Friday, May 22, 2015

BSO/Classical New England — 2015/05/23

This week's broadcast/webstream is a recording of a "By Popular Demand!" concert. I'm guessing it was performed on June 7. WCRB describes it thusly on their BSO page:
By Popular Demand!
The audience votes, and the Pops plays! Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops play the audience's choices in the first WCRB Pops broadcast of the season.
It sounds interesting. If you miss it on the 23rd, you have another chance on June 1. Both programs are at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time.

As always, there are links on the station's BSO page to other good things, such as future broadcasts, past concerts available on demand, and interviews.

On Monday the 25th, they will repeat the show from the 16th.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

BSO/Classical New England — 2015/05/16

This week it's not a live concert that WCRB will present, but recent recordings of the orchestra under the baton of Andris Nelsons. Here's how they describe it on their BSO page:
Saturday, May 16, and Monday, May 25

Hear the most recent Boston Symphony recordings, including Wagner's Overture to Tannhäuser and the Symphony No. 2 by Sibelius, conducted by BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons, as well as Britten's Violin Concerto with soloist Gil Shaham.
(Some emphasis added.)

The Wagner was on the program for last September 27, and the Sibelius, November 8. Gil Shaham performed the Britten concerto with the BSO (but a different conductor) in the concert of November 3, 2012. So you can find a bit about the performances if you go to my posts for those dates.

The page I've linked above also has information about future BSO broadcasts/streams. As always, the broadcasts and webstreams begin at 8:00 p.m. Boston Time.

The Overture to Tannhäuser is Wagner in good form, IMO. (I like to say that if he had stuck to music for orchestra, and not tried to write for singing, Wagner could have won the enduring fame of John Philip Sousa. It's facetiously put, but I do think he writes much better for orchestra than for singers.) I'm also very much looking forward to the Sibelius. My first impressions of the composer were colored by the saying attributed to my grandmother: "A little Sibelius goes a long way." But as I began to listen to his music, I soon decided that it's really quite good.

As for the Britten, I seem to recall something a bit less lyrical than the other two. If they play it during my brother's weekly call from Japan, I won't be heartbroken, but otherwise I'll keep the radio on.

Notice that on Monday the 18th, they'll give us the Mozart final three symphonies, conducted by von Dohnányi, from March 21.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Spring Orgy® Period 2015 — Update 05/14

WHRB has added a Gunther Schuller Orgy to its Orgy Period. It began at noon on May 14, and is scheduled to end at 10:00 p.m. on the 14th.

As of now, I see no further indication of classical music Orgies. You can go to their program guide for information about what pieces are to be played during the Schuller Orgy and other programming that will take place this month.

Friday, May 8, 2015

BSO/Classical New England — 2015/05/09

Last Saturday's BSO concert was their final broadcast until the Tanglewood season begins in July. The May 2 concert will be rebroadcast and streamed on Monday, May 11 at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time. This Saturday, instead of giving us a concert from a recent season — which they have often done during hiatuses — WCRB will present a program about past conductors. They describe it as follows on their BSO page:
Ron Della Chiesa tells the story of the BSO through the influence of the last five music directors, with performances led by Charles Munch, Erich Leinsdorf, William Steinberg, Seiji Ozawa, and James Levine.
This is a repeat of a show they presented last winter. I missed it at that time (It was not given in the Saturday evening time slot, as I recall.), but it sounds very interesting, and I'm definitely looking forward to hearing it. Munch was a great favorite in his day and Leinsdorf was very accomplished when he arrived. I was sorry to see him go.

Notice, at the bottom of WCRB's BSO page, the link to a program devoted just to Leinsdorf, in addition to all the other links available.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Spring Orgy® Period 2015

See the WHRB explanation of their Orgy® Periods, if you're not already familiar with them.

This spring's orgy period began, as usual, with the Warhorse Orgy.

Now we are in the BSO Commissions Orgy, which will continue until 10:00 p.m. on May 5.

The Renaissance Mass Orgy, runs on May 6 from noon until 10:00 p.m.

The Piotr Ilych Tchaikovsky Orgy® will run May 7-13. As usual, it will be a roughly chronological survey of all of his music.
     On May 7 & 8 it begins at 6:00 a.m. and presumably runs until 10:00 p.m.
     On May 9 (Saturday) it goes only from 6 to 10 p.m. (Regular programing, including "Hillbilly at Harvard" and the Metropolitan Opera, fills the daytime hours.)
     On May 10 (Sunday) it goes from 12:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
     The hours on May 11, 12, and 13 are 1:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The chronological survey will end with Symphony No. 6, beginning about 6:45 p.m. After that there will be historic performances of Tchaikovsky until 10:00.

