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MTT unleashes the forces of the Orchestra in Tchaikovsky's barnstorming Fourth Symphony. Also on the program, experience the “brilliant and incisive” (Chicago Tribune) Gil Shaham in Sergei Prokofiev’s warmly romantic Violin Concerto No. 1. Famous for his formidable technique and generosity of spirit, Shaham ranks among the greatest violinists of our time.
All sound clips are from San Francisco Symphony performances and are used with permission of the SFS Players Committee.
Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4
At a Glance
STEVEN MACKEY Portals, Scenes and Celebrations 2018 | 15 mins
Portals, Scenes and Celebrations is Steven Mackey’s 75th birthday gift to his longtime friend Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT celebrates the milestone in December of this year). Mackey has written a number of pieces for MTT and is “grateful for all that I’ve learned from him about composing, performing and Music’s mission to facilitate song, dance, and transcendent experience.” Mackey notes that Portals, Scenes and Celebrations “is [an] energetic celebration of motion and color, occasionally pulling back to refresh and relaunch toward an ever brighter next quest, but never in search of serenity.” Read More
PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No. 1 1917 | 22 mins
Driven abroad in 1918 by political turmoil in his native Russia, Sergei Prokofiev at last settled in Paris in 1923. There he reconnected with conductor Serge Koussevitzky, who led the premiere of the First Violin Concerto (with soloist Marcel Darrieux) in October of that year. Though the French welcomed Prokofiev’s spiky ballet scores, the Violin Concerto was simply too Romantic for Parisian ears. Prokofiev himself recognized in his life work four “basic lines," which he called classical, modern, motoric, and lyrical. These do not, however, correspond to particular periods in his life. All are present all the time, in different balances of course, and the Violin Concerto No. 1 exemplifies this. LISTEN FOR: Prokofiev cites the opening of the First Violin Concerto as an instance of the “lyrical” line and what the violin plays in the first moments of this concerto is ravishing lyric invention indeed, rhythmically afloat, unpredictable in its unfolding. Read More
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4 1877 | 42 mins
The center of gravity of this symphony is very much placed on the first movement. Tchaikovsky privately broke his rule of not revealing his secret programs and penned a rather detailed description of the opening movement to a friend: “The introduction is the seed of the whole symphony, undoubtedly the central theme. This is Fate, i.e., that fateful force which prevents the impulse towards happiness from entirely achieving its goal, forever on jealous guard lest peace and well-being should ever be attained in complete and unclouded form, hanging above us like the Sword of Damocles, constantly and unremittingly poisoning the soul. Its force is invisible, and can never be overcome. Our only choice is to surrender to it, and to languish fruitlessly. . . .” LISTEN FOR: The pervasive “Fate” theme recalls Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and serves equally as a sonic landmark for listeners throughout the work. Read More
Steven Ziegler is Managing Editor of the San Francisco Symphony