A Rousing Premiere From Johannes Moser and the S.F. Symphony

01.27.19
Johannes Moser
San Francisco Classical Voice

With Andrew Norman late to deliver his cello concerto to Johannes Moser and the San Francisco Symphony, I figured Friday night’s concert would be premiere-less. Wrong: Moser substituted Witold Lutoslawski’s concerto, which, though written nearly 50 years ago, hadn’t been performed at Davies until last weekend. Christian Reif (director of the S.F. Symphony Youth Orchestra) conducted.
It’s no mere technicality: this 1970 work feels more current than the majority of new music I hear in the symphony hall. It isn’t a competition, but it is a heartening example (among others, like Kaija Saariaho’s excellent Notes on Light) of the concerto’s continued vitality. Lutoslawski doesn’t totally abandon the conventions: rather, he puts them on their heads, acknowledging them, pointing at them in order to make them really heard for the first time.
In lieu of a big tutti, the soloist provides his own introduction. And he doesn’t just play by himself — he plays for himself. Absent from the music is the kind of display integral in a cadenza: there’s only a series of repeated Ds, played with absolute regularity. Each attack, each length, each ring: the same. Read the full review here