Thursday, July 27, 2017

Tanglewood — 2017/07/28-30

This weekend the Boston Symphony gives three more concerts worth hearing. The offerings include a couple of pieces I don't know and a couple of really popular ones that aren't my figurative cup of metaphorical tea, and one of the ones I really want to hear will be given during my brother's weekly call from Tokyo. Still, I'll be listening to all I can.

Friday, July 28, 2017.   The synopsis on the orchestra's program detail page gives us the basics:
On Friday, Charles Dutoit is joined by pianist Yefim Bronfman for Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 2, one of the composer's most barnstorming, free-spirited works. The BSO opens the program with the Overture to Beethoven's The Creatures of Prometheus. Mr. Dutoit also leads the orchestra in Dvorak's New World Symphony.
(Some emphasis added.)

For additional information, use the links to audio previews and program notes, as well as performer bios (click on the thumbnail photos), on that page. Brahms is among my least favorite of the really popular composers, so I'm not eagerly anticipating the concerto. Of late, however, some of his big pieces are beginning to seem a but less unpleasant than they used to, so I'm not dreading it either. Mine is, of course, a distinctly minority view, so have no fear. The first movement of the "New World" symphony is another very popular piece that I don't enjoy — too jarring for my taste — but I'm planning to listen and see how it goes.

Saturday, July 29, 2017.  The program detail page ignores two of the three pieces on the Saturday program, so I'll give my own synopsis. Chant funèbre, by Stravinsky, opens the program. It was composed upon the death of his teacher, Rimsky-Korsakoff, and after the premiere the score was lost for over 100 years. Next is Ravel's Piano Concerto for the left hand, with Pierre-Laurent Aimard as soloist. After intermission comes Te Deum by Berlioz, with tenor soloist Paul Groves. The concert is again under the baton of Charles Dutoit.

Consult the program detail page for the usual links to background information about the music and performers. I enjoy a lot of Berlioz's music, including his Requiem. This is apparently intended to be comparable, and I'm sorry to have to wait for on-demand availability to hear it because my brother's call will come during the performance. (I see from the program note that Berlioz rearranged the order of some of the lines of the text.)

Sunday, July 30, 2017  brings an old favorite followed by one which I don't recall hearing. The program detail page has the following description:
Violinist Pinchas Zukerman returns to Tanglewood on Sunday, July 30, for a performance of Beethoven's lyrical Violin Concerto with the BSO and English conductor Bramwell Tovey. Mr. Tovey and the BSO are then joined by bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus for Walton's Belshazzar's Feast. An incredibly ambitious oratorio written for a large-scale orchestra including two brass bands along with the baritone soloist and chorus, the work is one of the composer's most celebrated compositions.
(Some emphasis added.)

The violin concerto is great music, in my opinion, and the program note about "Belshazzar's Feast" has me intrigued.

The place to hear it all is, of course, WCRB, where you can hear the Friday and Saturday concerts live at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight (Summer) Time, and the Sunday concert in a delayed broadcast/webstream at 7:30 p.m. Check out the station's website for additional information about programming and other features.

Enjoy the concerts!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Tanglewood — 2017/07/21-23

It looks like a good weekend at Tanglewood, including one of my favorite pieces of all time (which will be played during my brother's weekly phone call from Tokyo). All three concerts include a solo piano in one of the pieces.

Friday, July 21, 2017.  The BSO performance detail page informs us:
Captivating French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet joins the BSO and conductor Gustavo Gimeno-who returns to the Tanglewood podium after making his debut with the orchestra last summer-for Bernstein's Symphony No. 2, The Age of Anxiety, a piece dedicated to Serge Koussevitzky and premiered by the BSO in 1949. Mr. Gimeno also leads the BSO in Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4.
(Some emphasis added.)

That's right, folks: a symphony with a solo piano. From the brief audio preview available via the program detail page, it sounds not too tough to take, and the program note makes it sound interesting. I'm going to dinner at the yacht club with a bunch of people from the Race Committee. I might be able to get home in time to hear the whole thing. If not, there's always the "on demand" feature on WCRB so I can catch it later.

By the way, this is one of the BSO's "Underscore Fridays." To enhance the audience's enjoyment, a member of the orchestra introduces the program briefly just before the performance begins. This evening, it will be Assistant Tympanist Daniel Bauch. His take should be interesting to hear.

Saturday, July 22, 2017.  We start with some 20th century music that I don't think I've ever heard, and end with that favorite of mine. Per the performance detail page:
BSO Artistic Partner Thomas Adès opens the Saturday, July 22 BSO program leading his own …but all shall be well, a piece inspired by lines from T.S. Eliot's quotation of Julian of Norwich in Four Quartets: "Sin is Behovely, but All shall be well, and All manner of thing shall be well." The program also features Emanuel Ax in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor, the last and most monumental of Beethoven's concertos; as well as the dramatically expressive Sinfonia da Requiem by Benjamin Britten, a composer for whom Mr. Adès has a great affinity.
(Some emphasis added.)

