Ken-David Masur
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Jacobs Music Center/Copley Symphony Hall

750 B Street, Downtown San Diego

Saturday night was the first time I've been able to catch the San Diego Symphony after their return from touring China.

The first sound they made was Brahms' Variations on a Theme by Haydn and that sound was different than I've heard in the past. There was an added layer of sonority in the brass and woodwinds that was the most beautiful sound I have heard the orchestra make, ever.

In addition to that, the violas were in lockstep. They sounded like one instrument. There is no good way to describe the sound they produced but I'm going to try.

If we can imagine the unity of the Marine Corps Silent Drill Squad as a sound then we might start to understand the unity of the viola squad during the Brahms.

Judging by the sounds we heard on Saturday with Brahms, the fruits of the 10-day tour are ripe and sweet.

The Brahms variations themselves are an elegant display of musical ability by the composer. They might not be the most audience-friendly music he wrote but the sheer beauty of the music was breathtaking.

Speaking of elegant displays of musical ability, Ken-David Masur had his own thing going on. His approach to Brahms, to my ears, was all about the line of the music and shaping it with grace and beauty.

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