Saturday, September 20, 2014

BSO — 2014/09/18-20

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is back at Symphony Hall for the season, which will extend until May 2, with a break for Holiday Pops in December. I was at the opening concert of the season on Thursday, and heard the program which will be given this evening, Sept. 20. Associate Conductor Marcelo Lehninger leads a concert which includes music of Mozart (?), Villa-Lobos, and Beethoven. On the orchestra's performance detail page we get this summary:
BSO Associate Conductor Marcelo Lehninger returns to the Symphony Hall podium for a concert spotlighting members of the orchestra. Four BSO principals take center stage for Mozart's seldom heard Sinfonia concertante for winds, last performed by the BSO in 1989 (with a different solo quartet). Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos's Bachianas brasileiras No. 5 for soprano and cellos is one of several like-named pieces intended to meld Brazilian musical ideas with the classical tradition. One of Villa-Lobos's most popular scores, the work is in two parts, sung in Portuguese: an Aria with words by Ruth Correa (who sang its premiere) and a Dance with words by Manuel Bandeira. The accompaniment for cellos alone makes it a rarity on orchestral concerts; these will be the first BSO performances of the piece. Closing the concert is Beethoven's powerful Symphony No. 5, among the best-known of all orchestral pieces.
The same page also has links to program notes , audio previews, an interview with the maestro, an — by clicking on the photos — performer bios.

Reviews were favorable, both in the Boston Globe and — even more favorable — in the Boston Musical Intelligencer. While I enjoyed it, I didn't think it was the best I've ever heard. Dynamics could have been better, in my opinion, and the Mozart and Beethoven sometimes seemed more like playing the notes than playing the music. Even so, the finale of the Beethoven can't help but be rousing when the notes are played correctly. So I think it's going to be enjoyable to listen to.

As always, WCRB will present the concert live, beginning at 8:00 p.m. You can hear it as a radio broadcast at 99.5 FM (or one of their satellite transmitters), if you're within range of the signal. Otherwise listen to the web stream by clicking the "Listen Live" button on the right side of their homepage. The station's BSO page has not only a brief description of the program, but also links to background interviews, information about on-demand listening to previous concerts, and the broadcast/streaming schedule for the whole season — which reminds us that each Saturday concert is rebroadcast nine days later, on Monday evening.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

BSO — September Hiatus — 2014/09/13

For the final Saturday before live broadcasts from Symphony Hall resume, WCRB has chosen to give us an encore of the concert of October 19, 2013, the first Andris Nelsons conduct with the BSO after being chosen to be its music Director, a post he assumes this season. I posted my review of the concert on October 19, 2013.

Here is how WCRB summarizes the content on their BSO page:
In an encore broadcast, BSO Music Director Designate Andris Nelsons leads the orchestra in Wagner'sSiegfried Idyll and the Symphony No. 3 by Brahms, and Paul Lewis is the soloist in Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 25.
(Some emphasis added.)
That page also contains a number of links you might wish to follow.

As usual, the concert broadcast, available also over the web by clicking the "Listen Live" button on the WCRB home page, begins at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time. Based on my review of 11 months ago, I think you'll enjoy it.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

BSO — September Hiatus — 2014/09/06

This week's BSO rebroadcast and webstream over WCRB is a concert from last February. Here's how WCRB describes it on their BSO page:
In an encore broadcast, pianist Murray Perahia is the soloist in Schumann's Piano Concerto, and Bernard Haitink leads the BSO in Stucky's Funeral Music for Queen Mary, after Purcell, and the Symphony No. 4 by Brahms.
(Some emphasis added.)

As usual, the WCRB page has links to interviews and other material of  interest.

I heard the concert in the Hall on February 6 and published my p/review here on February 8. I won't bother to copy the links from that post. You can go there and see if they still work. Meanwhile, if you're interested in listening to it, the broadcast and webstream begin on WCRB at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time. I'm especially looking forward to listening to the Stucky piece again.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

BSO — September Hiatus — 2014/08/30

With the BSO's Tanglewood season over, and no concerts in Symphony Hall until September 18 — meaning that live Saturday broadcasts will resume on September 20 — WCRB has three Saturday evenings to fill with repeats. You can find the schedule for all three, along with links to interviews and concerts available on demand, at their Boston Symphony page.

This Saturday, August 30, they will give us a concert of music by Ravel, conducted by Bernard Haitink: Alborada del Gracioso, Sheherezade, with Susan Graham as soloist, and Daphnis et Chloé.

