Friday, December 27, 2013

Classical New England — 2013/12/28 & New Year's Day

My apologies for getting so distracted by other things that I didn't get around to posting about what was being offered last Saturday. I hope you found it on your own, if you were interested. Of course, I realize that you can listen to the broadcasts or webstreams whenever you want. I offer these posts as a way of giving a little preview and reminder which I hope will encourage you to listen, and at least help you decide whether you want to do so or not.

This week, on December 28, Classical New England is giving us a New England Conservatory performance of Britten's A Ceremony of Carols and other Christmas pieces at 7:00 p.m. At 8:00 they will offer a repeat of a concert which took place last summer* at Tanglewood: Symphony No. 3 by  Mahler under the baton of Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos. Here's a bit more detail from the station's Holiday Specials page:

Saturday, Dec. 28

7pm: A Centennial Ceremony of Carols: A Benjamin Britten Holiday Celebration

We mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of the renowned British composer Benjamin Britten through his Ceremony of Carols and other holiday works, as well as traditional carols arranged by Sir David Willcocks, all performed by the NEC Chamber Chorus, led by Erica Washburn.
8pm: Boston Symphony Orchestra: Sound the Posthorn!

We ring out the old year by revisiting one of the highlights of the 2013 Tanglewood season: Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, conducted by Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, with mezzo-soprano Ann-Sophie von Otter, the PALS Children's Chorus and the women of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus.
* Here's a link to what I wrote at the time. It, in turn, contains a link to the BSO's performance detail page for the concert.

You can find other programming between now and January 5 listed on the same page as the description of December 28. It also lists all the concerts and programs of the Christmas — and Hanukkah — season which are now available on line for on demand listening. There's a lot, and a good variety. Follow the link.

On New Year's Day, continuing a long-standing tradition, at 11:00 a.m. they will broadcast and stream the Vienna Philharmonic's New Year's Day Concert. Music of Johann Strauss is always a large part of the program. Then at 3:00 p.m., something new this year, I think — a New Year's Day concert by Boston Baroque. Each will be repeated in the evening. Once more, a quote from their page:

Wednesday, Jan. 1

11am: New Year's Day from Vienna

Direct from the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna, it’s the most popular classical music concert in the world! Laura Carlo hosts this national broadcast, produced by WCRB, as Daniel Barenboim leads the annual celebration concert by the Vienna Philharmonic.

3pm: Boston Baroque's Gala First Day Concert

Champagne, Concertos…and Coffee! Join us for a Boston New Year’s Tradition, now shared with the nation! Martin Pearlman leads Boston Baroque, now in its 40th Anniversary Season as America’s oldest “period-instrument” orchestra in a festive All-Bach New Year’s Day concert, live from Sanders Theatre in Harvard Square.

5pm: encore of New Year's Day from Vienna

10pm: encore of Boston Baroque's Gala First Day Concert

Happy listening!

Since this is probably my last post of the year, I want to wish my readers a New Year that is happy in every possible way, as well as to express Christmas greetings, with the hope that Christmas Day was merry and that the joy of the celebration is continuing through the twelve days (and beyond if your Christmastide extends to the celebration of the Lord's Baptism or even to Candlemas). Joy to you all!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Classical New England — 2013/12/14

This week's offering from Classical New England in their regular Boston Symphony time period, beginning at 7:00 p.m. this evening, is a rebroadcast of a Tanglewood concert in which Leon Fleisher is soloist in Ravel's Piano Concerto for the Left Hand. The orchestra also plays the Siegfried Idyll by Wagner and Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, all under the baton of Kazushi Ono. You can get links to an interview with Leon Fleisher, the schedule for future Saturday evenings this season, and other items at the station's BSO page.

This concert was given on July 12, 2013, and my post about it at the time is here. I'm happy to note that the BSO performance detail page which I linked at the time is still up at this point, and the links on that page are still working — including more program notes than were there when I originally posted.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Classical New England — 2013/12/07

With the Boston Pops taking over from the Boston Symphony for December, there will be no live symphony broadcasts until January 11, 2014. Rather than give us the same "Holiday Pops" concert four weeks in a row (followed by some filler on January 4), Classical New England is filling the slots with various Christmas programs and other things. There are also other special programs during the month. Here's a link to the page that lists them all. You can see for yourself, but here's what they say about this evening:

Saturday, Dec. 7

7pm: A Choral Christmas with Stile Antico

The award-winning choir from London pays a visit to St. Paul's Church in Harvard Square for a concert of radiant sacred music for the Christmas season.
Note that the programming this evening starts at 7:00, like the regular pre-concert programming, not at 8:00 like the BSO concerts themselves.

