Saturday, December 29, 2012

BSO — 2012/12/29-30; New Year's Day from Vienna

Classical New England is playing repeats this evening and tomorrow at the regular Boston Symphony times.

Saturday, Dec. 29
Celebrate Tanglewood!
Take off the parka and put away the snow shovel!  Join us for an encore broadcast of the Gala Celebration of the 75th anniversary of Tanglewood, with conductors Keith Lockhart, John Williams, Stefan Asbury, David Zinman, and Andris Nelsons, as well as cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, and pianists Emanuel Ax and Peter Serkin.

Sunday, Dec. 30
In an encore broadcast, soprano Layla Claire is joined by mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey and narrator Claire Bloom for Mendelssohn's incidental music for Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and Bernard Haitink conducts Beethoven's Symphony No. 1.

Here's what I posted at the time of the Beethoven and Mendelssohn concert. I can't find anything about the one from Tanglewood.

On New Year's Day, at 11 a.m Boston Time (5 p.m. Vienna Time, I think), they will broadcast and stream the traditional New Year's Day Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

BSO — 2012/12/22-23

Saturday December 22 at 7:00 p.m. Classical New England is broadcasting and streaming the Boston Pops live in their Holiday Pops concert. There will be a repeat on Sunday, December 23, at 1:00 p.m.

See earlier posts for info about other Christmas-related programming on CNE.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Recent Concerts

Andreas Scholl.  On Friday evening, Andreas Scholl gave a recital at the Harvard Musical Association, with his wife accompanying him on the piano. The program was the same as one he gave in New York on December 8 at Alice Tully Hall. One of the pieces he performed was Schubert's "Death and the Maiden." Here is a recording he made a few months ago. (Spoiler — I recommend listening before reading further.) What makes this especially interesting is that he uses his baritone voice for the second stanza, Death's reply to the maiden. It was very effective, not only because the different range is appropriate, but also because hearing his lower voice was so unexpected.

Here's a review of the New York performance. Here's another (with the reviewer unaware that Mr. Scholl was to give a private recital in Boston six days later). I'm not sure of the capacity of Alice Tully Hall, but the Marsh Room at the HMA holds about 100 people, so I'm sure ours was more intimate. And afterwards, we were able to gather downstairs for chocolates, macaroons, and sparkling rosé wine and chat with the artists (I myself didn't, because I couldn't think of anything to say, but other people did).

I liked the recital, but I think the Times reviewer may be right that Scholl's voice is more suited to baroque, or maybe it's just that I like countertenors better opera, because, good as he was, I couldn't get fully engaged. Here are some recordings of him in opera

and in solo recital (including some pieces he sang for us)

You can decide what you like, if anything. (BTW, you can get the idea on most of these without listening all the way through.)

Bach Christmas Oratorio.  Sunday afternoon I went to the Handel and Haydn Society's presentation of Parts 1, 2, and 6 of the Christmas Oratorio. Their earlier performance got a mixed review in the Boston Globe. I hadn't read the review before I went on Sunday, and I didn't find anything really wrong with the performance — maybe a couple of points where it wasn't quite as vigorous as I would have liked, but overall I was quite satisfied.

Here's a link to the whole oratorio, performed by vocal soloists, the Monteverdi Choir, and English Baroque Soloists conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner in Weimar in 1999. I don't recommend listening to the whole thing all at once. You can do something similar to how it was originally heard if you listen to the first part on Christmas Day, second on December 26, third on the 27th, fourth on New Year's Day, fifth on January 2, and sixth on January 6. Or you can approximate my experience by listening to the first and second parts, taking a twenty minute intermission, and then listening to part 6. You can find other performances on videos: the whole oratorio, individual cantatas, and specific numbers. My favorite is this one from the first part, here sung by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. (BTW, the Gardiner version, with Dietrich Henschel takes 4:20, while Kurt Thomas and Fischer-Dieskau take 5:10. I somewhat prefer Henschel/Gardiner, largely because I don't care for Fischer-Dieskau's near staccato on multi-note syllables.)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

BSO — 2012/12/15-16

This week's Boston Symphony rebroadcasts on Classical New England are as follows:
[quote]Saturday, Dec. 15, and Sunday, Dec. 16
Celebrate Beethoven!Beethoven name on proscenium at Symphony Hall
For the anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven, CNE brings you two BSO encore performances of music by the composer whose name sits above the stage at Symphony Hall.

