San Francisco Symphony 6/29/11 [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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07-05-2011, 09:31 AM

Last Wed night I joined my mother and wife for a trip to the SF Symphony. It was my 1st time to the Davies Hall. WOW what a nice looking place.

I was caught off guard by the pre-show entertainment. They had a bar and jazz playing. People were dancing and it really just seemed like a fun time. I was doubly surprised by the amount of young people there. I mean those in the college or 30s. I guess when ticket prices come down from the heavens people will go.

That said we were on the ground level center but just under the first balcony. Here is a link to the performance that night.

Program Notes
Mozart: Serenade in G major, K. 525, Eine kleine Nachtmusik

DVOŘÁK: Serenade in E major for String Orchestra, Opus 22

TCHAIKOVSKY: Serenade in C major for String Orchestra, Opus 48

For the 1st piece it was a small group of strings only, and for pieces two and three more strings came out. Strings only night I guess. But the small to large gave the overall performance some variation that was intriguing.

A couple things struck me - since of course I was more interested in how the sound compared to a hi-fi system than the music being played.

I noticed the complete and utter lack of pressure while the music was playing. In my new place with most speakers unless they are smaller bookshelf speakers there is a since of pressure that builds up - similar to listening to earbuds. It can be really bad with certain speakers and being very fatiguing. Even the sound is smooth, clear, detailed, and generally good, the pressure itself created from the system can be limiting. The symphony had none of this.

Secondly, and most likely the case, the bass, the single they had on the stage in the first performance, was loud! I mean I could hear that bass so well I wonder if there was some build up between the balcony and our seats. Because the lower notes were loud! I mean like if I had a speaker that did that I'd think there was something wrong or off. But in this case how can I say that unless there was some acoustically over amplification I heard based on our seats. But I was amazed - the bass while not be particularly fast in it initial attack when plucked or bowed - had a texture that was low and growling. It was pretty awesome.

The violins were ridiculously smooth. And at times some sounds boarder lined on a train steam whistle heard from far off. It was pretty cool. But for whatever reason it was also very hard to hear the accompanying melody in most of the pieces. One had to really concentrate to hear more than then main melody. Also I was surprised how dynamically lack luster the violins were. Sure they could be quiet but they were never as loud as I hoped. Especially with the TCHAIKOVSKY piece. So overall the performance never really felt like it came out of its shell. Which kind of made it boring and I think helped to make the bass's low notes so much louder dynamically than anything else going on throughout the show.

Lastly the staccato plucks in the second piece (i think) were really cool. The fact that based off were we sat was about the same image size as my speakers give me. So hearing the plucks traverse from left to right or the other way around really gave me perspective on staging. Even though the stage was not huge I could easily tell where the sounds were coming from. I've yet to hear speakers that give off that good a stage and instrument separation and placement. It was cool.

Anyways - I think that is all - hopefully will be going some more.

*** Photo from

07-05-2011, 09:36 AM
Cool photo.
I love that concert grand has four octaves.
I used to play one of those in college............awesome instrument.