The US Top 6 orchestras will visit Davies Symphony Hall for the SF Symphony 100th anniversary season, leaving Cal Performances at Zellerbach to import the foreign best ensembles. Case in point last Saturday: the visit by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, where Royal refers to the family of Wills and Kate. The Duke of York is listed on the program, most likely for the difficult task of being born in the right crib. The rest of the musicians got there through hard work and talent, as we witnessed first hand in a splendid performance.
Visiting orchestras travel with program that features their strengths. Boston, during their visit at Davies, showcased their amazing flutist, Elizabeth Rowe. The SF Symphony takes John Adams and Gustav Mahler on the road. The Royal Phil believes in their woodwinds and swears by the oboe of John Anderson in particular. They were largely featured in the Dances of Galánta, a 1933 piece by Zoltán Kodály which captures the last strain of Romanticism combined with Hungarian folk tunes. In addition to displaying the orchestra strengths, it echoes Brahms' Hungarian dances in a whimsical manner, as good a bridge as any to Brahms' first symphony in the second half of the program.