Michelle DeYoungOn Saturdy at 7pm, mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung is joined by soprano Christine Brewer, tenor Simon O'Neill, and bass Eric Owens for Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and conductor John Oliver.

Christoph von Dohnanyi
Then, on Sunday at 1pm, Christoph von Dohnanyi leads the BSO in the Tanglewood Opening Night program of 2012, with an All-Beethoven concert that includes the Leonore Overture No. 3, the Symphony No. 6, "Pastoral," and the Symphony No. 5, a program that re-creates the BSO's first concert at Tanglewood.[/quote]

Their BSO page has links to background material.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

BSO — 2012/12/08-09; Other Broadcast/Webstream Attractions

It happens every year that that for most of December, instead of regular subscription series concerts, the Boston Symphony presents Holiday Pops concerts. This year they began on December 5, and they'll continue through December 24. Then the musicians get a little vacation, I guess, until concerts resume on January 10. So there will be no live symphony concerts until January 12, 2013. During that period, Classical New England will broadcast and stream the Holiday Pops live on December 22 and rebroadcast it on December 23. On the other weekends through December 30, they will be giving us "encore broadcasts" of some previous concerts. They don't include their plans for January 5 and 6 on their BSO page at this point. But the page does give brief descriptions of the concerts they'll be reprising through the rest of December. It also has the schedule for the regular concert broadcasts when they resume. I'll try to remember to give a notice week by week as they come up, but if I miss a week you can go there to check it out.

December 8.  
Violinist Itzhak PerlmanIn an encore broadcast, Itzhak Perlman is both soloist and conductor in the BSO's All-Beethoven Opening Night concert, including the two Romances for violin and orchestra and the Symphony No. 7.  Also, Bernard Haitink leads the BSO in Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9.
 There is information about the opening night concert in my post of September 21. I hope the links are still working. The second part of the broadcast, with Haitink conducting, looks like the concert of May 5, 2012, the one I called "Last Night at Symphony" in my post on it.

December 9.
Conductor Stephane DeneveStéphane Denève returns to the podium at Symphony Hall to conduct Berlioz's Overture to Les Francs-juges, the Saint-Saëns's Piano Concerto No. 5, the "Egyptian," with soloist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Three Interludes from James MacMillan'sThe Sacrifice, and the Suite No. 2 from Roussel's Bacchus et Ariane.
As usual, this is the rebroadcast of last weekend's Saturday evening broadcast. My post is here.

Other Broadcast/Webstream Attractions.

Classical New England also has a page for their "2012 Holiday Specials." Among the items that particularly interest me are:

  • Bach's "Christmas Oratorio" being given one cantata per week on The Bach Hour Sundays at 6:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Apparently they began last Sunday, because this weel it's the second of the six cantatas;
  • "A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols" from King's College Cambridge (England) broadcast/streamed live on December 24 at 10:00 a.m. our time (They've been doing this for years, and it's always good.);
  • A rebroadcast of the Handel and Haydn Messiah on Christmas Day in the morning at 10:00 (If you're not in church, you might want to listen.);
  • The New Year's Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic at 11:00 on January 1 — another standard offering for a number of years (I'm not sure if this is live or an hour or two delayed. I thought the concert is at 15.00, which would be 9:00 a.m. here, but I could be wrong.).
There are many other items listed on that page, so take a look and see what else appeals to you you.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Winter Orgy® Period 2012

The Winter Orgy Period on WHRB has begun. We've already missed the Hans Rosbaud Orgy on December 1, the Warhorse Orgy on December 2, and the Midori Orgy yesterday. As I write this, the Hummel Orgy is underway, and will continue through Friday, December 7. You can listen to the webstream at and you can access the current program guide for specific times of the orgies at

In general,  it seems that this time they are giving the classical orgies on afternoons and evenings with other types of music overnight and into the morning. There are also interruptions for Harvard hockey and basketball games. That's why you'll want to check out the program guide.

