This week, the San Francisco Symphony’s Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen leads the Symphony, in a performance at Davies Symphony Hall, of Richard Strauss’s Serenade in E flat major, contemporary composer Daniel Kidane’s Be Still, and Brahms’ Violin Concerto, with Grammy Award-winning Augustin Hadelich as soloist.
Augustin Hadelich – “… a singularly gifted, characterful musician …” says the New Yorker – has a wide-ranging repertoire which embraces the music of composers from the Baroque era through to the present day. Winner of a 2016 Grammy in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo category, he was also named Musical America’s Instrumentalist of the Year in 2018.
Now in his second year as Associate Artist of the Elbphilharmonie Orchestra in Hamburg, Augustin Hadelich made his debut with the San Francisco Symphony in 2013, and has now appeared with every major orchestra in North America. Internationally he has performed with some of the world’s finest orchestras, including the Royal Concertgebouw, London Philharmonic, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the NHK Symphony in Tokyo and the New Zealand Symphony. Highlights of his current season include appearances with the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Philharmonia Zurich, Dresden Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and BBC Scottish Orchestra. According to former New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert, he is “Someone who wins audiences’ hearts wherever he performs”.
Gramophone magazine was “… wowed by Augustin Hadelich’s richly characterised and subtly coloured account of the Brahms Concerto” – the work which he performs in this concert. Brahms wrote it during the summer of 1878, whilst holidaying on the shore of the Wörthersee in the southern Austrian province of Carinthia – a landscape which he described as being littered with beautiful melodies. When the concerto was premiered by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra on January 1st, 1879, with Joseph Joachim as soloist and the composer conducting, it was politely, but not ecstatically, received. Viennese concertgoers loved it when they heard it, but the concerto took some time before it was fully accepted as a classic, and before ultimately becoming a popular work.
The concert opens with the Serenade in E flat major by Richard Strauss, a work which reflects the classical preferences of his father over the ‘Wagnerism’ to which Richard Strauss gravitated later in life. A short, lyrical piece for a wind ensemble, it’s an elegant work, possibly thought to have been inspired by Mozart’s Serenade for Winds. Franz Wüllner conducted the World Premiere at the Hotel zu den drei Raben in Dresden on November 27th, 1882.
This is followed by the US premiere of British composer Daniel Kidane’s Be Still, which was commissioned by Manchester Camerata, and premiered by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and chief conductor Sakari Oramo at the Last Night of the Proms in September 2019. The work is described by the Financial Times as ‘quietly impressive’, and by The Times as ‘tautly constructed’ and ‘vibrantly imagined’. Other works which Kidane has composed since then include The Song Thrush and the Mountain Ash for Huddersfield Choral Society, with text by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, and Dappled Light for violinists Maxine Kwok and Julian Gil Rodriguez for the London Symphony Orchestra’s Summer Shorts series.
Esa-Pekka Salonen leads the San Francisco Symphony in a program of works by Richard Strauss, Daniel Kidane and Johannes Brahms – with soloist Augustin Hadelich – at Davies Symphony Hall on June 17th and 18th. For more information, and to buy tickets, visit the San Francisco Symphony website.
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