Apparently, the order of performance was revised after the program detail page was written. At any rate the season brochure and the program notes agree that the Britten work will precede the Adès. We'll find out who's right on Saturday. As always there are links to audio previews, program notes, and performer bios on the detail page.

Sunday, July 23, 2017.  Again, the performance detail page gives us the basics, with further information available via the links on the page.
On Sunday, July 23, BSO Assistant Conductor Ken-David Masur is joined by Russian pianist Nikolai Lugansky for Prokofiev's sparkling Piano Concerto No. 3. Mr. Masur opens the afternoon program with Aaron Jay Kernis's airy and moving Musica Celestis ("Heavenly Music"), written by the Grawemeyer Award-winning composer in 2000. Closing the concert is Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 2, Little Russian.
(Some emphasis added.)

From the program note and the audio preview, it seems that the Kernis piece should be fairly easy listening, but I've never heard the whole thing, so I can't make any guarantees. Anyway, I'm looking forward to hearing it. Remember, the Sunday concert is recorded when performed and broadcast and streamed 4 1/2 hours later, at 7:00 p.m., Boston Time, by WCRB. The other concerts are transmitted live at 8:00 Friday and Saturday.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Tanglewood — 2017/07/14-16

This looks like a great weekend at Tanglewood, with music from the 18th through the 21st centuries.

Friday, July 14, 2017.  Here's how the BSO performance detail page describes this evening's concert:
Andris Nelsons opens the weekend on Friday, July 14 at Tanglewood with performances of two pieces written as an homage to French Baroque composer François Couperin, composed nearly 90 years apart: Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin and BSO Artist Partner Thomas Adès's Three Studies from Couperin. Also on the program is Haydn's Symphony No. 83, La Poule ("The Hen"), last performed by the BSO in 1990, and Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 in C, K.467, featuring Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov.

(Some emphasis added.)

The BSO page also has the usual links to audio previews, program notes and performer bios.

The Adès piece was performed in Symphony Hall in the concerts of April 23-28, 2015. In my review at the time I wrote,
Thomas Adès's orchestration of harpsichord music of Couperin was very successful, in my opinion. One interesting feature was the use of alto and bass flutes. Both are longer than regular flutes, so much so that the tubes are bent back on themselves; and they have a greater diameter than ordinary flutes. They are held like regular flutes, with the player blowing over the mouthpiece on the top section, and the keys [are] on the lower section.
You can see links to other reviews if you go back to my post.

Saturday, July 15, 2017,  brings only one work, but what a work. Again, the BSO tells us about it on the performance detail page:
On Saturday, July 15, Maestro Nelsons leads the BSO in one of the great highlights of the 2017 Tanglewood season: the festival's first-ever complete concert performance of Wagner's epic Das Rheingold, the first of the four dramas from Wagner's masterpiece Der Ring des Nibelungen. The performance features a cast of all-star vocal soloists among the most respected for these roles, including bass-baritone Thomas J. Mayer as Wotan (in his BSO and Tanglewood debuts); mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe as Fricka; tenor Kim Begley as Loge (BSO and Tanglewood debuts); and baritone Jochen Schmeckenbecher (BSO and Tanglewood debuts) as Alberich, along with other prestigious singers known for their expertise performing Wagner's music. The performance of Das Rheingold-sung in German with English subtitles-will run without an intermission. 
Due to ill health, and on the advice of her doctor, Dame Sarah Connolly regretfully has had to withdraw from the BSO's performance of Das Rheingold.  The role of Fricka will now be sung by Stephanie Blythe, who has graciously agreed to join the cast at short notice.
(Some emphasis added.)

See the performance detail for the rest of the cast as well as the usual links. The program notes give a synopsis of the action, but not the full libretto. For that you're on your own. I'd suggest searching something like "Rheingold libretto." I'd suggest going for one with German and English side by side if you can find it. The opera concludes with "The Entry of the Gods into Valhalla," which used to be frequently performed as a stand-alone piece. It's top-notch Wagner, IMO.

Sunday, July 16, 2017.  We're back to orchestral music, with a world premiere and a couple of "warhorses." The BSO tells us
Closing out the weekend on Sunday, July 16, Andris Nelsons and the BSO are joined by violinist Anne Sophie Mutter for the world premiere of Boston Pops Conductor Laureate John Williams' Markings, for solo violin, strings, and harp. Ms. Mutter also joins the orchestra for Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, one of the most popular concertos for the instrument. Berlioz's dazzling Symphonie fantastique completes the program.
(Some emphasis added.)

The above quote is from the orchestra's performance detail page, which also has the usual links to background information. I have no idea how the Williams piece will be, but the remaining works are enduringly popular.

You can hear it all over WCRB on the air or on line. Friday and Saturday' shows begin at 8:00 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time, Sunday's at 7:00. I'm looking forward to it.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

CORRECTION — WCRB July 8, 2017

In my post about this weekend's concert broadcasts over WCRB, I made the mistake of assuming that all three of the major concerts would be broadcast and streamed. This morning I realized that this evening's Pops concert will not be broadcast. Instead they are giving us an "encore broadcast"  of the final Saturday concert of the 2016 Tanglewood season.
Here's what I posted back then:
On Saturday we return to regular order. The performance detail page gives these details:
Tanglewood favorite Yo-Yo Ma joins the Boston Symphony Orchestra and conductor Michael Stern on Saturday, August 27, to open the final weekend of the BSO's 2016 Tanglewood season, performing Haydn's Cello Concerto in C and John Williams's Heartwood,for cello and orchestra, and Rosewood and Pickin', for solo cello, on a program that also includes Bernstein's Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront and Respighi's Pines of Rome.
(Some emphasis added.)

