MTT & Capuçon

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San Francisco Symphony


Michael Tilson Thomas
Dmitri Shostakovich

The Firebird

Igor Stravinsky
All sound clips are from San Francisco Symphony performances and are used with permission of the SFS Players Committee.


Stravinsky’s Firebird

All sound clips are from San Francisco Symphony performances and are used with permission of the SFS Players Committee.
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Event Description

San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed announced that War Memorial Performing Arts Center venues, including Davies Symphony Hall, will be closed for all public events for the next two weeks in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. All San Francisco Symphony Concerts scheduled at Davies Symphony Hall through March 20 are canceled. Please see home page for details.

MTT conducts a luxuriant program by some of Russia’s finest storytellers and orchestrators. Charging out of the gate is Stravinsky's first large-scale work for orchestra and one of the most iconic scores of the ballet world: The Firebird. MTT brings personal insight into Stravinsky’s opulent masterpiece, having known and performed with the composer. Also on the program, the SFS welcomes the fiery virtuosity of San Francisco favorite Gautier Capuçon for a journey into the turbulent mindscape of Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 2. Opening the program is an original composition by MTT, Street Song, a jazz-inflected brass quintet piece that blends three song cycles into a memorable 5-note finale theme.

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At A Glance

Street Song 
Michael Tilson Thomas initially wrote Street Song for brass quintet, but he later reconceived the work for the symphonic sheen of the London Symphony Orchestra brass section (MTT has a long association with the LSO where he currently serves as Conductor Laureate). Street Song interweaves three “songs” of varying character. MTT observes that the first movement is “about starting and stopping, the moments of suspension always leading somewhere else.” The second song is folk-like in character while the third song is something of a jazzy dance. Of the work’s close, MTT observes “There is a resolution, but it is the world of a musician who after many after-hour gigs greets the dawn.”—from notes by JAMES M. KELLER | Read More
Cello Concerto No. 2
Shostakovich wrote both of his cello concertos with the extraordinary expressive range of cellist Mstislav Rostropovich in mind. Yet when he began to conceive the Second Concerto, he considered taking it in the direction of a symphony, commenting to a friend, “It seems to me that the Second Concerto could have been called the Fourteenth Symphony with a solo cello part.” The Second Cello Concerto anticipates the leaner and sometimes oddly mercurial late style of Shostakovich’s last works. Moreover, the fact that this was a significant anniversary year for Shostakovich (his sixtieth) may have occasioned a desire to look inward. Yet the concerto’s enigmas resist facile translations into autobiography. This is very much a piece about music itself, albeit one in which the extroverted, virtuoso display so closely associated with a concerto is largely absent.—from notes by THOMAS MAY | Read More
The Firebird
The first performance of The Firebird by Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes made Stravinsky a celebrity—for life. Its Parisian audience wanted a taste of the avant-garde, and with this ballet score the twenty-seven-year-old more than delivered. The company made a specialty of dancing works inspired by Russian folklore, and The Firebird was perfectly suited to Ballets Russes designs. The fantastical tale involves a dashing prince, an evil sorcerer, enchanted princesses, a magic egg, and, of course, the mythical and mystical titular creature.  LISTEN FOR: Scored for an orchestra of luxurious size and richness, Stravinsky’s colorful work takes advantage of each instrument’s specific sound to enliven individual characters.—from notes by RONALD GALLMAN and MICHAEL STEINBERG MORE | Read More

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