Friday, August 18, 2017

Tanglewood — 2017/08/11-13

Three orchestras in three days at Tanglewood.

Friday, August 18, 2017.  It's an Underscore Friday, with introductory remarks from Principal Trombone Toby Oft. The Boston Symphony plays this evening. On the performance detail page we read:
On Friday, August 18, British baritone Simon Keenlyside makes his Tanglewood debut performing selections from Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn and Rückert-Lieder with conductor David Afkham and the orchestra. Mr. Afkham also leads the BSO in Brahms's energetic Symphony No. 2. Patrons will hear comments about this program from BSO Principal Trombone Toby Oft.
(Some emphasis added.)

The page has the usual links.


Saturday, August, 19, 2017.  The Boston Pops are in the Shed for John Williams' Film Night. Andris Nelsons and John Williams share the podium. From the performance detail page:
John Williams' Film Night has long been established as one of the Tanglewood calendar's most consistently popular evenings. Sharing the podium this summer for what surely will be an historic concert is BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons. The program will feature classic cinema scores by Erich Korngold, Bernard Herrmann, and Alex North, as well as music by Mr. Williams himself, including selections from the Harry Potter series, E.T., and Far and Away. Also on the program will be music from Mr. Williams' score to Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, with a special guest trumpet soloist.
(Some emphasis added.)


Sunday, August 20, 2017,  brings the Leonard Bernstein Memorial Concert, performed by the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. The performance detail page tells us,
Andris Nelsons leads the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra in the Leonard Bernstein Memorial Concert on Sunday, August 20, in the Shed. Brilliant English pianist Paul Lewis joins Mr. Nelsons and the orchestra for Beethoven's dramatic and tumultuous Third Piano Concerto. Strauss's large-scale An Alpine Symphony, the composer's last tone poem, depicting an eleven-hour hike of an Alpine mountain, closes the program.
(Some emphasis added.)


Hear it all on line or on air via WCRB at 8:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 7:00 p. m. on Sunday.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Tanglewood — 2017/08/11-13

This week I'll be able to enjoy the concerts live, barring unforeseen developments. A friend from the Syracuse area and I will meet a fellow blogger/tweeter from Western PA at Tanglewood. It's a weekend of mostly standard repertoire, the most challenging of which is Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring." The only new piece is "Incantesimi," a curtain raiser by Julian Anderson, which was given its American premiere last January by the BSO. Christoph von Dohnányi had been scheduled to conduct back then and this weekend, but health considerations forced him to cancel both times, and both times, Juanjo Mena is his replacement. I posted about it on January 28, and you can see my comments and the links there. Briefly, I found it pretty good, and I recommend reading the program notes in advance and maybe even while listening on Saturday evening.


Friday, August 11, 2017,  brings us the "dreaded Rite of Spring," but not till we've heard some Dvořák and Brahms and refreshed ourselves during the intermission. Here's more from the BSO's own performance detail page, taking the pieces out of performance order as is their wont:
Violinist Gil Shaham and cellist Alisa Weilerstein join forces on Friday, August 11, for a performance of Brahms's Double Concerto for violin, cello, and orchestra, with Costa Rican conductor Giancarlo Guerrero and the BSO. Brahms composed the concerto-his final orchestral work-as an olive branch to his old friend and close musical collaborator Joseph Joachim, with whom he'd had a falling out over Joachim's divorce. Also on the program are Dvořák's Carnival Overture and Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, the score to an intensely dramatic ballet and on its own some of the most dramatic music ever written.
(Some emphasis supplied.)

See the performance detail page also for the usual links to program notes, audio previews, and performer bios.


