Friday, August 26, 2016

Tanglewood — 2016/08/26-28

This is the final weekend of the Boston Symphony's Tanglewood season. As has become customary, the Sunday concert will feature the Beethoven Ninth Symphony. I'll say more about it when we get to the description of the Sunday concert

Friday, August 26.  In the past couple of years, the BSO management has begun occasionally presenting movies with a live orchestra providing the music of the soundtrack. On Friday, the Boston Pops, conducted by Keith Lockhart, will accompany "Raiders of the Lost Ark" with John Williams' score. But it seems that WCRB won't be broadcasting or streaming it. I don't see what will fill the 8: p.m. time slot, so I guess we can only tune in, prepared to be surprised.


Saturday, August 27.  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.


Sunday, August 28.  The Sunday concert, as noted above, brings the Beethoven Choral Symphony to close the season.  The performance detail page informs us:
Music Director Andris Nelsons will lead the Boston Symphony Orchestra in its traditional season-ending performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 on Sunday, August 28, at 2:30 p.m. Conductor Christoph von Dohnányi, who was scheduled to lead the Ninth Symphony, has been forced to withdraw from the concert due to recent health challenges, and advice from his doctors to avoid any long distance flights for the next four months.  
and
Bass Günther Groissböck, who was scheduled to perform Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with Andris Nelsons and the BSO on Sunday, August 28, had a bicycling accident and is unable to travel overseas at this time. Bass Wilhelm Schwinghammer, in his Tanglewood and BSO debuts, will replace Mr. Groissböck for the August 28 performance.
(Some emphasis added)

For some reason, they don't bother to tell us in the blurb that the orchestra will begin the concert with a work by Aaron Copland, "Quiet City," but the program note is included in the usual place..


The Saturday concert can be heard via WCRB radio or web at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, and the Sunday program will be aired and streamed at 7:00, p.m. (not live at 2:30). Their home page, in addition to the link for listening over the web, gives information about other special programming which may be of interest. Their BSO page, in addition to listing the works to be played, gives similar information about the broadcasts which will occupy the three following Saturdays until Opening Night of the regular Symphony Hall season on September 24. The station has chosen three concerts from last season, including two from last winter's "Shakespeare Festival" commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death. After those listings, they give the schedule of broadcasts/streams for the upcoming season.

Enjoy.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Tanglewood — 2016/08/19-21

Friday, August 19.  Here's how the BSO's performance detail page — with its usual links — describes the program:
Menahem Pressler-longtime pianist of the legendary Beaux Arts Trio-joins maestro Charles Dutoit and the Boston Symphony Orchestra on Friday, August 19, at 8 p.m., for Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23 in A, K.488, notable for its intimate, chamber-musical character and heightened lyricism. Mr. Dutoit-Tanglewood's 2016 season Koussevitzky Artist-opens the program with Mozart's overture to The Marriage of Figaro. The second half of the program is Rossini's Stabat Mater, the most significant of the composer's late works. This performance of the 1841 choral masterpiece features soprano Simona Saturova (Tanglewood debut), mezzo-soprano Marianna Pizzolato (Tanglewood debut), tenor Pavol Breslik, bass Riccardo Zanellato (Tanglewood debut), and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus.
(Some emphasis added.)

You can't go wrong with one of Mozart's late piano concertos; the curtain-raiser is good; and Rossini's "Stabat Mater" is not to be missed. By all means, read the program note from the performance detaio page if you're unfamiliar with it or the "Stabat Mater" in general, and preview the text. To whet your appetite for the it, here's an excerpt from a rehearsal last year by the Paris Orchestra with tenor Paolo Fanale. Tonight's tenor was to have Metropolitan Opera star been Matthew Polenzani, but from the bio it seems that Pavol Breslik should be a more than adequate replacement. Much as I like Verdi (see tomorrow's program), if I could only hear one of this weekend's concerts, this would be it.

James Markey, who is scheduled to give the preliminary remarks for this evening's "Underscore Friday," is the orchestra's bass trombonist. He's fairly young and joined the orchestra only a few years ago.


