Saturday, December 26, 2009

Beethoven/BSO, January 3, 2010; Belated Bach

     I just got the program guide for next month's offerings on WGBH and WCRB, and I see that WCRB's Sunday Concert at 3:00 p.m. Boston Time (= Eastern Standard, lol) on January 3 is a rebroadcast of one of last October's performances of Beethoven's symphonies Nos. 3 and 4. The Boston Globe critic was not thrilled; but it's Beethoven and a good orchestra, and even though the 4th is my least favorite Beethoven symphony, I liked the concert I attended. So I recommend giving a listen to the webstream via the link I posted above.

     This just in: when I tested the link above, I saw on the home page that tonight they're rebroadcasting the Beethoven 6th and 7th, under the baton of Lorin Maazel, in a performance (or composite of performances) given in late October. You can catch the stream at 8:00 p.m. EST this evening, December 26. Again, the Globe critic wasn't satisfied, but I enjoyed it.

     This is also the time for Bach's Christmas Oratorio — six cantatas for six days of the Christmas season. I'm a day late recommending that you listen to them, since the parts are designated for the first, second, and third days of Christmas (yesterday, today, and tomorrow as and where I write), for New Year's day, the following Sunday, and Epiphany (January 6 in the traditional calendar). They're worth listening to, even all at once, but probably better if you spread them out.

     Here's a video of the opening chorus of the first part , the part for the Christmas Day. And an older video (slightly out of sync) of my favorite number, the bass aria, "Grosser Herr, O starker König."  You can compare the qucker tempo and natural trumpet version with John Elliot Gardiner (same performance as the opening chorus I linked) if you want. YouTube gives a link. I actually prefer the Gardiner performance, but I wanted to give a sample of a slightly different performance style; and Fischer-Dieskau is one of the great baritones of the 20th century. I won't try to find videos of the whole thing, but I'm sure you can find most, if not all, of it if you want to. And I'm sure there are audio recordings available for downloading. I have three complete sets on vinyl discs, one led by Karl Richter, one led by Nikolaus Harnoncourt, and one featuring the Regensburger Domspatzen. Any of them that you can find would be worth listening to IMO.

Monday, December 7, 2009


     Yesterday (Sunday December 6) I went to the Handel and Haydn Society's performance of Handel's "Messiah" at Symphony Hall in Boston. They performed music from Messiah as part of their first concert, on Christmas, 1815; the first complete performance of Messiah in the United States on Christmas, 1818;and they've performed the whole oratorio every year beginning in 1854. So they should be pretty good at it. And they are. They do "Historically informed perfomances," meaning that they use instruments like those of Handel's day, and a small orchestra (24 players) and chorus (30 singers).

     Unfortunately, I realized after the concert that I was approaching it more as a musical than as a religious event. Musically, it was satisfying, although the soloists didn't have much power on their low notes. But it didn't notice anything unattractive about the singing and playing.

     The program states that "The performances are being recorded for broadcast locally on 99.5 FM All Classical (a service of WGBH) on December 20 and will be featured nationally on American Public Media's Performance Today." (I don't have a link for APM, but I'm sure you can find them easily enough.) They don't say what time the 99.5 FM broadcast will be, but I'm confident it will be either 2:00 or 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time. So if you follow the link, you should be able to hear their webstream.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Radio (& Internet Streaming?) Changes

     Interesting (to me, anyway) stuff is happening in the Boston classical music broadcast scene. WCRB, the commercial, all classical station was put up for sale. WGBH was the only bidder that wanted to keep it all classical. Fortunately they were successful.

     But running a 24-hour classical music station and broadcasting 7 hours of music to compete with it, didn't make much sense, I guess. Anyway, they decided to put their hosts and programs on the WCRB frequency. The change happens on December 1. After that classical music on WGBH will be no more, and we'll have to rely on the all classical station for it.

     I'm not sure what will happen to the webstreams. They now have a new url , which you are directed to via Meanwhile, the WCRB website has a link for ownership change which takes you to the same page at WGBH.  So it looks as if all the streaming will be accessed through the WGBH website. But at the moment I'm not entirely sure.

     I had a bit of a scare earlier this week. I noticed that in all the information they had given out about the change of broadcast frequency, they had mentioned the Saturday evening symphony broadcasts, but never a word about the Friday afternoon concerts. So it began to seem that those were being dropped. I wrote a member feedback note to WGBH on Monday, making the case for the importance of the Friday broadcasts for those who were busy on Saturday evenings. And I got back a very noncommittal reply on Wednesday saying, in part, "We will be broadcasting Saturday evening BSO, we will no longer be broadcasting Fridays unless we gain the rights to broadcast that as well. … We'll certainly send your requests to our production team. Thanks again for writing."

     WTDickens! Why don't they already have the rights? They've had the rights as WGBH for 58 years, for heaven's sake! What difference does the broadcast frequency make? Is the BSO holding things up? Or have they decided not to ask for the rights and just using this as a cover?

     Finally, this afternoon, at the end of the concert, the radio announcer, Ron Della Chiesa, said that next week's concert would be broadcast, with the usual pre-concert half hour show, but it would be on the new frequency. So I'm greatly relieved. I still wonder why, as of Wednesday, they couldn't tell me that the Friday afternoon concerts were still on. Did my intervention, and possibly some from other people, have an effect on the station management's mind, or was this in the works all along? I guess I'll never know the story behind the story, but all's well that ends well, and the important thing is that the broadcasts continue.

     So I expect that it will continue to be possible for you to hear either or both of the performances each week over the web.

     BTW, this week's program, which I neglected to tell you about, is the Debussy "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun," Stravinsky's 1945 suite of music from "The Firebird," and the Brahms Violin Concerto with Joshua Bell as soloist. For more info, see the bso website's page. I expect the stream to be over the WCRB website at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday.


