Osmo Vänskä

Vänskä conducts Larcher, Mendelssohn, & Vaughan Williams at SFS

Vanska_hi_res * Notes * 
This week Osmo Vänskä conducts San Francisco Symphony in a program of Larcher, Mendelssohn, and Vaughan Williams. Thomas Larcher's eerie, cinematic Red and Green required a large number of instruments, yet was played with tasteful restraint. The sound was never overpowering, even when two of the trombone players hit their instruments with sticks. The brass sounded clear. The dynamic contrasts were impressive. Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor, Opus 64 featured concertmaster Alexander Barantschik, who was comfortable playing with the orchestra, and listened to the other musicians intently. It was a subtle, elegant rendering. The two horns and two trumpets were together, and were not muddy. After intermission came A London Symphony from Vaughan Williams. The piece ranges from atmospheric to gaudy, but was played well. The horn solo in the second movement Lento was strong, as was the solo violin in the third movement Scherzo.

* Tattling * 
Last night there was some whispering during the first San Francisco performance of the Larcher, but the composer received hearty applause and even a "bravo" when he came to the stage. A watch alarm was heard at 10pm near the end of the Vaughan Williams. I was particularly ill-behaved during this piece, for some reason, I lack the maturity necessary to control my laughter. The Big Ben references made me titter. Unfortunately, I lost my composure when the person in Section E Seat A 9 of the First Tier put her shoeless (but stockinged) foot up upon the railing.


Vänskä conducts Beethoven's 8th

Beethoven-8 * Notes * 
Last night Osmo Vänskä lead San Francisco Symphony in a program of Sallinen, Sibelius, and Beethoven. Aulis Sallinen's Symphony No. 1 was rather oceanic, filled with waves and swells. The viola solo, played by Yun-Jie Liu, was particularly lovely, as was the duet between the viola and second violin. Sibelius' Concerto in D minor for Violin and Orchestra, Opus 47 featured Vadim Repin, who could play with a smooth lyricism or more agressive vociferousness. The brass blared a bit too much in the first movement, but the rest of the orchestra played with feeling. After the intermission we heard Beethoven's Coriolan Overture, which was appropriately grand. Vänskä conducted a playful, spritely Symphony No. 8 from Beethoven. The horns sounded a bit like they were underwater, but the trumpets were fine. The woodwinds were great as usual, especially the bassoons and the clarinets.

* Tattling * 
There was some talking, but most disruptive was a cellular phone, which rang at least 4 times during the Sallinen.
Many bloggers were in attendance, and I was lucky enough to snag a seat courtesy of a particular interviewer.


Osmo Vänskä and Antti Siirala at SFS

Osmo-vanska * Notes * 
Last night Osmo Vänskä lead San Francisco Symphony in a program of John Adams' Slonimsky's Earbox, Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, and Dvořák's Symphony No. 7. Slonimsky's Earbox was quite cute, a sort of jaunty circus music. The orchestra crackled under Vänskä, and it was a good opportunity to hear the new principal violist, Jonathan Vinocour, who played his solo beautifully. The horns were not perfectly clear in Tchaikovsky's first piano concerto, but the oboe sounded lovely. The pianist, Antti Siirala, was unobtrusive but still engaging. The last movement was downright alarming. The second half of the performance gave us a lush, dramatic rendition of Dvořák. The playing was persuasive, Vänskä brought out the best in the woodwinds and even the brass.

* Tattling * 
Some talking and whispering was noted, especially from those in E 105 and 106 of the orchestra level. Siirala received a standing ovation, but Adams did not.