Saturday, August 20.  Saturday the first two acts of Aida by Verdi. The performance detail page, unsurprisingly, gives additional details:
BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons returns for two performances with the orchestra August 20 and 21. For the first performance, he leads the first two acts from Verdi's magnificent opera of star-crossed love in ancient Egypt, Aida, on Saturday, August 20, at 8 p.m. Maestro Nelsons and the orchestra are joined by the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and a cast of vocal soloists, including soprano Kristine Opolais in the demanding title role, mezzo-soprano Violeta Urmana (BSO and Tanglewood debuts) as Amneris, tenor Andrea Carè (BSO and Tanglewood debuts) as the male lead and love interest Radamès, baritone Franco Vassallo (BSO and Tanglewood debuts) as Amonasro, and bass Kwangchul Youn (Tanglewood debut) as Ramfis.
(Some emphasis added.)

I like the music of the first two acts of "Aida" better than that of the remainder of the opera. The biggest highlight, IMO is the Triumphal March in the second act. Strangely, the program notes suggest a different program, consisting of the chorus "Va, pensiero" from Verdi's opera Nabucco followed by the Triumphal Scene from "Aida." We'll find out on Saturday which it is. The two acts of "Aida" make for a long concert, the chorus and Triumphal scene, for a short one. Considering that the brochure printed months ago lists the longer program, it seems to me that the scaled down program represents the more recent thinking. Either way, it will be some really good music.


Sunday, August 21.  The Sunday concert is a reprise of some of the music performed during last winters "Shakespeare Festival" at Symphony Hall The performance detail page informs us:
On Sunday, August 21, at 2:30 p.m., Andris Nelsons leads the BSO in a program that includes three works inspired by Shakespeare and honors the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death. The overture to Berlioz's Béatrice et Bénédict(based on Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing) opens the program, followed by American composer George Tsontakis's Sonnets, a Shakespeare-inspired tone poem for English horn and orchestra commissioned by the BSO and featuring BSO English horn player Robert Sheena. The Mr. Sheena and the BSO gave the world premiere of Sonnetsearlier this year at Symphony Hall. Croatian pianist Dejan Lazić, making his BSO and Tanglewood debuts, joins Mr. Nelsons and the orchestra as soloist in Saint-Saens's Piano Concerto No. 5, Egyptian, and the program closes with a suite from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, one of the composer's most familiar and popular pieces.
Gates open at Noon.
(Some emphasis added)

Here's what I wrote about the Tsontakis "Sonnets" back in February:
The Tsontakis Sonnets at a few points made me think of bits of Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story, which I guess means that the musical style is fairly accessible. You won't mistake it for Haydn, but you won't run screaming from the auditorium, or wherever you radio or computer speakers are located. In each sonnet, the music is softer at the beginning, corresponding to the first quatrian, and it intensifies for the second, and more so for the third. The it calms down for the final couplet. Glancing at the texts in the program notes, I could see some connection between the music and the theme of the sonnet. The BSO has posted a video of a bit of the second sonnet. It gives as good an impression of the piece as you can in a short time.
My review also included links to other reviews, and the program notes give a full description as well as the texts of the sonnets which inspired the music. The rest of the program is decent stuff, I supppose — I especially like the Berlioz while the Prokofiev seems popular. I don't recall the piano concerto, but I'm confident it'll be okay.


The Friday and Saturday concerts can be heard via WCRB radio or web at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, and the Sunday program will be aired and streamed at 7:00, p.m. (not live at 2:30). Their home page, in addition to the link for listening over the web, gives information about other special programming which may be of interest. Their BSO page, in addition to listing the works to be played, gives similar information about the remaining Tanglewood concert broadcasts and various other interesting items and links.

Enjoy.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Tanglewood — 2016/08/12-14

Friday, August 12.  Here's how the BSO's performance detail page — with its usual links — describes the program:
On Friday, August 12, at 8 p.m., Swiss maestro Charles Dutoit, one of the BSO's most popular guest conductors since his debut with the orchestra in 1981, conducts his first performance of the season as Tanglewood's 2016 Koussevitzky Artist-an honorary title reflecting the BSO's deep appreciation for his generous commitment to Tanglewood and for his extraordinary 30-plus-year dedication to the BSO at Tanglewood, in Boston, and on the orchestra's 2014 tour to China and Japan. The program opens with the overture to Nicolai's charming, witty operetta The Merry Wives of Windsor, a piece the BSO hasn't performed since 1984. Following the overture is Mozart's warm Piano Concerto No. 22, a personal favorite of American pianist and annual Tanglewood guest Emanuel Ax. Maestro Dutoit also leads the BSO in Debussy's La Merand Ravel's Bolero, music of which Maestro Dutoit is a foremost interpreter, and which has a special place in the BSO repertoire.
(Some emphasis added.)