     As mentioned on my other blog, in honor of Thanksgiving Day, here are videos of a performance of the ancient hymn of thanksgiving, "Te Deum." But rather than the traditional Gregorian chant, this is a setting by the French baroque composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier.

     Here's the first video.

     And here's the second.

     They take it faster than I'm used to hearing it, but at least the proportions seem right. (I'd give you William David Christie's version with Les Arts Florissants if I could find the whole thing on video.) You'll also note that they pronounce the Latin as if it were French. Presumably that is how scholars believe it was done in 17th Century France.

      If you want to hear it in the "original" Gregorian chant setting, try this, which I also posted on my other blog. There is further info and a good translation in the wiki article on Te Deum.

Friday, November 20, 2009

BSO — 2009/11/20-21

     Even as I write the BSO is performing Debeussy's "Nocturnes" for Orchestra, under the baton of Bernard Haitink. This is to be followed by the Ibert Flute Concerto with James Galway and the Brahms First Symphony. WGBH is streaming it.

     WCRB says they're back to streaming, so you should also be able to hear it Saturday evening at 8:00 Eastern Time.

Friday, November 6, 2009

BSO — 2009/11/06

     Sorry for the short notice. Today, in just under 2 1/2 hours from when I'm posting this, they're doing the Beethoven 8th and 9th symphonies. I was at last night's performance and enjoyed it, although the Globe's reviewer didn't, largely because he doesn't like Lorin Maazel as a conductor. I'll post a link later.

     Also, a friendly B.C. grad student chatted with me during the intermission. Nice guy. Hope I'll see him again.

     I expect today's concert to be streamed on

     And here's the review from today's Boston Globe.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Litanei: Franz Schubert

     On my other blog I posted a performance of this song by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. I thought it would be good to share Dame Janet Baker's performance as well.

     I hadn't known what the images would be about, and I find them overwhelmingly moving in this context. As I write this, the tears blur my view of the keyboard and run down my face.

     Enjoy the beautiful music, beautifully sung, and say a prayer for all victims of violence.

Friday, October 23, 2009

BSO — 2009/10/23-24

This week at the BSO we're back to basics. An all-Beethoven program, consisting of Symphonies 1, 2, and 5, begins a series which will present all nine. Because James Levine is recovering from back surgery, this week's concerts are being led by frequent guest conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos.

I was at the Thursday concert, and I thought it was all good, except that the third movements of the 1st and 2nd symphonies seemed to be a little on the slow side. But the 5th! The audience gave a prolonged standing ovation. Four curtain calls instead of the usual two (or three if there are soloists and they're really enthusiastic) and plenty of cheering. I contributed a couple of bravos of my own — one to get things started and one during the third or fourth curtain call.

The reviewer for the Boston Globe couldn't find anything worth complaining about, apart from saying at one point "… even if one could quibble about various tempo choices." I wonder if he was also thinking about the movements I thought were a bit slow. Anyway, it's a lukewarm review even though everything was good, in his opinion. ... ven_cycle/

Worth hearing this afternoon at 1:30 Boston time (less than two hours from now) with "pre-game" show at 1:00 over or Saturday at 8:00 p.m. over

Enjoy! Sorry for the short notice.

Edited to add: My apologies. I assumed WCRB was back to streaming, but evidently they aren't. I couldn't find tonight's concert anywhere on their website or on WAMC. So I guess the only stream available is the one on WGBH on Fridays, and possibly a WGBH rebroadcast some Sunday afternoon (Eastern Time). Sorry if I sent anybody on a wild goose chase.

Friday, October 16, 2009

BSO — 2009/10/16-17

Here's what the BSO website says about this weekend's concerts.
"Former Boston Symphony Orchestra assistant conductor Ludovic Morlot returns to Symphony Hall October 15-20 to lead the BSO in an imaginative, wide-ranging program that showcases his depth and range as one of the leading conductors of his generation. He and the orchestra give the American premiere of Augusta Read Thomas's rhythmically vibrant, orchestrally brilliant Helios Choros II (Sun God Dancers). Distinguished American pianist Peter Serkin is the soloist in Stravinsky’s sparkling Capriccio for piano and orchestra, an homage to Tchaikovsky given its American premiere by the BSO in 1930. The program continues with Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Riminiand The Frescoes of Piero della Francesca by Bohuslav Martinů, one of two works this season commemorating the 50th anniversary of the great Czech composer’s death.

Augusta Read Thomas, a former Tanglewood Music Center Fellow and the director of last summer’s Festival of Contemporary Music at Tanglewood, has emerged as one of America’s most skilled and poetic composers, as well as one of contemporary music’s most impassioned and informed advocates. Her Helios Choros II (Sun God Dancers), a co-commission of the BSO and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, is a big, bold work given its world premiere in December 2008. It is the second “panel” of a three-part triptych named for the Greek sun god Helios. The composer imagines her triptych as a ballet unfolding as two spiraled layers, one representing ancient Greek mythology, the other representing elemental human rituals. 

The greatest Czech composer of his generation, Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) was strongly championed by Serge Koussevitzky and the BSO when he fled war-torn Europe in the 1940s. The Frescoes of Piero della Francesca, one of his later works, is a three-movement symphonic triptych inspired by the composer’s visit to the Church of San Francesco in Arezzo, Italy, that houses Piero della Francesca’s famous Renaissance fresco paintings. Stravinsky’s 1929 Capriccio for piano and orchestra is homage to the charm and melodic lyricism of one of his most admired composers in the Russian tradition, Tchaikovsky. Written in the style of the Baroque concerto grosso, it was given its American premiere in 1930 by the BSO. Tchaikovsky composed Francesca da Rimini in 1876. A programmatic orchestral work inspired by a tragic love story, it musically portrays the ill-fated love of Paolo and Francesca as told in Dante’s Inferno." 

