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Double Exposure for Dvořák Symphony in Davies Hall

October 23, 2018

In a duplication somewhere between “extremely rare” and “unprecedented,” two orchestras will perform the same Dvořák symphony in Davies Hall within hours of each other on Nov. 11.

At 2 p.m., Christian Reif will lead the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra in a program that includes Dvořák’s Seventh Symphony. At 8 p.m., the visiting Czech Philharmonic’s concert, under Semyon Bychkov’s baton, will include ... yes, the Dvořák Seventh.

The 1885 work in D minor is one of Dvořák’s shorter symphonies, running about 37 minutes. It combines dramatic expression and a somber atmosphere, curiously distinguished for its absence of any Slav-inspired melodies that are so characteristic of the composer’s earlier works. Described as a profoundly intimate work, it is a fortuitous candidate for the repeat performance.

Is the program duplication a coincidence or was it planned? Reif says it’s the former, and the Czech visitors had (and probably still have) no idea about what-all is happening locally.

Will the Youth Orchestra musicians take the opportunity to listen to the orchestra from Dvořák’s homeland? They are always “encouraged to go see SFS and visiting orchestras in concerts: We buy tickets for them,” says Reif, “and I’m sure many of them will take the opportunity to listen to the Philharmonic perform a piece they’ve spent so much time on.”

“Sadly,” Reif adds, “I won’t be able to go because I’m leaving right after our matinee concert in order to conduct a sitzprobe of Pagliacci at Opera San José.”

Busy at many places, Reif will conclude his tenure as S.F. Symphony resident conductor next year, after he leads the Youth Orchestra on a European tour. No successor has been named yet for the position, which includes conducting the Youth Orchestra.

The Nov. 11 matinee also includes SFSYO’s 2018 Concerto Competition winner Jonas Koh as soloist in Emmanuel Séjourné’s 2005 Concerto for Marimba and Strings; and John Adams’s The Chairman Dances.

Bychkov, on an extensive U.S. tour with the Czech Philharmonic, where he succeeded the late Jirí Belohlávek as chief conductor only this month, also programmed for the San Francisco concert the Dvořák Cello Concerto, with Alisa Weilerstein. The Philharmonic’s nine-city, 11-concert tour also includes Stanford Live on Nov. 10.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].