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“A model of farsighted musical intelligence and no-nonsense command” (Chicago Tribune), Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck returns to the San Francisco Symphony after his triumphant 2017 debut. The acclaimed conductor leads the Orchestra in Dvořák’s rousing, Bohemian-flavored Eighth Symphony and Prokofiev’s cello showpiece, Sinfonia concertante, with the fiery virtuoso Truls Mørk.
Sinfonia concertante in E minor for Cello and Orchestra, Opus 125 (1950)
Symphony No. 8 No. 8 in G major, Opus 88 (1889)
Dvořák's Symphony No. 8
Sinfonia concertante in E minor for Cello and Orchestra, Opus 125 1950 | 37 mins
The sinfonia concertante was a genre in which more than one instrument stood in the spotlight—it was basically a group concerto. Don’t let the title fool you, though: In Prokofiev’s extraordinarily demanding work, the solo cellist plays nearly the entire time, with strikingly few breaks. A music historian deftly captured the essence of this large-boned piece, saying that in this music “the old and the new in Prokofiev stand side by side.” LISTEN FOR: Despite harshness and disjointedness in the melodies (“old Prokofiev”), the broad, singing themes (“new Prokofiev”) are what we notice most. MORE
Symphony No. 8 1889 | 34 mins
Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony is genial and upbeat. The piece begins with a solemn introduction that spotlights the orchestra’s mid-range instruments, yet LISTEN FOR: a joyful interruption that takes the shape of a birdcall by a single flute. This happy moment builds into great ebullience throughout the rest of this very optimistic first movement. We’re not in the clear yet—the music eventually degrades into mournfulness via some forbidding passages. This tempering of spirit is a deliberate and clever move by Dvořák—think of how the sun always seems to shine more brightly after it has been darkened by shadows. Similar contrasts mark the Adagio, with gentle music countered by weighty passion. The folk-flavored third movement swings us back to melancholy. Then, after a bright opening fanfare, the symphony’s dance-like finale unrolls as a delightful set of variations on a lovely and dignified theme. MORE
JEANETTE YU is Editorial Director at the San Francisco Symphony.