The Program Guide gives no further scheduling information, but they say, "We''ll have more in a few days, so please continue to check back." When I notice more, I'll revise this post to include it, but you can also check the WHRB website yourself and maybe find updates before I do.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

BSO — 2015/04/30-05/02

This week the Boston Symphony gives their season finale, with music of Schumann, Mozart, and Brahms under the baton of guest Conductor Emeritus Bernard Haitink. Maria João Pires is soloist in the Mozart. The orchestra's performance detail page has the customary links to program notes, audio previews, and performer bios (click on the thumbnail photos). It also supplies the following description of the program:
For the final concerts of the season, Bernard Haitink is joined by the eminent Portuguese pianist Maria João Pires-in her first BSO appearances since 1999-for Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23, from the series of great Vienna concertos the composer wrote at the height of his career there. The A major concerto, K.488, is one of the most chamber-musical and intimate of these works. Opening the program is Robert Schumann's dramatic Manfred Overture, composed in 1848 as part of incidental music for Byron's drama of the same name. Grappling with the shadow of Beethoven's symphonies, Brahms famously delayed completing and releasing his Symphony No. 1 to the world until after his fortieth birthday. It bears several deliberate touches of homage to Beethoven but is fully Brahmsian in its spirit and effect.
(Some emphasis added.)

From now until July, in addition to the usual Monday repeats of the concert of nine days ago, WCRB will be giving us a variety of programming, including performances by the BSO and the Boston Pops.

The Globe review is admiring toward Maestro Haitink, but less than thrilled with how the Mozart went, especially the first movement. The Boston Musical Intelligencer liked the whole thing — no problem with the Mozart — a very favorable review. The Thursday performance was part of my subscription, but I had a personal obligation that evening, so I couldn't attend, and thus have no personal observations to add. I'm looking forward to hearing the Schumann and Mozart this evening. (Brahms isn't my cup of tea, and my brother will be calling from Japan while it's being performed.)

Listen at 8:00 Boston Time on May 2 and/or 11 over WCRB radio or web. See their BSO page for additional information and a link to an interview with conductor and pianist. Before the  section of that page dealing with this week's concert, there is a preview of next year's Symphony Hall season. And further down there is information about what will fill the weeks between now and the Tanglewood season — some interesting stuff there.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

BSO — 2015/04/23-28

This week Guest Conductor Emeritus Bernard Haitink leads the BSO in a music of Ravel, Adès, and Mozart, with Jean-Yves Thibaudet as soloist in Ravel's Piano Concerto in G. If you go to the BSO's performance detail page, you can find links to program notes and audio previews of the concert, as well as performer bios available by clicking on the thumbnail photos. There, we find this description of the program:
BSO Conductor Emeritus Bernard Haitink ends the BSO's 2014-15 season with two weeks of concerts. First, he and the orchestra are joined by dazzling French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet for Ravel's 1931 Piano Concerto in G, featuring thrilling outer movements and one of the most meltingly beautiful slow movements in the repertoire. Mother Goose, an earlier Ravel score illustrating the stories of Tom Thumb, Beauty and the Beast, and others, began life as a four-hand piano suite written for children, was orchestrated in 1911, and expanded into the complete ballet score the following year with added interludes. Mozart wrote his Linz Symphony in emergency conditions: arriving in the Austrian city on October 30, 1783, without a symphony in hand, he had the four-movement work ready for performance four days later with nary a seam showing. In keeping with the French/Classical theme that underscores this program, Three Studies from Couperin (2006) by the brilliant English composer Thomas Adès offers his modern orchestral take on harpsichord music by the great French master.
(Some emphasis added.)

I enjoyed the concert, although Ravel is not my favorite composer: in general, I don't really care for the music of the impressionists. The "Mother Goose" music is innocuous fluff, in my opinion. The piano concerto which followed is more lively, and, as the program note points out, shows some familiarity with Gershwin. The second movement is lyrical for the most part, but it also gets loud at one point. 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 on the lower section. The Linz Symphony, which finished the evening is delightful Mozart. I'm not able to say whether this performance was extraordinary or merely competent. I enjoyed the music, but didn't notice anything remarkable about the performance in either a good or a bad way. The orchestra liked Maestro Haitink's work, remaining seated briefly after he motioned them to rise in response to the audience's applause during his curtain calls — thus focusing the applause on the maestro.

The Globe gave a favorable review — as usual without very much detail about the playing and conducting. By contrast — both with the Globe and, even more, with me — the Boston Musical Intelligencer's reviewer raved about the piano concerto, found the Mother Goose good in some respects, and was unimpressed with  the Adès as composed and the Mozart as performed.

So you can decide for yourself by listening to WCRB at 8:00 p.m. Boston Time on April 25 and/or May 4. Their BSO page offers, among other things, an extensive preview including interviews of conductor and soloist. I think it's worth listening to, if you can.