Saturday, January 29, 2011

BSO — 2011/01/207-02/01; Met — 01/29

From the BSO website:

In these concerts led by the great German conductor Christoph von Dohnányi, BSO principal players Elizabeth Rowe, flute, and John Ferrillo, oboe, step to the front of the orchestra to perform György Ligeti’s 1972 Double Concerto. Making her BSO subscription series debut, the young German violinist Arabella Steinbacher is soloist in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4. Antonín Dvořák wrote his powerful yet elegant Symphony No. 7 for London’s Royal Philharmonic Society. The success of this 1885 work helped greatly to establish the composer’s international fame. 

The Globe reviewer liked the Ligeti and thought the rest was okay.

I was in the back row of the second balcony, and unfortunately I was listening more to the sound than the music. It seems more balanced than my regular subscription seat, where brass and timpani predominate; but you still can't hear the reeds through the full orchestra playing forte.

It was an enjoyable concert. I had taken the precaution of listening to the BSO "Media Player" (click on the "Launch" button under "Ligeti, Mozart and Dvořák" on the page I've linked) and had a foretaste of the Ligeti sound, and knowing what I was in for definitely made it easier to enjoy. I definitely recommend listening to it if you aren't sure about the Ligeti. You can skip the second part, about the Dvořák.

Anyway, Ligeti has an interesting sound and technique. As the Globe reviewer notes, there are microtones, so the sound is often sort of a wash, rather than crisp. And the music is generally quiet — so much so that it never drowned out the faint ringing I have had in my left ear for the past several years. I thought the violinist in the Mozart was good, and I liked her cadenzas. The Dvořák was an enjoyable performance of something I'm slightly familiar with.

As I write, the Met is doing "Tosca." Puccini is not my favorite opera composer. The tenor's voice seemed tight in "Recondita Armonia," but the soprano did well in "Vissi d'Arte."

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