Saturday, February 23, 2013

BSO — 2013/02/21-26

The BSO gives us the following description of this evening's program:
Veteran BSO conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos joins the BSO for two very different works for orchestra and voices: the complete music from Stravinsky's 1919 ballet Pulcinella-an early example, reinterpreting Baroque music, of the composer's neoclassical style, and named for a character from Italian commedia dell'arte-and Haydn's Mass in Time of War, composed in 1796 during the series of European wars following the French Revolution. These concerts feature the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, three soloists making return appearances at Symphony Hall-Alexandra Coku, Karen Cargill, and Matthew Polenzani-and, baritone soloist David Pittsinger.

Mr. Ildebrando D'Arcangelo is suffering from acute tracheitis and has been advised by his doctors to cancel all singing engagements for the next two weeks, including the BSO Stravinsky and Haydn performances of February 21, 22, 23 and 26.  We are grateful that David Pittsinger has agreed to join our vocal cast as baritone soloist for these performances on short notice.
See the program details page as well for program notes and audio previews (including an interview with the conductor) and biographies of the conductor and soloists available by clicking on their photos.

I was at the Thursday performance and enjoyed it a lot. The one "problem" is that several sections of "Pulcinella" are part of a suite, which has made them much more familiar that the rest of the piece. So there was a sort of inequality between the parts of the ballet. But if you're not familiar with the suite, this won't matter, and if you are, it's still worth hearing. Anyway, it was all good music and worth listening to. The reviewer for the Boston Musical Intelligencer felt that the music becomes increasingly less baroque and more Stravinsky-like as the piece goes on. I hadn't noticed that, but I'll be listening for it during the broadcast.

The Globe's reviewer found it basically good, but felt that Maestro Frühbeck let some details slip. I'm not enough of an expert to comment specifically on that. What I can say is that I have seen Maestro Frühbeck as guest conductor numerous times over the past half dozen years. This time I was shocked at how thin he was when he came out onto the stage. The use of a chair while he was conducting was a first. Obviously he has aged considerably. The though crossed my mind that he may be failing and these may be his last appearances with the Boston Symphony. I had forgotten that he is also conducting next week's concerts.

As usual, the concert is being broadcast and streamed live on Classical New England this evening at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, with pre-concert features beginning at 7:00; and it will be rebroadcast/streamed on Sunday, March 3, probably at 1:00 p.m. See CNE's BSO page for scheduling info and links to interviews.  Tomorrows rebroadcast/stream will be last week's Mozart and Bruckner concert.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

BSO — 2013/02/14-16

This week the first half of the concert is much shorter than the second half. As always, we turn for a synopsis to the Boston Symphony's performance detail page, where we read:
For his second week of concerts this season, Christoph von Dohnányi is joined by revered Romanian pianist Radu Lupu-known for his individual interpretations of the great masterpieces of the piano repertoire-for Mozart's elegantly soft-spoken Piano Concerto No. 23 in A, completed in 1786 when Mozart was at the height of his popularity in Vienna. Also on the program is Bruckner's expansive Symphony No. 4, Romantic, marked by the soaring grandeur and long-breathed melodies so characteristic of that composer.
And there are the usual audio and text links for additional info.

The Globe review was favorable, and I found it fairly pleasant. Others, on the Boston Musical Intelligencer, weren't so pleased — some found the Mozart just going through the motions, and some felt that Dohnányi didn't understand the spiritual side of the Bruckner. If you listen on Classical New England, you can decide for yourself. As always, there are links on their BSO page.

Sunday afternoon they'll rebroadcast last week's Brahms, Sibelius, and Beethoven concert.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

BSO — 2013/02/07-12 —Updated

Edited to add: As noted below, Classical New England is giving us a live broadcast of tonight's concert in place of the one that was cancelled last Saturday, with the same program. Here's the description from the BSO performance details page, where you can also find links to program notes and audio previews:
The eminent German conductor Christoph von Dohnányi leads three masterpieces from the heart of the orchestral repertoire. The program begins with Brahms's earliest orchestral masterpiece, his Variations on a Theme by Haydn, a prime example of theme-and-variations form that demonstrates the Romantic-era composer's fidelity to the Classical tradition. French violinist Renaud Capuçon, in his BSO debut, then joins the orchestra for Sibelius's Violin Concerto, a pinnacle of the concerto repertoire. The program concludes with Beethoven's Symphony No. 5.

As on Saturdays, the concert is broadcast and streamed at 8:00 p.m., with pre-game show at 7:00, on Classical New England. and they will retransmit it on Sunday, Feb. 17, at 1:00 p.m. Their page also has links for preview features.

The Globe's reviewer liked the outer works, but had mixed feelings about how the Sibelius was performed. I also liked the clarity of detail in the Beethoven at the Thursday performance.

This just in, from the BSO website:

Tonight's [that is Feb. 9's] 8PM BSO concert has been canceled.

Due to the storm, [Saturday, Feb, 9's] 8PM concert has been canceled. We will offer ticket holders exchanges into substitute concerts or refunds as requested. Patrons may call SymphonyCharge next week at 888-266-1200 to make exchanges or obtain refunds.
Classical New England says they'll broadcast next Tuesday's performance of the same program, with coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m. I don't know what they'll be doing this evening. You can tune in and find out. If I find out anything, I'll come back and let you know. Tomorrow, as usual, they'll be rebroadcasting last Saturday's concert, which wasn't bad IMO.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

BSO — 2013/01/31-02/05

February 2, 2013.  Russian composers and Latvian performers are on the bill this week. The BSO's performance details page (with links to program notes, audio previews and an interview with the conductor) puts it this way:
Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons is joined by the exciting young Latvian violinist Baiba Skride, who makes her BSO debut as soloist in Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1, which was written in the late 1940s but only premiered in 1955, after Stalin's death helped relax the constraints on artistic expression in the USSR. The second half of the program is devoted to Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5, the second of his well-known last three symphonies.

I was there for theThursday performance, and I thought the violinist was spectacular. She played the whole thing from memory and seemingly effortlessly. She got a prolonged ovation (most in the audience standing), and when she came back for her second solo bow (fourth overall) she gave us an encore by Bach. There were no problems IMO with the Tchaikovsky either, but I kind of resent the automatic standing O it got, faster and from even more of the audience than that for the Shostakovich soloist. The way the symphony ends is pretty much guaranteed to get that response, regardless of whether the performance was unusually good or not. At least the audience didn't keep up the applause as long as they did for Ms. Skride. The Globe's reviewer liked the concert but was not blown away. Most of his dissatisfactions were with the Tchaikovsky.

Even if you can't stick around for the Tchaikovsky, I think hearing the Shostakovich performance will be worthwhile. Listen in on Classical New England — concert at 8:00 p.m., preliminaries at 7:00 — and check their page devoted to the BSO for links to interviews with the conductor and the soloist.

February 3, 2013, at noon.  Last weeks concert of music by Hindemith, Liszt, and Prokofiev starts an hour earlier than usual — noon, rather than 1:00 p.m. This is the second week in a row that they've changed the time for the rebroadcast. Dunno why they're doing it, but it can be a real inconvenience for people who want to hear, and have to keep changing their schedules to accommodate the station's whims.