Leah Crocetto's Salon at the Rex
SF Opera's Cyrano de Bergerac

James Conlon & Joshua Bell at SFS

Joshua-bell * Notes * 
James Conlon, Los Angeles Opera's music director, is conducting San Francisco Symphony a program of Wagner, Bruch, and Dvořák this week. Yesterday's performance began with the Prelude to Act I of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, which was lovely. The trumpet and trombone were particularly strong, and the orchestra sounded cohesive. This was followed by Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, played by the gifted soloist Joshua Bell (pictured left, photograph by Timothy White). The Allegro moderato was rather moderate, and was not entirely distinct from the Adagio that came next. The orchestra did provide a floating, cloud-like support to the solo violin. The Allegro energico, though not precisely together, was full of life. Bell's playing has a high polish to it, and his encore, Vieuxtemps' Souvenir d'Amérique, showed this off brilliantly. After the intermission, Maestro Conlon addressed the audience giving us some background on the three Dvořák pieces. A few musical examples were played and one horrible pun was made. He also corrected the order of the pieces as In der Natur, Carnival, and then Othello, asking us not to clap until the end. Though the brass had a few seconds of muddiness, overall the orchestra created a shimmery, swinging sound. The influences of both Verdi and Wagner were apparent.

* Tattling * 
There was some light talking in Premier Orchestra, but nothing that was not easily ignored. There was much giggling at the Vieuxtemps because the piece is based on "Yankee Doodle." At intermission, I had the good fortune to be induced backstage by Miss LCU, where she made various introductions.

The audience was enthused, giving Joshua Bell a standing ovation. Some had great difficulty containing their excitement during the Dvořák, and it was especially hard for them not to applaud after In der Natur. A few scattered claps were hushed straightaway.