Review: San Francisco Symphony in Farrenc, James P. Johnson, and Rossini, with Michael Morgan on the podium

Posted on: July 30, 2021

“Some conductors use a guest appearance with a major orchestra as an opportunity to show what they can do. Michael Morgan uses it to show what the orchestra can do,” writes Joshua Kosman in Saturday’s (7/24) San Francisco Chronicle. “Morgan’s concert with the San Francisco Symphony … on … July 23 introduced the regrettably overlooked French composer Louise Farrenc to the orchestra’s repertoire. Then it took what Morgan called a ‘whiplash-inducing turn’ into the world of 1920s jazz, with a joyous rendition of James P. Johnson’s ‘Charleston.’ … [Farrenc’s] majestic Third Symphony … suggests how much we’ve been missing by not performing her work…. Most impressive is the expansive slow movement, built around a beautifully songful main theme…. The ‘Charleston’ is … not the sort of music we usually encounter from a symphony orchestra. Yet Friday’s performance, in an orchestral version by David Rimelis arranged by Nicholas Hersh, demonstrated just how well this ensemble … can swing. It helps to have skilled jazz improvisers such as trumpeter Mark Inouye, clarinetist Jerome Simas and trombonist Nicholas Platoff on hand…. Drummer Jacob Nissly [exploded] at the end with his own solo turn.” Also on the program were Rossini’s La Gazza Ladra Overture and William Tell ballet music.