Following what promises to be a glittering Gala Opening tomorrow evening, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony round off the opening week of the new season with two concerts featuring guest artist Daniil Trifonov. The young Russian pianist will play Chopin’s lovely Piano Concerto No 2 in a program which also features music by Ravel, Rossini and Respighi.
Winner of the First Prize at both the Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein piano competitions in 2011, Daniil Trifonov has become something of an international sensation. At the Tchaikovsky Competition, Marta Argerich said: “What he does with his hands is technically incredible …. he has tenderness and also the demonic element.” His performance of this concerto in London last year was described by The Guardian as “a marvel, a mixture of exuberance and fabulous subtlety, as remarkable for the delicate precision of his wispy pianissimos as for the irrepressible energy of its grandstanding rhetoric”, and – according to The Financial Times – “What makes him such a phenomenon is the ecstatic quality he brings to his performances…Small wonder every western capital is in thrall to him.”
Chopin’s Piano Concerto No 2 (written before his Piano Concerto No 1, but published second) was completed early in 1830 – when the composer was just 20, and before he had completed his formal education. It premiered in Warsaw on March 17 of that year, with the composer as soloist.
The performance opens with Ravel’s charming Menuet antique – the first of his published works. Written originally for solo piano, it premiered at the Salle Erard in Paris on April 18, 1898, with pianist Ricardo Viñes. Ravel orchestrated the piece in 1929, and this version had its premiere on January 11, 1930, featuring the composer with the Lamoreux Orchestra.
The piano concerto is followed by Gioachino Rossini’s overture to his comedy opera La scala di seta (The Silken Ladder) which premiered on May 9, 1812, at the Teatro San Moisè in Venice. With a libretto by Guiseppe Foppa, it was the second of five new operas by Rossini to be staged in that year, and one of four which he wrote in 1812.
The concert ends with Ottorino Respighi’s Roman Festivals – a work in four movements, portraying life in Ancient Rome. The movements are entiteld Games at the Circus Maximus, The Jubilee, The October Festival and The Epiphany. Mostly written in 1928, the work was given its premiere in New York City on February 21, 1929, by the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Arturo Toscanini.
Daniil Trifonov plays Chopin with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, at Davies Symphony Hall, on September 25 and 26. For further information and tickets, visit the San Francisco Symphony website.
San Francisco Symphony program notes by:
James M Keller