L.A. in San Francisco

Tonight, Lisa and I went to see Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic perform here in San Francisco: an absolutely wonderful concert of Beethoven and Lutoslawski.

The concert began with Beethoven’s Leonore Overture; it felt a bit hesitant in the slower parts and not quite really full with life, but an enjoyable performance never the less. I have to say that I don’t know how I feel really about Beethoven’s music, as at times I find myself engrossed, and other times flatly not engaged at all. So perhaps I had some baggage in listening to this piece tonight, I don’t know.

The second piece was Lutoslawski’s Fourth Symphony which was the prime draw for myself to this concert. When I first heard the Fourth on CD I didn’t quite get into it, but over time it has grown on me very, very much. The past few months I had been listening to the piece quite a bit and studying the score when I could, and finding myself deeper and deeper into the piece. Tonight’s performance was exceptional. It felt as if the performers really put themselves into the piece, and the conducting was perfect: the silences were filled with weight, the piece was completely cohesive, the sound shaped without a drop in suspense. The orchestra filled the hall with such a wonderfully rich sound, and it was an absolute joy to finally hear this piece live.

After the intermission was Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, and still filled with the experience of the Lutoslawski, made it difficult to engage with the first movement (though I haven’t found myself ever really drawn into that movement otherwise). I enjoyed the second movement a great deal, it’s slow, relentless movement forward and lovely orchestration, and found myself listening intently afterwards into the third and fourth, even though their comparable levity in mood. A fine performance of a fine piece.

The performance was capped off with a short, fun encore that I thought went very well after the Beethoven. Overall, the performance was throughly enjoyable and the Lutoslawski was absolutely superb. Another fond memory…


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