Saturday, August 12, 2017.  The concert begins with "Incantesimi," and the program detail page tells about that and the rest of the concert:
Conductor Juanjo Mena leads the BSO in Julian Anderson'sIncantesimi, a BSO-commissioned work that receives its American premiere with the BSO in January 2017.Incantesimi is a study in long lines, using "five musical ideas that orbit each other in ever-differing relationships." Mr. Mena and the orchestra are then joined by violinist Nikolaj Znaider for Brahms's lyrical and refined Violin Concerto. The BSO closes out the program with Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, one of the composer's most popular works.
At the advice of his doctors, Maestro Christoph von Dohnányi regrets that he cannot appear with the Boston Symphony this summer at Tanglewood. He is continuing to heal from a fall he suffered earlier this year and looks forward to leading the BSO as scheduled in November. Conductor Juanjo Mena steps in for Maestro von Dohnányi on Saturday, August 12, on a program featuring violinist Nikolaj Znaider performing Brahms's Violin Concerto. The program also includes Julian Anderson's Incantesimi and Beethoven's Symphony No. 7
(Some emphasis supplied.)

The usual links are on the performance detail page.


Sunday, August 13, 2017.  Read all about it on the program detail page and the material at the links there:
On Sunday, August 13, young Israeli conductor Lahav Shani makes his BSO debut on a program featuring Tanglewood regular, violinist Joshua Bell in Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto.  Mr. Shani also lead the BSO in the overture to Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro and Schubert's Symphony in C, The Great. The composer's ultimate symphony (in both senses of the word: it is his biggest and last work in the genre), the C major was famously praised for its "heavenly length" by Robert Schumann, who observed also that it "transports us into a world we cannot recall ever having been before."
(Some emphasis added.)


It looks like a great series of concerts. You can listen on air or on line over the facilities of WCRB at 8:00 p.m. EDT Friday and Saturday, and 7:00 p.m. Sunday. Their homepage also gives links to a lot of other programming information.

Enjoy the shows.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Tanglewood — 2017/08/04-06

My father had a record (now mine), which he very much liked listening to, of Chopin's first piano concerto, with Edward Kilenyi as soloist. He also had Chopin's second — possibly on the same record or possibly another. We didn't listen to the 2nd nearly as often as the 1st, but I've heard it on the radio several times over the years. So I'm very much looking forward the becoming reacquainted with these friends from the past when they open the show tonight and tomorrow. The rest of the weekend from Tanglewood should be good too.


Friday, August 4, 2017.  The orchestra's program detail page has this synopsis of the program:

UnderScore FridayHans Graf conducts Chopin and Rachmaninoff featuring pianist Garrick Ohlsson 
Tanglewood 
Koussevitzky Music Shed - Lenox, MA - View MapOn Friday, August 4, Mr. Ohlsson performs Chopin's First Piano Concerto, written shortly after the composer finished conservatory. Maestro Graf also leads the BSO in Rachmaninoff's melancholic Symphony No. 3, the composer's final work in the genre, written almost 30 years after his second.

(Some emphasis added.)

The page, as usual, has links to audio previews, program notes, and performer bios. This is another of their "Underscore Fridays," in which they enhance our enjoyment of the music by having an orchestra member give brief introductory remarks from the stage before the music begins. This evening we'll hear from violinist Jennie Shames.


Saturday, August 5, 2017.  The second Chopin piano concerto is followed after intermission by Mendelssohn's "Midsummer Night's Dream." The program detail page provides additional information:
On Saturday, August 5, Mr. Ohlsson returns to perform Chopin's Second Piano Concerto with the BSO, a virtuosic and remarkably successful work considering it was written when the composer was still a student and just 20 years old. The second half of the program features one of the best-known musical works inspired by Shakespeare-Mendelssohn's incidental music to A Midsummer Night's Dream-in a specially designed production adapted by stage director Bill Barclay, which received its world premiere with the BSO at Symphony Hall in Boston in early 2016 as part of the BSO's three-week Shakespeare celebration honoring the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death. Mr. Graf and the orchestra are joined for this performance by soprano Kiera Duffy, mezzo-soprano Abigail Fischer, and singers from the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Chorus, as well as four actors, including Will Lyman as Oberon; Karen MacDonald as Titania; and Caleb Mayo as Felix Mendelssohn/Puck. The costumed actors will perform various passages from A Midsummer Night's Dream interspersed throughout the performance, as prescribed in Mendelssohn's score, with costumes by Kathleen Doyle and sets by Cristina Todesco.
(Some emphasis added.)

