Urban Opera's The Witch of Endor
Kremerata Baltica at Cal Performances

Pablo Heras-Casado & Alice Sara Ott at SFS

Alice-sara-ott* Notes * 
This week Pablo Heras-Casado just finished conducting San Francisco Symphony in a program of Mendelssohn's Fingal's Cave, Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1, György Kurtág's Grabstein für Stephan, and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 12. Yesterday's performance began with Mendelssohn, and it seemed that Heras-Casado was drawing this music out of the players. The clarinet solo from Carey Bell was especially fine. Beautiful pianist Alice Sara Ott (pictured) was the soloist in the Lizst. She proved a genial player, listening to the orchestra attentively, and showing a good deal of restraint. Her encore was Beethoven's Für Elise, which pleased the audience quite a lot. After the intermission, we heard the haunting Kurtág piece, which featured solo guitar. The performances ended with Shostakovich, which was played with buoyancy but not much dynamic contrast. The woodwinds had some gorgeous moments, the brass was strident and jarring.

* Tattling * 
There was some minor whispering in Premier Orchestra. Some sleeping was noted. I had a hard time not giggling at the Liszt because the piece is intensely earnest. This was not helped by my companion, who also laughed. People clapped once they recognized Ott's encore. Ott herself was dressed in an elegant tiered white evening gown, but did not wear shoes.