San Francisco Symphony Opens 2007-08 Season With MTT and Ren_e Fleming

Classic Arts News   San Francisco Symphony Opens 2007-08 Season With MTT and Ren_e Fleming
Just back from a three-week tour of Europe that included concerts at the Edinburgh, Berlin and Lucerne Festivals as well as the BBC Proms, the San Francisco Symphony opens its 2007-08 season tonight at home in Davies Symphony Hall. SFS music director Michael Tilson Thomas conducts a special gala program featuring three short American works, a suite from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, and soprano Ren_e Fleming singing Ravel's sensuous Sh_h_razade.

Next week, MTT and the orchestra continue their award-winning Mahler CD cycle with Das Lied von der Erde, which will be recorded live during the week's concerts. Tenor Stuart Skelton and baritone Thomas Hampson are the soloists.

Come the New Year, Deborah Voigt makes her SFS regular season debut in the first concerts of 2008 (January 9-12), with Barber's Andromache's Farewell and Strauss's Four Last Songs. Among other artists making their SFS debuts next season will be pianist Ingrid Fliter, named the Gilmore Artist in 2006; violinist Sergey Khachatryan, who won the 2005 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels; and conductors Philippe Jordan and Gustavo Dudamel.

Among the returning soloists will be pianists Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Jonathan Biss, H_lne Grimaud, Richard Goode, Garrick Ohlsson, Louis Lortie, and Katia and Marielle Labque; violinists James Ehnes, Gil Shaham and Vadim Repin; and flutist Paula Robison. The roster of guest conductors includes, among others, Roberto Abbado, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Herbert Blomstedt, Myung-Whun Chung, Charles Dutoit, Alan Gilbert, Kurt Masur, Leonard Slatkin and Yuri Temirkanov.

The SFS makes its annual East Coast visit in March 2008, visiting New York's Carnegie Hall as well as New Brunswick, New Jersey and Ann Arbor, Michigan. The programming includes symphonies by Beethoven, Sibelius and Shostakovich; Voigt will be singing Barber and Strauss, and Gil Shaham will perform American composer William Shuman's Violin Concerto.

One of the season's highlights comes in May of 2008, as MTT and the SFS Orchestra and Chorus present a three-week Brahms Festival featuring the Third Symphony, the First and Second Piano Concertos (with Yefim Bronfman and Leif Ove Andsnes, respectively), and the German Requiem with soloists Laura Claycomb and Matthias Goerne.

In mid-June (the 11th through 15th), MTT will give encore performances of his program about his grandparents, The Thomashefskys: Music and Memories of a Life in the Yiddish Theater. The following week brings the West Coast premiere of a new (and as yet untitled) work by Magnus Lindberg, co-commissioned by the SFS and the Berlin Philharmonic. Conducting will be Lindberg's fellow Finn, Sakari Oramo, with soprano Anu Komsi as soloist.

The regular season closes with four performances, June 25-28, conducted by David Robertson; the program includes Lutoslawski's Mi-Parti, Janšcek's tone poem Taras Bulba, and Dvoršk's Cello Concerto with soloist Alisa Weilerstein.

In addition to all those live concerts, the SFS and its media-savvy maestro continue their series of video documentaries, Keeping Score. The episodes made this season will focus on Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5, the New England Holidays Symphony by Charles Ives (one of MTT's favorite "American Mavericks"), and Berlioz's famous Symphonie fantastique and its lesser-known sequel, L_lio, or The Return to Life.

The orchestra's family and free community concert series will continue next season, extending beyond San Francisco itself into Silicon Valley.

On top of its own concerts, the SFS will present some impressive visiting artists in a 12-concert Great Performers Series. Pianist Andršs Schiff opens the series in October with the first four concerts of a two-year complete Beethoven sonata cycle. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, led by Mariss Jansons, and London's Philharmonia Orchestra, under Christoph von Dohnšnyi, each perform two concerts; Dudamel comes to Davies Symphony Hall in November with his homeland's renowned Sim‹n Bol‹var National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela. Other visitors include the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, led by Yuri Temirkanov with violinist Julia Fischer; the Russian National Orchestra, led by Vladimir Jurowski with pianist Stephen Hough; and pianist Murray Perahia performing as soloist and conducting the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. April 7 brings one additional event, co-presented by the SFS and San Francisco Performances: a special all-Brahms recital by violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter with pianist Lambert Orkis.

Information on and tickets for all these performances are available at

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