But here's a list of the classical orgies with their starting and ending dates:
  • Johan Nepomuk Hummel     December 4-7
  • Claude Debussy     December 9-12
  • Alfred Cortot     December 13-17
  • Rodion Shchedrin     December 16
  • Krzysztof Penderecki     December 18-19
  • Jean Françaix     December 20
  • Moriz Rosenthal     December 20

Sunday, December 2, 2012

H & H Messiah — Sunday, December 2, 2012

Classical New England will broadcast and stream the Handel and Haydn Society's performance of Handel's "Messiah" live from Symphony Hall this afternoon at 3:00 Eastern Time. Definitely worth hearing, IMO. You can go here for CNE's links to program notes as well as information about other seasonal programming.

H & H's page about Messiah has further links and introduces the performance as follows:
A tradition for 159 years—make it yours! Harry Christophers conducts the Period Instrument Orchestra, Chorus, and internationally acclaimed soloists in Handel’s dramatic masterwork. Don’t miss Canadian superstars soprano Karina Gauvin and countertenor Daniel Taylor, British tenor extraordinaire James Gilchrist, and Boston's own premier baritone Sumner Thompson in this season’s unique rendition of this Boston tradition. No holiday season is complete without Handel’s stunning oratorio.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

BSO — 2012/11/29-12/01

This week's Boston Symphony program is mostly French, with three French composers, a French conductor, and a French pianist. There is also music by a Scottish composer. Some details are provided in the BSO's details page, which also has links to program notes, audio previews, and an interview with the conductor.
Returning to the BSO podium for the third consecutive season, French conductor Stéphane Denève leads the BSO in a trio of French works by composers from his native country: Berlioz's dynamic overture to his unfinished early opera Les Francs-juges, Albert Roussel's Suite No. 2 from his 1930 ballet Bacchus et Ariane, and Saint-Saëns's Piano Concerto No. 5, Egyptian, with fellow Frenchman Jean-Yves Thibaudet as soloist. Also on the program are the Three Interludes from The Sacrifice, Scottish contemporary composer James MacMillan's 2006 opera on a story from The Mabinogion, an ancient collection of Welsh legend.

I was there on Thursday, and I'm looking forward to hearing the music again on the broadcast and the webstream repeat. I wouldn't call any of it the greatest music of all time, but it all was good and I think a rehearing or two will bring even more understanding and enjoyment. The newest piece, interludes from MacMillan's opera "The Sacrifice, felt more accessible during the performance than had MacMillan's St. John Passion, which we heard almost three years ago. The Globe's reviewer was very pleased with the performance.

Go to Classical New England to listen to the webstream approximately live this evening and check out their BSO page for broadcast/streaming schedules as well as their own interview with the conductor.

Friday, November 23, 2012

BSO — 2012/11/23-27

There was no concert on Thanksgiving, so the performances this week began with the Friday matinee and will continue, as frequently happens, through Tuesday evening. As usual, you can find links to the program notes, as well as audio previews of the works being presented, on the program details page of the BSO website. It also gives this brief synopsis of the program.
Christian Zacharias displays both his podium and keyboard skills in an all-Classical program featuring the three great masters of the Austro-German Classical style, beginning with the BSO's first-ever performances of Haydn's Symphony No. 76. The program continues with Mr. Zacharias at the keyboard for Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 18. For the second half of the program, the BSO plays its first-ever performances of Beethoven's complete ballet score to The Creatures of Prometheus.
Actually, that last line is misleading. "The Creatures of Prometheus" consists of an overture and 16 "numbers." The BSO is performing the overture and seven of the remaining parts, including the finale. From the program note, it does not seem that they have ever done the full ballet.

You might want to check out more of the website for additional info about doings in Symphony Hall: future programs and artists, interviews with members of the orchestra, and other features.

Of course, Friday afternoon concerts are not part of my regular subscription series, all of which are for Thursday evenings, but I expected this to be an enjoyable concert, and my brother was interested also. So I got a couple of tickets. (Long-time readers may recall that I have gone to Friday concerts on the day after Thanksgiving in previous years.) I really enjoyed it. The music was not challenging or difficult to listen to, but it all had substance as well as style. As I said to my brother at the end of the concert, "This music deserves to be better known." Note, I didn't say "These composers," since they are extremely well known, but this particular music is not often performed, compared to other pieces by the same composers.