I was at this evening's, and I think it's worth hearing. The new piece is not too tough to take.

As usual, WGBH for the matinee Friday, and WCRB for Saturday evening.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

BSO — 2009/10/10

I missed alerting you before the first broadcast, but there's a pretty good concert tonight. It's all Russian and features a young Russian conductor, Vasily Petrenko (the last name sounds Ukrainian to me). It opens with an early work by Stravinsky, Capriccio Fantastique, and after the intermission they play Shostakovich's Symphony No.10. But got me the highlight was Rachmaninoff's "Isle of the Dead." It's a wonderfully evocative piece based on a painting which shows a boatman (Charon?) transporting a coffin (across the River Styx?) to an island. The BSO hasn't performed it in Symphony Hall since 1945. It begins about 15 or 20 minutes into the first part of the concert.

8:00 Eastern Time, WCRB.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

BSO — Opening Night Recorded for Broadcast and Webstream on September 27

The Boston Symphony Orchestra had their opening night concert on Wednesday, September 23. The concert was recorded by WGBH, and they will broadcast and stream it on Sunday afternoon, September 27, at 3:00 p.m., Eastern Time. Go to the WGBH website, click "Listen," then find the Listen Live line on a terribly busy page and click the button for "WGBH 89.7" and that should get you there.

The thing I'm looking forward to is the world premiere performance of a piece for harp and orchestra. It is by the movie composer John Williams, and it was commissioned by the BSO and composed for the orchestra's retiring harpist, Ann Hobson Pilot. The concert got a favorable review in the Boston Globe. There was also an article the day before the concert about Ann Hobson Pilot which you might find interesting.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stabat Mater

As I mentioned on my regular blog, the sequence "Stabat Mater" has been set to music by numerous compsers. As promised, here are some samples in various styles culled from many more available on YouTube. Enjoy.

Here's a different version of the first stanza as set by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi.

Palestrina's late Renaissance version, which goes all the way through without repeating the text.

An excerpt from Rossini's setting, with Luciano Pavarotti singing.

At one point I collected a number of recordings by different composers. Talking to a colleague of mine at work who had studied Latin, I jokingly referred to my "collection of Stabant Matres" putting the title in the plural (which is as if I were to refer to a collection of various editions of the play "She Stoops to Conquer" as my collection of "They Stoop to Conquer").

Friday, August 21, 2009

Tanglewood August 21 – 23, 2009: End of Symphony Season — Not to Be Missed!

"Kurt Masur Conducts Beethoven and Mendelssohn

Kurt Masur opens the BSO's final Tanglewood weekend August 21 leading two classical masterworks, Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 and Haydn's Symphony No. 88. The program's centerpiece is a performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 25 in C, featuring the BSO debut of one of Mr. Masur's favorite collaborators, the young French pianist David Fray. Mr. Fray has received numerous prizes and awards, and was BBC Music Magazine's "Newcomer of the Year" in 2008.

August 22, 2009 8:30 PM Kurt Masur dedicates a concert to showcasing the music of one of his most admired composers, Felix Mendelssohn. This BSO program features Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 4, Italian, one of the composer's most beloved works, evoking the warm climes of the Mediterranean, as well as The Hebrides (Fingal's Cave) Overture, begun during a visit to the Hebrides archipelago off the coast of Scotland. The evening's centerpiece is Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, featuring one of the BSO's most popular guest artists, the American violinist Gil Shaham.

Michael Tilson Thomas Conducts Beethoven's Ninth Symphony

On August 23, Michael Tilson Thomas leads the Boston Symphony Orchestra's final program of the 2009 festival season, the annual grand finale performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. The masterwork features the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, soprano Erin Wall and mezzo-soprano Kendall Gladen in their BSO debuts, tenor Stuart Skelton in his Tanglewood debut, and bass-baritone Raymond Aceto. The program begins with Ives' Decoration Day, the composer's stirring ode to Memorial Day."

The Friday and Saturday concerts are at 8:30 p.m. and are streamed on WAMC. The Sunday concert is at 2:30. It is also streamed on WAMC; and WGBH streams it with a "pre-game show" beginning at 2:00. All times are Eastern.

More info is available at the website on the Tanglewood pages.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tanglewood August 14 – 16, 2009

August 14 - 16 at Tanglewood 

"Michael Tilson Thomas Returns to Tanglewood

 One of the most highly anticipated guests at Tanglewood this season is Michael Tilson Thomas, who returns to the festival and the BSO for the first time in two decades, leading the BSO in two programs, August 14 and 23. His first program August 14 initiates a weekend highlighted by three great Romantic piano concertos, as he conducts the Boston Symphony Orchestra and soloist Yefim Bronfman in Rachmaninoff's tempestuous Piano Concerto No.3, on a program with Shostakovich's Symphony No.5.


André Previn and Kurt Masur at Tanglewood

On August 15, André Previn collaborates with the Boston Symphony and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet in Liszt's poetic Piano Concerto No. 2, on a program with Beethoven's Symphony No. 4 and Ravel's La Valse.

Kurt Masur takes to the podium Sunday afternoon, August 16, to lead an all-Brahms program including the Piano Concerto No. 2, with Garrick Ohlsson as soloist.. The program's second half is the composer's bucolic Symphony No. 2."

There will be streams over the web as usual. 

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Welcome — August 13, 2009: hernima

I see by my dashboard that I have a new follower on this blog, hernima, who joined a couple of days ago. I don't have any other information, and I don't find anything telling me that hernima has a blog. (If you do, please let me know and I can plug it, link it, if appropriate, and follow.)

