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.