So far I don't see anything to tell us about January 4, but I'm guessing that, like December 28, it'll be a rerun of some earlier BSO concert. Also, on Monday, December 9 at 8:00 p.m., we get the repeat of the BSO concert of November 30 with Brahms and Beethoven.

And there is the ongoing Winter Orgy®Period on WHRB, which I noted in the preceding post.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Winter Orgy® Period

At the beginning of the month I checked the WHRB website to see what they'd be doing for their Winter Orgy® Period. But I made what turned out to be the mistake of going to the Classical Music page, where I read the following outdated material: "WHRB's Orgies ®presented each January and May, are tributes to particular composers and performers. Past Classical Orgies have included the works of Aaron Copland, Paul Hindemith, pianist Artur Schnabel, and an epic broadcast of the complete works of J.S. Bach. Check our Program Guide for upcoming Orgies."
Actually, they switched the winter orgy to December when the university switched exams to December. Based on that, however, I thought they had switched back.

But no. The program guide arrived in the mail today, and it turns out the orgy period began as usual on December 1. We have already missed the Baroque Masters of the Harpsichord Orgy, The First Nights Orgy, and the Classical Guitar Orgy. As I type this, the Warhorse Orgy is in progress, and will continue until about 6:45 this evening.

Here's what is still to come:

December 8, 12:30 p.m. — 6:00 p.m.  Charles-Valentin Alkan Orgy
     6:00 p.m. — midnight  The Benjamin Britten Orgy®
December 9–12,  6:00 a.m. — midnight  The Benjamin Britten Orgy® continues and concludes
December 13,  6:00 a.m — 10:00 a.m. The Role of the Listener
     10:00 a.m. — 3:00 p.m.  Two Piano Orgy
     3:00 — 10:00 p.m.  Fritz Kreisler Orgy
December 15,  12:30 p.m. — 10:00 p.m.  Process Music or "Bach to Basinski" Orgy
December 16, 10:00 a.m. — 7:00 p.m.  Process Music Orgy continues and concludes
December 17,  4:00 p.m. — 10:00 p.m.(?)  Anthony Collins (conductor, d. 1963) Orgy
December 18,  1:00 p.m. — 10:00 p.m.(?) Morton Gould Orgy
December 19,  noon — 10:00 p.m.(?)  Britten as Performer Orgy

Although they don't call them orgies, there will be a Hindemith Centenary (sic) Commemoration at 6:00 p. m. on Saturday, December 28, and a Colin Davis Tribute on Sunday, January 5, at 1:00. I suppose both will end at about 10:00 p.m.

While I'm at it, I'll also mention that WHRB carries the Saturday afternoon Metropolitan Opera Broadcasts.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

BSO — 2013/11/26-30

An unusual bit of scheduling in Thanksgiving week saw the first performance of the program on Tuesday and the last will be this evening, Saturday. Ordinarily, if there is a Tuesday concert, it is the last one of a program that began the previous Thursday. But this time there was no Thursday concert on Thanksgiving, just the unusual Tuesday first performance, the regular Friday matinee, and the Saturday evening to conclude. After this, the Boston Pops (with most of the Symphony musicians) takes over for a month of "Holiday Pops." The symphony concerts will resume on January 9, 2014. I'm not sure what they'll be giving us over Classical New England for the five Saturdays — probably Holiday Pops for one — but I'll try to keep an eye on it and let you know.

Anyway, the Boston Symphonic farewell to 2013, has Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos leading a second week, this time with Peter Serkin as soloist in Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 2, followed after intermission by the Beethoven Symphony No. 7. Here's what the BSO publications folks blurb on the performance detail page:
Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos is joined by esteemed American pianist Peter Serkin for one of the biggest and most challenging piano concertos in the repertoire, Brahms's Concerto No. 2. Composed nearly twenty-five years after the First Concerto, the Second is unusual in being a four-movement work instead of the typical three, adding what Brahms called "a tiny, tiny wisp of a scherzo." Beethoven wrote his Symphony No. 7 in 1812. Beginning in calm and ending in infectious exuberance, the Seventh was called by Richard Wagner "the apotheosis of the dance."
See that page also for the usual links to further information.

Since there was no Thursday concert, and I was otherwise occupied on Tuesday and Friday, I'll be hearing it for the first time over the radio this evening, so I can't give you my own "review." The Globe reviewer found it worth hearing.

