Monday, December 29, 2014

BSO — December Hiatus — 2014/12/27

Unfortunately, I got a bit tied up Saturday and didn't get this written in time for the Saturday broadcast and stream, but there's still plenty of time to hear the rebroadcast on January 5. And of course, you can always listen at the regular time, even if I haven't posted something to tell you what to expect.

At any rate, on Saturday, WCRB gave us a rebroadcast of a concert from last summer's Tanglewood season, including music of Richard Strauss, Rachmaninoff, and Ravel. The station's BSO page gives us the usual links and scheduling info, as well as this synopsis of the concert:
In an encore broadcast from the 2014 Tanglewood season, Andris Nelsons conducts the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra in music from Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier, and the BSO in Rachmaninoff'sSymphonic Dances, and Ravel's Bolero.
(Some emphasis added.)

It's now available for listening on demand, and it will also be broadcast and streamed one more time on January 5. I heard the first half and some of the second, and thought it was pretty good.

Monday, December 29 will bring one more rebroadcast/webstream of last summer's Tanglewood concert of music by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, which I described before the December 13 broadcast.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Handel & Haydn 2014/12/21; Pops 2014/12/20

On Sunday I went to Boston to hear the Handel and Haydn's "Bach Christmas" concert. Although it's called Bach Christmas, as you can see, it included lots of music by other composers as well. The whole thing was quite enjoyable —very well played and sung — but after the gemlike delights from the late Renaissance and early Baroque, Bach's more extensive pieces seemed almost too much. I do enjoy most of Bach's music, including Sunday's pieces.and I find no fault in the performances themselves. Only the contrast was a little regrettable.

Holiday Pops is always a nice bit of fluff: mostly stuff you hear nearly everywhere before Christmas. But the Pops play lush arrangements very well. One really nice touch was "The Twelve Days of Christmas" in an arrangement made several years ago for the Pops and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. As they go along, other melodies are substituted for the original tune. For example, the fifth day gets the opening music of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, and seven swans a-swimming get the big tune from "Swan Lake." The music from the "Hallelujah Chorus" makes an appearance in the twelfth day, etc. Of course the audience loved it, and Keith Lockhart told them that it is on the Pops' newest CD, available after the concert. He advised them they could play it "throughout the holiday season. Amaze your friends. Confound your enemies." The concert is available on demand at WCRB.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

BSO — December Hiatus — 2014/12/20

This weekend WCRB gives us a Boston Pops concert in their BSO time slot on Saturday and Monday at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time. The live Holiday Pops concert is on Saturday, and the rebroadcast/webstream is on Monday, December 22 (without their usual interval of over a week). This is how WCRB describes the concert on their BSO page:
Keith Lockhart conducts the Boston Pops and Tanglewood Festival Chorus in a cherished seasonal tradition, filled with holiday music favorites, the traditional Pops sing-a-long, and even a visit from jolly old Santa Claus!

Most of the Pops players are BSO members, so it's okay for them to have the Symphony time slot.

I'll be going to a Christmas Party this evening, may be home in time for the last few numbers, but I'll have to catch most of it on the Monday rebroadcast.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

BSO — December Hiatus — 2014/12/13

This week, WCRB's Saturday BSO broadcast and webstream is a repeat of the Tanglewood concert of Sunday, August 3, 2014. I previewed it here at the time, and I hope the links still work. On WCRB's BSO page, they summarize it as follows:
In an encore broadcast from the 2014 Tanglewood season, Augustin Hadelich is the soloist in Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 4, and Juanjo Mena leads the BSO in Haydn's Symphony No. 6, Le Matin, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 2.
(Some emphasis added.)

Normally, the Monday repeat of that concert would be on December 22, but that evening they'll repeat the Dec. 20 Pops concert, so this repeat is postponed for a week.

Meanwhile, the concert being rerun on Monday, December 15 is the one that filled the Saturday 8:00 p.m. slot on December 6.
In an encore broadcast from the 2014 Tanglewood season, Charles Dutoit conducts the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra in Stravinsky's Scherzo fantastique and The Firebird, and Nikolai Lugansky is the soloist in Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3.
(Some emphasis added.)

All broadcasts/streams are on WCRB at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Winter Orgy® Period 2014

The Winter Orgy® period has begun on WHRB. They've already had the Warhorse Orgy, and now the Cauldio Abbado orgy is in progress, running until 10:30 p.m. today, then 5:00 a.m. to 6:45 on December 8, and 5:00 to 3:00 on the 9th.

Subsequent classical orgies include

  • Gone with the Winds Orgy    Dec. 9   3:00 - 10:00 p.m.  &   Dec. 10   8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
  • The Rest Is Noise Orgy     Dec. 10   1:00 p.m.    continuing off and on through Dec. 18
  • Ferenc Fricsay Orgy     Dec. 29   1:00 - 10:00 (?) p.m.

