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Anton Bruckner never heard his Sixth Symphony performed in full, but he proudly described it as his “boldest symphony.” Still overlooked today, it is awash in beautiful themes and imaginative twists and turns. Opening this program led by Esa-Pekka Salonen, pianist Conor Hanick premieres an SF Symphony commission by Samuel Adams, known for his expressive, innovative, and genre-bending music.
At A Glance
Samuel Carl Adams’s No Such Spring, a San Francisco Symphony commission heard this week in its world premiere, manifests the composer’s thinking about direct communication without falling back on conventions. At first glance, the prominence of the solo piano part in tandem with orchestra, together with the piece’s three-movement design, might suggest the concerto format. But Adams resists such typecasting. “My intention was first and foremost to create a virtuosic symphonic work with the piano acting as the orchestra’s inner voice.”
Anton Bruckner began his life as a symphonist at age 42, after careers as a schoolteacher and organist, and as he went, leaned more and more toward the monumental. In that progression his Symphony No. 6 is a step off the main road, and is less often performed. Bruckner himself, in fact, never heard it played in its entirety—but its beauties can take listeners aback, particularly those of the Adagio, which are unsurpassed in his work.