Review: San Francisco Symphony launches camera-ready digital season, including Muhly world premiere

Posted on: November 13, 2020

“Perhaps the most striking thing about ‘Throughline,’ the San Francisco Symphony’s first attempt at native digital programming, is how much artistic and institutional material it packs into a small space,” writes Joshua Kosman in Thursday’s (11/12) San Francisco Chronicle. “The free 60-minute program … goes live Saturday, Nov. 14, on KQED-TV and via a simultaneous stream on the orchestra’s website, which will be available indefinitely.… The program has a lot of ground to cover in not much time, and it does the job with admirable efficiency. For one thing, this is the first real center-stage event of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s tenure as music director … The big symphonic undertakings that an orchestra does best, and that are central to its mission, are clearly out of the question” due to the pandemic. Small groups of musicians performed Ellen Reid’s Fear/Release; the opening movement of Beethoven’s F-Minor String Quartet, Op. 95; Movements, a classical/hip-hop hybrid by Kev Choice; and a movement from John Adams’s Shaker Loops. “It’s a comforting thrill to hear these beloved artists performing music again, even if it’s not in a live setting….  These strains combine to strongest effect in … the world premiere of [Nico Muhly’s] ‘Throughline’ … a work of remarkable expressive power and constructive ingenuity.”