See the program detail page for the additional background material linked there. As mentioned in the program notes, the Mendelssohn performance was given (after two other pieces) in 2016. At that time, I posted about it. Here's my reaction to it at that time:
The Boston Musical Intelligencer … found the presentation of the Mendelssohn well done by some participants but flawed in concept.
I tend to agree with BMInt on the Mendelssohn. It makes sense to put music intended to accompany a play into context, but as constructed the whole seemed less than the sum of its parts. I wonder how it will all come across over radio or webstream without the action being visible. 



Sunday, August 6, 2017.  As the program detail page tells us:
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma returns to the Shed on Sunday, August 6, with David Zinman on a program featuring two works by Schumann-the free-flowing and adventurous Cello Concerto, featuring Mr. Ma, and the elevating Symphony No. 2 in C, the longest of the composer's four symphonies. The afternoon concert opens with Mozart's Symphony No. 25, last performed by the BSO at Tanglewood in 2000. 
At the advice of his doctors, Maestro Christoph von Dohnányi regrets that he cannot appear with the Boston Symphony this summer at Tanglewood. He is continuing to heal from a fall he suffered earlier this year and looks forward to leading the BSO as scheduled in November.
Conductor David Zinman replaces Maestro von Dohnányi for the Sunday, August 6, program featuring Yo-Yo Ma in Schumann's Cello Concerto. The program also includes Mozart's Symphony No. 25 and Schumann's Symphony No. 2.

(Some detail added.)

You can also access additional information via that page.


WCRB will transmit the concerts on air and over the web. The Friday and Saturday programs begin at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday's will be provided at 7:00 p.m. (all times EDT). The home page, in addition to the Listen Live button, has links to pages about these concerts and other programming on the station.

It looks like an enjoyable series of concerts.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Tanglewood — 2017/07/28-30

This weekend the Boston Symphony gives three more concerts worth hearing. The offerings include a couple of pieces I don't know and a couple of really popular ones that aren't my figurative cup of metaphorical tea, and one of the ones I really want to hear will be given during my brother's weekly call from Tokyo. Still, I'll be listening to all I can.


Friday, July 28, 2017.   The synopsis on the orchestra's program detail page gives us the basics:
On Friday, Charles Dutoit is joined by pianist Yefim Bronfman for Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 2, one of the composer's most barnstorming, free-spirited works. The BSO opens the program with the Overture to Beethoven's The Creatures of Prometheus. Mr. Dutoit also leads the orchestra in Dvorak's New World Symphony.
(Some emphasis added.)

For additional information, use the links to audio previews and program notes, as well as performer bios (click on the thumbnail photos), on that page. Brahms is among my least favorite of the really popular composers, so I'm not eagerly anticipating the concerto. Of late, however, some of his big pieces are beginning to seem a but less unpleasant than they used to, so I'm not dreading it either. Mine is, of course, a distinctly minority view, so have no fear. The first movement of the "New World" symphony is another very popular piece that I don't enjoy — too jarring for my taste — but I'm planning to listen and see how it goes.


Saturday, July 29, 2017.  The program detail page ignores two of the three pieces on the Saturday program, so I'll give my own synopsis. Chant funèbre, by Stravinsky, opens the program. It was composed upon the death of his teacher, Rimsky-Korsakoff, and after the premiere the score was lost for over 100 years. Next is Ravel's Piano Concerto for the left hand, with Pierre-Laurent Aimard as soloist. After intermission comes Te Deum by Berlioz, with tenor soloist Paul Groves. The concert is again under the baton of Charles Dutoit.

Consult the program detail page for the usual links to background information about the music and performers. I enjoy a lot of Berlioz's music, including his Requiem. This is apparently intended to be comparable, and I'm sorry to have to wait for on-demand availability to hear it because my brother's call will come during the performance. (I see from the program note that Berlioz rearranged the order of some of the lines of the text.)


