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.