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.