Heuwell Tircuit is a composer, performer, and writer who was chief writer for Gramophone Japan and for 21 years a music reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle. He wrote previously for Chicago American and the Asahi Evening News.
Articles by this Author
Two up-and-coming talents, the Macedonian pianist Simon Trpčeski and Russian conductor Vasily Petrenko, took over last week’s San Francisco Symphony subscription concerts, and in the process sounded like major stars of the future.
For its 74th season, Director Corey Jamason and the San Francisco Bach Choir and Baroque Orchestra programmed five highly unusual Bach compositions for their Sunday program in Calvary Presbyterian Church. The sizable audience ate it all up with gusto.
Last week was a big week for Maurice Ravel’s music at Davies Symphony Hall. Hard on the heels of the four San Francisco Symphony subscription concerts that included Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales, Sunday evening saw a large, all-Ravel program by the visiting Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France under its conductor, Myung-Whun Chung. Yet in a way, the most memorable part of all this was Sunday’s glorious vocalism by mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter.
There was nothing of English pastoralism on Friday’s all-British program by the San Francisco Symphony, under guest conductor Charles Dutoit. The two 20th-century works offered a nearly tactile brilliance all evening long, aided and abetted by the orchestra’s concertmaster, Alexander Barantschik, and, in the closing minutes, by the wordless, offstage women of the S.F. Symphony Chorus.
Thursday’s program of the San Francisco Symphony, under Michael Tilson Thomas, offered something new in my concert experience. Noting that the two works on the first half of the program were rather glum, MTT said he wanted to open with something lighter. So he turned around and conducted what amounted to an encore: the sarcastic Polka from Shostakovich’s 1930 ballet The Age of Gold, Op. 22.
Piano fans will find much of interest from the new two-piano release of Martha Argerich and Nelson Freire, drawn from live performance at last summer’s Salzburg Festival. Their programming consists of two staples, Brahms’ Haydn Variations, Op. 56b, and Schubert’s Rondo in A Major, D. 951, plus two uncommon transcriptions: Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances, Op. 45, and Ravel’s La Valse (Deutsche Grammophon 477 8570).
The normally high standards of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra were only dimly in evidence Sunday afternoon in Davies Symphony Hall. Their recently appointed new conductor, Donato Cabrera, seemed only partly in control of himself, as well as the orchestra, through one modern standard and two major classics.
Leaving Davies Symphony Hall Sunday afternoon at the conclusion of the San Francisco Symphony’s all-Sergei Rachmaninov program, I was wondering if I’d put on weight merely by listening to it. Guest conductor Semyon Bychkov led only two large works, with everything but the kitchen pantry thrown in.
Apparently, no one has informed the San Francisco Girls Chorus that what they are doing is impossible, so they just do it — and very well, too. On Friday night their “Transcendent Voices” performance in Calvary Presbyterian Church — part of the ensemble’s 30th anniversary season — was a jaw dropper that made the heart soar in delight.
This new release of piano trios by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov features three virtuoso musicians delivering gushy music gushily. In a way, this likely was the way this music was played in its own day, minus emotive restraint. This can almost be considered to be a recording as a historical study, free of the sometimes exaggerated objectivity of contemporary performances.
Applause broke out at unexpected times Wednesday evening in Davies Symphony Hall as guest conductor David Robertson wowed the San Francisco Symphony audience. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he had virtuoso pianist Yefim Bronfman as his soloist for a terrific program.