Just released by SFS Media: Michael Tilson Thomas’s “From the Diary of Anne Frank” & “Meditations On Rilke”

Jun 25, 2020

Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) and the San Francisco Symphony announce the SFS Media release of Tilson Thomas’ From the Diary of Anne Frank & Meditations on Rilke, available for pre-order now. Recorded live at Davies Symphony Hall in November 2018 and January 2020, respectively, this album represents the first SFS Media release of MTT’s original compositions, juxtaposing his earliest orchestral work with his most recent one. This album will be available for download in high quality, 24-bit/192kHz Studio Master, and for streaming via all major retailers worldwide on June 26 and in 5.1 surround-capable SACD on July 17. For more information, program notes, and performance video footage, and commentary from MTT, visit https://www.sfsymphony.org/tilsonthomas.

Based on the historic diary kept by Anne Frank during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, From the Diary of Anne Frank is MTT’s dramatic work for narrator and orchestra. Commissioned by UNICEF and originally written for Audrey Hepburn as a vehicle in her role as a UNICEF ambassador, the work received its premiere with Michael Tilson Thomas and the New World Symphony in 1990. The San Francisco Symphony first performed From the Diary of Anne Frank in November 2018, in concerts celebrating the 70th anniversary of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with Isabel Leonard as narrator. This was a breakthrough work for MTT, earning widespread praise for its dramaticpersuasiveness and its mastery of orchestral possibilities. In The Bay Area Reporter’s review of the 2018 performance, Phil Campbell wrote, “MTT provides a soundtrack that clearly shows his musical influences, ranging from Copland to Bernstein, but still makes a personal statement. The evocative score glistens and surges with emotion and convincing insight. One would have to be made of wood not to respond.” Since its unveiling thirty years ago, From the Diary of Anne Frank has been translated and performed in many languages worldwide, including at the United Nations General Assembly Hall.

Michael Tilson Thomas and Audrey Hepburn.
Premiere in 2018 of From The Diary of Anne Frank with Isabel Leonard narrating.

Completed more than three decades later, MTT’s song cycle Meditations on Rilke is a musical setting of lyric poems by German modernist Rainer Maria Rilke, whose writings grapple with sentiments at the core of the human condition, including solitude, mortality, and the redemptive value of art. Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and bass-baritone Ryan McKinny joined MTT and the San Francisco Symphony for the world premiere of Meditations on Rilke at Davies Symphony Hall in January 2020. MTT comments, “These Meditations on Rilke are reflections of the many moods the poems suggest. The motives and harmonies of these pieces have been with me for years, decades. This approach to music as a kind of lifelong journal, or confessional companion, was what my father, and as I now have learned, my grandfather, and even my great-grandfather, experienced. Meditations on Rilke is based on motives that recur, recombine, and morph differently in each song.”

From the 2020 premiere Meditations on Rilke with Sasha Cooke and Ryan McKinny.

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