As of this moment, the Boston Globe's website doesn't yet have a review. When one becomes available, I'll post a link. So stay tuned.

Speaking of staying tuned, as usual you can hear the concert live on Saturday evening on radio or over the web at Classical New England, as always, at 8:00 Eastern Time, with pre-concert features beginning at 7:00. As usual, the concert will be rebroadcast eight days later, on December 2, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time (or Boston Time, as I like to call it). Classical New England's Boston Symphony page has an interview with the conductor/pianist and other BSO-related features.


Edited to add: The Boston Globe's reviewer liked the Beethoven but was less than thrilled with the pieces before intermission.

Friday, November 16, 2012

BSO — 2012/11/15-17

This week we have two pieces about creation, two with piano, and two by Sibelius — that's four in all. There is a certain amount of overlap among the categories. The BSO program details page has links to program notes as well as audio. It also tells us:
English conductor Thomas Adès takes the podium for concerts including his own composition In Seven Days, for piano and orchestra, featuring soloist Kirill Gerstein. Gerstein also performs Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 1, dating from the composer's student years at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Framing the program are two works by Sibelius-his mystical tone poem Luonnotar for soprano and orchestra, a musical take on the Finnish creation story, featuring American soprano Dawn Upshaw; and his poetic, fantasia-like Symphony No. 6.

The pieces before intermission — "Luonnotar", and "In Seven Days" — are about accounts of creation (two very different accounts, I might add); the pieces immediately before and after intermission  — "In Seven Days" and the Prokofiev concerto include piano; and the concert begins and ends with works by Sibelius.

I found it all worth hearing. Sibelius is generally accessible, and these works are no exception. I found the Sixth Symphony quite episodic. That is, I didn't notice melodies returning and being developed, as in most earlier symphonies. Instead the orchestra does a bit of something, then a bit os something else, until it ends — all pleasant to listen to. Maybe if I listened to it repeatedly, I'd see patterns which weren't obvious in this hearing, but I'm unlikely to give myself that opportunity. The Prokofiev piano was similar in having segments follow each other with no connection or development that I noticed. It was more vigorous than the Sibelius. In fact, I didn't detect much development of themes in the works before the intermission either. But, again, it was all good. The Globe reviewer was very pleased.

Go to Classical New England for the webstreams Saturday at 8:00 p.m. (pregame at 7) and November 25 at 1:00 p.m.,  and for their features.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

BSO — 2012/11/08-10

The BSO program details page for tonight's concert offers the following summary, along with the usual links to background info:
At the heart of the BSO's November 8-10 program-led by Costa Rican conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, and featuring Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov in his BSO debut-are two powerhouse Russian works: Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, a fan-favorite and repertoire staple, and Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5, described as a "hymn to free and happy Man," which the composer wrote in 1944 amidst the chaos of World War II. Puerto Rican-born composer Roberto Sierra's colorful Fandangos for orchestra (2000) opens the program.

I missed the Thursday performance to stay home and cook dinner for my brother, who was visiting. The Globe reviewer thought it was good. As always, go here to listen on Classical New England and here for scheduling info and features.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

BSO — 2012/11/01-06

From the BSO program detail page, where you can also find links to audio material and the program notes (especially important for the Saariaho piece, I think):
Spanish conductor Juanjo Mena, chief conductor of the BBC Philharmonic, leads the American premiere of influential Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho's Circle Map, for orchestra and electronics, a BSO co-commission. Violinist Gil Shaham, a frequent guest with the orchestra, joins the BSO for Benjamin Britten's rarely performed Violin Concerto, and the program concludes with Dvořák's darkly majestic Symphony No. 7, which bespeaks both his love for his native Bohemia and the influence of his mentor, Johannes Brahms.
I haven't heard it yet because I had to be at Mass for All Saints Day on the evening of Nov. 1. The Globe's reviewer liked the concert, with some reservations about Gil Shaham's approach to the Britten. OTOH, the online Boston Musical Intelligencer has a review which raves about the Britten, likes the Dvořák a lot, and finds the Saariaho piece wanting. See what you think.

