Friday, May 20, 2016

BSO/Classical New England — 2016/05/21

This week's broadcast and stream over WCRB will be a pops concert, rather than one by the Boston Symphony. It's a Movie Night program conducted by John Williams and Keith Lockhart. Here's what the WCRB BSO page says about it:
Laureate Conductor John Williams and Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart team up to lead a program of cinematic magic, with music from unforgettable films across the decades!
That page also has a link to an interview with John Williams to preview the concert.

It seems that this was a program presented on May 12 & 13, 2016. Here's a bit more information about the content from the Symphony's program detail page:
Boston Pops Laureate Conductor John Williams shares the podium with Boston Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart for this signature concert. The brilliant composer and conductor behind films including JawsStar WarsIndiana Jones, and the Harry Potter series, brings you a night of some of the most memorable movie music of all time. This is a concert not to be missed!
You can hear it at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 21.

The next two weeks will also have Pops; then the BSO encore broadcasts will resume until Tanglewood season begins.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

BSO/Classical New England — 2016/05/14

While we wait for the opening of the BSO's Tanglewood Season, WCRB continues with weekly "encore broadcasts" and webstreams. This week, it's the concert given on October 3, 2015, which the station describes as follows on their BSO page:
In an encore broadcast, Music Director Andris Nelsons and the BSO perform an All-Russian program, including the Symphony No. 9 by Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, with soloist Evgeny Kissin, and Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances.
(Most emphasis added.)

As indicated in the review I posted at the time, I enjoyed it back then, and now I'm looking forward to the rehearing at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time (EDT), on May 14.

Further information is available through the links in my review. There's also an introductory podcast available at the WCRB BSO page linked above.

Friday, May 6, 2016

BSO/Classical New England — 2016/05/07

This week's WCRB Boston Symphony broadcast/webstream is as described here, on their BSO page:
In an encore broadcast, Yefim Bronfman is the soloist in the Piano Concerto No. 2 by Bartók, and Andris Nelsons conducts the Symphony No. 30, "Alleluia," by Haydn, and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 1, "Winter Daydreams."
(Emphasis added.)

The concert was performed on November 28, 2015, and I posted about it at the time, with links to various resources. Tune in or listen on line Saturday at 8:00 p.m. to hear the encore performance.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Spring Orgy® Period 2016

For any readers who have not read about earlier Orgy® Periods, WHRB is a largely student-run station at Harvard University, and the orgy periods began as a way for disc jockeys who were also students to avoid spending a lot of time deciding on programming during university exam periods. They would just play everything they had by a particular composer or performer, and then move on to another.

This spring's Orgy Period began yesterday, as usual, with the Warhorse Orgy. Today, until 9:00 p.m., it's the Pierre Boulez as Conductor Orgy, which started at 9:00 a.m. It will continue on May 3 and 4 from 9:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. both days.

Subsequent Orgies are

  • Harnoncourt Orgy — May 5, 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.; May 6, 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.; May 7, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.; and May 8, 7:00 p.m. to midnight
  • Chicago Orgy (Chicago Orchestra, that is) — May 9, noon to 10:00 p.m.
  • Gesualdo at 450 Orgy — May 10, noon to 10:00 p.m.
  • Shakespeare Orgy — May 11,  7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.;  May 12, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.; May 13, 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.; May 14, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
  • Boulez as Composer Orgy — May 14, 4:00 to 10:30 p.m.; May 15, 1:30 to 7:00 p.m.

All timings, especially endings, are approximate.

It's striking, to me, anyway, that Gesualdo and Shakespeare were contemporaries. I tend to think of Gesualdo as earlier, for some reason. So we can hear music from the time of Shakespeare, followed in subsequent days by music inspired by Shakespeare.

Between these classical music Orgies are some Orgies of jazz and rock music. There will also be some regularly scheduled programming and, toward the end of the month, the Harvard Commencement and surrounding events. For the complete program guide, go to https://www.whrb.org/programming/program-guide .

You can listen by clicking the "Listen" button at https://www.whrb.org or, if you're within range of their signal, over 95.3 FM.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

BSO/Classical New England — 2016/04/30

The Orchestra is on tour, so there will be no live concerts from them until the Tanglewood season begins. In the 8:00 p.m. time slot this evening, WCRB will present a rebroadcast/stream of the concert of nearly a year ago — May 2, 2015 — with music of Schumann, Mozart, and Brahms. I wrote about it at the time, and here's a link to the station's BSO page for this rebroadcast, which also has information about future BSO rebroadcasts and Pops broadcasts/rebroadcasts until Tanglewood begins.