So welcome, hernima. Thanks for following. I hope you find interesting things here. You might also want to take a peek at my other blog, Naturgesetz: Catholic and Homosexual.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Tanglewood August 7 – 9, 2009

Well, I was so distracted by my sister-in-law's visit that I forgot about Tanglewood until after the Friday night show, but it was the Boston Pops, which didn't interest me much. Sorry if you wish you had known. Tonight we get Prokofieff and Orff and various composers on Sunday afternoon. I expect the normal streams to be available. Here's a summary from the BSO's website.

August 7 - 9 at Tanglewood 

The Boston Pops Orchestra under Keith Lockhart ushers in Week 6 of Tanglewood with a concert August 7 featuring the Tanglewood debut of extraordinary pop/jazz trumpeter Chris Botti. Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos leads the BSO in a pair of early 20th-century classics—Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1, Classical, and Orff’s Carmina burana, on August 8.  The performance of Carmina burana will feature soprano Laura Claycomb, tenor Lawrence Brownlee, and baritone Markus Werba, all making their BSO debuts, as well as the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, John Oliver, conductor. The always-popular Yo-Yo Ma performs the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 and the Fauré Elégie on August 9, with BSO Assistant Conductor Julian Kuerti. The program also includes Bizet’s Symphony in C and George Perle’s Sinfonietta No. 2, the latter as part of the Festival of Contemporary Music.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Tanglewood July 31 – August 2, 2009

July 31 - August 2 Tanglewood Shed Performances

 Celebrating his 75th birthday, the esteemed Spanish conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos returns to Tanglewood. On July 31, he leads the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Debussy’s La Mer and Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé, Suite No. 2, on a program with the Beethoven Violin Concerto performed by the brilliant Russian violinist Vadim Repin. 

Sir James Galway celebrates his 70th birthday August 1 with a special concert featuring a world premiere commissioned for the occasion by Derek Bermel and music by Debussy, Copland, and Mozart led by Leonard Slatkin, featuring the BSO and special surprise guests. The world premiere commission will feature flute players aged 8 to 13, who were selected through an application process to participate in Sir James Galway’s birthday celebration concert. 

Former BSO assistant conductor Thomas Dausgaard returns August 2 for the first time since 1995 to conduct The Serge and Olga Koussevitsky Memorial Concert, featuring Rachmaninoff’s sweeping Symphony No. 2 and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3, with the dynamic Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes. 

The usual webstreams are available from WAMC for all concerts and from WGBH for Sunday's.

Monday, July 27, 2009

"The Little Black Boy"

One of the "Five Songs from William Blake" which Thomas Hampson performed Sunday afternoon was "The Little Black Boy," about how the black boy in Africa learns about God from his mother and hopes to help the English boy learn to be close to God as well.

Here is the text.

The Little Black Boy

William Blake

My mother bore me in the southern wild,

And I am black, but oh my soul is white!

White as an angel is the English child,

But I am black, as if bereaved of light.

My mother taught me underneath a tree, 

And, sitting down before the heat of day, 

She took me on her lap and kissed me, 

And, pointed to the east, began to say:

"Look on the rising sun: there God does live, 

And gives His light, and gives His heat away, 

And flowers and trees and beasts and men receive 

Comfort in morning, joy in the noonday.

"And we are put on earth a little space, 

That we may learn to bear the beams of love 

And these black bodies and this sunburnt face 

Is but a cloud, and like a shady grove.

"For when our souls have learn'd the heat to bear, 

The cloud will vanish, we shall hear His voice, 

Saying, 'Come out from the grove, my love and care 

And round my golden tent like lambs rejoice',"

Thus did my mother say, and kissed me; 

And thus I say to little English boy. 

When I from black and he from white cloud free, 

And round the tent of God like lambs we joy

I'll shade him from the heat till he can bear 

To lean in joy upon our Father's knee; 

And then I'll stand and stroke his silver hair, 

And be like him, and he will then love me.

 I found the final words, "And he will then love me" very poignant. They spoke of the black boy's longing to be loved and of the English boy's inability to love until the black boy has enabled him to be close to God, and of the love coming about when the black boy has done that. They spoke to me of both personal and racial reconciliation, and they moved me to tears.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tanglewood July 24-26, 2009

Here's an excerpt from the BSO website.  As usual, the concerts will be streamed on WAMC, and WGBH will stream the Sunday concert with a "pre-game" show at 2:00 (all times Eastern).

"July 24, 25, and 26 Tanglewood Shed Performances

 The weekend begins as James Levine conducts Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture and Harold in Italy, with BSO principal violist Steven Ansell, on a program with the Prelude to Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina and the dramatic Pictures at an Exhibition (July 24). Mr. Levine and the orchestra reprise last fall’s moving performance of Brahms’s A German Requiem, here featuring the distinguished German baritone Matthias Goerne, along with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus (July 25). 

Conductor David Robertson and the BSO are joined by baritone Thomas Hampson and pianist Orli Shaham for an all-American program—Harris’s Symphony No. 3, Thomson’s Five Songs from William Blake, Barber’s Songs with Orchestra, and Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, The Age of Anxiety (July 26).


Berlioz and Mussorgsky


July 24, 2009 8:30 PM 

BSO principal violist Steven Ansell joins James Levine and the BSO for a performance of Berlioz’s Harold in Italy, which reflects the composer’s “poetic memories” of his “wanderings in the Abruzzi,” on Friday, July 24, at 8:30 p.m. in the Shed. This lively concert of programmatic orchestral showpieces also includes Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture and two works by Mussorgsky, the Prelude to the opera Khovanshchina and the dramatic Pictures at an Exhibition, which depicts an imaginary tour of an art exhibit. Originally composed as a virtuoso piano piece, it is played by orchestras in a brilliantly colorful arrangement by Ravel. 

