Saturday, August 29, 2015

BSO/Classical New England — 2015/08/29

This Saturday's BSO broadcast/webstream on WCRB at 8:00 is an "encore" of the concert of February 28, 2015. It includes the Stravinsky "Dumbarton Oaks" Concerto, Images, for Orchestra, by Debussy, and the Brahms Violin Concerto. Charles Dutoit conducts with Julia Fischer as the violin soloist. The WCRB page describing the concert (with a recording available) indicates that Ms. Fischer played Paganini's Caprice No. 24, as an encore.

I previewed the concert, with all the usual links to background material, back when it was about to be given. You can check it out if you're interested. I'll just comment, as I did then, that the Stravinsky is from his "neoclassical period," nothing like "Rite of Spring." I find it pleasant enough. And Debussy and Brahms are generally well liked, so I think it's worth hearing, or hearing again.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

BSO/Classical New England — 2015/08/22

With the Boston Symphony's Tanglewood season finished (although there are other events occurring there over the next couple of weekends) and Opening Night at Symphony Hall six weeks away (and the orchestra on tour in Europe "as we speak") WCRB is giving us repeats of concerts from last season in the 8:00 p.m. Saturday evening time slot. You can hear them over the air or over the web.

As I read their website, this week, on August 22, they will give us an encore presentation of the concert of October 3, 2014, which I p/reviewed back then. It includes Beethoven's 8th Symphony, a Suite from The Miraculous Mandarin by Bartók, and Symphony No. 6, "Pathétique," by Tchaikovsky. Music Director Andris Nelsons is the conductor. On their webpage for this concert, WCRB also has a video of the concert and a link to an interview with Malcolm Lowe, the BSO Concertmaster. I haven't listened to the interview yet, so I don't know what it's about, but it should be interesting anyway.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Tanglewood — 2015/08/14-16

This is the BSO's final weekend at Tanglewood this year, concluding, as usual in recent years, with the Beethoven 9th on Sunday.


Friday, August 14.  The weekend kicks off with Music Director Andris Nelsons leading the orchestra and solo violinist Christian Tetzlaff in the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto and Mahler's Symphony No. 6. The performance detail page give links to the usual program notes, audio previews, and performer bios. It also gives the following notice:
Several Friday-evening Shed performances will be part of the popular UnderScore Friday series this season. At these performances, patrons will hear comments about the program directly from an onstage BSO musician. UnderScore Fridays will occur on July 17, July 31, and August 14.
This time, trumpeter Benjamin Wright will give the opening remarks.


Saturday, August 15.  Maestro Nelsons returns to the podium, and his wife, Kristine Opolais, joins him and the orchestra for a couple of operatic numbers, including — appropriately for Assumption Day — an Ave Maria. The performance detail page gives this description:
Andris Nelsons conducts an array of Italian operas which include Verdi's Willow Song and "Ave Maria" from Otello, Act IV, Puccini's Intermezzo from Manon Lescaut Act III, and Boito's "L'altra notte in fondo al mare" from MefistofeleAct III starring soprano, Kristine Opolais. The BSO will then perform Strauss's Ein Heldenleben and Barber's Second Essay for Orchestra.
(Some emphasis added.)

Although the way they phrase it implies that both the Strauss and the Barber pieces will come after the operatic selections, the way they are listed lower in the page suggests that the Barber will open the concert, not conclude it. So far there is no background material on the music other than the Strauss.


Sunday, August 16.  As indicated above, this is the final broadcast concert of this Tanglewood season. The performance detail page has some of the usual links, as well as this information about the concert:
The BSO's final concert of the 2015 Tanglewood season, under the direction of Asher Fisch, will open with the TMC Orchestra playing Copland's Symphonic Ode. Also in the program is Beethoven's Symphony no.9, with the Tanglewod Festival Chorus and the TMC Ochestra. Special guests include Julianna Di Giacomo, Renée Tatum, Paul Groves,and John Relyea.
(Emphasis added.)
Although this blurb indicates that the TMC Orchestra (not the BSO) will be performing the Beethoven, elsewhere on the page, when it mentions the TMC Orchestra it puts "(Copland)" after the listing, which suggests they will not be playing the Beethoven. We'll find out who plays the Beethoven when we listen in, I guess.