For listings of all works to be played, times of the Rest is Noise after the first day, other programming during the Orgy period, and highlights of January and February programming, see the WHRB Program Guide.

You can listen via the station website.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

BSO — December Hiatus — 2014/12/06

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is on break for the month of December. They will resume "concertizing" on January 8, 2015, with the next Saturday performance on the 10th. December sees the Boston Pops giving their Holiday Pops concerts at Symphony Hall. Meanwhile WCRB fills the Saturday and Monday  8:00p.m. time slots with rebroadcasts, except for December 20 and 22, when it will be Holiday Pops, live on the 20th and rebroadcast on the 22nd.

This evening, December 6, the broadcast and stream is of the Tanglewood concert of last August 17, which I previewed here in my blog. It features Charles Dutoit conducting, not the BSO, but the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra — the young musicians who are learning their art. They perform music of Stravinsky and the Rachmaninoff piano Concerto No. 3, with Nikolai Lugansky as soloist. For more, see my blogpost and links. Also see the WCRB BSO page for the December schedule and other links.

In keeping with the usual practice of replaying Saturday concerts nine days later, this Monday's concert will be a rerun of the one given a week ago, on November 29: Leonidas Kavakos in music of Bartók, Haydn, and Mussorgsky.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

BSO — 2014/11/25-29

This week's Boston Symphony concerts are the last before January. December is taken up by Holiday Pops. The program looked to me like something of a filler, but the reviews are telling me it's really worth hearing. Leonidas Kavakos is conductor and violin soloist in music of Bartók, Haydn, and Mussorgsky. Here's the description of the program from the orchestra's performance detail page:
The Greek-born violin virtuoso Leonidas Kavakos returns to the BSO as both soloist and conductor in Béla Bartók's Two Portraits for violin and orchestra, which the BSO has never performed. The yearning Portrait No. 1 is an arrangement of the first movement of the composer's first, long-suppressed violin concerto; the brief second Portrait is an arrangement of a quick, waltzing piano bagatelle. Kavakos also leads Joseph Haydn's Symphony No. 82 in C, The Bear, one of the six so-called "Paris" symphonies he wrote in the mid-1780s for that city as his international reputation grew. Its nickname, not the composer's own, apparently comes from the droning figure at the start of the finale, which suggested, to a later arranger, music for a dancing bear. Completing the program is Ravel's familiar arrangement of Mussorgsky's kaleidoscopic Pictures at an Exhibition, a suite of highly characterized musical reactions to fantastical paintings.
(Some emphasis added)
Go to that page also for links to audio and written material about the music and performer bio for Maestro Kavakos. There was a very favorable review in this (Thursday) morning's Boston Globe, but I can't find it on the internet version of the paper. The review in the Boston Musical Intelligencer is mixed, but very favorable toward the final movement of the Haydn, and enthusiastic, as was the Globe, for the Mussorgsky.

In the light of the reviews, I'm looking forward to it all. I should be able to hear the Bartók and Haydn during WCRB's live broadcast on Saturday at 8:00 p.m., before my brother's weekly call from Japan. The Mussorgsky will have to wait for the rebroadcast on Monday, December 8, also at 8:00. If you're outside the broadcast area, you can listen over the web. The station's BSO page has links to an interview with Maestro Kavakos about the concert and to material about other concerts as well as the season BSO broadcast schedule. As noted above this is the final concert until January. At this point, I don't know what will fill the time slots between December 8 and January 10. Past practice would suggest they'll be rebroadcasting concerts from Tanglewood or prior years, but we'll just have to wait and see. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to this one.

Friday, November 21, 2014

BSO — 2014/11/20-22 (Updated)

I heard this week's Boston Symphony program on Thursday. It consists of two 21st century works, followed by two from 20th century Russian composers, with the intermission coming between the third and fourth pieces. The BSO performance detail page gives us the story:
Andris Nelsons demonstrates his thoughtful, adventurous programming with this wide-ranging selection of works. He and the BSO are joined by cellist Yo-Yo Ma for Prokofiev's Symphony-Concerto for cello and orchestra, whose title suggests the symphonic nature of the score. Nelsons also leads the BSO's first world premiere and BSO commission of the season, a new work ["Lakes Awake at Dawn"] for chorus and orchestra by the conductor's Latvian compatriot Eriks Ešenvalds, who has secured a strong international reputation especially for his choral works. Opening the program is John Harbison's choral scherzo Koussevitzky Said:. Written for the 75th anniversary of Tanglewood and premiered there in 2012, this short piece sets words about music by the BSO's great former music director, Serge Koussevitzky. Setting Konstantin Balmont's Russian translation of Edgar Allan Poe's poem The Bells, Rachmaninoff's work for vocal soloists, chorus, and orchestra is considered one of his highest achievements. The BSO has only performed this great work on one other occasion, in subscription concerts in 1979.
(Some emphasis added.)

