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.

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