Review: San Francisco Symphony’s early birthday tribute to Lou Harrison

Posted on: December 16, 2016

“The actual centennial of composer Lou Harrison isn’t due until May, but Michael Tilson Thomas and the members of the San Francisco Symphony aren’t about to sit around waiting,” writes Joshua Kosman in Saturday’s (12/9) San Francisco Chronicle. “Harrison’s distinctive brand of musical free-thinking—a blend of heartfelt expressivity, rhythmic vitality and radical openness to all the musical traditions and natural sounds the world has to offer—never really goes out of fashion. So the wonderful tribute that Thomas and the orchestra offered Friday, Dec. 9, to open the third season of the Symphony’s SoundBox series was at once an education and a reminder of the sheer joy that music can provide.” Works on the program included Canticle No. 3, “a superbly evasive work scored for ocarina, guitar and percussion,” and “the short but gripping Suite for Cello and Harp (beautifully rendered by harpist Jieyin Wu and cellist Sébastien Gingras), and two movements from the clattery Organ Concerto, with Michael Hey as soloist…. In the Flute Concerto No. 1 … Harrison … who had studied with Arnold Schoenberg … demonstrated how to use charm and guile to finesse the astringencies of his teacher’s 12-tone system.”

Posted December 16, 2016