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MTT conducts Revueltas, Villa-Lobos, Varèse, & Beethoven

Lions-roar1 * Notes * 
Michael Tilson Thomas is conducting San Francisco Symphony a program of Revueltas, Villa-Lobos, Varèse, and Beethoven this week. Revueltas' Sensemayá sounded tropical and percussive, and Villa-Lobos' Ciranda das sete notas was quite pretty. Principal bassoon player Stephen Paulson was the soloist in the latter, and the lines were beautifully lyrical. The strings sounded supportive and legato, the principal bassist played particularly well. Before Varèse's Amériques, at least on Friday night, Michael Tilson Thomas addressed the crowd, telling us that this piece would be a "life-changing experience" and that the music sounded like "intoxicated football hooligans." The piece simply annoyed the three people I attended the symphony with, and many of the other audience-members around us. I was, however, very amused by the cow-siren sound that was employed, and completely boggled by which instrument this was on stage. At intermission, we ran into Donato Cabrera, the assistant conductor of SFS, and he helpfully identified this as the lion's roar, a percussion instrument. The concert ended with Beethoven's Symphony No. 7. The playing, while lovely, was not entirely cohesive. There was too much slack in the first two movements, especially the gorgeous Allegretto.

* Tattling * 
There was quite a bit of whispering in the First Tier and far too much clapping in between movements. I believe MTT asked the audience to not clap and to "guard the silence" after the Poco sostenuto — Vivace of the 7th, unfortunately to no avail.