At the end of this month Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) will return to the podium of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) in Davies Symphony Hall to present two weeks of programs previewing a four-day East Coast tour that will take place next month. The tour will consist of two concerts at Carnegie Hall in New York and one each at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. Pianist Inon Barnatan, mezzo Sasha Cooke, and tenor Simon O’Neill will travel with SFS on this tour.
The first program will feature Barnatan as soloist in Aaron Copland’s piano concerto. The first half of the program will be devoted entirely to Copland’s music, preceding the concerto with his 1957 orchestration of his 1930 “Piano Variations,” called, appropriately enough, “Orchestral Variations.” This will be followed by “Inscape,” a twelve-tone composition written in 1967 following up on his first venture into the twelve-tone technique in 1961 with “Connotations.” For the second half of the program, MTT will continue his project to record the symphonies of Robert Schumann with a performance of the Opus 61 (second) symphony in C major. This is the program that will be presented in Carnegie Hall on April 13 and at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on April 15.
The two vocal soloists will perform in the second program. They will present the major work on that program, Gustav Mahler’s orchestral song cycle Das Lied von der Erde (the song of the earth). O’Neill will be making his SFS debut at the concerts in Davies. This extended Mahler composition will be preceded in the first half of the program only by Franz Schubert’s D. 759 (“Unfinished”) symphony in B minor. The Carnegie Hall performance of this concert will take place on April 14, and it will also be performed at the Kennedy Center on April 16.
Performances of the first program will take place in Davies at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30, Thursday, March 31, Saturday, April 2, and Friday, April 8, and at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 1. The performances of the second concert will take place at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6, Thursday, April 7, and Saturday, April 9, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 10. Ticket prices range from $15 to $170 and may be purchased through separate event pages for the first and second programs on the SFS Web site. Tickets 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 talk for the first program will be given by Peter Grunberg, and the speaker for the second program will be John Palmer. As usual, these will be free to all ticketholders, beginning one hour prior to the performance; and the doors will open fifteen minutes before the talk begins. Audio program notes provided by KDFC announcer Rik Malone will be for the Schumann symphony, currently available for streaming from the event page for that concert, and for Das Lied von der Erde, which will be posted for streaming and downloads from the Program Notes Podcasts Web page.