We attend Davies Symphony Hall for the visceral experience of a full orchestra performing: You hear it, but you feel it too, it resonates within you, it echoes off the walls and reverberates. All the more when the organ gets in the game: no instrument immerses you more deeply in the music, it's a sensation you can't get on recording. Saint-Saëns's 3rd symphony finale just grabs your gut with the brute force of the organ sounds Last night's program at the SF Symphony, with Copland Organ and Tchaikovsky 4th symphonies succeeded in building big walls of sound, and let them collapse onto you. By the last movement of the Tchaikovsky, you came out bruised, in a good way.
The program started off with a fun Parade, a piece Lou Harrison composed for MTT's opening concert when he took the helm of the symphony fifteen years ago. Its Japanese melody is almost naive, its march beat square and propulsive, but the orchestration adds blocks of sounds from the full orchestra, including chords played at the piano and organ (tuned to a celesta sound) with a felt block to press all the keys of an octave together. It's the sound you'd get if you hit the piano with your fist, if you had eight knuckles like that mutant piano player in Gattaca. A perfect piece to put you in a happy mood.