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Witness the coming together of extraordinary artists. MTT leads the Orchestra in the World premiere of a new work by one of America's most celebrated and oft-performed living composers, John Adams.
Then, fiery Daniil Trifonov tackles a concerto by a pianist widely considered to be among the greatest of all time: Sergei Rachmaninoff. It was almost 100 years ago that Rachmaninoff took a seat in New York’s Aeolian Hall for the premiere of a new kind of music, one that blended jazz and classical idioms. That piece was George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Two years later, Rachmaninoff answered with his athletic Fourth Piano Concerto, a blend of American jazz, Russian folksong, Orthodox chant, and tonal Modernism.
Rounding out the evening with a classic, MTT conducts Robert Schumann’s five-movement Symphony No. 3, an optimistic and buoyant vision of the Rhine.
Schumann Symphony No. 3
At A Glance
JOHN ADAMS I Still Dance 2019 | 8 mins
John Adams has been associated with the San Francisco Symphony since 1979 but a fresh phase was launched a quarter-century ago with the appointment of Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas, who embraced the legacy and future potential of American mavericks. The brief new piece being introduced on this program, I Still Dance, was composed by Adams in honor of this final, 25th season of MTT’s tenure. It celebrates “the continued youthful vitality” of MTT himself, as well as of his husband, Joshua Robison. I Still Dance sustains an explosive, relentless intensity from the first downbeat through most of its span. But just as the churning maelstrom of energy seems poised to rouse for a climax, Adams dims the lights for what he describes as a “soft landing.” Read More
RACHMANINOFF Piano Concerto No. 4 1926/1941 | 25 mins
Rachmaninoff had always been uncomfortable balancing his three careers as composer, conductor, and pianist. In the 1920s and ‘30s he was chiefly a pianist, a very great one and immensely successful, though anything other than happy with his life in hotel rooms and Pullman cars. Now Rachmaninoff the composer appeared to be in trouble. The well that had produced the expansive melodies of his most popular works seemed to have dried up, and he began to rethink his compositional style. He needed now to make the most of his talent for economy, concentration, and precision. Rachmaninoff’s late works—the Piano Concerto No. 4 (in the 1941 version) among them—all represent their composer at his most formidably intelligent and imaginative. Read More
SCHUMANN Symphony No. 3, Rhenish 1850 | 32 mins
More than a natural phenomenon, the Rhine has been a political object and the cradle of legend and poetry, and, though it rises in Switzerland and drains into the North Sea in the Netherlands, the Germans have always thought of the river as very much their own. Schumann and the Rhineland were new to each other in 1850, when the composer became Düsseldorf’s Municipal Music Director. The Rhenish Symphony reflects his optimism in the face of new challenges and a fresh start. LISTEN FOR: The symphony’s stunning fourth movement is a musical monument to northern Europe’s then-largest Gothic building, the cathedral in Cologne. Schumann skillfully evokes an antique style, utilizing the majestic sound of trombones for this tone picture. Read More
Compiled by Managing Editor STEVEN ZIEGLER, from notes by THOMAS MAY and MICHAEL STEINBERG