San Francisco audiences will surely be delighted to welcome Yuja Wang once again to Davies Symphony Hall on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday this week - as will concertgoers at the Green Music Center, Sonoma State University, for a performance on Thursday evening. Ms Wang is the guest of Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony in a program which features Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 4, and includes Brahms’ First Symphony and Samuel Carl Adams’ Drift and Providence.
Credited with an “impressive virtuosity and poise” (Boston Globe), “keyboard artistry on the highest level” (Miami Herald), “emotion and musicality beyond her years” (Kansas City Star) and “artistic eloquence that is second to none” (San Francisco Chronicle), Yuja Wang is, unsurprisingly, one of the most sought-after young artists on the concert circuit today.
Ms Wang made her San Francisco Symphony debut at the Chinese New Year concert in 2006, and returned in September of the same year. The featured artist in the SF Symphony’s 2010-11 Project San Francisco initiative, she appeared in recital, in chamber music programs with SFS musicians, and with MTT and the Symphony. Having also appeared here last June, Yuja Wang’s most recent appearance in San Francisco was in October 2012, before she accompanied MTT and the Symphony on an Asian tour in November, taking in Macau, Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai, Beijing and Tokyo.
Beethoven began writing his Fourth Piano Concerto in 1805, completing the score the following year. It was at the first public performance of this work - at the Theater an der Wien on December 22, 1808 - that he made his last appearance as a concert soloist.
In a review published in the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung in May, 1809, the concerto was described as “the most admirable, singular, artistic and complex Beethoven concerto ever". Nevertheless, after the first performance, it was neglected, until Mendelssohn revived it in 1836 - and the rest, as they say, is history.
Apart from a couple of sketches which appeared in 1862 and 1868 respectively, it wasn’t until 1874 that Brahms appeared to put any serious effort into his First Symphony which was completed in 1876. It premiered at Karlsruhe on November 4 of that year, in a performance conducted by Otto Dessoff.
Conductor, virtuoso pianist and composer, Hans von Bülow, referred to the symphony as ‘Beethoven’s Tenth’ - his way of saying that this work, which had taken fourteen years to compose, was the greatest symphony of the second half of the 19th century, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony having first been heard in 1824.
The program opens with Drift and Providence by San Francisco-born composer, Samuel Carl Adams. This work was co-commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony and the New World Symphony, and was premiered by the Miami-based orchestra on April 20 last year, under the baton of its Artistic Director, Michael Tilson Thomas. Drift and Providence is structured around what the composer calls “three imagined places” - Embarcadero, Divisadero and Providence - which he uses “to indicate places of the spirit” although, as is known, the first two are the names of streets in San Francisco - Embarcadero being Spanish for wharf, and Divisadero a place from which one can observe an extensive area. Providence suggests a guiding power.
Performances take place at Davies Symphony Hall on March 6, 8 and 9. On Thursday, March 7, the performance will be held at the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University as part of the 2012-13 inaugural season of this state-of-the-art facility.
For further information, and details on ticketing, please visit the San Francisco Symphony website.