Saturday, March 12, 2011

BSO — 2011/03/10-12; Met 03/12

As I write, the Met is broadcasting Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov." If you read this soon enough, you can catch some of it on the web over WHRB.

This evening the BSO is giving Symphony No. 93 by Haydn, Bela Bartók's Third Piano Concerto, and, after intermission, the Beethoven 5th Symphony. Guest conductor is Roberto Abbado, and Peter Serkin is the pianist.

I heard the performance on Thursday evening and really enjoyed it. In retrospect, I guess the ensemble seemed a bit ragged at points, but the most important thing was that the Bartók concerto was actually enjoyable to listen to (for me anyway), and it's always a pleasant surprise when something by Bartók is enjoyable. Of course Haydn is always worth hearing. In the Beethoven some reviewers thought the tempi were too fast. I hadn't noticed it, but come to think of it, the beginning of the fourth movement was definitely faster than some conductors used to take it. Anyway, I think it's all worth hearing, and I want to record the Bartók.

Here's how the BSO website describes the program.
The intense poetic individuality of Beethoven’s nine symphonies heralded the start of Romanticism. In his Symphony No. 5—the most immediately recognizable symphonic work in the repertoire—he focuses almost obsessively on the famous opening four-note motif, which infuses the entire piece as it moves through a wide variety of moods from the dark C minor of the opening to the work’s triumphant C major close. Hearing Beethoven’s Fifth played live by a great orchestra never fails to revitalize this familiar piece for any listener. Haydn’s Symphony No. 93, which opens this program, was one of a dozen such works he wrote for audiences in London, where he spent two triumphant musical seasons in the first half of the 1790s. Dating from the height of his international career, Haydn’s twelve “London” symphonies (Nos. 93-103) stand as a culmination of the genre in the Classical era. Between the two symphonies on this program, acclaimed American pianist Peter Serkin joins Roberto Abbado and the BSO for one of the mid-twentieth century’s most engagingly atmospheric concertos, Béla Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 3, intended originally as a vehicle for his wife, and written not long after the Hungarian composer’s ever-popular Concerto for Orchestra. [Emphasis added.]

For more from the website about the music you can go to this page and launch the media center.

And here's a link to the review in the Boston Globe.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

BSO — 2011/03/03-08

From the BSO website:
In these special concerts, Christian Tetzlaff is soloist in all three works on the program, including the world premiere of Harrison Birtwistle’s new work for violin and orchestra, a BSO commission for Tetzlaff. On these concerts Christian Tetzlaff also performs Mozart’s single-movement Rondo in C and Bartók’s scintillating Violin Concerto No. 2, influenced by the folk music of Central Europe.   *
BSO Music Director James Levine has had to withdraw from his remaining scheduled concerts of the BSO's 2010-11 season, March 3-19, including Symphony Hall, Carnegie Hall, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and Kennedy Center appearances, though all concerts will take place as scheduled.

Maestro Levine is forced to cancel appearances due to ill effects from a recent procedure addressing his ongoing back issues, further complicated by a viral infection.
*Emphasis added.

Not only has Maestro Levine withdrawn from his remaining concerts this season (this series and four touring performances later this month, but he has also resigned the Music Directorship, effective September 1, 2011. Here's a link to the official announcement. IMO, it was a decision that had to be made. His ongoing back problems have been forcing him to cancel far too many appearances. Still it's sad that it has come to this. He's done an excellent job with the orchestra in the time he's been here, and it's unfortunate to miss out on "what might have been" if he had been healthy.

Brian Bell of WCRB has recorded an interview with the Managing Director of the BSO, Mark Volpe about Maestro Levine's resignation, and it will be broadcast at some point during the hour before the concert. It is or was also on the WCRB website, and, having listened to it there, I can tell you it's really interesting.

BSO Assistant Conductor Marcelo Lehninger is substituting for Maestro Levine. I was there on Thursday evening, and didn't really care for either the Birtwistle concerto, which had its world premiere that evening, nor the Bartók. But if you like 20th-21st century music, you might like this show. And the violinist handled it well, I guess.