Conductor Masaaki Suzuki is likely to be familiar to many serious music lovers in San Francisco. He visited Philharmonia Baroque to conduct their annual Christmas concert in December of 2012. He is Music Director of the Bach Collegium Japan, which he founded in 1990. However, his interests are far from limited to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Almost exactly a year ago the Swedish BIS Records released a recording of his recent performing edition of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s K. 626 setting of the Requiem Mass, drawing upon the initial efforts of Joseph von Eybler to satisfy Constanze Mozart’s request to complete the score, as well as those of Franz Xaver Süssmayr, who fulfilled the task after Eybler gave up on it.
At the beginning of next month, Suzuki will return to San Francisco, this time to make his debut on the podium of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS). He will not present any Bach compositions; but the major concerto selection will be Mozart’s K. 191 bassoon concerto in B-flat major. Stephen Paulson, who has been SFS Principal Bassoon since 1977, will be the soloist.
Mozart’s concerto will be complemented by Igor Stravinsky’s D major concerto, actually a concerto grosso for string orchestra, which is representative of his neoclassical style (due in no small part due to his love of Mozart’s music). This was the first composition that Stravinsky created after becoming a naturalized American citizen on December 28, 1945; but, ironically, he wrote it on a commission from Paul Sacher for the twentieth anniversary celebration of the Basel Chamber Orchestra. Thus, it received its first performance in Basel, rather than in the United States, on January 27, 1947. Ballet lovers probably know this music best through Jerome Robbins’ decision to use it for his ballet “The Cage.”
These two concertos will be framed by two symphonies. The Mozart concerto will be preceded by Joseph Haydn’s Hoboken I/95 symphony in C minor. At the other end Stravinsky’s concerto, sometimes called the “Basel” concerto, will be followed by Felix Mendelssohn’s Opus 90 symphony in A major, usually called the “Italian” symphony, since it was inspired by a visit he made to Italy.
This program will receive only two performances in Davies Symphony Hall. These will both be given at 8 p.m. on Friday, February 5, and Saturday, February 6, respectively. Ticket prices range from $15 to $165. Tickets may be purchased through an event page on the SFS Web site. They may also be purchased at the Davies Box Office on Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street or by calling 415-864-6000.
The Inside Music pre-concert talk will be given by Alexandra Amati-Camperi. It will take place one hour prior to each concert. This event is free to all ticket-holders; and the doors open fifteen minutes before the talk begins. Finally, a free “Program Notes” podcast about the Mendelssohn symphony hosted by KDFC’s Rik Malone will be available for downloading or streaming from the Program Note Podcasts Web page.