This time, they've actually listed the pieces  in the order they'll be performed. The music is fairly familiar, although I can't at this moment call to mind any tune from the Nicolai or the Mozart, but I'm especially looking forward to the first half. The Debussy is tolerable and it's always interesting to hear the music build in "Boléro."


Saturday, August 13.  Saturday brings us Film Night with the Boston Pops instead of the BSO. John Williams himself shares the podium with Richard Kaufman in a program about which we read, on the performance detail page:
A beloved summer tradition continues on Saturday, August 13, at 8 p.m., with John Williams' Film Night, featuring conductors John Williams and Richard Kaufman with the Boston Pops. John Williams' Film Night has long been established as one of the Tanglewood calendar's most consistently appreciated evenings. The second half of the concert will feature John Williams leading the Boston Pops in the unforgettable themes he composed for Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back,and Return of the Jedi, as well as Rey's Theme and The Jedi Steps & Finale from the franchise's latest film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. For the first half of the program, Richard Kaufman leads music from iconic cinematic flight sequences-with music from movies including HookOut of AfricaE.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, and Superman.
(Some emphasis added.)

Need I say more?


Sunday, August 14.  On Sunday, we get Beethoven and Schumann. This is the concert I'm most looking forward to this weekend. The program detail page informs us:
For The Serge and Olga Koussevitzky Memorial Concert on Sunday, August 14, at 2:30 p.m., German conductor David Afkham and Russian-German pianist Igor Levit both make their Boston Symphony Orchestra debuts in an afternoon program of Beethoven and Schumann in the Koussevitzky Music Shed. Mr. Afkham leads the BSO in Beethoven's dramatic, foreboding Coriolan Overture, written for Heinrich Joseph von Collin's 1804 play; as well as Schumann's ambitious and innovative Symphony No. 4, a lyrically powerful work that proceeds through all four movements without pause. Mr. Levit performs Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3, the stormiest of the composer's five essays in the genre, as the centerpiece of this program.
(Some emphasis added)

The Beethoven precedes intermission, and the Schumann concludes the concert. These may not be the most performed of the composers' works in each genre, but they're all fine pieces, well worth hearing, IMO.


The Friday and Saturday concerts can be heard via WCRB radio or web at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, and the Sunday program will be aired and streamed at 7:00, p.m. (not live at 2:30). Their home page, in addition to the link for listening over the web, gives information about other special programming which may be of interest. Their BSO page, in addition to listing the works to be played on Friday and Sunday and giving a short blurb about Film Night, gives similar information about the remaining Tanglewood concert broadcasts and various other interesting items and links.

Enjoy.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Tanglewood — 2016/08/05-07

Friday, August 5.  Here's how the BSO's performance detail page — with its usual links — describes the program:
Costa Rican conductor  Giancarlo Guerrero  leads the Boston Symphony Orchestra in two programs, August 5 and 6, both featuring world-class pianists. On Friday, August 5, at 8 p.m., Mr. Guerrero is joined by  Yefim Bronfman for Liszt's innovative and sparkling one-movement Piano Concerto No. 2. The program will also feature the BSO in Dvořák's Serenade for Winds, Britten's arrangement of Mahler's  What the Wild Flowers Tell Me (the original second movement of Mahler's Symphony No. 3), and Brahms' Serenade No. 2, which was dedicated to Clara Schumann and represents one of Brahms's various developmental steps in orchestral composition along his long path to completing his First Symphony.
(Some emphasis added and some changed.)

Regular readers may recall that I don't care for Brahms' symphonies and concertos. But several years ago James Levine led the orchestra in a performance of "Serenade № 2," and I found it delightful. More precisely, it was all pleasant enough, but the final section was a joy. The rest of the concert should be okay, although I don't really need to hear the Dvořák again, but it's not bad. I don't recall the Liszt concerto. It'll be interesting to hear what Britten does with the Mahler.

