* Notes *
Michael Tilson Thomas conducted Knussen's Symphony No. 3 and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 last night at San Francisco Symphony. Though Tilson Thomas gave a helpful exposition of the former piece before he began, the work did not improve for me after a second hearing. I still found it rather metallic in sound, but it did not cause the jarring visceral reaction I had last time. Over the course of the 15 minutes I thought on a cupcake version of Ophelia bobbling in the water. For some reason, less context was better for me, as far as appreciating this music is concerned.
I had also heard MTT conduct the 9th before, and unlike the Knussen it made a very similar impression. I have no particular complaint about his conducting, though the orchestra was rather much louder than some of the soloists. I found the tempi fine, stately at times but not sluggish. The first two movements were good, but the third did not seem as together, the woodwinds and horns had a few problems. However, the fourth movement was lovely, and the chorus sounded fine. The voices of soprano Erin Wall and mezzo Kendall Gladen blended beautifully. Tenor Garrett Sorenson was somewhat difficult to hear, as was bass Alastair Miles. They seemed to have lovely voices but neither was piercing enough to cut through the orchestra.
* Tattling *
This was one of the best audiences I have observed at SF Symphony. There was only minimal whispering between movements, and one watch alarm at the hour. A small number of people clapped after the third movement of the Beethoven.