CLASSICAL MUSIC : Talmi to Bring Back U.S. Music to Symphony in Fall

Contemporary American music, notably absent from this season’s San Diego Symphony offerings, will stage a mild comeback in the 1991-92 winter season recently announced by symphony management. Music director Yoav Talmi will set a good example, opening the new season Oct. 4 with Jean Berger’s “Sinfonia di San Petronio.” A German-born composer who has worked in the United States since World War II, Berger is better known for his choral compositions than for his symphonic works. But his unambiguously tonal, Impressionist idiom is unlikely to ruffle any feathers.

The respected American composer Lukas Foss will conduct the San Diego Symphony on Nov. 8-10 in a program that includes his “Fanfare for Orchestra,” written in 1973, and the infrequently performed Third Symphony of Aaron Copland. Foss, music director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic and conductor laureate of the Milwaukee Symphony, is equally at home on the podium and at the composer’s desk. Earlier in his career, Foss had the distinction of following Arnold Schoenberg as UCLA’s professor of composition.

Although Talmi has included the ubiquitous Samuel Barber “Adagio for Strings” for May 15, 1992, the majority of his American music choices are definitely off the beaten track. Symphony principal cellist Xin-Hua Ma will solo in David Ott’s recent Concerto for Two Cellos on Nov. 22, and guest pianist James Tocco will perform John Corigliano’s Piano Concerto on Feb. 13, 1992.

It has been 10 years since the orchestra has performed a Benjamin Lees composition, so Lees’ Concerto for Brass Choir and Orchestra on March 13, 1992 should prove a welcome addition.

Outside of San Diego, Talmi has a reputation for conducting new music. In January, he conducted premieres of Arne Nordheim’s works with the Oslo Philharmonic. Talmi also made a recording of these compositions by Nordheim, whom he described as Norway’s most important contemporary composer. Talmi’s approach to contemporary music on this side of the Atlantic, as evidenced by the virtual absence of contemporary music during his first season as music director, has been particularly cautious.


Talmi has carefully larded the early months of the 1991-92 schedule with audience-pleasing blockbusters. Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony will be the main salvo of the opening night concert, and principal guest conductor Robert Shaw will conduct the Beethoven “Missa Solemnis” before the month is out, in Oct. 24-25 concerts. November will bring Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony and December a Mozart marathon with Symphony No. 41 (“Jupiter”) and the “Requiem.”

The music director’s long-range cycles--one per year of Bruckner and Mahler--continue with Mahler’s Fourth Symphony Oct. 18, with soprano Georgine Resick and Bruckner’s expansive Ninth Symphony Nov. 14. Brahms figures heavy in 1992, with an all-Brahms transcription concert Jan. 23 that will end up on a compact disc; Brahms’ “A German Requiem” on March 27 and the Brahms Second Symphony on May 15.

Free operetta. Members of the “Die Fledermaus” cast, San Diego Opera’s Civic Theatre production opening tonight, will perform in Wednesday’s free noon concert at the Civic Center Concourse. Soprano Cheryl Parrish (Adele in “Die Fledermaus”), mezzo-soprano Suzanna Guzman (Prince Orlofsky) and tenor Ronald Stevens (Eisenstein) will sing their favorite operetta arias. Stevens will also sing a medley from “Camelot” and the song Enrico Caruso made famous, “For You Alone.” Roger Pines, the company’s education director, will host the program. The Wednesday series continues March 27 and April 3.

War casualty. Fearing its potential audience would be glued to television’s blow-by-blow account of the Persian Gulf ground war, the Kingston Mainly Mozart Festival rescheduled its fund-raising radio marathon to March 11. The event, which had been originally slated for Feb. 25, will be broadcast on classical music station KFSD-FM (94.1) from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.

Hosting opera techies. San Diego Opera will be host to about 70 production managers and technical directors at Opera America’s annual technical-production meeting April 11-14 at the Marriott Suites Hotel. San Diego City Councilman Bruce Henderson, who admits to being a San Diego Opera subscriber, will welcome the conferees, who will attend the company’s production of Carlysle Floyd’s “The Passion of Jonathan Wade.” Sets for this co-production with three other American opera companies were constructed in San Diego Opera’s Scenic Studio.

Unusual this week. Robert Shaw will conduct the San Diego Symphony in John Harbison’s “Remembering Gatsby” Thursday and March 9. Shaw premiered the work, a commission by the Atlanta Symphony, in Atlanta in 1986. The composer describes it as a “fox-trot for orchestra.” Last month, New World Records released an impressive disc of Harbison’s recent works, including the 1987 Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Flight Into Egypt.” Harbison was the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s new music adviser and composer in residence.

Early music aficionados will not want to miss the Musicians of Swanne Alley, an American ensemble that will perform British Renaissance music at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral Friday at 8 p.m.