Classical New England will broadcast over WCRB and the sister stations and stream over the internet at 8:00 p.m. Boston time (with introductory things at 7:00) and a repeat of the concert only at 8:00 p.m. on December 9. Their BSO page doesn't seem to have any background about this week's concert, but it reminds me that last week's will be rebroadcast on December 2, beginning at 8:00 p.m., as well as being available on demand over the web.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

BSO — 2013/11/21-23

This week the Boston Symphony is giving the world premiere performances of the Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra by Marc Neikrug, a work which he wrote for several bassoonists he knows on a joint commission from the BSO and three other institutions. In turn, the BSO share of the commission was supported by a grant from another agency — interesting how that works. Anyway, that opens the second half of the concert. Before the intermission we get Beethoven's Sixth Symphony, and the concert concludes with Suites 1 and 2 from"The Three-cornered Hat" by Manuel de Falla, a work that is part f the Spanish heritage of Conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos. You can go to the orchestra's program detail page for the usual links to performer bios, program notes, and audio previews — including an interview with Maestro Frühbeck about the Beehoven and the Falla and an interview with bassoonist Richard Svoboda about the Neikrug. Here's their blurb about the concert.
Spanish conductor and frequent BSO guest Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos leads the second BSO-commissioned work and first world premiere of 2013-14: American composer Marc Neikrug's Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra, composed for the BSO and the orchestra's principal bassoonist, Richard Svoboda. Well-known as a pianist, Neikrug is also artistic director of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, an innovative symphonic depiction of a day in the country, begins this program, and Manuel de Falla's suites from the scintillating, Spanish-flavored ballet The Three-cornered Hat, a Frühbeck specialty, concludes it.
I was there for the actual premiere, and while I thought the bassoon concerto was musical as well as interesting, I won't mind if they don't play it again. In other words, it was okay. Each of the three movements showed a different aspect of the bassoon, and it was certainly not hard to listen to, just not very engaging. Maybe I'll like it better if I listen to the interview and then hear the rebroadcast on December 2. The reviewers in the Boston Globe and the Boston Musical Intelligencer both gave positive reviews, but their descriptions seemed to be paraphrases of the description in the program notes — which I take to mean that they didn't pick up on much in the actual performance. By all means, give it a listen, and see what you think.

As for the rest of the program, the Beethoven was well-played: a fine performance of a great work which is pleasant rather than inherently exciting. I had developed a bit of a cough, and left after the Neikrug so as not to subject my neighbors to further distraction, but the reviewers liked the Falla.

As always you can hear the broadcast or webstream beginning at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time over Classical New England, with the usual "pre-game show" an hour earlier and the usual rebroadcast on the second Monday (December 2, in this case). Also, as usual, their BSO page has a link to an interview, in this case with the bassoonist, and other information about the BSO season.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

BSO — 2013/11/14-19

The music in tis week's BSO concerts is all from the standard orchestral repertoire: Mozart, Prokofiev, and Schumann. The conductor, and soloist in the Mozart, is more unusual: violinist Leonidas Kavakos. Here's how the BSO describes it on their program detail page, where, as usual, you will find links to audio previews and program notes, as well as a performer bio (available by clicking on the thumbnail photo:
Greek-born violin virtuoso and conductor Leonidas Kavakos returns in that dual role for Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 4, composed in 1775 and considered a signpost of the precocious composer's high maturity. Kavakos then leads Serge Prokofiev's delightful, Mozart- and Haydn-inspired Classical Symphony, one of the last pieces he finished in Russia before leaving his homeland for more than a decade. Closing the program is Robert Schumann's Symphony No. 2, composed in 1845 after a bout of deep depression, but ultimately, even miraculously, optimistic and affirmative in character.
I was there on Thursday and found it a very satisfying concert. One of the best things, IMO, was that Kavakos' cadenzas in the Mozart were appropriate to the style of the rest of the music. Some performers like to show off their technical by doing all sorts of flashy stuff that really has nothing in common with the piece they're playing. But Kavakos kept it Mozartean. Throughout the concert, he also kept good control of the dynamics: fast wasn't loud; he never "blasted us out of our seats." For once, even the horns played softly — often they drown out the other instruments, but not this time. Somebody found the playing in the Schumann "rough-hewn." Perhaps that's the word for it. Somehow they sounded a bit different from what I'm used to, but I wouldn't know what to call it exactly. The Prokofiev and Schumann seemed vibrant, the Schumann almost earthy. All in all, I found it refreshing. I hope that comes through on the radio and the web. Apart from some quibbles about Kavakos' interpretation of the Schumann, the Globe's reviewer was very pleased also.

If you're in range of the signal, you can hear it on the radio, otherwise over the web, both from Classical New England. There are links to an interview with Kavakos and to a video in which he talks about his violin on their page devoted to the BSO. The concert program begins at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, with related material — mostly other music by the night's performers or composers — beginning at 7:00. There will be a rebroadcast (without the preliminary hour) on November 25 and ere long it should be available on demand over the web.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

BSO — 2013/11/7-9: Belated But Still Potentially Useful

It's embarrassing to be so late with this. It just completely slipped my mind yesterday. But there will still be opportunities to hear last night's concert via the rebroadcast on the 18th as well as the on-demand system (which I haven't said much about).