The performance detail page also has the usual links to program notes (including texts of the three sung pieces), audio previews, a video podcast about the Prokofiev and the Ešenvalds pieces, and performer bios (including chorus and its conductor as well as soloists in the Rachmaninoff).

The Boston Globe review was almost entirely about the works, rather than the performances, but everything it does say about the performances is approving. So far, there has been no review in the Boston Musical Intelligencer. When I see one, I'll add the link.* While none of the music is "must hear" to my taste, none of it was a chore to listen to, either. The Harbison is a lot of fun (and the Globe reviewer thinks it is important in a way). The composer was in the audience and stood for a well deserved bow. I had heard it when it was broadcast from Tanglewood two years ago. The rest of the concert was new to me. "Lakes Awake at Dawn," receiving its world premiere, was calm in many places, earnest, and musically better than one would expect of new music. The Prokofiev concerto was quite powerful, not without its pleasant moments, vigorously played by Yo-Yo Ma. After intermission "The Bells" was a powerful setting of the poem in four sections, with a soloist for three of them and the chorus alone in the third section. The singers all did well, as did the chorus, and the music itself was fine.

As always, you can listen live Saturday evening at 8:00 or Monday December 1, over WCRB radio or streaming. The station's BSO page has the entire remaining BSO broadcast schedule for this season as well as links to interviews about this and other concerts and to concerts now available for on demand listening.

* Edited to add: The BMInt has a very positive and descriptive review. At least it's in time for the rebroadcast on Dec. 1.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Boston Baroque — Monteverdi Vespers

On Friday evening I attended a performance by Boston Baroque of Monteverdi's 1610 composition "Vespro della Beata Vergine." It was the first time I had attended a live performance, although I've known of it for approximately 40 years. I was staying at my grandmother's one Saturday evening so she wouldn't be alone when my uncle was away, and I listened to the Boston Symphony concert broadcast. It was the Vespro della Beata Vergine, conducted by their Assistant Conductor, Michael Tilson Thomas.

I had gradually become familiar with baroque music — Handel, Vivaldi, Bach, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, perhaps Gabrieli — but I had never heard anything like the Vespers: the use of chant (with which I was familiar from my time at St. Anselm Abbey) to underlay florid passages, the vocal technique of rapid staccato on a single note, the "echo" repetitions. Listening to it felt like discovering a new musical world. Since then I've bought several recordings of the work, and it still fascinates.

So I was glad to see that it was to be performed this week in Boston. The performance was very satisfying. The soloists all sang well (although the sopranos seemed to be coquettish in their facial expressions and body language, which was unfortunate), and apart from some pitch trouble with the cornet toward the end, the orchestra was fine as well. The audience rightly gave the performers a prolonged ovation.

Here are a couple of samples to give you some idea of what so astounded me.

This is the introductory verse of the vespers:
I wonder what is was like the first time this was performed to have all that suddenly explode upon the traditional chanting of the opening words.

Next comes the first psalm, Psalm 110:
Here after the first line is given in the traditional chant, we here the bass delivering the chant for every second verse under the florid music of the rest of the ensemble.

Later comes the Motet "Duo Seraphim" based on Isaiah 6:3, and 1 John 5:7 in the Vulgate (The Johannine Comma):
This contains the staccatos on a single note, which I had never heard before.

There are several videos of the whole thing, and if this has whetted your appetite for it, you can find links easily enough, But at any rate, I think these excerpts should give some idea of what hit me that Saturday evening decades ago. I've given url's because I'm not sure the videos will play from the embeds.

Friday, November 14, 2014

BSO — 2014/11/13-18

Music Director Andris Nelsons is back on the podium this week with works of Tchaikovsky, contemporary Aussie composer Brett Dean, and Stravinsky — one of Tchaikovsky's least known works, the American premiere of the Dean, and one of Stravinsky's best known. Trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger solos in the Dean. Here are some details from the BSO's performance detail page:
Andris Nelsons is joined here by another close collaborator, masterful Swedish trumpet virtuoso Håkan Hardenberger, for the American premiere of Brett Dean's trumpet concertoDramatis personae. The Australian-born, Grawemeyer Award-winning composer wrote this concerto for Hardenberger, who gave its first performance in August 2013 in Austria. The idea of the title refers to the soloist's position as dramatic protagonist. Inspired by one of literature's most recognizable protagonists, Tchaikovsky's symphonic poem Hamlet, which opens the program, is one of the composer's several intensely Romantic works based on Shakespeare. Stravinsky's groundbreaking, still-thrilling ballet score The Rite of Spring, an orchestral tour de force, closes these concerts.
In addition to the usual links to audio previews, program notes, and performer bios, the page also has an essay discussing the music of "Rite of Spring."

