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Conductor Karina Canellakis leads the SF Symphony and cellist Alisa Weilerstein in a concert featuring Richard Strauss’ stunning Don Quixote for solo cello and orchestra. One moment brilliant and triumphant, the next farcical, sometimes sad, the music paints a nuanced portrait of Cervantes’ complicated and compelling title character. The program also features Lili Boulanger’s D’un soir triste, a brooding work she wrote shortly before her death at age 24, and Witold Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra, brimming with folk-inspired melodies and sweeping musical gestures.
For more information, including full program notes, visit the San Francisco Symphony’s digital program book platform at sfsymphony.encoreplus.app or text “SFS Concert” to 55741.
At A Glance
Lili Boulanger had made much of her twenty-four years when she died in 1918, leaving behind a small but choice oeuvre. She conceived D’un soir triste (Of a Sad Evening) as a piano trio but created parallel settings for other forces, including the version for large orchestra played here. Dogged by poor health throughout her life, she was nearing her end as she composed this work. It does seem a deathbed piece, a dirge that marches relentlessly on while disconsolate emotions surge, recede, and surge again.
An icon of Polish Modernism, Witold Lutosławski made many important musical statements. He adapted to Stalinist dictums by developing an idiom that was decidedly personal and modern, but that nonetheless paid homage to populist folk music. Direct impetus for his Concerto for Orchestra came from the conductor Witold Rowicki, who asked Lutosławski to write a piece based on folk sources for a performance by the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra. What he received is a brilliant showpiece that is indeed a virtuoso vehicle for the orchestra.