This week's concerts were the Britten War Requiem, described as follows on the performance detail page, with the usual links:

To mark the centenary of the composer's birth, Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit leads one of the greatest 20th-century works for chorus and orchestra, Benjamin Britten's War Requiem. Written in 1961-62, this moving work was commissioned for the consecration of the rebuilt Coventry Cathedral, destroyed during a bombing raid in World War II. Britten's piece takes a firm pacifist stance, setting World War I-era poetry by Wilfred Owen-sung by the two male soloists-interleaved with his setting of the traditional Latin Mass for the dead. Following the composer's intention, the present performances bring together three soloists-one Russian, one English, and one German-from countries representing three major factions in the agonies of World War II. The Boston Symphony Orchestra gave the American premiere of this great work at Tanglewood in 1963 under Erich Leinsdorf.
As people have said, it's a work to be experienced, not enjoyed — not that the music is bad, just that the piece is very serious. The Globe gave a favorable review. I thought that it was well performed, although I thought more highly of the soprano, and somewhat less so of the baritone, whom I considered good enough but unspectacular.

In one of Owen's poems which Britten included, the poet asks if there will be a resurrection and says the replies from Age and Earth reply in the negative. In a wonderful juxtaposition, today at Mass, we had readings that proclaim that the answer in Owen's poem is wrong: there is a resurrection. 2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14 and Luke 20:27-38. If you'd care for more on the topic, I like this homily. An additional comment on the piece (beyond those linked on the BSO and CNE pages, and my own in this paragraph) is this preview from the Globe.

Although the live broadcast on Classical New England is past — and I hope you might have checked it out without my telling you what was coming — there remain the rebroadcast on November 18 and the opportunity to listen "on demand," as I noted at the top. The on demand feature is also worth having in mind for all the other concerts through the season.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

BSO — 2013/10/31-11/5

Two very familiar pieces are presented this week — Ravel's Tombeau de Couperin and Elgar's "Enigma" Variations — along with the BSO's first performances of Concerto Grosso No.1 for Three Cellos and Orchestra by Krzysztof Penderecki. Wait, wait! Don't run away! This is the later, mellower, Penderecki. It's really not hard to take. The performance detail page mentions the connection between composition and conductor:
In his first of two BSO programs this season, frequent guest conductor Charles Dutoit marks the 80th birthday of Krzysztof Penderecki with performances of the great Polish composer's Concerto Grosso No. 1 for three cellos and orchestra. Dutoit, the work's dedicatee, led the premiere with the NHK Symphony Orchestra in 2001; for these BSO concerts he is joined by three of today's brightest cello soloists. Opening the program is Ravel's familiar Tombeau de Couperin, a colorful, multi-faceted work that originated as a piano suite. Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations is another work that explores a wide variety of moods and ideas, each of its movements sketching a portrait of one of Elgar's close friends.
There you also find the usual links to text, audio, and performer info. I found the program notes on the Elgar particularly interesting. Of course the notes on the Penderecki give a useful preview.

I was there for the Thursday performance, and was quite pleased overall. The Globe reviewer liked it, too. I'm not sure that I agree with his interpretation of everything — the extra-musical meanings — but I agree that it was well played. My favorite of the evening was the Elgar.

You can listen at 8:00 this evening (pre-game at 7:00) or to the rebroadcast on Nov. 11 over Classical New England. Also check out their BSO page for links to additional material.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

BSO — 2013/10/24-26

This week brings the American premiere performances of a work that was co-commissioned by the BSO — Speranza, by Mark-Anthony Turnage, who also wrote the opera "Anna Nicole." Mahler's Lied von der Erde completes the program. On the BSO performance detail page we read:
English conductor Daniel Harding makes his BSO debut in a program featuring the first of several BSO-commissioned works for the 2013-14 season, Mark-Anthony Turnage's Speranza, which the composer calls "upbeat, extrovert, and optimistic." Harding led the premiere of his compatriot's piece with the London Symphony Orchestra in February 2013. Mahler's hour-long song-symphony Das Lied von der Erde ("The Song of the Earth") is a group of wide-ranging settings of Chinese poetry translated into German; the composer responds with music tinged by Eastern exoticism.
As always, the page also includes links to program notes, interviews, audio previews, and performers bios.