Classical New England is where you can hear the concert live on November 3 at 8 p.m. (with "pre-game show" at 7) Boston Time, or rebroadcast/streamed on Nov. 11 at 1 p.m., as well as on demand. Broadcast/webstream schedules and links to background material are available on their BSO page.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

BSO — 2012/10/25-27

Vocal pieces are on the program for this week. It's not part of my subscription, and I'll be out on Saturday evening, but I'll add a link to the Boston Globe's review (and any others I find) when I have a chance. Meanwhile, here's what the BSO website says about it.
Charles Dutoit takes the podium for a second week to lead the BSO, an international cast of vocal soloists, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus in a compelling operatic double bill pairing Stravinsky's The Nightingale and Ravel's L'Enfant et les sortilèges(The Child and the Magic Spells). Stravinsky's 1914 opera The Nightingale-begun before, but completed after, his famous trio of ballets for Sergei Diaghilev-is based on a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale about a Chinese emperor and two nightingales-one real, the other mechanical. Completed in 1925, Ravel's one-act opera L'Enfant et les sortilèges-the story of a child movingly taught the meaning of love and affection-is infused with whimsy and magic.
The performance detail page  has soloist info by clicking on their pictures. Classical New England broadcasts and streams live, beginning at 7:00 Saturday evening, with the concert scheduled for 8:00. Rebroadcast is a week and a day later, Sunday November 4 at 1:00 p.m., Eastern Time.

Edited Oct. 27 to add:

The Globe review was enthusiastic.

I also edited the line about the BSO performance detail page, because they have added written and audio material, as has Classical New England, since I wrote this and scheduled it for publication while I was away.

Friday, October 19, 2012

BSO — 2012/10/18-23

This week it's an interesting mix. I'm not really familiar with any of them. The BSO website performance details page gives the usual links to notes and audio material, as well as the following description:
Acclaimed conductor Charles Dutoit leads the BSO in a program overflowing with virtuosity. Soloist Nikolai Lugansky makes his BSO debut in Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3, a massive and daunting work that tests every aspect of a pianist's skill. Not to be outdone, the orchestra's first-chair wind players step to the front of the stage to demonstrate the orchestra's own resident virtuosity in Frank Martin's mid-20th-century Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments, Timpani, Percussion, and String Orchestra. Opening the program is colorfully atmospheric music by Debussy: the rarely heard Symphonic Fragments from his incidental music to Gabriele d'Annunzio's mystery play The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian.
Bringing your cursor over the thumbnail photos identifies the performers, and clicking gets you fuller bios.

The first two pieces, those by Debussy and Martin, are infrequently performed. I think it's the first time I've heard either. Each was pleasant enough in its own way, and I wouldn't avoid either, but the thought occurred to me that they aren't really important, either. At intermission, another audience member remarked that it seemed that Dutoit was "conducting fog" in the Debussy. The music struck me as fairly static most of the time. There were not the slightly jarring harmonies and chord progressions I expect from Debussy. The Martin piece was definitely livelier. As for the Rachmaninoff, it's much better known, but I'm not familiar enough with it to rate the performance against a standard. As I listened, some passages in the piano seemed reminiscent of Chopin,  and at times the music seemed in the Tchaikovsky tradition. Certainly, the playing seemed flawless and energetic. The Globe reviewer liked the concert. So it could be your only opportunity to hear a couple of pleasant pieces and an energetic performance of a standard.

