It's a rare bird -and a reminder of how good our local symphony can be- who can take widely different orchestral pieces, and deliver them all with crisp perfection. Pablo Heras-Casado, a thirty-three year old Spanish maestro in town to conduct the SF Symphony this week, drove home the point: the program stretched from Romantic to minimalist to Bolshevik bombastic bloat, and every time, Heras-Casado and the orchestra found the sweet spot.
We'll skip over the curtain raiser (Mendelssohn's Fingal's Cave overture) to get to the meatier pieces on the program. Liszt's piano concerto No. 1 was the first appearance of 22yo German wunderkind Alice Sara Ott with the SF Symphony. While the piece has its overwrought aspects and its gratuitous displays of virtuosity, the barefoot soloist found a lithe texture in her playing, and gave a pure, delicate transparency to her performance. It was technically assured, the concerto demands it, but she never gave in to the temptation of forceful bravura: her touch remained light and airy throughout.