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Jaap van Zweden, the acclaimed Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, returns to the Bay Area to conduct Bruckner’s monumental Fifth Symphony, a powerful drama that summons the full brawn of the SF Symphony. Mozart's showpiece Clarinet Concerto, completed the year of his death, intertwines elegant lyrical passages with fiendish virtuosity. Witness this masterpiece performed with the "effortless technical virtuosity" (San Francisco Chronicle) of SF Symphony Principal Clarinet Carey Bell.
All sound clips are from San Francisco Symphony performances and are used with permission of the SFS Players Committee.
Bruckner's Symphony No. 5
At A Glance
Clarinet Concerto in A major, K.622 1791 | 28 mins
Mozart had a love affair with the clarinet, with its rich sonority and almost vocal qualities of expression, and late in his brief career he came to appreciate the instrument through the artistry of his good friend (and Viennese Court Orchestra clarinetist) Anton Stadler. In his Clarinet Concerto, Mozart left one of music’s most authentic utterances, a testament to happiness and sadness, to hope and resignation, to the realization that often in life such states represent not distinct polarities, but concurrent aspects of a deeper truth. Read More
Symphony No. 5 1876 | 80 mins
Bruckner was fifty when he made his first notations for the Fifth Symphony. He had moved to Vienna six-and-a-half years earlier, having left the pleasures of life in Upper Austria, where he felt at home and where his dialect mingled with that of his neighbors. Buoyed by occasional successes, wounded and bewildered by more frequent failures, Bruckner found himself firm in his vocation as a symphonist. From Beethoven, Bruckner had learned about scale, preparation and suspense, mystery, and the ethical content of music; from Schubert something about a specifically Austrian tone and much about harmony; from Wagner everything about a sense of slow tempo and a breadth of unfolding hitherto unknown in instrumental music. The vision, however, was Bruckner’s own. So was the simple magnificence of sound, achieved with masterful and astonishing economy, as we hear in the Fifth Symphony. LISTEN FOR: The massive final movement is interrupted by a glorious brass chorale that sets the stage for an astonishing imitative section based on the chorale tune. One has to reach back to the late works of Beethoven to find a parallel for what Bruckner unpacks here. A final, stunning appearance of the chorale resolves the friction. Read More
Steven Ziegler is Managing Editor of the San Francisco Symphony.