I was there on Thursday and liked the concert. The opening and concluding pieces had places where soloists within the orchestra had a chance to shine, and shine they did, for which they were warmly applauded. Whole sections did yeoman duty as well. The Tchaikovsky "Hamlet" has been played five times by the BSO, the latest performances taking place in 1968. It may not be the finest thing Tchaikovsky ever composed, but it deserves to be heard more frequently that once in 46 years. There's plenty of good music in it evoking various elements of the play, and the orchestra seemed in good form for it. If nothing else, you should listen to the concert for this piece. Who knows when you'll get another chance?

After reading the program note, I was prepared to find the Dean concerto unpleasant and unlikeable. Well, it isn't pleasant in the way Haydn is, but I found it listenable, if gruff. The first movement at times seemed jazzy, and the second was mostly quiet and relaxed. Toward the end of the third movement, I was very much reminded of a certain American composer of an earlier generation. He's mentioned in the lukewarm Globe review, but not in the program note, and it was such a pleasant surprise to hear that part that I won't mention the name. So if you don't read the Globe review until after the concert, you can enjoy the surprise too. It's a really march-like bit, and you'll probably smile even if you don't catch the similarity. The Stravinsky was played clearly, so that one could hear everything that was going on, and I think the soloists as well as the sections and the whole orchestra earned the rousing applause and cheers they got — with Maestro Nelsons taking such care to acknowledge them separately that there was only one curtain call, lasting several minutes.

So I definitely recommend listening to this concert, at least up to the intermission, over WCRB radio or internet. It will probably help with the Dean concerto if you prepare for it by listening to the Brian Bell interview and reading the program notes from the BSO program detail page and listening to the Nelsons and Hardenberger interviews from WCRB's BSO page. Having some idea of what it was all about definitely helped me appreciate it. As usual, it will be available live on Saturday at 8:00 p.m., and recorded on Monday, November 24, also at 8:00 p.m.

Note: As of this writing, the Boston Musical Intelligencer hasn't yet published a review. When I see it, I'll edit this post to include at least a link. So if you see this note and are curious about what BMInt says, you can check back here later.

Edited November 19 to add: Here's the review in the Boston Musical Intelligencer, favorable to the Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky, not to the Dean.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

BSO — 2014/11/06-11 (Somewhat Belated)

Toward the end of last week, I was quite busy with other matters, so I didn't get to post anything about last Saturday's broadcast before it happened. But as regular readers know, the concert will be rebroadcast and streamed over WCRB on Monday, November 17, at 8:00 p.m. Boston Time. It is also being performed again in Symphony Hall this evening at 8:00, so if what you see here piques your interest and you live near enough, you can pop over and listen live.

The program consists of two works. Here is how the BSO's performance detail page describes it:
New BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons returns for his second series of 2014-15 concerts, joining forces with several longtime collaborators for music with a Scandinavian and Slavic accent. This program features acclaimed Latvian violinist Baiba Skride, a compatriot and contemporary of the conductor, as soloist in Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina's Offertorium-a piece recorded by the BSO in 1988 and considered one of the most important 20th century concertos for the instrument. Gubaidulina's music is strongly affected by her spirituality, making use of the modern era's wealth of expressive techniques. Closing the concert is Finnish composer Jean Sibelius's Second Symphony, a work of remarkably pastoral temperament that remains one of his most beloved works.
(Some emphasis added.)

There are the usual links to program notes, audio previews, and performer bios on the performance detail page.

The Boston Globe reviewer gives considerable attention to explaining the piece itself, which is useful, and not so much to the actual performance. He finds nothing to criticize about either, and he is also satisfied with the Sibelius. The review in the Boston Musical Intelligencer has a lot of detail about Maestro Nelsons' conducting as it was the reviewer's first time seeing him conduct. Like the Globe reviewer, he admired the violinist's playing, and also briefly noted his satisfaction with the Sibelius.

The concert was not part of my subscription, so  I didn't hear it on Thursday. When I started listening on the radio on Saturday, the Gubaildina concerto was already in progress, and what I heard was not really very pleasant. Maybe it wasn't supposed to be. It became calmer and easier on the ear as it approached the end. If I read the program notes, which I hope to do, perhaps I'll appreciate it more. I'll listen to the rebroadcast, but I won't spend the money and make the effort of going in to Boston to hear it in the hall. I do like the Sibelius symphony, but I've heard it a number of times, so I don't need to attend for its sake. This isn't an easy decision. I really like to give myself the chance to hear new music, and the idea of the Gubaidulina is interesting, so going tonight is an attractive idea. But I don't quite need to be there.

