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Shostakovich and Saint-Saëns

Sun / Nov 27, 2022 - 2:00PM

Saint-Saëns’ glittering Fifth Concerto and Shostakovich’s powerful Fifth Symphony.

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About this Performance

Water is the sensuous primal element for both Francisco Coll and Camille Saint-Saëns on the first half of this colorful program: ominously murky and ultimately ferociously turbulent in Coll’s Aqua Cinerea (Gray Water); surging, rocking, and sparkling at sea and on the river in Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 5, which received its “Egyptian” nickname from the Nubian love song the well-traveled composer quotes in the middle movement. There is nothing very watery about Shostakovich’s forceful Symphony No. 5, the work that returned the composer to official Soviet favor in 1937. There has been a great deal of murky and turbulent contention, however, about its interpretation. But whether taken at face value or as sardonic commentary, its power is undeniable. 

Of the talented pianist, the Sunday Times wrote, “[His] demeanor and technique… radiate calm, yet the precision and speed of his fingerwork can be quite shattering. Seldom, if ever, have I encountered such a combination of evident modesty and utter brilliance.” The Spaniard virtuoso plays Saint-Saëns’ sparkling “Egyptian” Concerto with its runs of flashing pearls. Gustavo Gimeno concludes with Shostakovich’s most popular and power-packed symphony with flashes of both Beethoven and Mahler that was greeted with a 30-minute ovation at its premiere. Gustavo Gimeno—who was called a “wonderfully cogent, adventurous interpreter” by the San Francisco Chronicle—leads the LA Phil in Shostakovich’s triumph as well as the U.S. premiere of music by Spanish composer Francisco Coll García.

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