Saturday, October 14, 2017

BSO — 2017/10/14

The Boston Symphony Orchestra's program detail page synopsizes this week's program as follows:
Spanish conductor Gustavo Gimeno and American violinist Hilary Hahn join forces for Dvořák's Violin Concerto, composed in 1879 for the great Joseph Joachim. At times lyrical, Dvořák's concerto also contains passages of great energy based on music from his Czech heritage, especially in the delightful, dance-like finale. Also based on music from Central Europe, György Ligeti's early "Romanian Concerto" is a Bartók influenced orchestral work from early in the great Hungarian composer's career. Robert Schumann's First Symphony is bursting with energy, power, and optimism.
(Emphasis added.)

The reviews in both the Boston Globe and the Boston Musical Intelligencer were quite favorable, both overall, and particularly with regard to Hilary Hahn (with the Intelligencer gushing). I was there on Thursday and found it all enjoyable to listen to, although there was nothing that I'd consider spectacular, just good playing. The third horn in the Ligeti was played offstage through a door that was ajar. Mike Winter seemed slightly embarrassed to come onstage for a bow when other soloists were asked to stand, and he stayed to the side, just inside the door.

You can hear it all this evening over WCRB radio or internet at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time. Their homepage has links to additional information about their programs, including future BSO concerts and other special programs. It seems that they are also repeating the concerts on Monday evenings a week later, so last week's will be rerun on October 16, and tonight's, on October 23. The repeats are also at 8:00 p.m.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

BSO — 2017/10/07

This evening, October 7, at 8:00 p.m., WCRB will broadcast and stream the Boston Symphony Orchestra concert live. Music Director Andris Nelsons will be on the podium. The concert opens with Moler, by Arlene Sierra, a fairly short piece receiving its first Boston performances this week. Then Gil Shaham will be the solo violinist in the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. The concert will conclude with Symphony № 2 by Rachmaninoff. The orchestra's performance detail page has links to audio previews of the Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff pieces (regrettably not the Sierra) and the written program notes for all three. I recommend reading at least the notes for "Moler" to get some idea of what to expect. On the other hand, there's something to be said for just letting it have no expectations to live up to. Then on a second hearing, you can have the assistance of the notes to help sort it out.

The program notes also link a podcast and performer bios and tell us

One of several American composers figuring in this season's programs, Florida-born Arlene Sierra, a former Tanglewood Fellow, wrote Moler (2012) on commission for the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. The eightminute work is a harmonically colorful and rhythmically energetic evocation of the Spanish meaning of the title, "to grind." Also on the program are Tchaikovsky's beloved Violin Concerto featuring acclaimed American violinist Gil Shaham, and Rachmaninoff's lush Symphony No. 2, composed between the Second and Third piano concertos. With its lyrical excursions reminiscent of the arching, lovely melodies in his piano concertos and songs, it has long been the most popular of the composer's three symphonies.

The Boston Musical Intelligencer raves about Gil Shaham's performance of the Tchaikovsky. The reviewer's description of his exuberance matches what I saw at Tanglewood last summer, when he was violinist in the Brahms Double Concerto for Violin and Cello. The other two works on the program get a brief paragraph each, with no real complaints. The Globe review finds fault with some details of Shaham's performance of the Tchaikovsky, but is generally quite favorable.

This concert was not part of my subscriptions, so I can't add my own impressions to those of the reviewers, but based on the reviews, I'm looking forward to hearing it until my brother calls from Tokyo. So I recommend giving it a hearing, especially for the violin concerto; and if the curtain raiser isn't to your liking, hang in there for what's to come.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

BSO — 2017/09/30

This week the BSO gives us Piano Concerto No. 4 by Beethoven, with Paul Lewis as soloist. After intermission it's Shostakovich's 11th Symphony, "The Year 1905." Music Director Andris Nelsons is on the podium. The orchestra's program detail page has this to say about it.
The BSO and Andris Nelsons continue their multi-year survey of the complete Shostakovich symphonies with his Symphony No. 11, which the BSO has never performed. Conceived to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first, failed Russian Revolution (thus the nickname The Year 1905), it was completed in 1957 and earned Shostakovich the prestigious Lenin Prize, a sign of considerable official approval. In keeping with its subject matter, the symphony makes extensive reference to Russian revolutionary songs. To begin the program, English pianist Paul Lewis is soloist in Beethoven's lyrical and poetic Piano Concerto No. 4, which famously opens with a disarmingly intimate passage for solo piano.
Also see the performance detail page for the customary links to performer bios, program notes, audio previews and podcasts.

During the Symphony Hall season The same program is usually given on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, an sometimes on the following Tuesday. So reviews are often available for me to refer to, and often I attend a Thursday performance, enabling me to give my own observations. This week both the Boston Globe and the Boston Musical Intelligencer found Lewis less emotional than they'd have liked in the Beethove — not that they could point to anything actually wrong, just that they'd have liked a different interpretation. Both reviewers liked the Shostakovich. As usual, the Globe, with space limitations, gives mostly background information, while BMInt says more about the actual performance.

My own impression was that the Beethoven was nicely done. I'd never heard the Shostakovich before, and, since there is no break between the four movements and there were more changes of mood than movements, I couldn't tell where one movement ended and the next began. But that's okay. There were parts that seemed to evoke the chill of winter and parts that clearly represented the violence of the troops firing on the people. There were parts that were very loud, and parts so soft I could barely hear them. Overall, I found it fascinating, and I'd say it's not as "difficult" as some of Shostakovich's music.