I was there for the actual American premiere on Thursday, and although I liked the new piece initially, I'm having second thoughts. Maybe it's just a bit too unmusical and lugubrious, except in the third movement. That's not surprising, considering how the composer describes his development of the piece. Still, it is as it is, and you can listen and decide for yourself. The Mahler symphony seemed coarse and loud. Maybe that's how it's supposed to be, but it was harsher than I expected, and apart some excellent playing by Jason Snider in the lowest range of the french horn, I was generally underwhelmed. Some acquaintances I saw in the corridor afterwards were enthusiastic, so maybe it was better than I thought. The Globe reviewer was unenthusiastic, although his comments on the Turnage are similar to how I felt about it at the time, and I have to agree that the flute and english horn solos in the Mahler were impressive.

Classical New England will broadcast and stream the concert beginning at 8:00 this evening, with a retransmission on Monday, November 4, also at 8:00 p.m.. This evening there will be the usual warm-up at 7:00. Their web page devoted to the BSO has links to their own interviews with composer and conductor (and to lots else).

The CNE rebroadcast/stream on this Monday, October 28, will be last week's Wagner, Mozart, and Brahms program under the baton of Andris Nelsons.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

BSO — 2013/10/17-19

After a couple of weeks with music of Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Ives, and Adès (among others), our music director designate Andris Nelsons has come to town to give us a sort of throwback concert, with Wagner, Mozart, and Brahms. On the BSO program detail page — where you get the links to performer bios, program notes, and audio previews — we read:
For his first subscription concerts since being named the BSO's next Music Director, the young Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons leads music from the heart of the orchestral repertoire. The concerts begin with Wagner's Siegfried Idyll, a gentle tone poem composed for his wife Cosima's birthday. Nelsons and the orchestra are then joined by the brilliant English pianist Paul Lewis, who makes his subscription series debut with Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 25, one of the composer's biggest and most outgoing concertos. Brahms's robust Symphony No. 3, one of the greatest symphonies in the repertoire, closes the program.
As usual, you can listen live over the web or on radio at Classical New England. The preview starts at 7:00 and the concert broadcast/stream itself at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time. CNE's page devoted to the BSO doesn't have a lot about this week's concert, other than a clip of some playing by the piano soloist, Paul Lewis. But there are still links to other BSO related material that may be of some interest. On that page we also are reminded that on Monday evening, they'll rebroadcast last week's concert of Mendelssohn, Ives, Adès, and Franck.

I was in Symphony Hall for the first presentation of this week's program. Unlike a week earlier, when at least 1/3 of the seats were empty, this time the hall was very nearly full. In part, it might have been the music, but — given that Maestro Nelsons was greeted by a standing ovation when he came on stage for the first time — I think many patrons wanted to be at his first concert since being named the next music director.

I thought I heard a bit more in the Siegfried Idyll than I had before. Some of it may come from  being less distracted than when I listen at home, some from having just read the program note, and some from Maestro Nelsons' leading of the orchestra. The Mozart seemed to be music that matters, not just some rococo pleasantry. The Brahms performance challenged my dislike of that composer's work. Maybe the interpretation had something to do with it; maybe this is actually one of his more enjoyable pieces; maybe my taste is evolving. At any rate, it was an enjoyable, if unspectacular, evening in Symphony Hall. The Boston Globe's reviewer liked it.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

BSO — 2013/10/10-12

This week's concerts are an interesting mixture of the traditional and the modern. One can read something of an "ocean" theme into the three works preceding the intermission. I'm not sure how useful that is, though. Anyway, here's how the BSO itself describes the program:
English composer-conductor-pianist Thomas Adès returns to the BSO podium with more music of his own. He composed his symphonic poem Polaris in 2010; subtitled "Voyage for Orchestra," it calls for a spatial arrangement of the brass around the auditorium. The program begins with another "voyage" piece, Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture, which describes the composer's reaction to the Scottish seascape he visited on a tour of the British Isles. Charles Ives's Orchestral Set No. 2 is a series of smaller tone poems on subjects from New England and New York, featuring his inimitable use of quotation and collage of popular tunes. The Thursday and Saturday concerts also include César Franck's powerful Symphony in D minor-his most enduring orchestral work. (Emphasis supplied.)
The performance detail page, from which I copied the above, also has the usual links to performer info, program notes and audio previews. They don't mention there that the third section of the Ives piece also has an ocean connection: it is about the reaction of commuters in a train station to news of the sinking of the Lusitania.

I was at the concert on Thursday evening, and I really enjoyed it, especially the Ives and Adès. The Ives was so good (especially the brass section blaring "In the Sweet Bye and Bye") that I shouted "Bravo" as the applause was just starting. I like to think it encouraged more vigorous and sustained applause, leading to a second return to the stage for Maestro Adès — we'll see if he gets called back more than once this evening. In any event, I'm amazed that this particular piece has never been performed by the BSO before this week. I hope they'll do it again while I'm still able to get to Symphony Hall and enjoy it. The Globe reviewer also liked the concert.

