The Shape Of Things
June 29, 2012
Such was the case last night at Davies Symphony Hall. The San Francisco Symphony orchestra and chorus gave us a program of three works with a perfect overall shape.
The music moved seamlessly from a state of despair laced with a glimmer of light (Ligeti's spectral, microtonal work for unaccompanied voices Lux Aeterna) through one of longing and definite possibility (Schoenberg's short, dramatic ode A Survivor From Warsaw composed for orchestra, narrator and male chorus) and finally to a condition of unbridled optimism, with the final movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9.
The opening movement of the Beethoven was sluggish and I could have done without Shuler Hensley's heavily tremolo-laced baritone narratorial voice in the Schoenberg. But thanks in large part to the sensitive dramaturgy of the programming, I left the concert hall feeling like the evening's music had transported me through time and space from a sense of desolation to one of grace.