Saturday, December 20, 2014

BSO — December Hiatus — 2014/12/20

This weekend WCRB gives us a Boston Pops concert in their BSO time slot on Saturday and Monday at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time. The live Holiday Pops concert is on Saturday, and the rebroadcast/webstream is on Monday, December 22 (without their usual interval of over a week). This is how WCRB describes the concert on their BSO page:
Keith Lockhart conducts the Boston Pops and Tanglewood Festival Chorus in a cherished seasonal tradition, filled with holiday music favorites, the traditional Pops sing-a-long, and even a visit from jolly old Santa Claus!

Most of the Pops players are BSO members, so it's okay for them to have the Symphony time slot.

I'll be going to a Christmas Party this evening, may be home in time for the last few numbers, but I'll have to catch most of it on the Monday rebroadcast.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

BSO — December Hiatus — 2014/12/13

This week, WCRB's Saturday BSO broadcast and webstream is a repeat of the Tanglewood concert of Sunday, August 3, 2014. I previewed it here at the time, and I hope the links still work. On WCRB's BSO page, they summarize it as follows:
In an encore broadcast from the 2014 Tanglewood season, Augustin Hadelich is the soloist in Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 4, and Juanjo Mena leads the BSO in Haydn's Symphony No. 6, Le Matin, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 2.
(Some emphasis added.)

Normally, the Monday repeat of that concert would be on December 22, but that evening they'll repeat the Dec. 20 Pops concert, so this repeat is postponed for a week.

Meanwhile, the concert being rerun on Monday, December 15 is the one that filled the Saturday 8:00 p.m. slot on December 6.
In an encore broadcast from the 2014 Tanglewood season, Charles Dutoit conducts the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra in Stravinsky's Scherzo fantastique and The Firebird, and Nikolai Lugansky is the soloist in Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3.
(Some emphasis added.)

All broadcasts/streams are on WCRB at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Winter Orgy® Period 2014

The Winter Orgy® period has begun on WHRB. They've already had the Warhorse Orgy, and now the Cauldio Abbado orgy is in progress, running until 10:30 p.m. today, then 5:00 a.m. to 6:45 on December 8, and 5:00 to 3:00 on the 9th.

Subsequent classical orgies include

  • Gone with the Winds Orgy    Dec. 9   3:00 - 10:00 p.m.  &   Dec. 10   8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
  • The Rest Is Noise Orgy     Dec. 10   1:00 p.m.    continuing off and on through Dec. 18
  • Ferenc Fricsay Orgy     Dec. 29   1:00 - 10:00 (?) p.m.

For listings of all works to be played, times of the Rest is Noise after the first day, other programming during the Orgy period, and highlights of January and February programming, see the WHRB Program Guide.

You can listen via the station website.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

BSO — December Hiatus — 2014/12/06

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is on break for the month of December. They will resume "concertizing" on January 8, 2015, with the next Saturday performance on the 10th. December sees the Boston Pops giving their Holiday Pops concerts at Symphony Hall. Meanwhile WCRB fills the Saturday and Monday  8:00p.m. time slots with rebroadcasts, except for December 20 and 22, when it will be Holiday Pops, live on the 20th and rebroadcast on the 22nd.

This evening, December 6, the broadcast and stream is of the Tanglewood concert of last August 17, which I previewed here in my blog. It features Charles Dutoit conducting, not the BSO, but the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra — the young musicians who are learning their art. They perform music of Stravinsky and the Rachmaninoff piano Concerto No. 3, with Nikolai Lugansky as soloist. For more, see my blogpost and links. Also see the WCRB BSO page for the December schedule and other links.

In keeping with the usual practice of replaying Saturday concerts nine days later, this Monday's concert will be a rerun of the one given a week ago, on November 29: Leonidas Kavakos in music of Bartók, Haydn, and Mussorgsky.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

BSO — 2014/11/25-29

This week's Boston Symphony concerts are the last before January. December is taken up by Holiday Pops. The program looked to me like something of a filler, but the reviews are telling me it's really worth hearing. Leonidas Kavakos is conductor and violin soloist in music of Bartók, Haydn, and Mussorgsky. Here's the description of the program from the orchestra's performance detail page:
The Greek-born violin virtuoso Leonidas Kavakos returns to the BSO as both soloist and conductor in Béla Bartók's Two Portraits for violin and orchestra, which the BSO has never performed. The yearning Portrait No. 1 is an arrangement of the first movement of the composer's first, long-suppressed violin concerto; the brief second Portrait is an arrangement of a quick, waltzing piano bagatelle. Kavakos also leads Joseph Haydn's Symphony No. 82 in C, The Bear, one of the six so-called "Paris" symphonies he wrote in the mid-1780s for that city as his international reputation grew. Its nickname, not the composer's own, apparently comes from the droning figure at the start of the finale, which suggested, to a later arranger, music for a dancing bear. Completing the program is Ravel's familiar arrangement of Mussorgsky's kaleidoscopic Pictures at an Exhibition, a suite of highly characterized musical reactions to fantastical paintings.
(Some emphasis added)
Go to that page also for links to audio and written material about the music and performer bio for Maestro Kavakos. There was a very favorable review in this (Thursday) morning's Boston Globe, but I can't find it on the internet version of the paper. The review in the Boston Musical Intelligencer is mixed, but very favorable toward the final movement of the Haydn, and enthusiastic, as was the Globe, for the Mussorgsky.

