Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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A little bit of this...

October 13, 2007

Ingrid Fliter
I’m in San Francisco this weekend to catch the new Philip Glass opera Appomattox on Sunday and decided I’d stop by Davies Symphony Hall to catch up with the San Francisco Symphony. This weekend's show was one of those standard fare things that passes for programming across much of the US these days. The major pieces included Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto and the Saint-Säens’ “Organ” Symphony. Luca Francesconi’s recent Cobalt, Scarlet: Two Colors of Dawn was thrown in for temporary contrast, I suppose, as well. Now I’m not usually one for this sort of romantic dreck, but there was a light here that made the concert worth seeing- namely one Ingrid Fliter. Fliter is a young Argentinian prtogeé of Martha Argerich who shot to some notoriety after winning the Gilmore artist award last year. She is undoubtedly quite talented and plays with gusto as she did earlier this year in Los Angeles where she was a last minute fill-in for an ailing Argerich in Beethoven's First Piano Concerto. She will be making debuts with several organizations around the US this season and she is definitely a young talent worth getting to know.

But for tonight, though, it’s a shame she didn’t have something just a little more interesting to play. Fliter and the conductor Roberto Abbado are both quite capable of making something out of nothing and they almost got away with it here, but both the Saint-Säens and the Chopin proved too impervious in their hard inert romantic grooves. Pretty grooves mind you, but not much more. The Fracesconi of course is a different matter. Written as a commission is Oslo, Cobalt is one of those things that comes as advertised, an Italinate take on a Nordic Sunrise – or perhaps a Spaghetti Bergman, if you will. Glowing with warmth in the face of the darkness and the cold, Abbado and the orchestra really sunk their teeth into this and, given the rest of the program, did in fact provide some much needed contrast.



oh well, if i had paid more attention, i would have encouraged you to come instead to a concert two blocks away at the conservatory, where the blueprint series was doing tan dun's 8 colors, saariaho's 7 papillons, a work by a bay area composer jay lyon, glass's façades, and britten's les illuminations. nothing against saint-saëns, but.... well, maybe a little against saint-saëns.

hope you're enjoying both appomattox and our fair city.
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