The usual background information is available on that page. It looks like a pretty full evening of music.
I'm sorry for the confusion. It looks like a concert worth listening to.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Tanglewood — 2017/07/07-09

The BSO's Tanglewood season begins this weekend. With a couple of exceptions, when other groups such as the Boston Pops and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra will be on stage, they will play concerts every Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 from July 7 through August 27. WCRB will stream and broadcast the Friday and Saturday concerts live, and they will present the Sunday concerts at 7:00 p.m. In addition to their homepage (previously linked), with its Listen Live button, WCRB also has a Tanglewood page, which gives highlights of the season and links a half-hour podcast preview with the orchestra's Artistic Administrator, Tony Fogg.

Since the programs aren't [resented earlier in the week, there are no reviews available. Sometimes I may have thoughts of my own. Some of the pieces to be played were included in concerts in Symphony Hall over the winter. In that case, there may be a review of the earlier concert.

Friday, July 7, 2017.  The opening night gala gives us a single work, described as follows by the orchestra's program detail page:


Opening Night at Tanglewood
MAHLER Symphony No. 2, Resurrection


Koussevitzky Music Shed - Lenox, MA - View Map

Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra open their 2017 Tanglewood season Friday, July 7, with a gala performance of Mahler's grand, deeply emotional, and ultimately triumphant Symphony No. 2, Resurrection. Soprano Malin Christensson (in her Tanglewood debut) and mezzo-soprano Bernarda Fink join Mr. Nelsons and the orchestra, along with the all-volunteer Tanglewood Festival Chorus.

(Some emphasis supplied.)
The program detail page also includes links to performer bios (click on the thumbnail pictures), program notes, and audio previews.

Saturday, July 8, 2017.  The first, non-BSO concert of the season brings the Boston Pops and singers for this program of Sondheim. Once more, the program detail page tells us about it:


Sondheim on Sondheim at Tanglewood
Boston Pops Orchestra


Koussevitzky Music Shed - Lenox, MA - View Map

Hailed as "a funny, affectionate, and revealing tribute to musical theater's greatest living composer and lyricist," the symphonic Sondheim on Sondheim  with the Boston Pops is not to be missed! This retrospective of the life and work of America's finest contemporary musical theater creator is told through his own words via film, live performers, and his amazing music. Experience this acclaimed sampling of Sondheim's extraordinary output, now for the first time with lush new arrangements for full orchestra.

(Some emphasis supplied.)

Sunday, July 9, 2017.  The Boston Symphony "returns." Of course, since there is considerable overlap in the membership of the BSO and the Pops most of them were not away on Saturday evening. This time, as the BSO program detail page tells us, it's for Mozart and another Mahler Symphony. There also links as described in the discussion of Friday's concert.


Andris Nelsons conducts Mozart and Mahler


Koussevitzky Music Shed - Lenox, MA - View Map

Andris Nelsons returns to the podium for his second concert of the season on Sunday, July 9, for an afternoon program featuring 15-year-old Swedish violinist Daniel Lozakovich in his BSO and Tanglewood debuts performing Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3, and Mr. Nelsons' second Mahler symphony of the weekend-Symphony No. 4 featuring soprano Kristine Opolais. 
(Emphasis supplied.)

Remember, WCRB delays the broadcast/webstream until 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Classical New England/ Tanglewood Preview — 2017/07/01

Next weekend the BSO opens their Tanglewood Season. WCRB previews it this evening at 6:00 p.m.

Tanglewood 2017

Saturday at 8pm, WCRB's Brian McCreath brings you a preview of the Boston Symphony Orchestra's summer season, with music by Dvorák, Ravel, Mendelssohn, and more.
See the station's homepage to listen over the web and to find links to information about other programming. Should be interesting. They transmit three concerts every weekend during this season.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

BSO/Classical New England — 2017/06/24

This week's BSO rebroadcast by WCRB is the concert of November 26, 2016, the one that came right after the Brahms mini-fest we've been hearing the past three weeks. Here's the program, as "printed" in the station's encore broadcasts page:
Moritz Gnann, conductor
Menahem Pressler, piano
MENDELSSOHN Overture, The Hebrides (Fingal's Cave)
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 27
DVORAK Symphony No. 9, From the New World

Of course I posted about it when it was originally performed, so you can check the link to see what I and the reviewers thought about it. As I mentioned in my post at the time, the Mozart concerto is a favorite of mine. It was the first thing I played when my great aunt gave us a new record player in the 1950's and I fell in love with it.

It's a very fine concert, and I'm confident you'll enjoy it. As always, the show begins at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, June 24.