As always, WCRB's BSO page has links to a lot of material about this concert and others. Check it out.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

BSO — 2014/10/30-11/04

This week the two S's, Sibelius and Schubert (or three if you count Symphony). Here's how the orchestra's performance detail page puts it:
Spanish conductor Juanjo Mena, chief conductor of the BBC Philharmonic, is joined by the fine German violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann for Sibelius's great Violin Concerto. The Finnish composer wrote this work between 1902 and 1905, and Richard Strauss led the premiere of the definitive version. A violinist himself, Sibelius is said to have worked out his one-time ambition to become a concert virtuoso with this three-movement concerto, which features the composer's distinctive, Finnish folk music-influenced flavors in a work by turns fiery and lyrical. Franz Schubert wrote his towering orchestral masterpiece, the so-calledGreat C major symphony, toward the end of his short life. Its exact dates have never been established, but he wrote this formally and harmonically innovative piece at around the same time Beethoven wrote his Ninth Symphony.
(Some emphasis added.)

As always, the page has links to audio previews, program notes, and performer bios.

I was in the hall for Thursday's performance, and I enjoyed it a lot. The cadenza in the middle of the first movement of the Sibelius did not seem as long as the program note led me to expect. Come to think of it, nothing seemed long. Even the Schubert never seemed overlong. Every moment was welcome. There are pieces in which I have found myself thinking, "Enough!" but despite this symphony's oft-remarked length, it never felt like too much. There may have been a few technical lapses along the way, but nothing serious, nothing that could spoil the enjoyment of an evening of good music well played. (I'm beginning to wonder if I have some hearing loss. The brass don't overpower as they used to and the various sections of the orchestra seem more distinct. But reviewers have remarked on the latter phenomenon, so I hope it's the conductors who get the credit.)

For technical explanations, I turn to the published reviews. First, the Boston Globe. Then there is this from the dissatisfied reviewer in the Boston Musical Intelligencer. Maybe it was the speed that helped with the Schubert. It certainly never dragged, as it sometimes seems to.

You can form your own opinions if you listen this evening or November 10 at 8:00 p.m. over WCRB on air or via web stream. The station also has their own Boston Symphony page with symphony broadcast schedules and links to on-demand concerts from the past 12 months and lots of interviews.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

BSO — 2014/10/23-25

This week it's the three B's: Bach, Brahms, and BSO. Bach's solo cantata, "Ich habe genug," was sung by Bryn Terfel with the orchestra. For the Brahms "German Requiem," they were joined by Rosemary Joshua and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, singing, as always, from memory. This was the second program that Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos was originally scheduled to conduct. Bramwell Tovey, who seems to be well-liked by the chorus, took on the podium duties. Here's what the orchestra's performance detail page has to say about the program and performers:
This program pairs two of the great works for voice and orchestra in the German musical literature. Bach's 1727 cantata for bass soloist and orchestra stands among the best-known of his several hundred works in the genre. Its text (the title translates to "I have enough") refers to the sustaining power of faith in the hour of death. A German Requiem, Brahms's largest work, originated with music he wrote following Robert Schumann's attempted suicide in 1854 and evidently was also connected with the death of the composer's own mother. The result is an utterly personal, scarcely ceremonial Requiem for soprano and baritone soloists, chorus, and orchestra, episodically setting texts from the Bible. Its "German"-ness derives partly from the fact that, unlike the traditional Latin Requiem text, Brahms used Martin Luther's German translations of scripture. Bryn Terfel, who has previously appeared with the orchestra at Tanglewood and in gala Symphony Hall concerts, here makes his BSO subscription series debut. Acclaimed British soprano Rosemary Joshua makes her BSO debut in the German Requiem.
The page also contains the usual sorts of links to audio, program notes, and performer bios.

The Globe reviewer was very pleased with the performance, and the somewhat more detailed review in the Boston Musical Intelligencer was also highly laudatory. I was there on Thursday, and I think both reviews are good. I'd underline that I thought the various sections of the orchestra played their parts very clearly: Maestro Tovey kept the forces well-balanced.

Brahms is not my favorite composer, but this piece, especially as performed on Thursday, is worth hearing. The concert was an appropriate anticipation of All Souls Day, November 2, as well as an appropriate memorial to Maestro Frühbeck, as pointed out in the Intelligencer. So I recommend listening in over WCRB this evening or November 3 at 8:00 p.m. And visit their BSO page for all the links that you can find there.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

BSO — 2014/10/16-21

This week's concerts of music by Nielsen and Brahms were to have been conducted by the late Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos. His place on the podium will be taken by Thierry Fischer, who is coincidentally Keith Lockhart's successor as music director of the Utah Symphony. The program will be the one originally planned, with Rudolf Buchbinder as piano soloist in the Brahms.