It's another of the unnecessary Underscore Fridays, but I'm actually looking forward to this one, partly because the last time some of the comments from the stage actually were worth hearing and more because I met Jamie Sommerville at a Harvard Musical Association concert and found him pleasant to talk to so I want to hear what he will say. Maybe he can even make the Dvořák interesting for me.


Saturday, August 6.  This time, the performance detail page says nothing about the pieces to be played, just about the change in scheduled artists:
Pianist Daniil Trifonov, who was scheduled to perform a recital on Thursday, August 4, and feature with the Boston Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, August 6, has, with great regret, been forced to withdraw from these concerts due to an ear infection. Marc-André Hamelin replaces Mr. Trifonov for the recital at Ozawa Hall on August 4, and Ingrid Fliter performs as soloist in Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 in her BSO and Tanglewood debuts on August 6. Changes have been made to the August 4 recital repertoire, while the August 6 program remains the same.
(Emphasis added.)

What is the unchanged program, you ask? Well, it opens with a piece titled Harmonienlehre, by John Adams. I recommend reading the program note linked on the detail page. It sounds fascinating. After intermission comes the Chopin, and the show wraps up with Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks by Strauss — another one of the pieces that this curmudgeon thinks is much overplayed, but at least doesn't need a lot of rehearsal time, and it's not too long. We had recordings of the Chopin piano concertos which got played fairly regularly when I was young — one much more than the other. I'm not sure which one this is, but I'm looking forward to hearing it anyway and maybe experiencing a bit of nostalgia for the younger days when I used to hear it occasionally. Again, the program note may be useful reading. All is once more under the baton of Maestro Guerrero. The program detail page also has the usual links to background information.


Sunday, August 7.  On Sunday, we get Mozart and Mahler, The program detail page informs us:
On Sunday, August 7, at 2:30 p.m., BSO assistant conductor  Moritz Gnann makes his Boston Symphony Orchestra debut at Tanglewood with works by Mozart and Mahler. Acclaimed Brazilian pianist  Nelson Freire joins Mr. Gnann and the orchestra for Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 9, considered the composer's first masterwork of the piano concerto genre, written in 1777 when he was just 21 years old. The program closes with Mahler's at times brooding, at times vigorously energetic Symphony No. 1. Completed when the composer was in his late twenties, it is in a four-movement, mostly traditional form, but already hints at the expansiveness and innovation of his later symphonies.
(Emphasis added or modified.)

I think both should be worth hearing


The Friday and Saturday concerts can be heard via WCRB radio or web at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, and the Sunday program will be aired and streamed at 7:00, p.m. (not live at 2:30). Their home page, in addition to the link to listen over the web, gives information about other special programming which may be of interest. Their BSO page, in addition to brief descriptions of the Saturday and Sunday concerts, gives similar information about the remaining Tanglewood concert broadcasts and various other interesting items and links.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Tanglewood — 2016/07/29-31

Friday, July 29.  Music Director Andris Nelsons conducts this evening's concert as well as the remaining two broadcasts of the weekend. This evening the concert opens with Mozart's Piano Concerto № 27 in B-flat, K.595, with Jonathan Biss tickling the ivories. After intermission, Maestro Nelsons will lead the orchestra in Symphony № 9 by Gustav Mahler. The BSO's own performance detail page lacks their usual synopsis of the program but it does contain the familiar links to audio previews and program notes, with performer bios available by clicking the thumbnail picture.

In the 1950's my father's Aunt Glad gave us a 3-speed record player and changer. The first thing I played on it was a multi-record 78 rpm set of Robert Casadesus playing the Mozart 27th with the New York Philharmonic conducted by John Barbirolli. I was instantly captivated by the piece, and it has remained one of my favorites. Some writers seem to consider it a lightweight. It was Mozart's last piano concerto, and I gather they would like something more majestic for his "farewell" to the genre; but of course he had no way of knowing that this was to be his last, and on its own it's beautiful. I'm really looking forward to hearing it again.

As for the Mahler, the orchestra performed it with Maestro Nelsons last April. I reviewed it at the time, and liked it, especially after the first movement, so I'm also looking forward to hearing it again. It will be interesting to hear if the Tanglewood audience remains silent at the end for a few moments as the Symphony Hall audience did in April .


