Just the ticket
What: San Francisco Symphony, with violinist Christian Tetzlaff
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, May 15
Where: Jackson Hall, Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, UC Davis
Tickets: $107 general, $44.50 students; www.mondaviarts.org, 530-754-2787
The San Francisco Symphony will perform a program showcasing violinist Christian Tetzlaff, conducted by maestro Michael Tilson Thomas, at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 15, in the Mondavi Center’s Jackson Hall.
The varied program includes the Béla Bartók Violin Concerto No. 2 in B Minor and Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98.
Tetzlaff is a San Francisco Symphony regular, and has soloed with the symphony for its opening gala in 2006 and most recently in January 2012, performing Gyögy Ligeti’s Violin Concerto (a program that was performed at the Mondavi Center).
In addition to his reputation for performing 20th century concertos by the likes of Bartók and Ligeti, Tetzlaff is also a noted interpreter of J.S. Bach’s solo violin works from the Baroque era. On Sunday, Tetzlaff was scheduled to perform a solo concert of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco,
Tetzlaff has been dubbed “a bold artist with an instinctive feeling for the wild side in music” by the New York Times. He is known for his musical integrity and intelligent interpretations, and is recognized as one of the most important violinists of our day.
Born in Hamburg in 1966, Tetzlaff began the violin and piano at the age of 6. Unlike many musicians, Tetzlaff continued his academic education while pursuing musical studies, and did not intensively study the violin until after his concert debut at the age of 14. He came to the United States to work with Walter Levine at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory and spent summers at the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont.
For more than two decades, Tetzlaff has been active on the concert scene, performing 100 concerts per year. In the past season, he performed at the Proms with the London Philharmonic as well as with the London Symphony. He makes return visits this season to the Berlin Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the Pittsburgh Symphony and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Tetzlaff is a prolific recording artist, and has performed and recorded a range of repertoire from Bach’s sonatas and partitas to works by Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Brahms. Tetzlaff also champions 20th century concertos by Bartok, Shostakovich and has premiered several contemporary works.
He performs on a modern violin made by Stefan-Peter Greiner, a Bonn-based violin maker. His violin allows a uniquely wide range of tones, which suits Tetzlaff’s own innovative playing, as he rejects the “cliche of the Stradivarius.”
Opening the San Francisco Symphony’s Thursday program at Mondavi is “Lemminkäinen’s Homeward Journey,” Op. 22, No. 4, by Jean Sibelius — a composer who was proud of his Finnish heritage, and often drew on his native land’s mythology. Composed in the 1890s, the “Homeward Journey” is the concluding piece of four symphonic poems based on the Kalevala, a Finnish epic.
Bartok’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in B minor is an expression of Bartok’s interest in variation. Completed in 1938, the concerto is constructed in three movements. The middle Andante movement is in a theme-and-variations form, which is Bartok’s only large-scale theme-and-variations composition. Characterized by soft timpani, the concerto highlights tender themes by the soloist within six different variations.
Brahms’ Fourth Symphony represents the pinnacle of the composer’s technique, and is in essence, the work that Brahms always wanted to write. The voice in the first movement is resigned, growing into a deep longing lament. The second movement is an intensely human response to the first, while the conclusion — with moments of tragic sensibility and intensity — features what some have described as perhaps the most pessimistic ending in the symphonic repertoire through Brahms’ time.
Prior to the concert, Elizabeth Seitz of the Boston Conservatory will give a pre-concert talk one hour before to the concert. The talk is free to all concert ticket holders; doors open 15 minutes before.
Tickets are $107 general, $44.50 for UC Davis students and are available at www.mondaviarts.org, 530-754-2787 and at the box office.