In the light of the reviews, I'm looking forward to it all. I should be able to hear the Bartók and Haydn during WCRB's live broadcast on Saturday at 8:00 p.m., before my brother's weekly call from Japan. The Mussorgsky will have to wait for the rebroadcast on Monday, December 8, also at 8:00. If you're outside the broadcast area, you can listen over the web. The station's BSO page has links to an interview with Maestro Kavakos about the concert and to material about other concerts as well as the season BSO broadcast schedule. As noted above this is the final concert until January. At this point, I don't know what will fill the time slots between December 8 and January 10. Past practice would suggest they'll be rebroadcasting concerts from Tanglewood or prior years, but we'll just have to wait and see. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to this one.

Friday, November 21, 2014

BSO — 2014/11/20-22 (Updated)

I heard this week's Boston Symphony program on Thursday. It consists of two 21st century works, followed by two from 20th century Russian composers, with the intermission coming between the third and fourth pieces. The BSO performance detail page gives us the story:
Andris Nelsons demonstrates his thoughtful, adventurous programming with this wide-ranging selection of works. He and the BSO are joined by cellist Yo-Yo Ma for Prokofiev's Symphony-Concerto for cello and orchestra, whose title suggests the symphonic nature of the score. Nelsons also leads the BSO's first world premiere and BSO commission of the season, a new work ["Lakes Awake at Dawn"] for chorus and orchestra by the conductor's Latvian compatriot Eriks Ešenvalds, who has secured a strong international reputation especially for his choral works. Opening the program is John Harbison's choral scherzo Koussevitzky Said:. Written for the 75th anniversary of Tanglewood and premiered there in 2012, this short piece sets words about music by the BSO's great former music director, Serge Koussevitzky. Setting Konstantin Balmont's Russian translation of Edgar Allan Poe's poem The Bells, Rachmaninoff's work for vocal soloists, chorus, and orchestra is considered one of his highest achievements. The BSO has only performed this great work on one other occasion, in subscription concerts in 1979.
(Some emphasis added.)

The performance detail page also has the usual links to program notes (including texts of the three sung pieces), audio previews, a video podcast about the Prokofiev and the Ešenvalds pieces, and performer bios (including chorus and its conductor as well as soloists in the Rachmaninoff).

The Boston Globe review was almost entirely about the works, rather than the performances, but everything it does say about the performances is approving. So far, there has been no review in the Boston Musical Intelligencer. When I see one, I'll add the link.* While none of the music is "must hear" to my taste, none of it was a chore to listen to, either. The Harbison is a lot of fun (and the Globe reviewer thinks it is important in a way). The composer was in the audience and stood for a well deserved bow. I had heard it when it was broadcast from Tanglewood two years ago. The rest of the concert was new to me. "Lakes Awake at Dawn," receiving its world premiere, was calm in many places, earnest, and musically better than one would expect of new music. The Prokofiev concerto was quite powerful, not without its pleasant moments, vigorously played by Yo-Yo Ma. After intermission "The Bells" was a powerful setting of the poem in four sections, with a soloist for three of them and the chorus alone in the third section. The singers all did well, as did the chorus, and the music itself was fine.

As always, you can listen live Saturday evening at 8:00 or Monday December 1, over WCRB radio or streaming. The station's BSO page has the entire remaining BSO broadcast schedule for this season as well as links to interviews about this and other concerts and to concerts now available for on demand listening.

* Edited to add: The BMInt has a very positive and descriptive review. At least it's in time for the rebroadcast on Dec. 1.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Boston Baroque — Monteverdi Vespers

On Friday evening I attended a performance by Boston Baroque of Monteverdi's 1610 composition "Vespro della Beata Vergine." It was the first time I had attended a live performance, although I've known of it for approximately 40 years. I was staying at my grandmother's one Saturday evening so she wouldn't be alone when my uncle was away, and I listened to the Boston Symphony concert broadcast. It was the Vespro della Beata Vergine, conducted by their Assistant Conductor, Michael Tilson Thomas.

I had gradually become familiar with baroque music — Handel, Vivaldi, Bach, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, perhaps Gabrieli — but I had never heard anything like the Vespers: the use of chant (with which I was familiar from my time at St. Anselm Abbey) to underlay florid passages, the vocal technique of rapid staccato on a single note, the "echo" repetitions. Listening to it felt like discovering a new musical world. Since then I've bought several recordings of the work, and it still fascinates.

So I was glad to see that it was to be performed this week in Boston. The performance was very satisfying. The soloists all sang well (although the sopranos seemed to be coquettish in their facial expressions and body language, which was unfortunate), and apart from some pitch trouble with the cornet toward the end, the orchestra was fine as well. The audience rightly gave the performers a prolonged ovation.

Here are a couple of samples to give you some idea of what so astounded me.

This is the introductory verse of the vespers:
I wonder what is was like the first time this was performed to have all that suddenly explode upon the traditional chanting of the opening words.

Next comes the first psalm, Psalm 110:
Here after the first line is given in the traditional chant, we here the bass delivering the chant for every second verse under the florid music of the rest of the ensemble.

Later comes the Motet "Duo Seraphim" based on Isaiah 6:3, and 1 John 5:7 in the Vulgate (The Johannine Comma):
This contains the staccatos on a single note, which I had never heard before.

There are several videos of the whole thing, and if this has whetted your appetite for it, you can find links easily enough, But at any rate, I think these excerpts should give some idea of what hit me that Saturday evening decades ago. I've given url's because I'm not sure the videos will play from the embeds.