Scheherazade and Pavane for a Dead Princess

Posted on in Art + Soul by Roy Strassman

San Francisco Symphony @
Davies Hall, April 18, 2019
Simone Young conducting

The SF Symphony is not only a world-class orchestra, it also plays some of the most eclectic and wide-ranging music to be found. I always marvel at what terrific combinations of music they consistently put together. This evening’s program was delightfully on point. Pavane for a Dead Princess and Scheherazade are two perfect works that would appear any in decent library or survey of classical music.

Ravel’s elegiac Pavane was especially poignant in that it was performed a mere two days after the devastating conflagrat ion at Notre Dame—with our grief still fresh. It is a short but emotionally stirring piece, and I believe its beauty—as with most music—can be fully captured and experienced only during a live performance. Ravel’s expertly performed Piano Concerto, while unfamiliar to me, garnered an explosive standing ovation from the audience.

After intermission came la piéce de résistance, Rimsky-Korsakov’s magnum opus Scheherazade, based on pictures from the tales in One Thousand and One Arabian Nights. The rich, multi-faceted performance was rapturous, transporting me into a state of peace and exhilaration.

The visiting Australian conductor, Simone Young, was quite animated, and as far as I could tell—not knowing how to evaluate conductorship—admirably up to the task. Her broad, sweeping, yet refined movements virtually sang the music. Also, she appeared to be a no-nonsense kind of person, well suited to her conducting style for the evening. She was deftly definitive.

If your mind needs soothing—and whose doesn’t?—by all means get yourself to the SF Symphony. You will easily find a concert to your liking, and it will lift your spirits.


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