Saturday, July 30.  Maestro Nelsons conducts the orchestra, and Augustin Hadelich is violin soloist in the program which the BSO performance detail page describes as follows:
On Saturday, July 30, at 8 p.m.,  Maestro Nelsons returns to the Shed podium to lead the BSO in a program that pairs Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer John Corigliano's expressive  Fantasia on an Ostinato(1985, arranged for orchestra in 1986) with the work that inspired it, Beethoven's rousing Symphony No. 7, one of the composer's most popular works. Corigliano's piece is based on a famous repetitive passage from the second movement of Beethoven's symphony. In between those two works, young German violinist  Augustin Hadelich joins Mr. Nelsons and the orchestra for Sibelius's soaring Violin Concerto, a pinnacle of the concerto repertoire.
(Some emphasis added and some removed.)

The program detail page also has the usual links to background information.

The violin concerto is being played for the third time in as many years. It's not a bad piece, but maybe there are things that deserve a hearing ahead of another repetition of this one. The Beethoven was performed last March, and is played, it seems, every two years or so. Again, could something else have been given instead of  yet another Beethoven 7th — although the presence of the Corigliano on the program makes it appropriate. Ah well, it gets pointed out that for Tanglewood, the orchestra has to prepare two or three concert programs every week, whereas for Symphony all it's only one program per week. The daunting task is made more manageable when they do works that they have performed recently. So maybe I should reserve these criticisms for the winter season.

Although I don't know the Corigliano, it sounds as if it will be interesting, and the other pieces are definitely worth hearing. So listen if you can.


Sunday, July 31.  On Sunday, it's all Brahms, performed by the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, which is made up of the young professional musicians studying at Tanglewood over the summer. The BSO program detail page informs us:
The Leonard Bernstein Memorial Concert
Renowned English pianist Paul Lewis joins Andris Nelsons and the instrumental Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra on Sunday, July 31, for the annual Leonard Bernstein Memorial Concert. The all-Brahms program opens with the Piano Concerto No. 1, the composer's first large-scale orchestral masterpiece and a work that took some eight years and considerable struggle for the composer to complete. Mr. Nelsons also leads the BSO in the composer's powerful, heroic Symphony No. 1, the only piece that gave Brahms even more trouble than his First Piano Concerto, requiring more than 20 years of false starts, abandoned drafts, and torturous labor to bring to fruition, and thereby fulfill the public's expectation that he was to become the symphonic heir to Beethoven.
(Some emphasis added or modified.)

Brahms's concertos and symphonies aren't my cup of tea, so I might not listen, especially if it conflicts with a Red Sox game. But that's my personal idiosyncracy. Most people nowadays think Brahms is great, so enjoy!

The Friday and Saturday concerts can be heard via WCRB radio or web at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, and the Sunday program will be aired and streamed at 7:00, p.m. (not live at 2:30). Their home page, in addition to the link to listen over the web, gives information about other special programming which may be of interest. Their BSO page, in addition to brief descriptions of the Saturday and Sunday concerts, gives similar information about the remaining Tanglewood concert broadcasts and various other interesting items and links.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Tanglewood — 2016/07/22-24

This weekend's concerts give us lots of frequently played music (which indicates it's fairly popular), so you can listen without fear.

Friday, July 22.  The (mostly) "warhorse weekend" begins with the program described as follows on the orchestra's program detail page:
English conductor  Sir Andrew Davis-currently music director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago and chief conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra-returns to the Shed stage for the first time since 2008. To open the program, he leads the  Boston Symphony Orchestra  in Vaughan Williams's haunting  Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, inspired by a melody by the great English Renaissance composer. Renowned Georgian violinist  Lisa Batiashvili joins the orchestra for Dvořák's Violin Concerto, and Maestro Davis and the BSO close the program with Sibelius's soaring Symphony No. 5, written in 1915 on commission from the Finnish government in celebration of the composer's 50th birthday and subsequently revised in 1916 and 1919.
(Some emphasis added.)
The page also has links to audio previews and program notes, with performer bios available by clicking the thumbnail picture.

The first two pieces are okay, but my personal opinion is that they are played too often. They take up time which could be spent giving us things which may not be quite as good, but which deserve an occasional hearing (the Strauss Clarinet Concerto, to give just one example). On the other hand, Sibelius is one of my current favorites, and I'm really looking forward to hearing his 5th.

