Way to Go, Ohio

The first performance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61, in 1806, was a little shaky. Some musicians had to sight-read the hastily finished and unrehearsed final parts. At one point, a violinist is said to have flipped his instrument upside down, stroking only one string in a composition of his own — either out of annoyance or showmanship for what he could do with almost no time to prepare. (We’ll point out this guy had about 160 years on Jimi Hendrix’s shredding from behind his head.) Hear the Cleveland Orchestra perform the work tonight as part of two San Francisco engagements. The orchestra is among the most musically respected in the country — the so-called “Big Five” — and has help tonight from violinist Nicolaj Znaider. Conductor Franz Welser-Möst leads the orchestra in the Beethoven piece as well as selections from Thomas AdesPowder Her Face and excerpts from Smetana’s Ma Vlast. Sunday night, the orchestra performs Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Opus 56, Kaija Saariaoh’s Orion, and Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 54, by Dmitri Shostakovich — a man who struggled for decades with Josef Stalin over musical composition. Note to the S.F. Symphony: Listen closely, because if that Big Five is eventually expanded to a Big Seven as has been suggested, you’re among the first in line, and this is what you’ve got to measure up to.
April 15-16, 2012

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