Conductor Edwin Outwater makes a welcome return to Davies Symphony Hall this week to lead the San Francisco Symphony in a program of music mainly from Eastern Europe, with a grand Russian piano concerto as the centrepiece.
The featured works are the Concert Românesc by Ligeti, Dvořák’s Legends, the Lutoslawski Concerto for Orchestra, and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No 3, with soloist Simon Trpčeski.
Edwin Outwater was Resident Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony from 2001 to 2006, and Wattis Foundation Music Director of the SF Symphony Youth Orchestra between 2001 and 2005. He has also held the posts of Resident Conductor and Associate Guest Conductor of the Florida Philharmonic, Associate Conductor of the Festival-Institute at Round Top in Texas, Principal Conductor of Italy’s Adriatic Chamber Music Festival, and Assistant Conductor of the Tulsa Philharmonic. He also participated as Associate Conductor in both YouTube Symphony projects - at Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Opera House.
Mr Outwater is currently Music Director of Ontario’s Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, and during this 2013-14 season, he will also appear with the Chicago Symphony, New World Symphony, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Indianopolis Symphony.
Simon Trpčeski, born in the Republic of Macedonia in 1979, has been awarded prizes in international piano competitions in the United Kingdom, Italy and the Czech Republic. A graduate of the School of Music at the University of Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius in Skopje, he was a member of the BBC New Generation Scheme from 2001 to 2003, and in that year was the recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Young Artist Award.
Next spring, Mr Trpčeski will take up a residency with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and appearances during the coming season include performances with the London Symphony and London Philharmonic orchestras, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Helsinki and Seoul philharmonics, and the Paris Opera and Russian National orchestras. Simon Trpčeski made his debut with the San Francisco Symphony in 2004, and appeared here most recently in February 2012.
Sergei Prokofiev started sketching ideas for his Third Piano Concerto in 1913, and completed the work whilst on holiday on the Brittany Coast in 1921, during his travels after the Bolshevik Revolution. The work was premiered on December 16, 1921, by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Frederick Stock, with Prokofiev himself as soloist. It wasn’t a tremendously successful performance, and Prokofiev went traveling once more. He did, however, return to America, and appeared as soloist in the first performance of this work by the San Francisco Symphony, in February 1930, with Alfred Hertz conducting.
This week’s concert opens with György Ligeti’s Concert Românesc. A composer of contemporary classical music, Ligeti is probably best known to the world at large for his music which was used in films by Stanley Kubrick (2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining) and Martin Scorcese (Shutter Island). His Concert Românesc, however, was apparently inspired by folk songs which he learned to transcribe from wax cylinders at the Folklore Institute in Bucharest in 1949. “Many of these melodies stuck in my memory and led in 1951 to the composition of my Romanian Concerto,” he said. “However, not everything in it is genuinely Romanian as I also invented elements in the spirit of the village bands.” (James M Keller) These are the first San Francisco Symphony performances of the work.
Dvořák’s Legends for Orchestra, Opus 59, Nos 2, 6 and 10, were originally written as a set of pieces for piano four-hands, between late December 1880 and March 1881 - a time during which he was gaining popularity and respect in Europe, and establishing the reputation on which his later success would be built. There appears to have been much speculation about why such an “evocative” title should have been given to this set of pieces which have no official “program”, however, according to Finnish musicologist/semiologist Eemo Tarasti, “Dvořák’s Legends form a series of expressive pictures, tableaux vivants, representing scenes from a nation’s prehistory.” (Thomas May) These are the first performances by the San Francisco Symphony.
Witold Lutoslawski, whose Concerto for Orchestra is the final work on the program, apparently adored the San Francisco Symphony and led the Orchestra three times in programs devoted to his music - in 1986 with Chain 3, a work commissioned by the Symphony for its 75th anniversary season; in 1991 when he conducted the Concerto for Orchestra, and in January 1993 when he celebrated his 80th birthday. His Concerto for Orchestra, composed between 1950 and 1954, was the result of an invitation by Witold Rowicki (to whom it’s dedicated) for him to write a piece of music based on folk material for the Warsaw National Philharmonic. What Lutoslawski thought would be a short pièce d’occasion, turned into a composition of three movements - more of a showpiece for the whole orchestra than turning the spotlight on individual players. it was first performed in Warsaw on November 26, 1954, with the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Rowicki.
Edwin Outwater conducts the San Francisco Symphony at Davies Symphony Hall from October 24 to 26. For further information and tickets, please visit the San Francisco Symphony website