Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Radio/Webstream

December 24 at 10:00 a.m. Boston Time ( = 3:00 p.m. England Time) WCRB will give a live broadcast/stream of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from Kings College Cambridge. So if you have no other source for it, you can listen there.

And then in the evening, at 8:00 Boston time, they'll present the Handel & Haydn's performance of Messiah, recorded earlier this month in Symphony Hall.

Finally, Bach's Christmas Oratorio will be broadcast/streamed in a recording by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Ricardo Chailly. It seems it will be done in three installments: Friday at 3:00 p.m.; Saturday at 10:00 a.m.; and Sunday at 10:00 a.m.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Orgy Period — December, 2010

I've been figuratively asleep at the proverbial switch. WHRB's (not to be confused with WCRB) current Winter Orgy® Period is in full swing (or full classical at the moment). Right now (Tuesday afternoon) they are in the midst of the Robert Schumann Orgy®, in observance of the 200th anniversary year of his birth. With breaks from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., this orgy continues until 10:00 p.m., Thursday, December 16. On Sunday afternoon, the Leonard Bernstein Orgy begins. Later there will be the Alban Berg Orgy.

We've already missed the William Schuman Centenary Orgy (not to be confused with Robert Schumann), the Warhorse Orgy, the Baroque Violin Orgy, and the Impressionist Music Orgy.

If you're at all interested, you can get the (sorta) complete program guide at — also the site to visit for the webstreams. You'll note that regular programming also includes Metropolitan Opera broadcasts (including Don Carlo, one of my favorites) this Saturday, their own Historic Performances program, Sunday Night at the Opera, and various specials and concert rebroadcasts from San Francisco and the Royal Concertgebouw once the orgy period and Harvard hockey games are out of the way.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Boston Pops; Handel and Haydn Messiah

The Boston Symphony is on hiatus through the end of December. In its place, the Boston Pops are giving their annual Holiday Pops concerts daily through December 26, except on Christmas day itself. WCRB has announced that they will broadcast and stream this Saturday's concert, which begins at 7:30. As usual, there will be a lead-in show starting at 7:00. I don't see anything official about the remaining Saturdays of December or about January 1, but I would not be surprised if December 11 and 18 also included those evenings' Pops concerts. (The BSO will return to Symphony Hall on January 6, with a broadcast on Saturday, January 8.)

Every December, the Handel and Haydn Society performs Handel's "Messiah." This year's performances took place last weekend, under the baton of their still-new music director, Harry Christophers, and WCRB will broadcast and stream this year's version twice: Sunday December 19, at 2:00 p.m. (good for listeners in Europe, for whom this will be Sunday evening), and Friday, December 24, at 8:00 p.m. (which translates to sometime during Christmas day for Antipodean and Asian listeners). The performances were well received by the Boston Globe's critic.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

BSO — 2010/12/2-4

I was in Symphony Hall again on Thursday for this weekend's program, described as follows on the BSO website.
James Levine leads the BSO and Danish violinist Nikolaj Znaider in Mozart’s elegant Violin Concerto No. 3, one of the five concertos for the instrument Mozart wrote in his late teens. Also on the program is Schumann’s Symphony No. 2. Which he wrote in 1845 following a bout with debilitating depression, but the work is ultimately affirmative in character. Continuing another cycle, John Harbison’s Symphony No. 2 is the third of the six Harbison symphonies to be performed by the BSO this season and next. Written in 1987, its four movements are titled evocatively “Dawn,” “Daylight,” “Dusk,” and “Darkness.” 
I thought it was all worth hearing. While the Harbison 2nd Symphony isn't quite as accessible to me as the 1st, I'm looking forward to hearing it again in this evening's broadcast.

If you're thinking of listening, once more I recommend going to the BSO page that links preview material, and if you've got the time for it, there will probably be some good preview features both on the Mozart and the Harbison during WCRB's "pre-game show" at 7:00, Boston Time.

The Boston Globe review also contains the reviewer's description of the Harbison symphony, along with his review of the performances.

Friday, December 3, 2010

BSO — Rehearing

I did get a ticket to last Tuesday's repeat performance of the Schumann and Harbison symphonies,* and I'm glad I was able to do so.

I enjoyed the Schumann "Rhenish" Symphony even more than on Friday. The brass section had a prominent part in the symphony, and they were in top form — as good as in last season's Beethoven 6th Symphony.

But it was even more worthwhile for the replay of John Harbison's First Symphony. On Friday, I was especially impressed by the verve and dynamic rhythms of the fourth movement. But on Tuesday, I became aware of the musical beauties of the first three movements — I noticed things that I hadn't in my first hearing of the work, and they greatly enhanced my enjoyment of the piece.

Having a chance to hear a new piece of music several times in a short period is certainly a great help to appreciation. In its early years, when programs weren't set long in advance, the BSO sometimes would play a new piece a second time shortly after the first performance. It's unfortunate that they no longer do that. Maybe when composers get commissions, they should stipulate a level of repetition.

*On both occasions, the concert concluded with the Prelude and Liebestod from "Tristan und Isoolde," and on both occasions I left before it was played. While I enjoy a fair amount of Wagner's music, I find "Tristan" tedious, and I did not want to spoil the experience of Schumann and Harbison by sitting through the opera excerpts.