* Notes *
Semyon Bychkov (pictured left, photograph by Thomas Brill) conducts San Francisco Symphony in Schubert's Unfinished and Shostakovich's 11th this week. The Schubert that started last night's proceedings was elegant. The pianissimo of the strings with oboe and clarinet in the first movement was simply beautiful. The sound was verdant and fresh. In the second movement, the brass was slightly cloudy at two points, but the woodwinds were excellent.
The Shostakovich that came after intermission required many more musicians than the Schubert. Bychkov kept a fine tension in the musical line, the slow parts were not lax, but contrasted with the faster sections of the piece. The quiet moments of the music were exquisite. The volume of the end of the second and fourth movements was rather deafening, and it was clear why some orchestra members wore earplugs. The trumpets played quite well, as did the English horn.
* Tattling *
There were many cellular phone rings in the second half of the performance. It seemed whenever there was a gorgeous pianissimo was being played on stage, there was some electronic noise happening in the audience.