Music Concert Recommendation: GAUTIER CAPUÇON & YUJA WANG (Michael Tilson Thomas & SF Symphony, Jan. 20-29, 2022)

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by Harvey Perr on January 10, 2022

in Music,Theater-San Francisco / Bay Area

Music Director Laureate Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) returns to conduct the San Francisco Symphony in two weeks of concerts at Davies Symphony Hall featuring two longtime collaborators. January 20–22 concerts include Sergei Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 2 performed by cellist Gautier Capuçon and January 27–29 concerts feature pianist Yuja Wang performing Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1. Tickets for concerts at Davies Symphony can be purchased via or by calling the San Francisco Symphony Box Office at 415-864-6000.

Dmitri Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 2—the penultimate concerto in his catalogue—was composed in spring 1966 and dedicated to legendary cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. Dating from Shostakovich’s final decade, the Second Cello Concerto is an example of the leaner and mercurial style of Shostakovich’s later works. Following the November 2015 release of Gautier Capuçon’s recording of Shostakovich’s two cello concertos on the Erato label, performed with the Mariinsky Orchestra under direction of Valery Gergiev, BBC Music Magazine praised Capuçon’s “passionate and rhythmically incisive accounts” while Gramophone said the cellist “immediately shows that his are interpretations to be reckoned with.”

Rounding out the January 20–22 program is Sergei Prokofiev’s uplifting and triumphant Symphony No. 5, composed during the Second World War. After the work’s premiere in January 1945, Prokofiev wrote, “I regard the Fifth Symphony as the culmination of a long period of my creative life. I conceived of it as glorifying the grandeur of the human spirit . . . praising the free and happy man—his strength, his generosity, and the purity of his soul.”

Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1, was begun around 1830 and thoroughly revised multiple times over a quarter of a century. The concerto finally got its premiere in February 1855, with Hector Berlioz conducting and the composer as soloist. Yuja Wang, “the most dazzlingly, uncannily gifted pianist in the concert world today” (San Francisco Chronicle), joins the SF Symphony in these performances of Liszt’s First Piano Concerto on January 27–29. Concluding the program is Gustav Mahler’s powerful Symphony No. 1—recorded and released by Michael Tilson Thomas and the SF Symphony on the SFS Media label as part of the Mahler symphony recording cycle, which has garnered a total of seven Grammy Awards and helped solidify MTT’s stature as one of the world’s foremost Mahler interpreters. When the recording was released in 2002, MTT shared, “Mahler was like a cinematographer in music, creating enormous soundscapes that include everything we know of life. His First Symphony concerns the voyage from a lonely contemplation of nature to a radiant assuredness about man’s place in the universe. From a spiritual point of view, it is one of the most confident first symphonies in Western music.” Watch a clip from Keeping Score | Mahler: Origins and Legacy, below.

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