Sunday, July 30, 2017  brings an old favorite followed by one which I don't recall hearing. The program detail page has the following description:
Violinist Pinchas Zukerman returns to Tanglewood on Sunday, July 30, for a performance of Beethoven's lyrical Violin Concerto with the BSO and English conductor Bramwell Tovey. Mr. Tovey and the BSO are then joined by bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus for Walton's Belshazzar's Feast. An incredibly ambitious oratorio written for a large-scale orchestra including two brass bands along with the baritone soloist and chorus, the work is one of the composer's most celebrated compositions.
(Some emphasis added.)

The violin concerto is great music, in my opinion, and the program note about "Belshazzar's Feast" has me intrigued.


The place to hear it all is, of course, WCRB, where you can hear the Friday and Saturday concerts live at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight (Summer) Time, and the Sunday concert in a delayed broadcast/webstream at 7:30 p.m. Check out the station's website for additional information about programming and other features.

Enjoy the concerts!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Tanglewood — 2017/07/21-23

It looks like a good weekend at Tanglewood, including one of my favorite pieces of all time (which will be played during my brother's weekly phone call from Tokyo). All three concerts include a solo piano in one of the pieces.


Friday, July 21, 2017.  The BSO performance detail page informs us:
Captivating French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet joins the BSO and conductor Gustavo Gimeno-who returns to the Tanglewood podium after making his debut with the orchestra last summer-for Bernstein's Symphony No. 2, The Age of Anxiety, a piece dedicated to Serge Koussevitzky and premiered by the BSO in 1949. Mr. Gimeno also leads the BSO in Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4.
(Some emphasis added.)

That's right, folks: a symphony with a solo piano. From the brief audio preview available via the program detail page, it sounds not too tough to take, and the program note makes it sound interesting. I'm going to dinner at the yacht club with a bunch of people from the Race Committee. I might be able to get home in time to hear the whole thing. If not, there's always the "on demand" feature on WCRB so I can catch it later.

By the way, this is one of the BSO's "Underscore Fridays." To enhance the audience's enjoyment, a member of the orchestra introduces the program briefly just before the performance begins. This evening, it will be Assistant Tympanist Daniel Bauch. His take should be interesting to hear.


Saturday, July 22, 2017.  We start with some 20th century music that I don't think I've ever heard, and end with that favorite of mine. Per the performance detail page:
BSO Artistic Partner Thomas Adès opens the Saturday, July 22 BSO program leading his own …but all shall be well, a piece inspired by lines from T.S. Eliot's quotation of Julian of Norwich in Four Quartets: "Sin is Behovely, but All shall be well, and All manner of thing shall be well." The program also features Emanuel Ax in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor, the last and most monumental of Beethoven's concertos; as well as the dramatically expressive Sinfonia da Requiem by Benjamin Britten, a composer for whom Mr. Adès has a great affinity.
(Some emphasis added.)

Apparently, the order of performance was revised after the program detail page was written. At any rate the season brochure and the program notes agree that the Britten work will precede the Adès. We'll find out who's right on Saturday. As always there are links to audio previews, program notes, and performer bios on the detail page.


Sunday, July 23, 2017.  Again, the performance detail page gives us the basics, with further information available via the links on the page.
On Sunday, July 23, BSO Assistant Conductor Ken-David Masur is joined by Russian pianist Nikolai Lugansky for Prokofiev's sparkling Piano Concerto No. 3. Mr. Masur opens the afternoon program with Aaron Jay Kernis's airy and moving Musica Celestis ("Heavenly Music"), written by the Grawemeyer Award-winning composer in 2000. Closing the concert is Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 2, Little Russian.
(Some emphasis added.)