It has occurred to me that my ability to enjoy the music of Ives (and other 20th and 21st century composers) owes a lot to reading program notes in advance to get an idea of what a composition is all about, how it works. So I definitely recommend following the links on the performance detail page when there's an unfamiliar piece.

You can hear it for yourself over the radio or the web on Classical New England. Their page devoted to the BSO includes, among others potentially interesting things, a link to an interview with the composer/conductor, in which he talks about all the pieces on the program. I haven't heard it yet, but I hope I'll have a chance to before tonight's broadcast.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

BSO — 2013/10/03-08

This week's program includes music of Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and Strauss. Here's how the BSO performance detail page summarizes it:
French conductor Stéphane Denève is joined by universally acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma for one of the 20th century's great concertos, Dmitri Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1. This intense, highly personal work was composed for Mstislav Rostropovich, who premiered it in 1959. Also on the program is Serge Prokofiev's Suite from his opera The Love of Three Oranges, based on an 18th-century Carlo Gozzi farce and featuring some of Prokofiev's most characterful and familiar passages. Richard Strauss's tone poem Ein Heldenleben ("A Heroic Life") quotes liberally from the composer's own earlier tone poems summing up the first phase of his musical life in a powerful orchestral tour de fource.
As always, the page contains links to audio and text background material (including performer bios if you click on the photos).

Listen on Classical New England at 8:00 p.m. Boston time (with pre-concert material at 7:00). Their BSO page has links to various related items, as well as the season schedule. The station's weekly schedule also shows Boston Symphony Orchestra on Mondays from 8:00-10:00 p.m. I've read elsewhere that this is a rebroadcast of a previous concert, but I'm not sure if it is the concert from two or nine days earlier. Sometime I'll check it out. You can too, of course.

I was at the concert on Thursday. Overall, I didn't really care very much for the Prokofiev, but it was certainly tolerable. What I did like was some nice solo viola playing at one point. The conductor gave the violist a solo bow at the end of the piece. The Shostakovich was more musical to my ears. Of course, it was an outstanding performance by Yo-Yo Ma. I was also very impressed by extended solo work in the Strauss by concertmaster Malcolm Lowe, returning this season after a couple of years' health leave. The Globe reviewer liked it.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

BSO — 2013/09/26-10/01

This week's concert has but a single work: Mahler's Symphony No. 2, "Resurrection." For a brief description, with links to program notes, audio material, and performer info, go to the BSO's performance detail page, where we read:
In the second of his five BSO programs this season, Christoph von Dohnányi leads Gustav Mahler's inspirational Symphony No. 2, Resurrection, with Swedish soprano Camilla Tilling, British mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. Mahler composed this five-movement work over several years, making a number of major changes along the way. The third movement is a setting of "Urlicht," a poem from the volumeDes Knaben Wunderhorn, which was a significant source of texts for Mahler's songs. The finale's second half is a setting for chorus and soprano of Klopstock's poem Resurrection, which Mahler had heard sung at the funeral of his colleague Hans von Bülow.
The pre-concert material on Classical New England begins at 7:00, with the concert itself at 8:00. See also their BSO page for their own links and info.

There was also a rave review of the Thursday performance in the Boston Musical Intelligencer. The reviewer also noted that the concert actually began at 8:09, and that there was a five minute pause between the first and second movements (which, it turns out, Mahler called for in the score).

Saturday, September 21, 2013

BSO — 2013/09/21-24

This is the opening concert of the Boston Symphony's 2013-2014 season. It's an all-Brahms program, which will probably appeal to many listeners. Here's what the performance detail page tells us:
To open the Boston Symphony Orchestra's 2013-14 subscription season, revered German-born conductor Christoph von Dohnányi is joined by violinist Augustin Hadelich in his BSO subscription series debut and cellist Alban Gerhardt for Johannes Brahms's Double Concerto for violin, cello, and orchestra, the composer's final orchestra work. Brahms's Symphony No. 2 dates from the previous decade. Composed relatively quickly after the composer's long-awaited First, the lilting No. 2 is generally regarded as the most genial and relaxed of Brahms's four works in the genre. Opening Night includes a pre-concert reception at 7PM.
The page, linked above, provides further links to audio previews and to the program notes from the program booklet. In addition, there are brief bios of the musicians which you can see by brining your cursor over their pictures, and complete official bios by clicking on said pix.

