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.