Saturday, December 08, 2012

Compare & Contrast 23: Pandora at SFS

Mark Volkert (Credit: SFS)

San Francisco Symphony performed a work by one of its own this week, Mark Volkert's Pandora, for string orchestra. I didn't get there - I would have been more motivated if I had given a damn about seeing Til Eulenspiegel or the "Emperor" Concerto - but almost everybody else did. Herewith links to various opinions:
  • Joshua Kosman, Chron ("wonderful new opus...boasts a wealth of ingenious surprises")
  • Richard Scheinin, Mercury-News (an extremely positive review, but difficult to excerpt)
  • Jeff Dunn, SFCV ("two ear-grabbing themes, energized passage work, and a satisfying, rock-solid structure")
  • John Marcher, A Beast in a Jungle ("engaging, accessible, yet challenging")
  • Kalimac ("shrieking and screeching;" "sounds like warmed-over modernist crap")
No link, but Janos Gereben told me in email that he was delighted by the piece, and mentioned Bartokian moments. A friend is making me a tape from the eventual broadcast, and I'm looking forward to hearing it. I do not expect to wind up in Kalimac's camp.

For the record, since two writers got this wrong, Mark Volkert is one of two Assistant Concertmasters of SFS; the other is Jeremy Constant. Nadya Tichman is the Associate Concertmaster (and was Acting Concertmaster for several years before Concertmaster Alexander Barantschik was hired). I have heard each of these violinists in the first chair and they are all terrific. You can read all about the first violin section on the SFS web site.

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