The Tanglewood Festival Chorus was founded 40 years ago with John Oliver as its director, to serve as the chorus for Boston Symphony and Pops concerts. Among their notable achievements is that they perform without having the printed music in their hands. They memorize every piece they sing, and that is Maestro Oliver's doing. For forty years he has been preparing the chorus for every performance. He is retiring at the end of the Tanglewood season, so the Beethoven Ninth will be the last performance for which he will have prepared the chorus.


The Friday and Saturday concerts will be at 8:30, and the Sunday at 2:30, Boston Time. WCRB will broadcast and stream them. The station's BSO page also has brief blurbs about these concerts. More importantly, since this is the end of the Tanglewood broadcast season, they revert on August 22 to the regular pattern of weekly concerts at 8:00 on Saturdays. That BSO page gives the schedule of "Encore Broadcasts" of concerts from last season that will take us from August 22 through September 26, after which the BSO returns to Symphony Hall and the live broadcasts/webstreams will resume.

The orchestra will be on tour in Europe, with concerts on 12 days in the period August 22—September 5. Then they may be able to take a little vacation before they have to start rehearsing for opening night in Symphony Hall, October 1.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Tanglewood — 2015/08/07-09

This weekend brings some music that's less familiar than much of the past weekend's programming, but I think only one piece will be new to me.


Friday, August 7.   The BSO program detail page has this to say about the Friday evening concert:
Audience favorite Charles Dutoit leads the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Ravel's Mother Goose Suite and Stravinsky's Petrushka (1911 version), on a program with Sibelius's Violin Concerto, with soloist Leonidas Kavakos.
(Some emphasis added.)
As I write this there are links on the detail page to program notes and audio previews for the Sibelius and the Stravinsky, as well as for performer bios (click on the photos), but nothing so far for the Ravel. If I see anything before I publish this post, I'll revise the above.

Presumably the Sibelius is after the Ravel and before intermission.


Saturday, August 8.  The Saturday concert is a single work — Symphony No. 8 by Mahler — with Andris Nelsons on the podium. The orchestra will not be the BSO but the Tanglewood Music Center orchestra. They will be joined by eight singing soloists and three choruses, all listed on the program detail page (click on photos for further info about each). Here's the description from that page:
 BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons will conduct Mahler's Symphony no. 8 along with the  Tanglewood Festival Chorus, BUTI Chorus, and the American Boychoir. Special guests include Erin Wall, Christine Goerke, Lioba Braun, Jane Henschel, Klaus Florian Vogt, Matthias Goerne, and Ain Anger.
Mezzo-soprano  Lioba Braun, who was scheduled to sing the role of Mulier Samaritana in this performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 8, under the direction of Andris Nelsons, has canceled her appearance due to a back injury which prevents her from traveling.  Mezzo-soprano Mihoko Fujimura will now sing the role of Mulier Samaritana.

(Emphasis added.)


Sunday, August 9.  The BSO and Maestro Dutoit return to the stage on Sunday, together with Joshua Bell as violin soloist for a program described as follows on the performance detail page:
Longtime Tanglewood favorite Joshua Bell joins Mr. Dutoit for a performance of the Glazunov Violin Concerto, on a program which includes Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain and one of the BSO's signature works, Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique.
(Some emphasis added.)

The usual links are available, except that there is nothing yet about the Glazunov concerto, which, despite being mentioned first in the blurb, seems to be scheduled to be played after the Mussorgsky. The lack of preview material is unfortunate, since the Glaznov is the least known of the scheduled works.


