Classical Music Buzz > Jack Fishman > The reviews are in

RK_SAS21910-555.jpgThe reviews are in and the SLL Era is off to a great start. Here are a few opinions from the critics about Saturday night's debut of Sebastian Lang-Lessing as Music Director of the San Antonio Symphony.

"The question after Sebastian Lang-Lessing's debut Saturday night as San Antonio Symphony music director is obvious.

How does Lang-Lessing top this?

In front of a sold-out Majestic Theatre audience of 2,400, the native German conductor exhibited his skills at balance, color, dynamics, diversity, insightful phrasing and, above all, rehearsal skills in a program of Georges Bizet, Johannes Brahms and Gustav Mahler."
- David Hendricks, San Antonio Express-News

"An incandescent, high-definition retelling of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 1 formed the apex of Sebastian Lang-Lessing's triumphant inaugural concert as music director of the San Antonio Symphony.

The spirit of folk song and dance is never far away in this symphony, and Lang-Lessing brought it into unusually high relief with rhythms that often breathed a distinctly agrarian air. Although the First Symphony is anything but a light work, there was in this performance a lightness of foot, an agility, that made it less reverential, more populist and viscerally exciting than other performances I have heard -- and, I think, more Mahlerian.

Lang-Lessing has conducted quite a lot of opera around the world, and this performance had an opera conductor's sense of theater and character."

-Mike Greenberg, Incident Light

"Lang-Lessing's energetic conducting is a performance in itself as he broadly swoops his arms for sustained passages, crouches low to indicate lower volume, then jumps up and down, apparently for both volume and speed. It was a bravura performance by orchestra and conductor alike, followed immediately by a spontaneous standing ovation.

What could be more theatrical than an evening with opera, children, a capella singing, supertitles, symphony, slides, Broadway musical theatre, the national anthem and champagne! The SLL era begins! Salud!"

- Diane Malone,

Sebastian has only two days left in San Antonio before he has to return to Australia. He has more auditions and meetings that will keep him very busy before he departs. He returns in January, when he will have much more time to conduct and meet Symphony patrons. His next 18 concerts in San Antonio are:

January 7 & 8, 2011
New World Symphony
Sebastian Lang-Lessing makes his subscription debut as your new music director with three showpieces filled with heart-stopping melodies, high energy virtuosity and passionate music making.

Liszt Mazeppa
Liszt Les Préludes
Dvorák Symphony No. 9, "From the New World"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Lang Lang & Lang-Lessing
7:30 p.m. at the Majestic Theatre
International superstar Lang Lang performs the romantic piano showpiece under the baton of our new music director.

Rachmaninoff Vocalise
Beethoven Symphony No. 4
Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2

The appearance of Lang Lang is sponsored by the Russell Hill Rogers Fund for the Arts. Additional support for this performance is provided by the Valero Energy Foundation.

January 28 & 29, 2011
Shostakovich 5
Vitality, lyricism and sarcastic wit are on dazzling display with three blockbusters and the return of Lilya Zilberstein, one of San Antonio's favorite guest pianists.

Wagner Overture to Rienzi
Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3
Shostakovich Symphony No. 5

Sponsored by the Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation

January 30, 2011
Tchaikovsky Festival Pro-Am
Amateur musicians are invited to join the Symphony in a free side-by-side Pro-Am performance of Tchaikovsky's classic. Sign up through our web site at

3:00 p.m. at the Municipal Auditorium
Sebastian Lang-Lessing, conductor

Tchaikovsky Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy

February 11 & 12, 2011
2 For Guitar
The last time Colombian guitarist Ricardo Cobo and Cuban composer Leo Brouwer were in San Antonio, critic Mike Greenberg called their performance "a love fest." It was "characterized by a generosity of spirit, to say nothing of knockout virtuosity."

Beethoven/Weingartner Grosse Fuge
Brouwer Guitar Concerto No. 3 ("Concerto elegiaco")
Vivaldi Guitar Concerto in D major, RV 93
Falla The Three-Cornered Hat

April 8 & 9, 2011
Ilya Plays Mozart
San Antonio Symphony Principal Clarinet Ilya Shterenberg steps to the front to star in Mozart's masterpiece for clarinet. When Lobgesang was first performed in England the audience spontaneously rose for the final chorus, as they do for the Hallelujah Chorus.

Ilya Shterenberg, clarinet
Angela Meade, soprano I
Amber Wagner, soprano II
John Tessier, tenor
San Antonio Symphony Mastersingers - John Silantien, director

Mozart Clarinet Concerto
Mendelssohn Lobgesang (Hymn of Praise)

Tchaikovsky Festival
Sebastian Lang-Lessing, conductor

Immerse yourself in passion, drama, energy and beauty. This music will transport you between ecstasy and despair, as only Tchaikovsky can do. Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing has designed this Festival to give San Antonio a rare opportunity to experience all six Tchaikovsky symphonies and both piano concertos in just ten days.

The Tchaikovsky Festival is sponsored by KCI.

Friday, April 29, 2011
Tchaikovsky Festival: Piano Concerto No. 1
Freddy Kempf, piano

Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 3, "Polish"
Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1

Saturday, April 30, 2011
Tchaikovsky Festival: "Little Russian"

Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 2, "Little Russian"
Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4

Friday, May 6, 2011
Tchaikovsky Festival: "Winter Daydreams"

Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 1, "Winter Daydreams"
Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5

Saturday, May 7, 2011
Tchaikovsky Festival: "Pathétique"
Freddy Kempf, piano

Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2
Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6, "Pathétique"

(The Tchaikovsky Festival also includes chamber music concerts on Sunday, April 28 with Camerata San Antonio and Sunday, May 8 with Musical Bridges Around the World.)

May 20 & 21, 2011
Beethoven & Mozart
Sebastian Lang-Lessing believes the rarely performed 8th is one of Beethoven's most perfectly crafted works. The highly anticipated return of cellist Alban Gerhardt completes a dramatic evening of German masterpieces.

Mozart Symphony No. 31, "Paris"
Schumann Cello Concerto
Schumann Overture to Manfred
Beethoven Symphony No. 8

June 3 & 4, 2011
Gluzman Plays Beethoven
In his violin concerto, Beethoven shows off his lyrical side. Although Zarathustra is now best known as the music from 2001: A Space Odyssey, it has been revered as one of the great orchestral showpieces. Violin Vadim Gluzman will be the soloist.

Beethoven Violin Concerto
Strauss Also sprach Zarathustra

October 7: Symphony of the Hills plays opera highlights in Kerrville
October 8 & 9: San Antonio Symphony Classic Ovation Series opens with the Chopin Piano Concerto
October 10: San Antonio Chamber Music Society presents Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
October 10: Voci de Sorelle performs Tapestry: A Concert of World Music
October 12: Tuesday Music Club presents the Perlman/Schmidt/Bailey Trio
October 12: Children's Chorus of San Antonio presents a concert called Friends and Family
October 14, 15 & 17: Camerata San Antonio presents the Brahms Clarinet Quintet
October 16: Arts San Antonio presents David Krakauer and the Acoustic Klezmer Project
October 22 & 23: San Antonio Symphony Classics Applause Series opens with Italian Splendor
October 24: San Antonio Symphony Family Series opens with Halloween Spooktacular

Sebastian Lang-Lessing photo by
Jack Fishman
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