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.