Again as usual, you can get scheduling info for Classical New England's broadcasts/webstreams, and on demand availability on their BSO page, and access the wbstream via the listen live button on their homepage.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

BSO — 2012/10/11-13

This week, the BSO program has two works: Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 4. Their website's performance detail page gives us the following description as well as providing links for program notes and audio previews.
Making his Boston Symphony debut, Vladimir Jurowski, principal conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, is joined by German violinist Arabella Steinbacher for Mendelssohn's sparkling Violin Concerto. The program concludes with Shostakovich's Symphony No. 4, a dark but powerfully majestic work the composer finished in 1936. He withdrew the work prior to its premiere due to fears of official condemnation, writing instead the universally acclaimed, heroic Fifth the following year. The Fourth waited another quarter-century for its first performance.
This concert is not part of my subscription, so I wasn't there on Thursday evening (or Friday afternoon).   The Boston Globe's reviewer found lots to like in the performance of the Shostakovich and gave mild criticism, in the space he had left, to the Mendelssohn. The review refers to the circumstances of the composition of the symphony and its being withheld from performance. More fully told, the 1930's were the height of Stalin's reign of terror. Musicians and writers were actually killed if Stalin thought that their work was somehow subserve. All art had to support the ideals of the Russian Revolution, and material that was insufficiently expressive of proletarian ideals (by being too formalistic — twelve tone or atonal, for example — or too inaccessible), which amounted to being not to Stalin's taste, was not tolerated. So having had earlier work criticized in Pravda and having seen what had happened to others, Shostakovich was justifiably fearful that presenting the symphony in 1936 could have cost him his life.

As always, you can listen on Classical New England — live this evening or retransmitted on October 21.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

BSO — 2012/10/06-08*

Music inspired by literature is on the first half of this week's program, with a Dvořák symphony to follow the intermission. Here's the description from the BSO's performance detail page, where you also find the links to program notes and audio previews:

Acclaimed for his previous Boston Symphony performances at both Symphony Hall and Carnegie Hall, BSO assistant conductor Marcelo Lehninger leads a program pairing the Romantic with the ruminative. American violinist Joshua Bell is soloist in Bernstein's Serenade inspired by Plato's Symposium, a dialogue on the nature and value of love. Also on the program are two audience favorites: Tchaikovsky's emotionally charged fantasy-overture Romeo and Juliet, and Dvoˇrák's bucolic Symphony No. 8.
I definitely recommend looking at the program note for the Bernstein Serenade (maybe even print it out for reference during the concert) and previewing the piece on audio if you have time.

I thought that the still youngish conductor brought out the detail in the Tchaikovsky, but maybe it was partly because I was listening more closely than I usually do to that piece. Maestro Lehninger is a very demonstrative conductor — not that you'll see it, but perhaps you can imagine him turning his upper body around to "wind up" for dome of the climactic moments, and making sweeping gestures when it's loud, and little finger movements for softer rapid passages. The Bernstein Serenade was interesting. It is fairly typical Bernstein music, I think — not conventionally melodic, but with broadway-like moments and jazzy moments. It represents the participants in Plato's "Symposium" by evoking what he considers the overall mood of their successive speeches. Of course, Joshua Bell played very well. (During intermission I happened to see him posing for pictures and signing autographs outside the stage door to the main corridor, and I got his autograph in my program.) As for the Dvořák 8th Symphony, it made for pleasant, sometimes exciting, listening, with Maestro Lehninger again gesturing very expressively. The Boston Globe's review was generally favorable, but without much detail. I couldn't find review on the Boston Herald or Boston Phoenix websites. I guess you'll just have to trust me that it's worth hearing.

As always, Classical New England broadcasts and streams the 8:00 concert, with pre-concert programming beginning at 7:00. With the departure of Brian Bell, it seems that they no longer have the sort of background material they used to link on their BSO-related page. But it still gives scheduling information. Surprisingly, they now do the Sunday 1:00 p.m. repeats eight days after the original performance. So, for example, if you miss this evening's concert live, you can catch the rebroadcast/stream on October 14.

* On October 9, instead of repeating the program, they will play the Tchaikovsky and Dvořák but put Ervin Schulhoff's Concerto for String Quartet and Wind Orchestra in place of the Bernstein. If you're in the area, you might want to get a ticket. It could be interesting. Notes and audio preview are available on the performance detail page for that evening.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

BSO — 2012/09/27-29

As the detail page (with links for audio preview and program notes) of the BSO website informs us, this week they're giving us "Porgy and Bess."
Reprising a highlight of the 2011 Tanglewood season, English conductor Bramwell Tovey, the BSO, a distinguished cast of soloists-headlined by Alfred Walker and Laquita Mitchell in the title roles-and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus present concert performances of George Gershwin's great American masterpiece, the blues-and-jazz inflected Porgy and Bess. Described by the composer as an "American folk opera,"Porgy and Bess premiered on Broadway in 1935 and only slowly gained traction in the traditional world of opera. Three quarters of a century later, it has assumed its rightful place among the greatest works of America's music.