The broadcast and stream will be on WCRB at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time this evening, September 30. Their home page, where you find the Listen Live button, also has a link to their podcast with interviews about the concert, among other things; and you can also access further information about their programming. (There is an indication that the 8:00 p.m. slot on Mondays is also given to BSO performances. It may well present rebroadcasts of concerts from nine days earlier.)

I'm sure you'll like the Beethoven concerto. Why not stick around and give the Shostakovich symphony a try?

Saturday, September 23, 2017

BSO — 2017/04/22

We read in the BSO program detail page:
Franz Joseph Haydn and Gustav Mahler defined the genre of the symphony during their respective eras- Haydn as one of its originators in the late 18th-century Classical era, and Mahler as revitalizer and innovator at the end of the Romantic era. Haydn's Drumroll Symphony-not performed by the BSO since 1995-was the next-to-last symphony he wrote, in the first half of the 1790s. Written nearly 100 years later, the first of Mahler's nine symphonies employs folk-music references and a conventional four-movement form that have their foundations in Haydn's time. Its expanded scope and instrumentation are evidence of the genre's 19th-century transformation as well as Mahler's own stretching of the form.
(Some emphasis added.)

As in prior seasons, the program detail page also has links to performer bios (Click on the thumbnail photo.), program notes, audio previews, and a video podcast.

Also as in prior seasons, WCRB will stream and broadcast the concert, beginning at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time (EDT). Their homepage has links to information about many other offerings on the station. I don't see anything telling us that the concert will be rebroadcast on Monday a week from now, as was formerly the practice, so we'll have to wait and see.

Both symphonies are staples of the orchestral repertoire, so the program should be enjoyable listening (withe the Haydn somewhat more to my taste).


Friday, September 22, 2017

BSO — Friday, 2017/09/22 — Opening Night Gala

This evening WCRB will broadcast/stream the Boston Symphon'y' opening night gala. It's an all-Bernstein program, as the orchestra begins to mark the centennial of his birth(in Lawrence, Massachusetts). The concert begins at 6:00 and is expected to end at about 7:30. The broadcast begins at 5:30. The performance detail page says the following:
In several concerts this season the BSO celebrates the centennial of the great Leonard Bernstein, the legendary conductor, Broadway and concert composer, pianist, educator, and personality whose talent changed the course of American music. Born in Lawrence, MA, in 1918, Bernstein attended Boston Latin School and Harvard University. A member of the very first class of the Tanglewood Music Center in 1940 and a protégé of legendary BSO conductor Serge Koussevitzky, Bernstein remained a dynamic, irrepressible, and inspiring presence at Tanglewood for fifty years. Led by Andris Nelsons, this Opening Night program features popular vocal selections sung by host Frederica von Stade and acclaimed soprano Julia Bullock, as well as BSO principal flute Elizabeth Rowe. Bookending the program are the composer's delightfully varied Divertimento and familiar, vibrant music drawn from West Side Story.
(Some emphasis added.)

The actual listing of the program will enable you to make sense of the last two sentences I quoted from the page.

"West Side Story" is overly familiar, but I'm looking forward to the instrumental pieces at the beginning.

Again, remember this is Friday, beginning at 5:30, Boston Time. The Saturday concert will be at the usual time.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

BSO/Classical New England — 2017/09/16

The BSO's Symphony Hall season will open on Friday, September 22 (and will continue through Saturday, May 5, with the usual month off in December). For the final week of rebroadcasts, WCRB has chosen the concert of April 22, 2017. Radu Lupu joins the orchestra and Maestro Andris Nelsons as soloist in Piano Concerto № 24 in c minor by Mozart. Then we hear the same composer's Requiem with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and four vocal soloists.

Here's a link to the orchestra's performance detail page, where you can find the usual links the usual background information. Posting about it at the time, I noted generally favorable reviews and gave my own favorable impressions, implicitly suggesting that the reviewers were a bit too dramatic.

I can't listen because I'm going to a concert performance of Tchaikovsky's opera "The Maid of Orleans," which opens Odyssey Opera's 2017-2018 season. But if I were going to be home. I'd certainly enjoy hearing the BSO concert again. I definitely recommend listening over the air or the internet at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, via WCRB.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

BSO/Classical New England — 2017/09/09

This week, WCRB's Saturday evening Boston Symphony broadcast (also streamed) is the concert performed on April 15 of this year. It consists of Piano Concerto No. 20 in d minor by Mozart, with Mitsuko Uchida as soloist. After intermission the orchestra plays Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 6. Music Director Andris Nelsons is on the podium.

I posted briefly about it at the time, but since I hadn't attended an earlier performance of the program, I had no comments of my own. I did include this synopsis from the Orchestra's performance detail page
Japanese pianist Mitsuko Uchida, one of the foremost Mozart pianists of  our age, plays the composer's mysterious, stormy, proto-Romantic D minor piano concerto, a work owing much to the composer's sensitivity to operatic drama and emotion. Bruckner's seldom heard Symphony No. 6, written between 1879 and 1881, was the work he considered his boldest, though only the second and third movements were performed during his lifetime. Gustav Mahler led all four movements-but with cuts-in 1899, in Vienna; the first complete, uncut performance was given in 1901, in Stuttgart. Energetic, lyrical, and expansive, the Symphony No. 6 is a uniquely absorbing example of the composer's monumental symphonic style.
 as well as links to reviews.

The show begins at 8:00 p.m. Boston Time on Saturday, September 9, 2017. Enjoy!