Friday, January 21, 2011

BSO — 2011/01/20-25; Met — 01/22 (Revised)

The BSO website says this about the program that will be played on Saturday this week.

 The illustrious American conductor Lorin Maazel brings a program anchored by Alexander Scriabin’s lushly exotic Poem of Ecstasy, which features kaleidoscopic orchestral effects including a major role for the Symphony Hall organ. Equally exotic but on a smaller scale is a 1917 Stravinsky work, The Song of the Nightingale. This symphonic poem of music from his opera The Nightingale is based on a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale with a Chinese theme. Tchaikovsky’s light, familiar Suite No. 3 for orchestra begins these concerts.

There's a lot more available if you click Launch Media Center on the page where I found the description. One minor tidbit is that when Maestro Maazel made his debut with the BSO fifty years ago, the Stravinsky and Scriabin pieces were on one of the two programs he gave. As always, you can hear the concert by listening to WCRB over the web at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, January 22. And as always there is an introductory show beginning an hour earlier.

I haven't found a review of the Thursday performance in print or on line.* I liked the Tchaikovsky best. It was all easy to take, and the last part was a big theme and variations, with the final variation being a polonaise. I really like the polonaise rhythm, and as any who know "Eugene Onegin" can attest, Tchaikovsky knows how to write a polonaise for orchestra. I very nearly gave a standing ovation. After intermission was okay. The Stravinsky was interesting, but I was ready for it to be over a few minutes before Stravinsky was. And the Scriabin was big and loud. Both pieces had some nifty solo playing.

*The Boston Globe finally got around to publishing a review in today's (Saturday) paper. Faint praise, except for the soloists, whom he names. — Note added January 22.

On Saturday afternoon, the Met is giving Verdi's "Rigoletto" at 1:00. WHRB will stream it. When I became interested in opera, the first complete opera recording I had was a Christmas present of "Rigoletto" with Leonard Warren in the title role and Toscanini conducting. If I'm not mistaken Erna Berger was Gilda, and the other principals were Nan Merriman and Italo Tajo. Anyway, I had been quite unfamiliar with that opera, but it proved quite satisfying. I've come to prefer some other Verdi operas, such as "Trovatore," "Don Carlo," and "Forza del Destiono," for example. But "Rigoletto" has fine music well matched to the tragic story.

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