Regrettably, management hasn't yet given up on its "UnderScore Friday" project: having a presentable young member of the orchestra give us a couple of minutes of drivel with some factoids about composer or music — all in the hope that it will make the concert more appealing to people who wandered in off the street, and thereby increase audiences in the future. "Wow! This classical music is actually cool! Give me more." And this is one of those UnderScore Fridays. Forewarned is forearmed. But listen anyway.


Saturday, July 23.  Here's the description from the BSO's program detail page:
Spanish maestro  Juanjo Mena, chief conductor of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, begins a two-night stint leading the BSO on Saturday July 23 and Sunday, July 23, at 8 p.m. To begin the concert on July 23, Mr. Mena is joined by American pianist and frequent BSO and Tanglewood guest  Garrick Ohlsson for Tchaikovsky's rhapsodic and beloved Piano Concerto No. 1. Spanish soprano  Raquel Lojendio, making her BSO debut, joins the orchestra for the second half of the program, featuring Falla's complete The Three-cornered Hat, a ballet based on Pedro Antonio comic novella,  El sombrero de tres picos. Falla wrote the score in 1919 for Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, the impresario and company that were responsible for commissioning many (sic) of the 20th century's greatest ballet music.
(Some emphasis added.)

The program detail page has the usual links to background information.

Again, the Tchaikovsky is well liked, so you'll probably enjoy listening. IMO, however, this is another of those warhorses that ought to have given place to something that is good but rarely heard. Also, the two pieces are so short that they could and should have given us a curtain raiser as well. After intermission, "The Three-cornered Hat" is innocuous enough, but not my favorite style of music. I'm not sorry that my brother's weekly call from Tokyo will make me miss it. I think reading the program note in advance — always a good idea, especially for narrative works — will really help you enjoy the Ginastera. Despite my semi-negative comments, knowing what was supposed to be happening really helped me enjoy it when I heard the piece several years ago in Symphony Hall.


Sunday, July 24.  On Sunday, we get one of the lesser-known pieces that I've been calling for. The BSO program detail page informs us:
On Sunday, July 24, at 2:30 p.m., 27-year-old German violinist Veronika Eberle makes her BSO and Tanglewood debuts with Maestro Mena and the orchestra in a performance of Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 4, written 1775, when the composer was just 19 years old. Also on the program is Beethoven's ever-popular Symphony No. 6, Pastoral, and Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera's Variaciones concertantes-a theme and 11 variations in which the composer wrote that all of the instruments are treated "solistically"-performed to mark the 100th anniversary of Ginastera's birth.
(Some emphasis added.)

I don't think I've ever heard the Ginastera work (which will be performed first, despite being mentioned last), so I applaud the conductor for presenting it. The other pieces are excellent and, along with the Sibelius on Friday, will be the highlights of the weekend concerts for me. Even so, if there were something good but unfamiliar instead of one or both, I wouldn't complain.


So overall, I recommend listening to all three concerts. Some of it is really great, and some is good, which is about what you can hope for in a concert program.

The Friday and Saturday concerts can be heard via WCRB radio or web at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, and the Sunday program will be aired and streamed at 7:00, p.m. (not live at 2:30). That home page, in addition to the link to listen over the web, gives information about other special programming which may be of interest. Their BSO page, in addition to listings of the works to be performed, gives the same information about the remaining Tanglewood concert broadcasts and various other interesting items and links, including a list of other stations in the region which broadcast the concerts.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Tanglewood — 2016/07/15-17

I'm sorry to be late with this. Safari basically froze on me earlier on Friday and only unfroze just before 8:00, when it was far too late to write and post this item in time for the concert. So I listened, wile watching the Red Sox game. ("We" won!) Still, I'll include the Friday concert in this post since WCRB's on demand feature will make this concert available to listen to soon, they say.

Friday, July 15.  This an all Mozart concert with Pinchas Zukerman as conductor and violin soloist. The orchestra's program detail page gives the following description:
Violinist Pinchas Zukerman, a frequent BSO guest over the years and a renowned Mozart performer, joins the Boston Symphony Orchestra once again Friday, July 15, at 8 p.m., as both conductor and soloist for a program devoted entirely to that composer's music. From the podium, Mr. Zukerman will lead the orchestra in the Haydnesque Symphony No. 25 and one of Mozart's great, final three symphonies, No. 39 in E-flat. At the heart of the program, he takes up his violin to lead the BSO as soloist in the Violin Concerto-or the second, third, and fourth movements-from the composer's Serenade in D, K.250, Haffner.

