Next week, Michael Tilson Thomas, the San Francisco Symphony and guest soloist Yuja Wang leave for their European Festivals tour (of which more later), but before they go, they have two splendid concerts lined up for their San Francisco devotees. Featuring two of the programs which they’ll be taking to Europe, the concerts include works by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Bartók and Mahler.
Yuja Wang is regarded as one of the most remarkable pianists of her time – according to The New York Times, “She seems to have everything: speed, flexibility, pianistic thunder and interpretive nuance”. An international sensation, she has – at the age of just 28 – performed in most of the world’s major concert halls and with the some of the most celebrated orchestras. Michael Tilson Thomas was one of her early champions, and following her debut with the San Francisco Symphony in 2006, Yuja Wang has appeared in every SFS season since, appearing most recently with the Symphony in MTT’s 70th birthday concert in January of this year, and returning to Davies Symphony Hall in March to perform with MTT and the London Symphony Orchestra.
On Friday evening at Davies Symphony Hall, Yuja Wang plays Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 4, described by the late Michael Steinberg in his program notes for the Symphony as “this most gently spoken and poetic of all his concertos”. The program opens with Theme and Variations Opus 43b by the 20th century Austrian-American composer, Arnold Schoenberg, and also features Tchaikovsky’s glorious Fifth Symphony – recently released on CD by MTT and the Symphony, together with the Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture, on the Symphony’s in-house label, SFS Media.
The program for Saturday’s concert includes two works, both of which take their inspiration from folk songs. Yuja Wang plays Bela Bartók’s Piano Concerto No 2 – known to be a challenging work, with its rhythmic complexity. It’s followed by the Symphony No 1 by Gustav Mahler. MTT is one of today’s foremost interpreters of the works of Mahler, and this symphony was included in a series of recordings by MTT and the Symphony entitled The Mahler Project which won seven Grammy® Awards, and was also released on the SFS Media label.
Michael Tilson Thomas leads the San Francisco Symphony and guest soloist Yuja Wang in two concerts at Davies Symphony Hall this week – on Friday August 21st and Saturday August 22 – at 8.00 pm. For further information and tickets, visit the San Francisco Symphony website.
San Francisco Symphony
San Francisco Symphony program notes