* Notes *
This week San Francisco Symphony performs a lovely program of Hindemith, Stenhammer, Nielsen, Sibelius, Grieg, and Brahms. Before Michael Tilson Thomas conducted Hindemith's Concert Music for String Orchestra and Brass on Thursday night, he addressed the audience, saying the program notes, while good, did not convey how much joy there was in playing it. He also did an impression of Leonard Bernstein. The piece was played with vigor but prettiness. The end of the first part had a nice expansiveness without being overwhelming as far as volume. The principal trombone played particularly well in the slow section of Part II. The big soloist of the evening was mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, who joined San Francisco Symphony in a sampling of Scandinavian songs. The texts were mostly in Swedish, but there were ones in Danish, Norwegian, and Finnish too. Von Otter has a pure, lucid sound. She did seem at times a bit ahead of the orchestra. The sustained notes of Grieg's En Svane were beautiful, as was the illusory Var det en dröm? that ended the set. Von Otter gave a delightful encore of Wilhelm Peterson-Berger's Aspåkers-polska. The second half of the performance was devoted to Brahms' Serenade No. 1 in D Major. The playing was pleasant, though the horn had a couple painful notes in the first movement. The brass did sound nice in the second Scherzo. The clarinet and oboe were exceptionally winsome in this piece.
* Tattling *
A watch alarm rang throughout MTT's talk before Hindemith. The audience was exceedingly silent during the songs. There was whispering during Brahms, and applause between the last two movements.