Brahms - A German Requiem


July 25, 2009 8:30 PM 

A memorable highlight of the BSO’s fall season with James Levine was the series of performances of Brahms’ A German Requiem. The Tanglewood performance on  Saturday, July 25, at 8:30 p.m. in the Shed, will feature the distinguished German baritone Matthias Goerne, and soprano soloist Hei-Kyung Hong, along with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, John Oliver, conductor.  Considered Brahms’s largest and one of his most personal works, A German Requiem originated with music written following the attempted suicide of dear friend Robert Schumann as well as music composed at the time of his mother’s death.


Harris, Thomson, Barber and Bernstein - An All American Program


July 26, 2009 2:30 PM 

Esteemed baritone Thomas Hampson and pianist Orli Shaham join conductor David Robertson and the BSO for an all-American program, on Sunday, July 26, at 2:30 p.m. in the Shed.  Mr. Hampson is featured in Thomson’s Five Songs from William Blake and Barber’s Songs with Orchestra. One of the world’s leading baritones, he is in the midst of an in-depth examination of American vocal music, a commitment reflected by his multi-year “Song of America” tour sponsored by the Library of Congress. As part of this tour, Mr. Hampson performed a recital at Tanglewood on July 22 with pianist Craig Rutenberg, which included songs of Ives, Griffes, Carpenter, and Barber. Mr. Robertson, music director of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, brings his renowned expertise in the music of our time to the program, which also includes two 20th-century American orchestral classics, Harris’s Symphony No. 3 and Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, The Age of Anxiety, the latter featuring Robertson’s wife, acclaimed pianist Orli Shaham."

Monday, July 20, 2009

July 21 — Belgian National Holiday — La Brabançonne

Happy Belgium Day!
(some fascinating pictures)
(good singer)

and seeçonne

I'll have to get a bottle of Chimay or Affligem beer to accompany my lunch.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Welcome — July 18, 2009: Pilgrim and Seth

Welcome to the two new followers of this little blog, Pilgrim, who joined yesterday, and Seth, who joined today.

Pilgrim is a young student who lives in Paris. As I recall, he introduced himself as being from Wallonia (look it up if you're not sure) and he has told of Lebanese and German ancestry as well. He gives interesting glimpses into a life which may be typical in some ways but also seems very special. He has been blogging since April.

Seth is a little bit older and lives in New Jersey, and manages to give a sometimes amusing spin to his workplace challenges and the problems of living with a very difficult mother — all the while coping with his own OCD and depression. I admire his ability to carry on in the face of everything. He has been blogging since October 2007.

Why not check out their blogs, if you haven't already?

Pilgrim and Seth, I hope you find something interesting here. Hopefully you can enjoy some of the concerts I alert readers to or the occasional music video, or both. Anyway, thanks for following.

P.S. I'm not sure I properly mentioned my other followers when they signed up. I didn't always have that practice. But I'm pleased that all of you show that interest.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tanglewood July 17-19, 2009

Here's what the BSO's Tanglewood page for this weekend has to say about this weekend's programs. As usual, the concerts will be streamed on WAMC, and WGBH will stream the Sunday concert with a "pre-game" show at 2:00 (all times Eastern).

Mozart and Mahler


July 17, 2009 8:30 PM  

One of the highlights of James Levine’s fall season with the BSO was the powerful Symphony Hall performance series of Mahler’s Symphony No. 6. This week, the orchestra performs the symphony for the first time at Tanglewood since Levine conducted the work here in 1972, and it marks a continuation of the maestro’s multi-year survey of Mahler’s major works with the orchestra. The program also includes Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23, with the esteemed American pianist/conductor/teacher Leon Fleisher, the Tanglewood Music Center’s artistic director from 1986-1997.


Film Night at Tanglewood


July 18, 2009 8:30 PM  

One of the most popular evenings of each summer’s festival is the lively Film Night at Tanglewood. Boston Pops’ Laureate Conductor John Williams lends his unparalleled expertise to an evening celebrating the colorful legacy of Hollywood’s Warner Brothers dynasty. The evening features excerpts from classic film scores accompanying thematic montages and film clips from some of the studio’s legendary movies including Casablanca and The Seahawk, as well as selections from Williams’ own scores for Superman and Harry Potter. The evening will also include tributes to Errol Flynn, James Dean, and Bette Davis, three of Hollywood’s greatest stars. The evening’s first half will feature selections from popular Williams scores, including Suites from E.T. The Extra-Terestrial and Far and Away.


All-Mozart Program


July 19, 2009 2:30 PM  

James Levine leads the Boston Symphony Orchestra in an all-Mozart program, conducting the composer’s final three symphonies, Nos. 39, 40, and 41, Jupiter. Mozart was just a few months past his 32nd birthday and in dire financial need when he began these last three symphonic works, and they were composed in a whirlwind of creative fervor, completed just weeks apart. Yet each is distinctly unique, with striking differences of mood, and they stand at the pinnacle of Mozart’s orchestral mastery, representing a standard by which other symphonies are appraised.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Good News about BSO Concert Streams

I've discovered that WAMC, Northeast Public Radio, streams the Tanglewood concerts of the BSO. They are using the WCRB feed this evening, July 10, and I presume that will be their normal practice. Just go to the link and then to "Listen Live" at the right.

I believe that the Sunday afternoon concerts will also be streamed by WGBH.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tanglewood Season

Tanglewood season starts this weekend.

And we've got trouble. It looks as if WCRB isn't streaming its broadcasts right now.
Thank you for your ongoing support of Boston's Classical Station, 99.5 WCRB.... and for your support of our streaming audio online. We have temporarily discontinued our streaming program. However, we are working hard to bring this service back to you as soon as possible! If you are in the Boston area, please tune in to 99.5 FM to continue listening. If you would like to be notified when we resume streaming our audio over the internet, please send an email and we will let you know when we're back online with our classical music.

So those of you who are beyond the reach of WCRB's broadcast signal can only hear the Sunday afternoon concerts at 2:00 over WGBH's stream.

