Saturday, April 10, 2010

BSO — 2010/04/08-10: P/review

Sorry for the late notice. I thought I had already mentioned this one.

First the big news: Maestro Levine had to cancel his appearances at the past two weeks' concerts as well as this week's. The BSO got a young conductor named Jayce Ogren to take the Lieberson premiere. He substituted Sibelius' "Finlandia" and "Valse Triste" for the Debussy "Jeux" which was to have opened the program. It turns out the BSO has not performed these pieces for a long time, and it was good to hear the. He seemed to me to do a competent job all around. Then for Elijah, they were fortunate to get Rafeal Frühbeck de Burgos as conductor. The oratorio is a favorite of his and he conducts it fairly regularly, so it was in good hands. Since it was Holy Week, I didn't get to it, but the reviews were favorable.

This week we have another world premiere: "Double Concerto for Violin, Violoncello, and Orchestra" by John Harbison. The conductor this week is Carlos Kalmar, a Uruguayan born conductor of Austrian parentage (the name looks Hungarian), who is currently the music director of the Oregon Symphony Orchestra and principal conductor of the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago. I was at the first performance, on Thursday, and enjoyed the new piece. It was commissioned for the BSO by the Friends of Dresden Music Foundation to honor violinist Roman Totenberg, who will be 100 years old next January 1. Mr. Totenberg was born in Poland but has long made his home and taught in the Boston area. The Friends had in mind a piece for his former student Mira Wang, whom he helped come from China to the US, and her husband, the cellist Jan Vogler, who for a time was principal cellist of the Dresden Staatskapelle. James Levine suggested John Harbison as the composer. Harbison, knowing that the "creators" of the solo parts are husband and wife, decided to write it as a dialogue between the spouses, with "misunderstandings" along the way, but eventual agreement, and then a bit more conversation.

As I said, I enjoyed it, and you can too, since it will get its broadcast premiere this evening at 8:00 (Boston time) on WCRB. It will be first on the program. After intermission that will play Mahler's Symphony No. 7.

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