Links to audio previews, program notes, and performer bios (click on the thumbnail pictures) are available at the orchestra's performance detail page, which also gives the following overview of the concerts:
Esteemed Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder joins the BSO for Brahms's vast, emotionally intense D minor piano concerto, which the Viennese composer wrote over the course of several years, in part as a reaction to the tragedy of his mentor Robert Schumann's attempted suicide in 1854 and his death two years later. Brahms-still only in his mid-twenties-was soloist in the concerto's premiere in January 1859. The great Danish composer Carl Nielsen chose to write his Fourth Symphony, an expression of the "Elemental Will of Life," in one large movement. He prefaced this questing 1916 score with a telling aphorism: "Music is Life, and, like it, is Inextinguishable."
(Some emphasis added.)

The reviews in the Boston Globe and the Boston Musical Intelligencer were generally favorable, while pointing out aspects of the performances that each reviewer found less than ideal. But a comment on the Intelligencer review began as follows,
Nice review by Vance Koven…except I’d go much stronger. My best advice to any of you interested in great music-making is to run to the box office and snap up a ticket for one of these remaining concerts. It’s that good. Thursday night’s concert was exceptional. It was non-routine music-making at its best, with tremendous artists (Fischer and Rudolf Buchbinder), and the orchestra playing their hearts out. In what has already been a very strong start to the season (this is my third concert), this has been the best performance yet.
and continues with several paragraphs of equally enthusiastic detail.

I wasn't there on Thursday, having switched my ticket to next Tuesday, so I can't give my own impression. Based on the comment in the Intelligencer, though, I'm looking forward to this concert and I think it'll be worth your listening to it over WCRB this evening at 8:00 or Monday, October 27, also at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time. The station's BSO page has a listing of the broadcast/webstream schedules for the remainder of the season, along with numerous links to interviews and other items concerning this concert and other BSO happenings, including access to earlier concerts now available on demand.

Enjoy the show.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

BSO — 2014/10/09-11

This evening Christian Zacharias conducts the orchestra in music of Schubert to open and close the concert and solos in a Mozart piano concerto before intermission. Here's the description from the orchestra's performance detail page:
The German pianist-conductor Christian Zacharias returns to the BSO in his dual role for Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 17 in G, performing from the keyboard as Mozart would have done for most of his concerto premieres during his Vienna years. This concerto, one of the composer's most joyous, may have been written for and premiered (in June 1784) by his student Barbara Ployer. Music by Mozart's Viennese successor Franz Schubert opens and closes the program. Schubert's familiar music for the 1823 play Rosamunde has had a successful life in the concert hall, although the play itself was a failure and has long since been lost. Completing the program is one of Schubert's most popular works, the haunting, two-movement Unfinished Symphony in B minor.
(Some emphasis added.)
That page is also where you can go for links to audio previews, program notes, and a performer bio.

This concert is not part of my subscription, so I can't offer my own thoughts about it. The Globe review, well-focused on the music, is generally favorable, with a couple of reservations. The reviewer in the Boston Musical Intelligencer also gave a generally favorable review. While they gave most praise to different aspects, they both found it worth hearing.

Hearing it is what you can do by radio or internet via WCRB this evening at 8:00 or Monday evening October 20, also at 8:00. It will also be available for a year for on-demand listening over the web. The station's BSO page gives the complete season broadcast/webstream schedule along with links to numerous interviews and on-demand concerts. Enjoy.

If you missed last week's Beethoven, Bartók, Tchaikovsky concert, it will be the broadcast/stream on Monday the 13th at 8:00 p.m., following the usual pattern of rebroadcasts.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

BSO — 2014/10/01-03 (+ 04)

This week, the BSO played concerts on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, with no concert on Saturday. I don't remember a Wednesday concert ever before, and it's very rare for there to be no Saturday concert. I'm guessing that Maestro Nelsons had contractual obligations to be elsewhere this evening. Anyway, without a live concert to broadcast, WCRB is presenting a recording of one of the earlier performances this week.

So this evening you can listen to Andris Nelsons' second concert of the year, described as follows on the orchestra's program detail page:
For his second program of 2014-15, Andris Nelsons leads three great works reflecting his lifelong immersion in the world of symphonic repertoire-works that also demonstrate the commanding stylistic range of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Beethoven's Symphony No. 8, premiered in 1814, is as consistently high-spirited and jolly as anything the composer ever wrote. The contrastingly aggressive and lurid Suite from Bartók's 1918 ballet score The Miraculous Mandarin captures the urban tension of post-World War I Europe. Tchaikovsky's final work, the Pathétique Symphony, is noteworthy for its melodic warmth and the composer's intricate, magical orchestrations. Premiered shortly before his death, the Sixth ends unusually, and emotionally powerfully, with a slow, mournful movement rather than a triumphant finale.
(Some emphasis added.)