The concert was originally given last January and February, and I p/reviewed it on February 1. You can hear it all via broadcast or web stream beginning at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, over 99.5 FM if you're within broadcast range, or by following the link at the WCRB website which I've linked above.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Tanglewood — 2014/08/22-24

The last weekend of the BSO's Tanglewood season concludes, as usual, with a Sunday matinee performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, with Charles Dutoit conducting. The symphony will be preceded by the composer's Choral Fantasy with Yefim Bronfman as piano soloist. Before that, on Friday evening, there will be chamber music; and on Saturday, there's an Italian (largely Roman) theme.


Friday August 22  The score by Harold Arlen to the movie The Wizard of Oz will be played by the Boston Pops under Keith Lockhart. Apparently, there is no permission from the copyright holders to broadcast it, because WCRB will be substituting a concert recorded on July 1. The performance detail page lists the performers and works to be performed but lacks most of the usual links to background information. We find this information on the WCRB BSO page:
On Friday, the Boston Symphony Chamber Players celebrate 50 years as an ensemble in a concert that includes Yehudi Wyner's Into the Evening Air, Debussy's Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp, and Schubert's Octet. (recorded July 1)
(Some emphasis added.)

It might be interesting to hear the new piece by Wyner, and I'm sure the Schubert will be enjoyable. I'm not sure about the Debussy: I don't enjoy most of his music very much, but I'm not familiar with the flute sonata; so we'll see.


Saturday August 23  Saturday brings a more conventional program. Here's how the performance detail page puts it:
Charles Dutoit returns to the podium to lead the Boston Symphony Orchestra. An Italian-themed program on August 23 begins with Berlioz's colorful Roman Carnival Overture and continues with Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, featuring pianist Kirill Gerstein as soloist. Completing the program is Respighi's scintillatingly orchestrated trio of Rome-centric tone poems: Roman Festivals, Fountains of Rome, and Pines of Rome.
(Some emphasis added.)

The usual links to performer bios, audio previews, and program notes can be found on that page as well. This should be quite a rousing concert.


Sunday August 24  It has become customary to close the BSO's Tanglewood season with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. As noted above, this year it is preceded by the Choral Fantasy. Consult the performance detail page for links to program notes, an audio preview, and performer bios. It gives this description of the program:
On August 24, the BSO's Tanglewood season comes to a close with its traditional performance of Beethoven's transcendent Symphony No. 9. The final concert begins with Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, which also features pianist Yefim Bronfman and which was a clear precedent for the Ninth Symphony's choral movement. Vocal soloists include sopranos Nicole Cabell and Meredith Hansen, mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford, tenors Noah Stewart and Alex Richardson, and bass-baritone John Relyea.
It should be good listening. I like the Choral Fantasy maybe even better than the Ninth Symphony, but certainly both are worth hearing.


WCRB will be broadcasting and streaming the Saturday and Sunday concerts live, as usual, in addition to the pre-recorded concert of Friday. After that, they go back to the regular schedule of presenting BSO concerts on Saturday evenings. Until the BSO begins the Symphony Hall season, the three intervening Saturdays will have rebroadcasts. The station's BSO page has descriptions of those concerts as well as this weekend's and other useful links about on-demand availability of earlier concerts etc.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Tanglewood — 2014/08/15-17

The best (IMO) piece of the whole weekend is going to be performed this evening while I'm out to dinner with a group of people — Beethoven's  Emperor Concerto (Piano Concerto No.5). I was introduced to the piece in my freshman year at college. My roommate had a recording of the concerto. Every Sunday morning he'd put it on his record player; but the record player had a slight malfunction: instead of stopping at the end of the first side, the tone arm would lift and go out to about an inch from the edge and settle down and play through the the remainder of the first movement. It did this over and over until he decided to intervene and flip the record for the second and third movements, which he only let play once. If it had bothered me, I might have spoken to him, but it was a great piece of music, so I was content to hear it over and over, while I was studying or reading the paper.


Friday August 15  The aforementioned Emperor Concerto precedes the intermission, with Stephane Deneve on the podium, and Emmanuel Ax on piano. After intermission, it's Prokofief's score for Alexander Nevsky. As usual, there are links to various sorts of background material on the orchestra's program detail page, which offers this description of the program:
Stéphane Denève returns to the Shed podium on Friday, August 15, to lead the BSO in music by Beethoven and Prokofiev. Pianist Emanuel Ax joins the orchestra for the first half of the program as soloist in Beethoven's ever-popular Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor. After intermission, the BSO welcomes the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and mezzo-soprano Elena Manistina for Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky
(Some emphasis added.)