As usual, it will be broadcast and streamed virtually live by Classical New England. The official starting time is 8:00 p.m., Eastern Time. Beginning at 7:00 they have pre-concert features, consisting mostly of music composed by the evening's composer or performed by the evening's performers. They also have a page of their own devoted to the BSO broadcasts with the season schedule and links to their own related material.

Last year they rebroadcast/streamed the concerts at 1:00 p.m. on the Sunday 8 days later. I don't notice anything about it right now, but I wouldn't be surprised if they do so again. I'd be disappointed if they don't, but so far it isn't included in the regular weekly schedule page.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Classical New England — 2013/09/14

This evening's placeholder in the regular BSO slot on Classical New England is this summer's August 6 "Tanglewood on Parade" concert. There's some information at the CNE home page. Also, see their BSO page — — for a bit more about is, as well as a brief preview of the upcoming season of the BSO and other links. There is more about this concert in my post for the weekend of the concert. The program this evening begins at 8:00 p.m., Boston time.

As noted on CNE's BSO page, the regular BSO season begins on Sept. 21. I presume* that they'll have their pre-concert show at 7:00, with the concert scheduled for 8:00. (It never actually starts before 8:05 — a courtesy to patrons who hit a slight delay getting there, I suppose.)

* When I presume, I make a pres. of u and me.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Classical New England — 2013/09/07

Sorry I'm a bit late with this. I had Race Committee duty today.

We're back to the 8:00 p.m. start time for the concert programming at Classical New England. This week, instead of rerunning a Boston Symphony Concert, they're giving us the BBC Symphony Orchestra's Last Night of the Proms (I always thought it was Last Night at the Proms — live and learn). Here's the description,

99.5 WCRB brings you one of the world's great music traditions on Saturday at 8pm, as conductor Marin Alsop leads the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus at the Last Night of the Proms, from Royal Albert Hall in London.

The Music Director of both the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, steps up to the podium for a tradition-soaked celebration of music from the heart of Great Britain.

Special guests include American mezzo-sopranoJoyce DiDonato and British violinist Nigel Kennedy.

London-born composer Anna Clyne, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's composer in residence, has written a new work that will open the program, and the concert also pays tribute to the anniversaries of the births of Richard Wagner, Giuseppe Verdi, and Benjamin Britten.

Of course, no Last Night of the Proms would be complete without Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 ("Land of Hope and Glory"), Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry's "Jerusalem," and "God Save the Queen," performed this year in the arrangement by Benjamin Britten.

Join us at 8pm, Saturday, Sept. 7, on 99.5 WCRB in Boston and New Hampshire, and on 88.7 WJMF in Providence.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Classical New England — 2013/08/31

As I mentioned last week, the Boston Symphony Orchestra is between seasons, so for his weekend and the following two, Classical New England will devote the BSO time slot (7:00-11:00 p.m.) to rebroadcasts/webstreams of various concerts — some by the BSO and some by others. This evening's is clearly described on the Classical New England BSO page.
As part of WGBH's Opera Bash, WCRB revisits two spectacular Boston Symphony concerts featuring works by Richard Wagner in celebration of the bicentennial of the composer's birth.

Michelle DeYoungFirst, from a Symphony Hall concert in March, mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung is the guest soloist in a program that includes excerpts fromGötterdammerung, Tannhäuser, Parsifal, Lohengrin, and Tristan und Isolde, conducted by Daniele Gatti.

Bryn TerfelThen, from a July performance at Tanglewood, Bryn Terfel sings the role of Wotan in Act III of Die Walküre, with Katarina Dalayman as Brünnhilde, Amber Wagner as Sieglinde, and Elizabeth Byrne as Waltraute, conducted by Lothar Koenigs.
The Walküre portion will begin about 9:00.

Next week it will be a Proms concert from the Royal Albert Hall, and the week after that we can listen to the Tanglewood concert of August 6

Friday, August 23, 2013

Tanglewood — 2013/08/23-25

This is the last weekend of the 2013 Tanglewood Season. The BSO will be playing on Friday evening and Sunday afternoon, with the Boston Pops on Saturday. Sunday afternoon's concert will give us the customary season-ending Beethoven 9th Symphony. Specifics follow.

August 23  The 8:30 p.m. Friday concert is an "Underscore Friday," in which a member of the orchestra gives an introduction to the music from the stage. This evening, per the program note, there will be "introductory comments from the stage by BSO trumpet player Michael Martin." As it happens, I've missed the previous two "Underscore Friday" concerts this season, so this will be a first for me. The program is described thus for us on the orchestra's performance detail page.
The BSO kicks off the final weekend of its 2013 Tanglewood season on Friday, August 23, at 8:30 p.m. with a program featuring pianist  Peter Serkin and led by BSO Assistant Conductor  Andris Poga in his Tanglewood debut. Mr. Serkin will join Mr. Poga and the orchestra for Stravinsky's Concerto for Piano and Winds, a Bach-inspired work from the beginning of the composer's neoclassical period, about which he wrote "I have gone back in the centuries and have begun over again, on a historic foundation. What I write today has its roots in the style and methods of Palestrina and Bach." The program also includes Prokofiev's Haydnesque Symphony No. 1,  Classical, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 7.
As usual, if you go to that page you will find links to program notes and audio previews, as well as to performer bios when you click on their photos.

