Review: Gemma New’s San Francisco Symphony podium debut, at renovated amphitheater

Posted on: July 18, 2019

“The music was only the centerpiece last week to the San Francisco Symphony’s first visit to Stanford University’s Frost Amphitheater in nearly 40 years,” writes David Bratman in Monday’s (7/15) San Francisco Classical Voice. “Guest conductor Gemma New led Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with, as a prelude, Ravel’s song cycle Shéhérazade on Saturday…. The newly refurbished amphitheater was as much the focus of attention as the music or performance…. Visually, Frost is stunning. The imposing rock wall behind the stage, bathed in soft colored lights, merges with the surrounding earthen berm and trees … while the sky slowly darkens during a 7:30 p.m. concert…. Sonically, the venue is more mixed…. The amplification was kind to the voices. It was less good to the orchestra during Beethoven’s instrumental music, where it could be spotty and inconsistent…. Ravel’s light and delicate music … was helped immeasurably by New’s brilliant conducting…. New’s interpretation of Beethoven was solid and satisfying…. Both the slow movement and the Ode to Joy, though they built up energy as they went along, began very slowly, with hushed contemplation…. The Symphony Chorus … was brilliant.”

Posted July 18, 2019