San Francisco Symphony Chamber Musicians Balance The Familiar And The Unfamiliar

James Gandolfini

This was the only composition on the second half of the program, whose first half presented two seldom performed composers. One was the post-Tchaikovsky Russian composer Georgy Catoire; and the other was Michael Haydn, best known as Josephs younger brother and as one of the possible composers of the Toy symphony. When Victoria Ehrlich introduced the Opus 70 at a Noontime Concerts recital at the end of this past October , she as much as suggested that a more appropriate title for the sextet would have been Memories of a Homesick Russian. The music was composed in the summer of 1890 at Nadezhda von Mecks Italian villa, but Tchaikovskys rhetoric is indubitably Russian in each of the works four movements. Once we accept this premise, we can then recognize that Opus 70 is a shining example of how Tchaikovsky could summon up the richest of expressive gestures without having to fall back on the full force of a symphony orchestra. This is one of those compositions that will reveal new discoveries to the attentive listener each time it is performed. At yesterdays concert the violinists were Chen Zhao and David Chernyavsky, the violists were Jonathan Vinocour and Christina King, and the cellists were Amos Yang and Margaret Tait. Their approach to performance was ripe with such possibilities for discovery.
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