MUSIC: HITTING THE HIGH NOTES

EX-WUNDERKIND MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS RETURNS TO THE U.S., REVITALIZING HIMSELF AS WELL AS THE SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY

IT CAN TAKE SEASONS FOR AN ORchestra to reflect the skills and tastes of a new conductor. Older players have to retire, and new section principals be appointed; in rehearsal, players must learn to deliver, say, a richer string sound or a brassier brass. That's why what is going on in San Francisco is creating such a buzz in the classical-music world. It has been just six months since Michael Tilson Thomas inherited the baton from the sober Swede Herbert Blomstedt, but already the San Francisco Symphony has undergone a transformation. Woodwinds dance merrily, the brass resonates nobly, and the strings...

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