This Sunday they're giving Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" and Brahms's Violin Concerto, with James Levine on the podium and with Christian Tetzlaff as violin soloist. Concert begins at 2:30 (or a bit later) with WGBH beginning their broadcast at 2:00. :) 

All times Eastern Daylight.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Lauda Sion Salvatorem — Musical Settings

MartininBroda suggested I post some of the music for this hymn ("Sequence") originally written to be chanted before the gospel at the Mass for Corpus Christi. So here goes.

First, of course, a traditional performance of the Gregorian chant setting, sung by a choir of monks.

Next a setting by Palestrina. I think it is a shortened text.

And now a Renaissance setting. The composer is not identified, but it is in a style similar to Giovanni Gabrieli. Again, it seems the full text is not included.

Coming to the 19th century, part of Mendelssohn's setting, beginning at "Sumit unus, sumunt mille" and going to the end. I wonder what the earlier parts sound like.

And finally, what I gather is a version by a 20th century composer, Z. Randall Stroope. I'd never heard of him before, so far as I recall.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Do, Re, Mi — Central Station Antwerp

"More than 200 dancers were performing their version of 'Do Re Mi', in the Central Station of Antwerp. with just 2 rehearsals they created this amazing stunt! Those 4 fantastic minutes started the 23 of march 2009, 08:00 AM. It is a promotion stunt for a Belgian television program, where they are looking for someone to play the leading role, in the musical of 'The Sound of Music'."
— information for this YouTube video


Monday, June 1, 2009


For several years I've been subscribing to concerts of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Handel and Haydn Society. And in the past three years my older brother has been joining me at the H&H concerts, which we attend on Sunday afternoons. I go alone to the BSO on Thursday evenings (he's doing other things). For a couple of seasons I went to one series of BSO concerts on Thursdays and one on Tuesdays, but I had to exchange so many of the Tuesday performances because of church meetings that I decided to go with all Thursdays.

I've put in my requests for next year with both organizations. I'll have tickets for 19 of the 23 BSO Thursday evening concerts. They divide the Thursday concerts into 4 series. Last year I subscribed to Series A and C, which are 7 concerts each. For next season I'm adding Series D for another 5 concerts. Already there is one conflict. They are giving Mendelssohn's oratorio "Elijah" on April 1. I'd really like to hear it, but that day is Holy Thursday and I'll be in church that evening. I'm thinking of exchanging that ticket for a performance in the B Series: Mendelssohn's Overture and Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night's Dream and Rossini's Stabat Mater. The Rossini piece is the big attraction for me. Here are the dates for my series:
Thursday-A 7 Thursday evenings at 8pm - 10/29, 11/12, 01/07, 02/11, 03/11, 04/01, 04/22

Thursday-C 7 Thursday evenings at 8pm - 10/22, 12/03, 01/14, 02/18, 03/25, 04/08, 04/29

Thursday-D 5 Thursday evenings at 8pm - 10/15, 11/05, 01/21, 02/04, 04/15

If you want to know what I'l be hearing, here's a link to the season schedule. I may also add the opening night, because I try to take in the world premieres that they give.

At the H&H, we'll be going to concerts on Nov. 8, Dec. 17 (a Thursday), Jan. 31, and May 2. And I'll be going to their Handel Messiah on December 6. Here's the link to their schedule, so you can satisfy your curiosity about what I'll be hearing.

I get mailings from other Boston musical organizations, and I often think it would be good to go to some of their performances, but so far I haven't decided to subscribe to any. Last year I attended a performance of Der Freischütz, but that was the only thing I did beyond the BSO and H&H (and HMA on Friday evenings).

If you're within striking distance of Boston, take a look at the schedules and see if any of the concerts look interesting. Maybe you'd want to get single tickets, or you might even want a subscription of your own. There are several dates available for each concert program, so it should be possible for you to find something.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Simon Boccanegra — Webstream


Verdi — Simon Boccanegra
Boston Symphony Orchestra / January 29, 2009 8:00 PM / Symphony Hall / Boston, Massachusetts

Featured Artists 
James Levine conductor / Barbara Frittoli soprano (Amelia Grimaldi) / Marcello Giordani tenor (Gabriele Adorno) / José van Dam bass-baritone (Simon Boccanegra) / James Morris bass (Jacopo Fiesco) / Nicola Alaimo baritone (Paolo Albiani) /
Raymond Aceto bass (Pietro) / Garrett Sorenson tenor (A Captain)

The BSO did concert performances of this Verdi opera last January, and WGBH was planning to rebroadcast it on February 8. For some reason, they didn't. But now it's scheduled for today, Sunday, May 17, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (just over 4 hours from when I'm posting this). I think the music is worth hearing. I attended one of the performances and thought it was well done. for the stream.

Friday, May 15, 2009


The pastor of my parish likes to have parish trips to hear the Boston Pops. This year's trip was on Tuesday, May 12. I went along. We had a block of seats in the center section of the first balcony, and we sold all the seats we had requested.

It was a pretty good concert, starting with movie music, then a cellist, Maria Beiser, and after intermission jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli with his quartet. The cellist did three pieces which had been composed or arranged for her. All three were fairly slow, and it got to be tedious after a while, although she played them well. The jazz group performed arrangements af a half dozen or so Gershwin tunes. It was much more lively and enjoyable ( a surprising conclusion for someone who prefers classical, which the cellist gave us, to jazz).

I was amazed at how sparse the attendance was. The sides of both balconies were practically empty, and the center section where we were sitting was only about half full. I've never seen so many empty seats in the balconies at a Symphony concert. And the pastor says it was the worst attendance he has seen in all the years he's been taking groups to the Pops. It seems that they have to do something to make the programs more attractive. IMO they rely too heavily on movies, and too little on light classical and popular music.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Orgy Period

There was so much other stuff happening the past couple of days that I forgot to alert you that another Orgy® Period has begun. The full schedule is available.

