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Ravel replaces Prokofiev in May fog

Payare kept baton on the accelerator

The Daphnis et Chloe Suite No. 2 is Ravel at his best.
The Daphnis et Chloe Suite No. 2 is Ravel at his best.

I went to the San Diego Symphony concert at the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park on Sunday, May 22. The concert was at 5:00 pm and was locked in the throes of a greyer May than I can remember. The wind coming in off the harbor was bitter and may have even bordered on biting. It at least had teeth. This was not the halcyon experience of August and September at the Shell.

Video:

Salonen: Nyx

Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra · Esa-Pekka Salonen

Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra · Esa-Pekka Salonen

Fortunately, there was plenty of heat being generated by Rafael Payare and the orchestra. The opening piece of music was Nyx by Esa Pekka Salonen. Salonen is the former music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the current music director of the San Francisco Symphony.

The music could be described as tonal. It was far from offensive and impressive at times. Yet, as with almost all new compositions, I found the music to be only impressive and lacking any emotional hook. The predominant elements Salonen used were rhythm and tone color. Of course, harmony was present but a discernible melody was missing. Without a compelling melody, the audience is left to wander about the music like so many sheep without a shepherd.

Video:

Maurice Ravel - Ma Mère l'Oye (Mother Goose)

Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt Weimar

Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt Weimar

Initially, the concert was to have Prokofiev, a master creator of melody, follow Nyx but visa complications forced the soloist to cancel. Maurice Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite was inserted in its stead. Ravel is one of my favorite composers. However, I find the Mother Goose Suite to be charming but less than Ravel at his best. Had La Valse been inserted, this concert would have become one of the best of 2022.

The Daphnis et Chloe Suite No. 2 is Ravel at his best and it opened the second half of the concert. The rippling woodwinds that begin the music are nigh unto iconic in the orchestral repertoire. The San Diego woodwinds were spot on and the opening “Daybreak” section concluded with a solar flare that almost dispersed the actual marine layer engulfing the Shell.

Video:

Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé – 2. Suite ∙

hr-Sinfonieorchester ∙ Alain Altinoglu

hr-Sinfonieorchester ∙ Alain Altinoglu

The “General Dance” which concludes the suite barreled forward with a sense of celebration and an air of victory. Music director Rafael Payare kept his baton firmly on the accelerator and the orchestra responded.

The final piece of music was Claude Debussy’s La Mer, The Sea. It should be noted that this music is indicative of Debussy’s feelings about the sea as opposed to a note-for-note depiction of the sea. The Flying Dutchman Overture it is not.

Video:

Debussy: La mer

Bernard Haitink and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Bernard Haitink and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Once again, Payare kept the music moving forward. This is particularly important because La Mer can quickly become La Bog if the conductor and orchestra languish but a little.

It is impossible to quantify but it feels as though the musical acumen and ability of the San Diego Symphony have increased ten-fold under the tutelage of maestro Payare. This concert was nothing short of excellent from start to finish and the performance of La Mer bordered on the sublime.

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The Daphnis et Chloe Suite No. 2 is Ravel at his best.
The Daphnis et Chloe Suite No. 2 is Ravel at his best.

I went to the San Diego Symphony concert at the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park on Sunday, May 22. The concert was at 5:00 pm and was locked in the throes of a greyer May than I can remember. The wind coming in off the harbor was bitter and may have even bordered on biting. It at least had teeth. This was not the halcyon experience of August and September at the Shell.

Video:

Salonen: Nyx

Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra · Esa-Pekka Salonen

Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra · Esa-Pekka Salonen

Fortunately, there was plenty of heat being generated by Rafael Payare and the orchestra. The opening piece of music was Nyx by Esa Pekka Salonen. Salonen is the former music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the current music director of the San Francisco Symphony.

The music could be described as tonal. It was far from offensive and impressive at times. Yet, as with almost all new compositions, I found the music to be only impressive and lacking any emotional hook. The predominant elements Salonen used were rhythm and tone color. Of course, harmony was present but a discernible melody was missing. Without a compelling melody, the audience is left to wander about the music like so many sheep without a shepherd.

Video:

Maurice Ravel - Ma Mère l'Oye (Mother Goose)

Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt Weimar

Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt Weimar

Initially, the concert was to have Prokofiev, a master creator of melody, follow Nyx but visa complications forced the soloist to cancel. Maurice Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite was inserted in its stead. Ravel is one of my favorite composers. However, I find the Mother Goose Suite to be charming but less than Ravel at his best. Had La Valse been inserted, this concert would have become one of the best of 2022.

The Daphnis et Chloe Suite No. 2 is Ravel at his best and it opened the second half of the concert. The rippling woodwinds that begin the music are nigh unto iconic in the orchestral repertoire. The San Diego woodwinds were spot on and the opening “Daybreak” section concluded with a solar flare that almost dispersed the actual marine layer engulfing the Shell.

Video:

Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé – 2. Suite ∙

hr-Sinfonieorchester ∙ Alain Altinoglu

hr-Sinfonieorchester ∙ Alain Altinoglu

The “General Dance” which concludes the suite barreled forward with a sense of celebration and an air of victory. Music director Rafael Payare kept his baton firmly on the accelerator and the orchestra responded.

The final piece of music was Claude Debussy’s La Mer, The Sea. It should be noted that this music is indicative of Debussy’s feelings about the sea as opposed to a note-for-note depiction of the sea. The Flying Dutchman Overture it is not.

Video:

Debussy: La mer

Bernard Haitink and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Bernard Haitink and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Once again, Payare kept the music moving forward. This is particularly important because La Mer can quickly become La Bog if the conductor and orchestra languish but a little.

It is impossible to quantify but it feels as though the musical acumen and ability of the San Diego Symphony have increased ten-fold under the tutelage of maestro Payare. This concert was nothing short of excellent from start to finish and the performance of La Mer bordered on the sublime.

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