* Notes *
Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra performed two concerts as part of San Francisco Symphony's Great Performers Series last Sunday and Monday. The second performance began with the Royal Hunt and Storm from Act IV of Berlioz's Les Troyens. The first horn was particularly lovely, producing a smooth, milky sound, though the second horn came off slightly tinny. The musicians were very together. This was followed by Rachmaninoff's third piano concerto with soloist Denis Matsuev, a marvel of technique, without a trace of mawkishness. Unfortunately, his playing left me seasick, but the audience seemed to enjoy his playing, and he obliged by giving a music box of an encore.
After the intermission came Shostakovich's Symphony No. 15. The work is both mocking and unnerving, which came through clearly. The quotation from Rossini's William Tell Overture garnered laughter, but the allusions to The Ring and Tristan und Isolde were more disturbing. The soloists were all strong, especially the cellist. Only the trumpet sounded slightly vulnerable. The encore was a piece by Anatoly Lyadov, which required the addition of contrabassoon and bass clarinet.
* Tattling *
At least three cellular phones rang throughout the performance. There was also some talking. There were protests against Gergiev on both Monday and Sunday, though somehow I missed this in the crowd swarming into Davies Hall.