Friday, April 22, 2016

BSO — 2016/04/21-23

French orchestral music surrounds Russian vocal music in this week's BSO concert, the last of the current subscription season. The orchestra's performance detail page has the usual links to program notes, audio previews, performer bios, and their podcast. Here's their description of the program:
In the final concerts of the 2015-2016 season, Andris Nelsons and the BSO are joined by soprano Kristine Opolais for two Russian-language pieces: Rachmaninoff's lovely (sic) How fair this place; and the gorgeous Letter Scene from Tchaikovsky's opera Eugene Onegin. The larger part of the program is devoted to French orchestral music. Henri Dutilleux's Métaboles continues the BSO's commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the composer's birth. Dutilleux's music, though unique, drew strongly on that of his great predecessors, Ravel and Debussy. Debussy's La Merevokes the constant dynamic change of the sea. Ravel's dreamlike La Valse is a kind of elegy for Europe's Belle Époque, which ended with the onset of World War I.
(Some emphasis added.)

The concert begins with the Dutilleux, which was fairly innocuous for a piece composed in 1964. It wasn't melodic, but it wasn't really jarringly dissonant, either. Then we get the singing, with the conductor's wife as soloist. It was okay, but not especially memorable. After intermission, we get two "warhorses" of French Impressionism. I don't care much for the style, but most people seem to like it, and I thought it was well played, as was the first half of the concert.

The Globe reviewer was pleased. The review in the Boston Musical Intelligencer is very descriptive of the music, making it nearly must reading. The reviewer is dissatisfied with some elements of the playing.

You can hear it all over WCRB on Saturday at 8:00 p.m., and/or Monday, May 2, at 8:00, when it will be rebroadcast. The station's BSO page includes a link to their podcast, which includes an interview with conductor and singer. This coming Monday at 8:00 the rebroadcast will be last week's Mahler 9th, which I think is worth hearing. As noted, this is the end of the subscription season, so the page also give the schedule for the Saturdays from now until the beginning of the Tanglewood season. There will be three encore broadcasts of symphony concerts from this season, followed by three Pops concerts, then another four symphony encores.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

BSO — 2016/04/14-19

This week the BSO gives us a single work, Mahler's Symphony № 9 under the baton of Music Director Andris Nelsons. The orchestra's program detail page has links to a podcast with various features, performer bio, program notes, and audio previews. It also give the following description:
For the penultimate concerts of the BSO's 2015-2016 season, Andris Nelsons leads Mahler's Ninth Symphony, the work with which he made his debut with the orchestra in 2011, at Carnegie Hall. The composer's last completed work, the Ninth is a stunningly moving piece that has been interpreted as a meditation on death. On the boundary between the Romantic and the modern eras, it is doubtless one of the most beautiful symphonies in the literature.
Of course, whether it is "one of the most beautiful symphonies in the literature" is a matter of opinion, and you can judge for yourself.

The Globe reviewer gives a bit more detail about the conductor's first appearance with the orchestra, conducting this piece, five years ago. Overall the review is favorable. The lengthier review in the Boston Musical Intelligencer finds more fault with the performance, while giving more information about the piece. Still, for a full description you have to go to the program notes.

The BMInt reviewer had his criticism of the way the first movement was played. I'm not familiar with the piece, so I don't know if it was how it's supposed to be, but I didn't get a sense of development in that movement: there seemed to be good playing, and there were interesting musical themes, but somehow it didn't seem  to cohere. But I really liked the rest of it — especially the fourth movement — and at the end I was ready to shout, "Bravo!" but I had to wait because Maestro Nelsons held the audience in silence for what seemed an impossibly long time after the last, quiet notes faded away. Kudos to the audience for all respecting his body language as he held his arms motionless. (Aside: Tamara Smirnova, associate concertmaster; Cathy Basrak, associate principal viola; Martha Babcock, associate principal cello; and Rachel Childers, second horn, all had the night off. This put associate concertmaster Alexander Velinzon, Wesley Collins, Sato Knudsen, and fourth horn Jason Snider in the second chairs of their sections. Jason Snider leapfrogged Michael Winter because the second and fourth horns generally have lower lines and first and third, higher. What's more, associate principal horn Richard Sebring virtually never plays when the principal, James Sommerville is there, so they had to bring in freelancers for fourth horn and side horn. The side horn player has been there a lot, but the fourth was new to me.)

The orchestra will play it again this evening and Tuesday, April 19, at 8:00 p.m. Boston Time (EDT). Tickets may still be available. If you can't get there, you can listen live on the radio or web over WCRB this evening; and they will retransmit the concert at 8:00 on Monday April 25. At their BSO page, there's a link to their podcast, which includes an interview with Maestro Nelsons about the concert.

It's an interesting coincidence that it was filling in for Maestro Levine to conduct this work that led to Maestro Nelsons becoming his successor as Music Director of the BSO. Nelsons might never have been seriously considered for the position if that hadn't happened.