As usual, the concerts can be heard at 8:30, 8:30, and 2:30 p.m., respectively, over WCRB. (Times are EDT.) The station has a page which gives information about future broadcasts and links to BSO-related material.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Tanglewood — 2015/07/31-08/02

This weekend brings us a number of familiar works from the core repertoire, works that would have been familiar and well-received a century ago, along with a couple of more recent pieces.


Friday, July 31.  The Friday concert is in a traditional format, with a curtain-raiser followed by another, longer piece. The major offering follows the intermission. Here's the BSO performance detail page's description:
Boston Symphony Orchestra Assistant Conductor Ken-David Masur will lead a program opening with the overture to Weber's Der Freischütz, followed by Schubert's Symphony No. 4, Tragic,  and Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor, with soloist Garrick Ohlsson.
(Some emphasis added.)

The page also notes that this is an "Underscore Friday," with a brief introduction from the stage by one of the musicians. It also gives the usual links to program notes, audio previews, and performer bios.

The Weber overture is a thrilling piece containing some of the best themes from the opera — a very fine choice to open the concert. The Emperor concerto is one of Beethoven's greatest achievements, in my opinion. I have a dinner engagement that evening and I'll almost certainly miss the first half of the concert, but I hope to be home in time to hear the whole Beethoven concerto. It should all be enjoyable if you have a chance to listen.


Saturday, August 1.  For some reason, the BSO website isn't showing the program for this evening — although it was there when I began writing this post a half hour or so ago.* WCRB tells us:
Music Director Andris Nelsons leads the BSO in Beethoven's "Triple" Concerto, with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, violinist Renaud Capuçon, and cellist Gautier Capuçon, and the Symphony No. 10 by Shostakovich.
(Emphasis added.)

While the Triple concerto may not be quite at the pinnacle occupied by the "Emperor" — having been composed with Beethoven's piano pupil the Archduke Rudolf, a talented amateur, as the intended soloist, rather than Beethoven himself or a good professional — it is definitely worth hearing. I don't recall the Shostakovich specifically. I'll just say that Shostakovich's music can be powerful but challenging.


Sunday, August 2.  The BSO gives us the following on their performance detail page:
BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons will conduct Haydn's Symphony no. 90, Dean's Dramatis personae featuring trumpet player Håkan Hardenberger, and Strauss's Don Quixote with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and violist Steven Ansell.
(Some emphasis added.)

There are full program notes and an audio preview of the Haydn linked on the BSO page. As noted there, Hardenberger was the soloist for the American premiere by the BSO last November. I reviewed it at the time** and liked it more than I had expected. I'm looking forward to hearing it again. The Strauss is being performed in observance of the 400th anniversary of the publication of Part II of Don Quixote.


The concerts can be heard via WCRB radio or web: Friday and Saturday at 8:30 p.m., Sunday at 2:30 — all Boston Time. Their BSO page, in addition to the description of the Saturday concert posted above, gives similar information about the remaining Tanglewood concert broadcasts along with an overview of the upcoming Symphony Hall season and various other interesting items and links.


* After drafting this post, I set it aside overnight, and now the BSO performance detail page is back, with the usual links to background material.


** "Spoiler" In my review of the Dean piece, I refer to a composer I was reminded of by the third part of the work. If you want to know who it is, it's Charles Ives.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Tanglewood — 2015/07/24-26

This weekend the Tanglewood concerts will give us familiar music of familiar composers.


Friday, July 24.  This will be an all-Beethoven concert. Christoph von Dohnányi will be on the podium for Symphony No. 4 (in my opinion Beethoven's worst symphony) and the Violin Concerto. Vadim Gluzman makes his debut with the BSO as the soloist in the concerto. The orchestra's program detail page has links to audio previews, program notes, and performer bios.


Saturday, July 25.  Emanuel Ax solos in Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 14. Michael Tilson Thomas is conductor for that and Symphony No. 5 by Mahler. Go to the program detail page for the usual links. They also list the New Fromm Players as performers in the concert, but that's a chamber music group, so I think it's a mistake. It seems much more likely that they'll be performing in the preview concert at 6:00 (not broadcast). We'll see.


