Saturday, January 13, 2018

BSO — 2018/01/13

This week's concert takes us a century and more froward from last week's, with music by Anton Webern, Igor Stravinsky, and Béla Bartók. While this may not be the most challenging music these composers wrote it is challenging, especially the first half of the concert. That's my opinion. Here's how the orchestra's performance detail page describes it:
In his second week of concerts, François-Xavier Roth works with outstanding French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard in Bartók's percussive, glittering Piano Concerto No. 1, in which the composer's love for Central European folk music merges imaginatively with early 20th-century modernism. Music by two close Bartók contemporaries fills out the program. Anton Webern's lush twelve-minute, single-movement Passacaglia from 1908 predates the crystalline miniatures for which he is best-known. Composed the following year is Stravinsky's The Firebird, the breathtakingly magical score for the Ballets Russes that catapulted the 27-year-old composer to fame and which, more than a century later, remains one of his most beloved pieces.
(Some emphasis added.)

The reviews are in — one in the Boston Globe, and two (!) in the Boston Musical Intelligencer (here and here). All three are favorable, although putting different takes on various elements of the music. They and the program notes and audio previews on the orchestra's page, should give you a pretty good idea of what you're in for if you listen, which you can this evening at 8:00 Boston Time via WCRB on line and on air. Challenging though I consider it, I'll be listening until my brother calls from Japan. Although there is language somewhere on the website which promises a rebroadcast on Monday a week later (which would be January 22 for this concert — and last Saturday's on January 15) I don't see it specifically for this or last week's concert. But it's worth trying if you're interested.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

BSO — 2018/01/06

The orchestra is back performing at Symphony Hall, and they have a great program this week. Here's the description from their performance detail page:
Two cornerstones of the repertoire anchor this program. The young English pianist Benjamin Grosvenor is soloist in one of Mozart's most familiar concertos, No. 21 in C, an elegant, good-natured work written and premiered in Vienna in spring 1785. Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 is the concerto's polar opposite in mood,a stormy struggle against destiny with a well-earned victory at the close. Opening the program is a rarity: the overture to the 1811 opera The Amazons by the highly successful and prolific opera composer Étienne Méhul, a contemporary of Mozart and Beethoven.
(Some emphasis added.)

The Thursday performance was cancelled because of the weather, so I haven't heard it yet, and I don't see a review in the Globe. The Intelligencer is enthusiastic.

The Mozart concerto is a favorite of its genre, and the Beethoven needs no introduction. So this is a concert not to be missed. As always, listen to WCRB at 8:00.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

BSO/Classical New England — 2017/12/30

While the Holiday Pops series continues in Symphony Hall, WCRB takes us back to a sunny Sunday afternoon at Tanglewood and retransmits the concert of August 13, 2017. Here's how the orchestra's performance detail page described it at the time:
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.)

A review of the whole weekend at Tanglewood in the Boston Musical Intelligencer included favorable comments on this concert (Sunday at 2:30). I can't find a review in the Globe. I was there for the concert. At this point no specific memories stand out, but a general one of satisfaction.

So I definitely recommend listening to WCRB on air or on line this evening at 7:00 or 8:00*, Boston Time.

*There is some confusion. The web page says 7:00, but on Twitter they've been saying 8:00. Better check at 7:00 to be sure.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

BSO/Classical New England — 2017/12/23

I had somehow gotten the idea that we'd hear the Holiday Pops concert this week, but not so. Here's the program listing from WCRB:
Saturday night at 8, join us for a night of seasonal favorites led by Seiji Ozawa.
Saturday, December 23, 2017
8:00 PM
Seiji Ozawa, conductor
BACH/STRAVINSKY Chorale Variations on Vom Himmel hoch
TCHAIKOVSKY The Nutcracker, Op. 71
BERLIOZ Overture and "Shepherd's
[sic] Farewell" from Part 2 of L'enfance du Christ

(Some emphasis added.)

This probably isn't a recording of a live concert, because you wouldn't have the longest work in the middle. If it is a concert, it would have to be from years before I started this blog, so I have no further information to share about the performance. I can say that it'll be interesting to hear what Stravinsky does with "Vom Himmel Hoch." I was middle aged before I became aware of "L'enfance du Christ." I like it, and I think the Shepherds' Farewell is the best piece in it. "The Nutcracker" (entire ballet, not just the suite) needs no introduction. I find it very episodic and uneven, but it has certainly come to be identified with the season.

So enjoy.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

BSO/Classical New England — 2017/12/16

This week, as the Holiday Pops season continues at Symphony Hall, WCRB returns us to Tanglewood with a recording of the concert of Friday, July 14, 2017. Here's what I wrote back then:
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 [from April, 2015].

The order is Ravel, Haydn, intermission, Adès, Mozart.

Unfortunately, neither the Globe nor the Intelligencer reviewed the performance, but except for the Adès, it's all familiar stuff, and my recollection was that the Adès wasn't bad. So have a listen this evening over WCRB at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time. And check out their website for information about other programming.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Winter Orgy® Period 2017

My apologies for not posting sooner. WHRB (95.3.FM around Boston, on line elsewhere) is nearing the end of the second week of their Winter Orgy® Period. There's about a week left. The classical music segments remaining are as follows:

  • Today — No Strings Orgy — until 10:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 14 — No Strings Orgy — 1:00 - 10:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 15 — Milhaud Orgy — 12:00 - 10:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 16 —no official orgy. The Met opera performance of  "Norma" at 1:00 is followed by other classical music until 9:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 17 — Milhaud Orgy — 2:00 - 10:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 18 — Glenn Gould Orgy — 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 19 — Glenn Gould Orgy — 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.

That is the end of the designated Orgies, but there is lots of other interesting programming from then through Christmas. Afterwards, they return to the regular cycle: Jazz 5:00a.m. - 1:00 p.m., Classical 1:00 - 10:00 p.m., and Rock overnight on weekdays, with major Harvard sports games interrupting the schedule. The weekend schedule is a bit different. Notably, on Saturdays they carry the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts and on Sundays at 8:00 p.m. they present a recorded opera.

Their complete program guide is available on line.


Saturday, December 9, 2017

BSO/Classical New England — 2017/12/09

The BSO has given way to Holiday Pops for the rest of the year. This evening WCRB favors us with a rebroadcast/stream of the Tanglewood concert of last August 6, describes as follows in the BSO's own program detail page:
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 emphasis added.)

I don't find any reviews, but it's all good music, so I'm sure it'll be worth hearing, or rehearing. So listen in on air or over the web as WCRB transmits it at 8:00 p.m. Boston Time this evening. The home page also give a plethora of additional information about programming on the station, so check it out It has been their practice to repeat the Saturday BSO program a week and two days later on Monday evening. I can't find the precise schedule for that, but you can probably hear this evening's program again on December 18, and last week's Bermel, Prokofiev, and Strauss on the 11th.

Happy listening!