The show runs nearly three hours, and garnered a mixed review from the Boston Globe. I was shocked to learn after the fact that the singing of the soloists was amplified. Hitherto, management has assured us that they never amplify the music, so this represents an unsettling precedent. It also explains why the singing was ear-piercingly loud at times. If you listen on the radio or internet, you can adjust the volume, an option I didn't have in Symphony Hall on Thursday evening. I suppose it was worthwhile as part of the experience a cultured person should have, and it's good to know how the highlights I had heard work as parts of the overall drama — and it is effective as drama. I just can't get over my disappointment that they decided to artificially amplify those operatically trained voices in a supposedly acoustically perfect hall.

As always, you can listen to the broadcast or the webstream from Classical New England. But they say that on Sunday, instead of rebroadcasting/streaming it, they will reprise the John Williams 80th Birthday concert from last summer at Tanglewood.

Friday, September 21, 2012

BSO — 2012/09/22 Opening Night

Here we are at the verge of another Symphony Hall Season of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Opening Night is Saturday, September 22, with a program described as follows in the BSO website detail page:
Legendary Israeli-born violinist Itzhak Perlman joins the Boston Symphony Orchestra as both soloist and conductor to begin the 2012-2013 season with an all-Beethoven Opening Night at Symphony. The program starts with the composer's lyrical early Romances No. 1 and 2 for violin and orchestra. Completing the program is the dance infused Symphony No. 7 which the composer himself acknowledged as one of his finest works.
As usual, that page has links for program notes and audio previews.

I'll be attending most of the Thursday evening concerts in subsequent weeks, so I should be able to provide my own "review" as well as a link to the Boston Globe review. I'm even thinking of adding the Boston Herald review.

Again this season, Classical New England will be broadcasting and streaming the concerts live on Saturday evenings. Here's the page for their season overview. Usually the concerts begin at 8:00 p.m., with the "pre-game" show beginning at 7:00. But for Opening Night, it seems that the concert itself begins at 7:00, an hour earlier than usual. And another change from the usual practice is that this concert will not be rebroadcast/streamed on Sunday afternoon. We'll see if it becomes available for on-demand listening.

A big change in the broadcasts this year is that Classical New England has laid off Brian Bell, the long-time producer of the broadcasts. Here's their announcement. In addition to writing announcer Ron Della Chiesa's scripts, Brian conducted knowledgeable interviews with composers, conductors, soloists, and orchestra members and audio previews of works to be performed. It seems that Cathy Fuller will be sharing the announcer's booth with Ron Della Chiesa, which I suppose means that they won't be scripted. Ron is knowledgeable enough and a good enough raconteur that I think that format may work well. I also suppose that, given Ron's age, the station is wise to bring in a co-announcer as a potential successor to Ron. But Brian Bell's pre-concert and intermission features will be badly missed.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Three Weeks' Hiatus

As you can see from the left column of Classical New England's Boston Symphony page, the orchestra is not performing any concerts until September 22. Meanwhile Classical New England is filling the regular BSO slots on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday at 1:00 p.m. with an "Opera Bash" on September 1&2, "Last Night at the Proms" on Sept. 8&9, and rebroadcasts of two different BSO concerts on Sept. 15&16. Then, as you scroll down the page, you get capsule descriptions of all the Saturday BSO concerts for the coming season. So you can look them over and see when you'll want to decline invitations so you can stay home and listen to the concert. I expect to resume posting info about each concert as the time comes, including my own "review" if I heard it on Thursday.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Tanglewood — 2012/08/24-26

August 24.  This evening Tanglewood invites us:
Gershwin and Friends
Join Keith Lockhart, the Pops, and favorite guest vocalists for a celebration of George Gershwin and the creators of the Great American Songbook, including Irving Berlin,  Jerome Kern and Cole Porter. The program also features Gershwin's classic Rhapsody in Blue.
The link above contains a further link to the program notes for the concert and pictures of performers that give identification when you put your cursor on them.