As always, you can find links to various background features on that page as well.

As I mentioned, WCRB will broadcast (and stream) the concert this evening — at 8:00, with a repeat on Monday, October 13, also at 8:00. The station's BSO page has the season broadcast schedule, information about on demand streams, and links to a lot of interviews.

The Wednesday concert was reviewed by the Boston Globe and by the Boston Musical Intelligencer. The Globe reviewer was satisfied overall, and especially liked the playing in the Tchaikovsky. The review in the Intelligencer had more detail, and no reservations about the playing by the orchestra, although the reviewer doesn't care for this Tchaikovsky symphony. I thought the orchestra played quite well on Thursday evening. So I think it's worth listening to.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

BSO — 2014/09/27

Andris Nelsons' inaugural concert as Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is only being performed this evening (although there will be the customary rebroadcast in nine days). This means that there are no reviews so far, just the usual preview information. There will be music of Wagner, Mascagni, Puccini, and Respighi. The BSO performance detail page has links to program notes, a couple of audio previews, and performer bios (click on the pictures). It also provides the following synopsis:
This wide-ranging one-night-only event celebrates the start of BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons' tenure with the orchestra, and features two close colleagues of the conductor as soloists, the acclaimed Latvian soprano Kristine Opolais, and the outstanding German tenor Jonas Kaufmann. Each sings selections from the Wagnerian and Italian verismo repertoires, after which they join forces for a powerful duet from Puccini's Manon Lescaut. The concert opens with Wagner's Tannhäuser Overture-the work that first inspired a five-year-old Nelsons to a life in music-and closes with Respighi's spectacular orchestral showcase,Pines of Rome.
(Some emphasis added.)

As usual, you can listen on air or over the web via WCRB at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time. And since the concert is sold out  —something I don't recall seeing before, although it must have happened occasionally at least on opening nights — that's the only way you can hear it. Their BSO page has links to several interesting-looking interviews and to the complete season broadcast/stream schedule. (And dang! during the past week they've had a retrospective on previous music directors from Koussevitsky through Levine, with programs Sunday through Friday. If I had noticed, I could have listened while watching the Red Sox.)

It should be worth hearing.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

BSO — 2014/09/18-20

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is back at Symphony Hall for the season, which will extend until May 2, with a break for Holiday Pops in December. I was at the opening concert of the season on Thursday, and heard the program which will be given this evening, Sept. 20. Associate Conductor Marcelo Lehninger leads a concert which includes music of Mozart (?), Villa-Lobos, and Beethoven. On the orchestra's performance detail page we get this summary:
BSO Associate Conductor Marcelo Lehninger returns to the Symphony Hall podium for a concert spotlighting members of the orchestra. Four BSO principals take center stage for Mozart's seldom heard Sinfonia concertante for winds, last performed by the BSO in 1989 (with a different solo quartet). Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos's Bachianas brasileiras No. 5 for soprano and cellos is one of several like-named pieces intended to meld Brazilian musical ideas with the classical tradition. One of Villa-Lobos's most popular scores, the work is in two parts, sung in Portuguese: an Aria with words by Ruth Correa (who sang its premiere) and a Dance with words by Manuel Bandeira. The accompaniment for cellos alone makes it a rarity on orchestral concerts; these will be the first BSO performances of the piece. Closing the concert is Beethoven's powerful Symphony No. 5, among the best-known of all orchestral pieces.
The same page also has links to program notes , audio previews, an interview with the maestro, an — by clicking on the photos — performer bios.

Reviews were favorable, both in the Boston Globe and — even more favorable — in the Boston Musical Intelligencer. While I enjoyed it, I didn't think it was the best I've ever heard. Dynamics could have been better, in my opinion, and the Mozart and Beethoven sometimes seemed more like playing the notes than playing the music. Even so, the finale of the Beethoven can't help but be rousing when the notes are played correctly. So I think it's going to be enjoyable to listen to.

As always, WCRB will present the concert live, beginning at 8:00 p.m. You can hear it as a radio broadcast at 99.5 FM (or one of their satellite transmitters), if you're within range of the signal. Otherwise listen to the web stream by clicking the "Listen Live" button on the right side of their homepage. The station's BSO page has not only a brief description of the program, but also links to background interviews, information about on-demand listening to previous concerts, and the broadcast/streaming schedule for the whole season — which reminds us that each Saturday concert is rebroadcast nine days later, on Monday evening.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

BSO — September Hiatus — 2014/09/13

For the final Saturday before live broadcasts from Symphony Hall resume, WCRB has chosen to give us an encore of the concert of October 19, 2013, the first Andris Nelsons conduct with the BSO after being chosen to be its music Director, a post he assumes this season. I posted my review of the concert on October 19, 2013.