August 24 brings "Film Night at Tanglewood." The performance detail page puts it this way:
A beloved summer tradition continues on August 24 at 8:30 p.m. in the Shed with  John Williams' Film Night.  Joining maestro Williams and the  Boston Pops for this special program-which features selections by Alfred Newman, Henry Mancini, Max Steiner, and more-are guest conductor  David Newman, son of Alfred Newman and a film composer in his own right, and superstar vocalist and Broadway and screen actress  Audra McDonald, who recently won a Tony Award for her performance as the leading lady inPorgy and Bess. Ms. McDonald will join the orchestra for selections from a number of films, including  A Star Is Born State Fair, and  The West Point Story. Mr. Williams will also lead the Pops in his own film music, including pieces from Jaws Indiana Jones, and  Hook.
If I understand the program notes correctly, Maestro Newman will conduct the first half, some of which will be music composed by his father; and after intermission, Maestro Williams will conduct some of his own compositions. It's not clear to me whether Maestro Williams or Brian Hertz will be on the podium when Ms. McDonald sings.

August 25
The BSO's 2013 Tanglewood season comes to a close on Sunday, August 25, at 2:30 p.m. with the traditional performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, led by BSO Conductor Emeritus Bernard Haitink. Maestro Haitink, the orchestra, and Tanglewood Festival Chorus will be joined for this season's valedictory concert by soprano  Erin Wall, mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford, tenor  Joseph Kaiser, and bass-baritone John Relyea. Completed in 1824 near the end of the composer's life when he was completely deaf, mostly destitute, and increasingly ill, this monument of musical innovation and accomplishment has stood as an iconic tribute to and example of the ability of the human spirit to triumph over adversity ever since.
Visit the performance detail page (from which the quote was taken) for the usual links to further info.

You can listen to the concerts over Classical New England, by radio if you're within range, otherwise via their webstream. As usual, there is a pre-concert program a half hour before each concert's stated start time, and there are links of various sorts on the station's BSO page. BTW, if you haven't already noticed, you might want to scan the home page of the website for links to descriptions of some of their other programming.

After this weekend, the Boston Symphony Orchestra will be off until the Symphony Hall season begins in Boston on September 21. I'm not sure what CNE will be presenting on the two intervening Saturday evenings, but I expect it will include rebroadcasts of some BSO concerts. I'll let you know, if I find out. Otherwise, you can just listen in at 7:00 or 8:00 p.m.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Tanglewood — 2013/08/16-18

August 16  Friday evening we have a concert by the Boston Pops (which is why I label the summer posts "Tanglewood — [date]": it's not always the BSO). There is still a performance detail page, with a link to the program notes, and it tells us the following:
Keith Lockhart will lead the Boston Pops in an evening concert in the Shed on Friday, August 16, with celebrated pianist, vocalist, and archivist of the great American Songbook, Michael Feinstein. The evening will feature some of the most beloved tunes in the American songbook repertoire. Special guests include Broadway and television star Cheyenne Jackson and actress and singer Faith Prince.

August 17  On Saturday, the Boston symphony returns to the stage for the first of two Mozart/Mahler programs — this one under the baton of Bernard Haitink.
Conductor Emeritus Bernard Haitink joins the BSO at Tanglewood for the first time in five years on Saturday, August 17, leading the BSO in Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 with soloistIsabelle Faust and Mahler's Symphony No. 4, featuring sopranoCamilla Tilling.
Go to the performance detail page for links to the background information (including performer bios by clicking on their pics).

August 18  Sunday brings the second Mozart/Mahler concert, with Christoph von Dohnányi at the podium. This is the "Leonard Bernstein Memorial Concert."
Emanuel Ax joins conductor Christoph von Dohnányi and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra for the Leonard Bernstein Memorial Concert and the second weekend program dedicated to the music of Mozart and Mahler. Mr. Ax will perform as soloist in Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-flat, K.271, and the program closes with Mahler's Symphony No. 1.
See the performance detail page for the links to background info, including audio previews, program notes, and performer bios.

Classical New England will have their regular pre-game shows 1/2 hour before the concerts.
Visit their BSO page for all sorts of links: interviews, previous concerts on demand etc.