: Esa-Pekka Salonen, Kurt Weill, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Paul Hindemith

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