Saturday August 16  Saturday brings a concert performance of Bernstein's Candide, conducted by Bramwell Tovey, and with vocal soloists too numerous for me to list, since they're mentioned on the performance detail page, along with links to program notes and performer bios.
Operetta and satire come to the Shed on Saturday, August 16, with a complete concert presentation of Bernstein's wittyCandide, based on Voltaire's novel. The BSO and Tanglewood Festival Chorus are conducted by Bramwell Tovey, and the cast of distinguished vocalists includes soprano Anna Christy, mezzo-sopranos Kathryn Leemhuis and Frederica von Stade, tenors Nicolas Phan and Beau Gibson, and baritones Paul LaRosa and Richard Suart, as well as vocal soloists from the Tanglewood Music Center. 
(Some emphasis added.)

I attended a staged performance a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. As for Voltaire's message: whether this is the best of all possible worlds depends on what we mean by "possible." Certainly it is not the best of all conceivable worlds — that's heaven. And the world would be better if we behaved better. But, however we define "possible," it seems to me that the state of the world does not justify Voltaire's atheism.

But listen for the enjoyable music, hopefully well performed, and don't get too hung up on the philosophy.


Sunday August 17 After Bernstein's music on Saturday evening, the Sunday matinee is the Leonard Bernstein Memorial Concert, with three pieces by Russian composers from the first half of the 20th century, performed by the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. Quoting the BSO performance detail page:
Eminent Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit takes the helm of the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra for The Leonard Bernstein Memorial Concert. The talented young fellows perform an all-Russian program featuring Stravinsky'sScherzo fantastique and the complete ballet score for The Firebird, as well as Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3, for which they are joined by Russian soloist Nikolai Lugansky.
(Some emphasis added.)

Go to the detail page for links to background information.


As always, WCRB will broadcast and stream all three concerts, at 8:30, 8:30, and 2:30, respectively, with a half hour of related material beginning 30 minutes before concert time. The station's BSO page gives brief synopses of this and next weeks' Tanglewood broadcasts (next week being the season finale) along with links to interviews and to previous concerts available on demand.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Tanglewood — 2014/08/08-10

I'm writing this more than a week in advance, since I'll be away until late Friday afternoon, but I expect to be back by the time the concerts begin. It looks like a rather eclectic weekend.

Friday August 8  This evening's concert features music of the three B's (not the usual three people speak of, but Bolcom, Barlow, and Barber) along with Elgar. It is under the baton of Leonard Slatkin and in honor of his 70th birthday. (Yikes! He's younger than me. I imagined he was older.) The performance detail page, as of this writing — July 31 — has links only for the program notes for the Barber and the performer bios: no notes on the other pieces and no audio links. I hope more will be added as the performance draws near. There is at least the following summary:
The BSO celebrates American conductor Leonard Slatkin's 70th birthday on Friday, August 8, as he leads the orchestra in a program featuring the world premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Bolcom's Circus Overture, commissioned by the BSO for the event. The program also features Wayne Barlow's soulful The Winter's Past, for oboe and strings, with BSO principal oboist John Ferrillo as soloist. Gil Shaham joins Mr. Slatkin and the Orchestra for Barber's Violin Concerto, and the concert concludes with Elgar's kaleidoscopic Enigma Variations.
(Some emphasis added)


Saturday August 9  Again a wide-ranging program awaits on the 9th. The program detail page gives the usual links this time, except for the Szymanowski, and describes the program as follows:
On Saturday, August 9, at 8:30 p.m., French maestro Stéphane Denève takes the podium for a BSO performance pairing music by Tchaikovsky with Debussy's quietly revolutionary Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, which conductor/composer Pierre Boulez said "brought new breath to the art of music." Mr. Denève and the orchestra are then joined by virtuoso Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos for early-20th-century Polish composer Karol Szymanowski's Violin Concerto No. 2. The drama and adrenaline of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 bring the concert to a close.
(Some emphasis added)
Debussy isn't my figurative cup of metaphorical tea, but at least the piece is short. Szymanowski can be quite "modern," but I'm not familiar with this concerto, so I'll be interested to hear how accessible it is.


Sunday August 10  Sunday continues the Tchaikovsky with an all-Tchaikovsky program conducted by David Zinman with Yo-Yo Ma featured as soloist in two of the works. The program detail page tells us
World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma once again takes the stage at Tanglewood on Sunday, August 10, at 2:30 p.m., this time in an all-Tchaikovsky program with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by American maestro David Zinman. Mr. Ma is featured in two works: the Andante cantabile, for cello and strings, and the Variation on a Rococo Theme, for cello and orchestra. The program also includes the Polonaise from Tchaikovsky's operatic masterpiece Eugene Onegin and the perennial favorite Symphony No. 6, Pathétique.
(Some emphasis added)
Again, as of July 31, the links to background material are scant, but that may improve.


WCRB will broadcast and stream all three at the usual times, with pre-concert features a half hour in advance; and their BSO page will probably have links to background material.