We've already missed the Asian Composers orgy, but the Blaxploitation Soundtrack Orgy begins at midnight, just over 8 hours from posting. There's an Anton Bruckner Orgy Sunday and Monday. But perhaps the major item is the Franz Joseph Haydn Orgy beginning at 7:00 a.m. (Eastern Time) on May 5 and ending around midnight on Friday, May 15 (with overnight and weekend interruptions). This is to observe the 200th anniversary of his death.

The Dylan Alphabetical Orgy will begin at 7:00p.m. on Sunday, May 17, and continue, with some interruptions, until 10:00 p.m. on Friday, May 22.

To observe the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth there will be an orgy titled "Mystic Chords of Memory: Abraham Lincoln in Words and Music" from 12:30 p.m. until midnight on May 24.

For everything else, including jazz and rock, see the schedule.

Friday, May 1, 2009

BSO — 2009/04/30-05/01-02: Season Finale —Review and Comment

I liked it, but the Boston Globe's reviewer had faint praise. Interestingly, the review that I've linked contains a three minute audio clip from the piano concerto.

Even though the performance was sold out, there were several empty seats. Maybe people were afraid of the swine flu. There was a pretty good number of late teenagers in the audience. I don't know if management "papered the house" but it is always good to have young people there.

As the Globe reviewer says, the Te Deum doesn't quite match the Requiem, but it's still good Berlioz. I gave them a standing O, which I don't do for everything. And it is remarkable that the chorus always memorize their music and sing without scores — this time in a piece which lasted over 45 minutes. There were a couple of faulty intonations in the horns (and you've got to expect that anywhere), but everything else seemed very well performed.

The piano concerto is lovely music, and it went off without a hitch.

I still strongly recommend listening if you have a chance.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

BSO — 2009/04/30-05/01-02: Season Finale

For the final concerts of the 2008-09 BSO season, the illustrious English conductor Sir Colin Davis brings the monumental Te Deum of Berlioz, a composer with whose music Sir Colin has long and profound experience. Tenor Matthew Polenzani, who has sung in recent BSO performances of Berlioz's Requiem and Roméo et Juliette, joins the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and the PALS Children's Chorus for these performances. The elegant English pianist Imogen Cooper is soloist in Mozart's majestic Piano Concerto No. 25, written in Vienna in 1786.

The BSO website says that tonight's performance is sold out. Further info is available by following the links beginning on the page I've linked. I'm not sure how much of the popularity of tonight's performance is for the music, and how much has to do with Sir Colin, who has been pretty popular here. But a sellout is not a frequent occurrence.

This is a program not to be missed, IMO. As usual it will be streamed over WGBH (click Radio, then Listen WGBH 89.7) on Friday at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight  (Summer) Time (with a pre-concert show at 1:00), and over WCRB (click Listen Live) at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on Saturday. If you can listen to both, I especially recommend WGBH for the interviews that are part of the intermission and preview. But both give you the music.

I'm especially looking forward to the Berlioz piece. I don't think I've ever heard it, but his Requiem is spectacular and I'm hoping for something comparable musically. For me there is the added attraction that the text is a liturgical piece of thanksgiving to God. On Sundays outside Lent and Advent t is part of the Office of Readings (Matins). Great composers have composed settings in honor of victories or royal recoveries of health. M.-A. Charpentier and G. F. Handel come to mind as two who have contributed to the genre. Columbus is said to have ordered a Te Deum sung (probably on of the Gregorian chant settings) when his ships made land on his first voyage.

Check back for a review from the Boston Globe and maybe my own comments from the Thursday performance, which is part of my subscription — if I haven't already added them by the time you read this.

Friday, April 24, 2009

BSO — 2009/04/23-25


RAVEL Le Tombeau de Couperin

STRAVINSKY Pulcinella Suite

DEBUSSY Petite Suite

STRAVINSKY Symphony in C

Susanna Mälkki will conduct the concerts April 23, 24, and 25
About the Music

Debussy's early, short Petite Suite for piano four-hands was orchestrated colorfully by Henri Büsser in "Debussy style" in 1907. Ravel made his own orchestrations of his piano suite Le Tombeau de Couperin, an homage to the French Baroque composer Couperin. Stravinsky's Pulcinella ballet, written just a few years later, takes some of its music from Pergolesi and refashions it in purely Stravinskian good humor.
As usual, the Saturday evening concert will be streamed over WCRB (see link to right).
The Boston Globe liked Ms. Mällki's debut with the orchestra.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

God Save the [Reigning Sovereign]

When I said I wasn't planning to do any national anthems soon, I was forgetting that today (April 23, which it is where and when I'm writing) is St. George's Day. So here goes.

Here's what the English sing before international sports contests.

But since Betty Windsor's sovereignty extends beyond the boundaries of England, I've decided to add a couple of pieces which seem to refer to England itself. On the second one, you can fast forward to 4:30 to get to the familiar tune.

The words don't come through too clearly in the versions of "Land of Hope and Glory" and "Jerusalem" above, so here are others.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

BSO — 2009/04/16-18

The concert, which I will attend on Thursday consists of
Beethoven: Violin Concerto — with Isabelle Faust (replacing Julia Fischer) as soloist
Mahler: Symphony No. 4 — with Juliane Banse as soprano soloist in the finale
all under the baton of guest conductor Mark Wigglesworth (replacing the originally scheduled guest, Yuri Temirkanov).

I really like the Beethoven concerto, and I'm very much looking forward to it. Unfortunately, they will not give the usual matinee performance on Friday, so you will not have the chance to listen to it then. But there will be the normal Saturday evening performance, and I expect it to be streamed over WCRB at 8:00 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time. And maybe WGBH will make it one of their Sunday afternoon broadcasts. Keep checking their website.

