The SF Symphony intended to present Threni this week, one of the few twelve-tone works of Stravinsky. Intriguing, definitely. But visa issues would not let the vocal ensemble EXAUDI, cross the pond, and no singers, no Threni. We had to settle instead for an impromptu performance of Bernstein's Chichester Psalms and Stravinsky's Ode, along with the originally planned Daphnis and Chloé. You can hear it all again on Sunday, but not tonight, due to the Black & White ball taking over Civic Center, and Tony Bennett coming back to fetch his heart. The B&W ball, by the way, supports music programs in public school: you should attend just to make Schwarzenegger cry.
Ode is a neo-classical piece by Stravinsky, written in memory of Serge Koussevitzky's wife Natalie, and a fun curtain riser it is not. The movements are named Eulogy, Eclogue and Epitaph, and we rest our case. It's slightly pompous and not our cup of tea. The Chichester Psalms: not our cup of tea either. We enjoyed the first movement, a syncopated bursty piece in a 7/4 beat where Bernstein pays tribute to Mahler's 8th symphony and still follows the recommendation of his commissioner: to have the composer of Westside Story make himself heard.