The page also has links to audio previews and program notes, with performer bio available by clicking the thumbnail picture.

You can't go wrong with Mozart. I thought there were a couple of spots in the first half where some players got out of sync, but it was very good apart from that. But the big surprise for me was that there is a violin concerto embedded in the Haffner Serenade. I'd never heard that before. Although the program doesn't say so, they performed not only the three "violin concerto" movements but also the opening movement of the serenade, which the "concerto" immediately follows.


Saturday, July 16.  Here's the description from the BSO's program detail page:
On Saturday, July 16, at 8 p.m., BSO assistant conductor Ken-David Masur returns to Tanglewood, along with celebrated American soprano Renée Fleming, for a performance of Strauss's powerfully emotional and autumnally beautiful Four Last Songs, the last major piece the composer wrote before his death a year later in 1949. Also on the program are Tchaikovsky's beloved Symphony No. 6, Pathetiqué-which was also its composer's final work before death-and Ives's atmospheric and ruminative The Unanswered Question, perhaps his most popular work. Ms. Fleming made her BSO debut at Tanglewood 25 years ago, on July 13, 1991, performing Mozart's Idomeneo  with the BSO and Seiji Ozawa.
**Conductor Christoph von Dohnányi, who was scheduled to conduct the BSO concert this Saturday, July 16 and a portion of the TMCO concert on Monday, July 18, has, with great regret, been forced to withdraw from these performances due to complications following recent cataract surgery. BSO Assistant Conductor Ken-David Masur will replace Maestro von Dohnányi for both concerts. The programs remain the same.

Maestro von Dohnányi looks forward to returning to Tanglewood to lead the BSO in the orchestra's traditional season-ending performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 on Sunday, August 28.
(Some emphasis added.)

The program detail page has the usual links to background information. It's the second Saturday in a row that the scheduled conductor has had to withdraw because of health problems. A generation of well-known and revered conductors is passing away. Still, the orchestra should be in good hands with Mr. Masur.

Ives is an unusual composer, unconstrained by the normal rules of form and harmony of his youth, so his music can be jarring. I hope the brief piece of his which opens the program will not chase anybody away. If you're unfamiliar with Ives, be sure to read the program note for the piece before listening if possible. The title of WCRB's podcast, "The Answered Question," is, of course, a take-off on Ives' title, "The Unanswered Question."

The Strauss songs are lush, and the Tchaikovsky symphony probably deserves its status as a "warhorse" of the orchestral repertoire. While I think orchestras would do well to give it a rest and program other, less-performed, deserving works, I'm sure it will be fun to listen to.


Sunday, July 17.  On Sunday, the program is mostly well-known and popular pieces, with the Ravel probably the least well known. The BSO program detail page informs us:
Spanish conductor Gustavo Gimeno makes both his BSO and Tanglewood debuts on Sunday, July 17, at 2:30 p.m., leading the orchestra in Prokofiev's Symphony No. 1, Classical-a work that was inspired by and intended as a tribute to Haydn, and which is one of the earliest pieces in the so-called neoclassical style that became popular in the first half of the 20th century-and the suite from Stravinsky's breakthrough early ballet, The Firebird. Brilliant Chinese pianist Yuja Wang joins Mr. Gimeno and the BSO for two heavily jazz-influenced works: Ravel's Piano Concerto in G, at turns breathless and beautiful, and Gershwin's infectious and well-known Rhapsody in Blue.
(Some emphasis added.)

The Friday and Saturday concerts can be heard via WCRB radio or web at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, and the Sunday program will be aired and streamed at 7:00, p.m. (not live at 2:30). That home page, in addition to the link to listen over the web, gives information about other special programming which may be of interest. Their BSO page, in addition to brief descriptions of the Saturday and Sunday concerts, gives similar information about the remaining Tanglewood concert broadcasts and various other interesting items and links. Regrettably, the decision to delay the broadcast means that I'll have to miss this one, as I'll be away from my radio and computer at that time. I hope you'll be able to catch these standards.