Saturday, June 16, 2018

BSO/Classical New England — 2018/06/16

This week, as we wait for the Tanglewood season to begin, WCRB gives us an encore broadcast from last summer at Tanglewood: the concert of August 12, 2017, consisting of three works, Incantesimi, by Anderson, the Violin Concerto by Brahms with Nikolaj Znaider as soloist, and Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, all under the baton of Juanjo Mena. There is a link to the BSO's performance detail page — with its own links to background information — at the post I made at the time. Subsequently, the Boston Musical Intelligencer has given us a review of the concert as part of a review of five concerts over the weekend. Unfortunately, the reviewer was less that thrilled with this concert, but IMO it's worth listening to anyway. The new work by Anderson was okay, as I recall (I was there), and the Brahms is popular and the Beethoven is good music, even if the reviewer wished they had played some of it differently. The Globe doesn't seem to have reviewed it.

You can listen on air or on line at WCRB on Saturday evening at 8:00, Boston Time.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

BSO/Classical New England — 2018/06/09

This week, as the hiatus between the Symphony Hall and Tanglewood season continues, WCRB's encore broadcast is of the October 21, 2017, concert. I posted about it at the time. Subsequently a fairly lengthy review appeared in the Boston Musical Intelligencer. The reviewer describes the performance in some detail. So with that and the other material linked in my post, you should have a good idea of what it's all about. It looks like a good chance to have some context for the music. The program begins at the regular time, 8:00 p.m., EDST.

You might also want to check out some of the links on the WCRB website to other programming and features.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

BSO/Classical New England — 2018/06/02

This week's encore broadcast is the concert of October 14, 2017. It includes music by Ligeti, Dvořák, and Schumann. Hilary Hahn solos in the Dvořák violin concerto, and Gustavo Gimeno conducts, I posted at the time, and the usual links are there. Suffice it to say that I liked it and the critics raved. So I recommend tuning in to WCRB at 8:00 this evening, EDST. (There are no Monday repeats of these encore broadcasts.)

Saturday, May 26, 2018

BSO/Classical New England — 2018/05/26

This week's "encore broadcast" and stream on WCRB is the concert of October 7, 2017. It's a new piece, Moler, by Arlene Sierra, followed by the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto and the Second Symphony of Rachmaninoff. Gil Shaham is the soloist in the concerto, and Music Director Andris Nelsons is on the podium. I posted about it back then, and that post has the links to published reviews and the BSO performance detail page (with its own links to background information) that you've come to expect.

As always, the show begins at 8:00 p.m. Boston Time (EDST). Enjoy!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

BSO/Classical New England — 2018/05/19

This week's encore broadcast is the concert of September 30, 2017. It consists of Piano Concerto No. 4 by Beethoven and Symphony No. 11 by Shostakovich. My post at the time had links to the orchestra's program detail page, as well as to reviews in the local publications. Neither of them had any serious complaints. I recommend listening this evening at 8:00 EDST via WCRB on line or on air. They also offer a link to an interview with Paul Lewis, the pianist, and Andris Nelsons, the conductor. They also have links to additional information about their other programming (including a performance of "HMS Pinafore" on Sunday). The BSO performance detail page, accessible via my post, also gives background material as usual.

It appears from WCRB's program schedule that they are not giving the repeat on a later Monday, as they do after the original broadcast.

Friday, May 18, 2018

A Concert in Rockport

Last Sunday, May 13, there was a concert I wanted to attend in Rockport. The Boston Artists Ensemble was presenting, inter alia, a new work which they had commissioned, "Songs Without Words,"* by Scott Wheeler. It's a three movement piece for cello and piano which the composer also calls "Cello Sonata #2." I would have liked to be present for the world premier on April 20, but I was in Colorado for a wedding that weekend. I was glad that there was this chance to hear it performed by the original performers, including the dedicatee.

Getting there was an adventure. I hadn't been to Rockport in over 60 years and had no memory of the town, so several days earlier I got directions to the Rockport Music Shalin Liu Performance Center. Unfortunately, I  neglected to print out the map. I had no trouble getting to downtown Rockport in good time, just as I had planned. But then I had two problems. First, I couldn't find a parking space downtown and had to park several blocks outside the downtown area. Second, I misremembered where the performance center — which is known for its spectacular view of the harbor — was located, and spent nearly a half hour searching for it around the harbor before I realized that there was a second harbor. By the time I got there, at about 3:10, the concert had begun and I was pretty frazzled.

Fortunately, "Songs Without Words" wasn't the first piece on the program, and during what remained of Prokofiev's Cello Sonata, I calmed down. In a program note, the composer writes:
The first movement is entitiled "Among the Trees." It begins "like a hymn" but quickly moves into a sort of recitative. The piano sometimes provides the hymnal accompaniment and sometimes a more sparkling background. The second movement, "Forest at Night," begins with misterioso pizzicato and soon becomes passionate. The third movement, "Barcarolle," is the most expansive part of the sonata,  and perhaps the most songful.
At this first hearing, it didn't seem very melodic, but it was very listenable and interesting. It was definitely more entertaining than what I heard of the Prokofiev. I'm glad I got there in time to hear it.

After intermission, Bach's Suite for Unaccompanied Cello No. 4 and Kodály's Duo for Violin and Cello, Opus 7, completed the concert.

It would be good to be able to hear "Songs Without Words" several more times, to get to really know it and be able to form a more definite opinion of how good it is. The problem for this and many other compositions is that there is so much music available for a limited number of places on concert programs. There are many works which have entered the standard repertory, and they occupy most of the available space. In my opinion, there are many fine works by "second string" composers (I'm thinking of Weber as I write this) which are rarely performed, while less deserving works by "first stringers" get played regularly. With known works languishing, it is regrettably difficult for a new work to get enough hearings to become established, no matter how good it is.

*I'm well aware that Mendelssohn composed "Songs Without Words." Apparently, the title does not belong to him.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

BSO/Classical New England — 2018/05/12

As I mentioned last week, it is now the period between the BSO's Symphony Hall season and their summer season at Tanglewood. Over the next several weeks, WCRB will be rebroadcasting concerts from the first weeks of the past Symphony Hall season. The schedule is here.  As you can see there, this week we get to hear again the concert of September 23, 2017. (For some reason, I can't get the second page to open, so I'm not sure about what comes toward the end of the period.)

I posted about it at the time. And here's a link to the orchestra's performance detail page for that concert. Since opening night (with a different program) had been the evening before this concert, there had been no previous performances of this program and therefore no reviews when I wrote my post. Subsequently, the Boston Globe had a favorable review, while the Intelligencer wasn't completely satisfied, but gave extensive descriptions of the music and the way it was performed. Between reviews and program notes, there's plenty of preview material, if you're interested.

The show begins on air and on line over WCRB at 8:00 p.m. Boston Time. I'm not sure if they'll do it again on the 21st.