From the program note and the audio preview, it seems that the Kernis piece should be fairly easy listening, but I've never heard the whole thing, so I can't make any guarantees. Anyway, I'm looking forward to hearing it. Remember, the Sunday concert is recorded when performed and broadcast and streamed 4 1/2 hours later, at 7:00 p.m., Boston Time, by WCRB. The other concerts are transmitted live at 8:00 Friday and Saturday.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Tanglewood — 2017/07/14-16

This looks like a great weekend at Tanglewood, with music from the 18th through the 21st centuries.

Friday, July 14, 2017.  Here's how the BSO performance detail page describes this evening's concert:
Andris Nelsons opens the weekend on Friday, July 14 at Tanglewood with performances of two pieces written as an homage to French Baroque composer François Couperin, composed nearly 90 years apart: Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin and BSO Artist Partner Thomas Adès's Three Studies from Couperin. Also on the program is Haydn's Symphony No. 83, La Poule ("The Hen"), last performed by the BSO in 1990, and Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 in C, K.467, featuring Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov.

(Some emphasis added.)

The BSO page also has the usual links to audio previews, program notes and performer bios.

The Adès piece was performed in Symphony Hall in the concerts of April 23-28, 2015. In my review at the time I wrote,
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 [are] on the lower section.
You can see links to other reviews if you go back to my post.


Saturday, July 15, 2017,  brings only one work, but what a work. Again, the BSO tells us about it on the performance detail page:
On Saturday, July 15, Maestro Nelsons leads the BSO in one of the great highlights of the 2017 Tanglewood season: the festival's first-ever complete concert performance of Wagner's epic Das Rheingold, the first of the four dramas from Wagner's masterpiece Der Ring des Nibelungen. The performance features a cast of all-star vocal soloists among the most respected for these roles, including bass-baritone Thomas J. Mayer as Wotan (in his BSO and Tanglewood debuts); mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe as Fricka; tenor Kim Begley as Loge (BSO and Tanglewood debuts); and baritone Jochen Schmeckenbecher (BSO and Tanglewood debuts) as Alberich, along with other prestigious singers known for their expertise performing Wagner's music. The performance of Das Rheingold-sung in German with English subtitles-will run without an intermission. 
Due to ill health, and on the advice of her doctor, Dame Sarah Connolly regretfully has had to withdraw from the BSO's performance of Das Rheingold.  The role of Fricka will now be sung by Stephanie Blythe, who has graciously agreed to join the cast at short notice.
(Some emphasis added.)

See the performance detail for the rest of the cast as well as the usual links. The program notes give a synopsis of the action, but not the full libretto. For that you're on your own. I'd suggest searching something like "Rheingold libretto." I'd suggest going for one with German and English side by side if you can find it. The opera concludes with "The Entry of the Gods into Valhalla," which used to be frequently performed as a stand-alone piece. It's top-notch Wagner, IMO.


Sunday, July 16, 2017.  We're back to orchestral music, with a world premiere and a couple of "warhorses." The BSO tells us
Closing out the weekend on Sunday, July 16, Andris Nelsons and the BSO are joined by violinist Anne Sophie Mutter for the world premiere of Boston Pops Conductor Laureate John Williams' Markings, for solo violin, strings, and harp. Ms. Mutter also joins the orchestra for Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, one of the most popular concertos for the instrument. Berlioz's dazzling Symphonie fantastique completes the program.
(Some emphasis added.)

The above quote is from the orchestra's performance detail page, which also has the usual links to background information. I have no idea how the Williams piece will be, but the remaining works are enduringly popular.


You can hear it all over WCRB on the air or on line. Friday and Saturday' shows begin at 8:00 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time, Sunday's at 7:00. I'm looking forward to it.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

CORRECTION — WCRB July 8, 2017

In my post about this weekend's concert broadcasts over WCRB, I made the mistake of assuming that all three of the major concerts would be broadcast and streamed. This morning I realized that this evening's Pops concert will not be broadcast. Instead they are giving us an "encore broadcast"  of the final Saturday concert of the 2016 Tanglewood season.
http://classicalwcrb.org/post/yo-yo-ma-plays-haydn-and-williams
Here's what I posted back then:
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.
I'm sorry for the confusion. It looks like a concert worth listening to.