Sunday, July 26.  Christoph von Dohnányi will return to conduct Mozart's last three symphonies (Nos. 39., 40, and 41 — the last nicknamed "Jupiter"). Program notes, audio previews, and performer bio (click on the photo) are available on the program detail page.


You can hear all three over the facilities of WCRB — either broadcast or webstream. Their BSO page gives the schedule for this weekend of BSO concerts and the remainder of the Tanglewood season. As usual, the Friday and Saturday concerts are at 8:30 p.m; and the Sunday concert is at 2:30 p.m.  all Boston Time.


As I suggested, I don't care very much for Beethoven's Fourth Symphony. Except for the second movement, it's too gruff. I found it okay when I encountered it for the first time, but I soon tired of the third and fourth movements. But the rest of the weekend's programming is music I want to hear, and your opinion of the Beethoven 4th may differ from mine. Enjoy.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Tanglewood — 2015/07/17-19

Just two composers' music is to be performed this weekend in the broadcast concerts: Mozart and Schumann. I think this is music we can all enjoy, although some may not be entirely thrilled with having vocal solos on Saturday. Anyway, I'll tell you about each concert.


Friday, July 17.  This evening we hear Schumann and Mozart under the baton of Christian Zacharias. We start and end with Schumann: the Manfred Overture and Symphony №2, respectively. Those are sandwiched around Mozart's Violin Concerto №5 in A, K. 219, and and the Rondo in C for violin and orchestra, K. 373, with Baiba Skride as soloist in both pieces. The BSO's performance detail page doesn't tell us whether the intermission will come between the Mozart pieces or follow them. I'm guessing the latter. As usual, there are links to program notes, audio previews, and performer bios. They also inform us that it's an "Underscore Friday," meaning that there will be some sort of introduction from the stage — this time by double bassist Benjamin Levy. In addition,
Berkshire Night will take place on Friday, July 17. 

Tickets are distributed at the Tanglewood Main Gate Box Office on a first come first served basis. Once the allotment of Shed tickets are gone we will distribute Lawn tickets. Residents of Berkshire County must show a drivers license, utility bill, library card, or some other form of proof of residence in Berkshire county or adjoining towns in New York state.
So, if you live in the designated area, you might want to head on over.


Saturday, July 18.  Maestro Zacharias returns to conduct and play piano in an all-Mozart program described as follows in the performance detail page:
Mr. Zacharias leads an all-Mozart program with Sarah Connolly joining Mr. Zacharias as pianist in "Ch'io mi scordi di te…Non temer, amato bene," concert aria for soprano and orchestra with piano, K.505; Ms. Connolly will also perform "Deh per questo istante solo" from Act II of Mozart's La clemenza di Tito, on a program that will also include Mozart's Symphony No. 38, Prague.
(Some emphasis added.)
For some reason, they avoid telling us that the program opens with Piano Concerto №25 in C, K. 503.  As of this writing, there are no links to program notes or audio previews. But maybe they'll have posted them sometime before the concert. So keep checking, if you're interested.


Sunday, July 19 sees Sir Neville Marriner take the podium for a program that begins and ends with Mozart, with Schumann in the middle.  Sir Neville is so well known as a conductor in recordings with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields that it's exciting to be able to hear the BSO under his direction.
Sir Neville Marriner will be joined by pianist Paul Lewis for Schumann's Piano Concerto, on a program spotlighting the orchestra in two of Mozart's most beloved symphonies: Symphony No. 35, Haffner, and Symphony No. 36, Linz.
So we read in the performance detail page (with some emphasis added). The usual links to preparatory materials are there .


Our friends at WCRB will broadcast and stream all three concerts. Those on Friday and Saturday start at 8:30, and Sunday's is at 2:30 — all p.m., all Boston Time. Their BSO page tells what's on each program and who the performers are for this weekend and the remainder of the season (I'm really looking forward to July 31.) along with other information and an interesting link to an interview with Erich Leinsdorf which I want to listen to sometime.