August 25.  Saturday evening, frequent guest conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos will lead a program of Spanish Music:
ALBÉNIZ - (arr. Frühbeck de Burgos) Suite española
FALLA - La vida breve
Full Program Notes - Saturday, August 25, 8:30pm
Program notes are available by clicking the icons to the right of the listings, and, again, information about soloists is given on the detail page when you bring the cursor to the picture — more detail if you click on it.

August 26.  On Sunday afternoon Maestro Frühbeck leads the now-traditional Beethoven Ninth to close the Tanglewood season with a guaranteed "standing O." But there's more: the world premiere of a piece titled "Koussevitsky Said," by John Harbison, for chorus and orchestra, commissioned by the BSO for Tanglewood's 75th anniversary. Here's the listing on the detail page with its links to notes (and audio for the Beethoven):
HARBISON - Koussevitzky said:, for chorus and orchestra (world premiere; BSO commission)
BEETHOVEN - Symphony No. 9
Full Program Notes - Sunday, August 26, 2:30pm
I'm really looking forward to hearing the Harbison piece — even more so after reading the program notes. I think once you read the notes, you'll want to hear it too.

Broadcasts and webstreams are scheduled as in previous weeks on Classical New England. CNE's "second page" via the BSO label, has a link to an interesting interview with John Harbison (not just a rehash of the BSO program notes). The page also tells us what Classical New England will use to fill the BSO concert slots on the three weekends between the end of the Tanglewood Season and the opening night of the Symphony Hall Season.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Tanglewood — 2012/08/17-19

August 17.   On Friday evening, the BSO will perform
COPLAND - Suite from Appalachian Spring
BARBER - Violin Concerto
BEETHOVEN - Symphony No. 7
For links to program notes and audio previews, go to the BSO concert details page (or click on the icons above). The Copland is easy listening (but not bad stuff), and the Beethoven 7th is a guaranteed standing ovation producer. Augustin Hadelich solos in the Barber. Click on his photo for more info about him. It will be interesting to hear his first performance with the BSO.

August 18.  Saturday brings us "John Williams' 80th Birthday Celebration." On the details page, you can find photos depicting some of the participants (but no links to notes or audio). You get name and position by moving your cursor to the picture, and more info by clicking on it. They will give us
WILLIAMS - Olympic Fanfare and Theme
KERN & HAMMERSTEIN - "The Song Is You"
WILLIAMS - Three Concert Pieces
WILLIAMS - Adventures on Earth from E.T. The Extra-terrestrial
WILLIAMS - Fanfare for Fenway
WILLIAMS - Hedwig's Theme from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
ARR. WILLIAMS - Air and Simple Gifts
WILLIAMS - Going to School from Memoirs of a Geisha
WILLIAMS - Theme from Schindler's List
WILLIAMS - Main Title from Star Wars
WILLIAMS - Happy Birthday Variations

August 19.  The Sunday matinee brings us the Leonard Bernstein Memorial Concert, conducted this year by Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
BEETHOVEN - Violin Concerto
BARTÓK - Concerto for Orchestra
This time the details page gives us the usual links to notes and audio. Gil Shaham solos in the Beethoven "Mientkiewicz" Concerto. It's one of the pieces I really like. The Bartók Concerto for Orchestra was commissioned by Serge Koussevitsky and premiered by the BSO. I have the feeling that the BSO owns this piece. So I'm especially looking forward to this concert. Edited to add: But it's not the Boston Symphony Orchestra that will be playing on Sunday afternoon. It will be the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra: the students who are attending the BSO's"summer school" at Tanglewood.

Classical New England will broadcast/stream all three, with the usual warm-ups beforehand. See also their page about the BSO. Friday and Saturday concerts are at 7:30, Boston Time, and Sunday's is at 2:30. Tanglewood-related (loosely, at least) material begins 1 1/2 hours before the concert, with Ron Della Chiesa taking over as announcer 1/2 hour before the concert.