See the BSO website for more info.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

April 14: Anniversary

Martin in Broda reminds us that April 14, which it still is here for another hour, is the 250th anniversary of the death of George Frideric Handel. Worth remembering. Here's another article.

Boston's Handel and Haydn Society gave the American premiere of Messiah and has performed it every year since the mid 19th century.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

BSO — 2009/04/09-14 Edited: Review Added

This week's Boston Symphony Orchestra program, to be streamed over WGBH at 1:30 p.m. EDT on Friday, and WCRB at 8:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday will be:

Sibelius — "The Bard"
Grieg — Piano Concerto
Copland — Suite from "Appalachian Spring"
Bartók — Suite from "The Miraculous Mandarin"

conducted by BSO Assistant Conductor Shi-Yeon Sung, with Nelson Friere as soloist in the Grieg.

There was an article about the conductor in yesterday's Boston Herald. Last summer she conducted a BSO concert at Tanglewood. Here's a Boston Globe article about that and another concert the same weekend.

More information about the concert is available at the BSO website, including podcasts about the pieces, linked to the first page.

And here's the Globe's review.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Jean-Frédéric Neuburger

Last Friday evening M. Neuburger gave a concert at the Harvard Musical Association. He's about 22 years old and has been winning prizes as a pianist and organist for the past ten years. He gave a piano program of five pieces — Bach, Franck, Ravel, and 2 by Chopin. It was over an hour of music, and he did it all from memory. More importantly, he did it well. The audience applauded enthusiastically, and he gave an encore, by Debussy, also from memory.

So here's another name to look for in a concert hall near you.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mistake? — Poll

I must admit, I've been a little surprised that none of the (few) people who view this blog had any comment on my post of Danny Boy. Maybe it's just my sense of humo(u)r, but I thought it was hilarious.

Well, it has occurred to me that I may have made a mistake by posting Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau so soon after Danny Boy. This had the effect of hiding it from everybody who uses sidebars to see what's new on blogs. So I'm wondering if posting in the other order would have made a difference. Did you ignore Hen Wlad, but would have gone for Danny Boy if you knew it was there?

See the poll to the right. It's asking whether you read either of those posts before you saw this one. And if not, would you have if the order had been different and you knew Danny Boy was there?

Added April 13: The poll got 6 responses. Three said they had seen at least one of the posts, which tells me that the order didn't matter, because even if they had just seen "Hen Wlad," "Danny Boy" was already there, so they could have seen it just be scrolling down. The other three said that they hadn't read either but they wouldn't have looked at "Danny Boy" even if it had shown as the more recent post. So six of six either read it or were not prevented by the order of the posts. That means that if it was a mistake, it made no difference, and I'm sort of pleased to know it.

Thanks to everybody who participated.

I've removed the poll. It's served its purpose.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau

As I noted (possibly on the other blog), I missed St. David's Day, March 1. But I want to extend belated greetings to all of Welsh extraction and invite all to enjoy some versions of the Welsh national anthem.

Here's a version with lyrics and nice pics, sung by the Welsh baritone Bryn Terfel. See the wiki article for other translations and info about its composition.

And here it is at a rugby match. I especially like the face painting and the fan with the sheep! (At least I think that's what it is.)


I'm not planning any other anthems anytime soon.

Danny Boy

 Following up on Amhrán na bhFiann, here is the Danny Boy to end all Danny Boy's.

Friday, March 27, 2009

18 Year Old Cellist

This evening I went to a concert at the Harvard Musical Association. The performer was Tavi Ungerleider, the person referred to in the title of this post. He is the latest winner of the Association's High School Achievement Award.

The announcement of the concert said, "A freshman in the Columbia-Juilliard School of Music joint degree program, Tavi Ungerleider has won numerous accolades, including First Prize, New England Conservatory Concerto Competition, and First Prize, National Federation of the Music Clubs Award. He will present Beethoven’s Sonata No. 4 for Piano and Cello in C Major, op. 102, no. 1; Britten’s Cello Suite No. 1, op. 72; and Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne (from Pulcinella), for cello and piano. Mr. Ungerleider’s recital partner will be pianist, Sayuri Miyamoto."

He played the second piece from memory, and he did very well on all three. Seemed as if he was having the most fun with the last one.

His identical twin brother, Oren, who plays violin and is also studying at Julliard was runner-up in the competition for this award; and they have an older brother who plays piano.

I think we'll be hearing his name a lot once he embarks on a full-time career. So remember, you heard it here first.

BSO — 2009/03/26-28

Again I'm late with the announcement of this week's BSO concert.

They're giving
Ravel's Mother Goose Suite
Prokofiev's Second Violin Concerto, with Lisa Batiashvili as the soloist
and after intermission
Stravinsky's ballet Petrushka (1911 version).

The conductor is Charles Dutoit.

I was there Thursday evening (only because it was part of my subscription series — none of it excites me) and I thought it was well played. But what do I know?

The Boston Globe's reviewer liked it.

The WGBH stream will begin in less than an hour and a half from the time I post this, and on Saturday at 8:00 Eastern Daylight Time, WCRB will stream it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Amhrán na bhFiann: Edited

Now for something completely different.

A couple of years ago I got fascinated with the national anthems of the Celtic peoples. I missed St. David's Day for the Welsh, and I'll try to get to it soon. But here, in honor of St. Patrick's Day is the Irish National Anthem, in several versions.


despite what it says about never singing it in English, the words were first written in English and later translated into Irish.

Here it is in English

A complete version, followed by instrumental renditions

The wiki article, including a complete translationán_na_bhFiann

You can also hear it being sung at sporting events on some of the related videos on YouTube

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Edited to give correct url for wiki article. Thanks to TRiG for pointing out error in original post.