Here is how WCRB summarizes the content on their BSO page:
In an encore broadcast, BSO Music Director Designate Andris Nelsons leads the orchestra in Wagner'sSiegfried Idyll and the Symphony No. 3 by Brahms, and Paul Lewis is the soloist in Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 25.
(Some emphasis added.)
That page also contains a number of links you might wish to follow.

As usual, the concert broadcast, available also over the web by clicking the "Listen Live" button on the WCRB home page, begins at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time. Based on my review of 11 months ago, I think you'll enjoy it.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

BSO — September Hiatus — 2014/09/06

This week's BSO rebroadcast and webstream over WCRB is a concert from last February. Here's how WCRB describes it on their BSO page:
In an encore broadcast, pianist Murray Perahia is the soloist in Schumann's Piano Concerto, and Bernard Haitink leads the BSO in Stucky's Funeral Music for Queen Mary, after Purcell, and the Symphony No. 4 by Brahms.
(Some emphasis added.)

As usual, the WCRB page has links to interviews and other material of  interest.

I heard the concert in the Hall on February 6 and published my p/review here on February 8. I won't bother to copy the links from that post. You can go there and see if they still work. Meanwhile, if you're interested in listening to it, the broadcast and webstream begin on WCRB at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time. I'm especially looking forward to listening to the Stucky piece again.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

BSO — September Hiatus — 2014/08/30

With the BSO's Tanglewood season over, and no concerts in Symphony Hall until September 18 — meaning that live Saturday broadcasts will resume on September 20 — WCRB has three Saturday evenings to fill with repeats. You can find the schedule for all three, along with links to interviews and concerts available on demand, at their Boston Symphony page.

This Saturday, August 30, they will give us a concert of music by Ravel, conducted by Bernard Haitink: Alborada del Gracioso, Sheherezade, with Susan Graham as soloist, and Daphnis et Chloé.

The concert was originally given last January and February, and I p/reviewed it on February 1. You can hear it all via broadcast or web stream beginning at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, over 99.5 FM if you're within broadcast range, or by following the link at the WCRB website which I've linked above.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Tanglewood — 2014/08/22-24

The last weekend of the BSO's Tanglewood season concludes, as usual, with a Sunday matinee performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, with Charles Dutoit conducting. The symphony will be preceded by the composer's Choral Fantasy with Yefim Bronfman as piano soloist. Before that, on Friday evening, there will be chamber music; and on Saturday, there's an Italian (largely Roman) theme.

Friday August 22  The score by Harold Arlen to the movie The Wizard of Oz will be played by the Boston Pops under Keith Lockhart. Apparently, there is no permission from the copyright holders to broadcast it, because WCRB will be substituting a concert recorded on July 1. The performance detail page lists the performers and works to be performed but lacks most of the usual links to background information. We find this information on the WCRB BSO page:
On Friday, the Boston Symphony Chamber Players celebrate 50 years as an ensemble in a concert that includes Yehudi Wyner's Into the Evening Air, Debussy's Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp, and Schubert's Octet. (recorded July 1)
(Some emphasis added.)

It might be interesting to hear the new piece by Wyner, and I'm sure the Schubert will be enjoyable. I'm not sure about the Debussy: I don't enjoy most of his music very much, but I'm not familiar with the flute sonata; so we'll see.

Saturday August 23  Saturday brings a more conventional program. Here's how the performance detail page puts it:
Charles Dutoit returns to the podium to lead the Boston Symphony Orchestra. An Italian-themed program on August 23 begins with Berlioz's colorful Roman Carnival Overture and continues with Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, featuring pianist Kirill Gerstein as soloist. Completing the program is Respighi's scintillatingly orchestrated trio of Rome-centric tone poems: Roman Festivals, Fountains of Rome, and Pines of Rome.
(Some emphasis added.)

The usual links to performer bios, audio previews, and program notes can be found on that page as well. This should be quite a rousing concert.

Sunday August 24  It has become customary to close the BSO's Tanglewood season with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. As noted above, this year it is preceded by the Choral Fantasy. Consult the performance detail page for links to program notes, an audio preview, and performer bios. It gives this description of the program:
On August 24, the BSO's Tanglewood season comes to a close with its traditional performance of Beethoven's transcendent Symphony No. 9. The final concert begins with Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, which also features pianist Yefim Bronfman and which was a clear precedent for the Ninth Symphony's choral movement. Vocal soloists include sopranos Nicole Cabell and Meredith Hansen, mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford, tenors Noah Stewart and Alex Richardson, and bass-baritone John Relyea.
It should be good listening. I like the Choral Fantasy maybe even better than the Ninth Symphony, but certainly both are worth hearing.

WCRB will be broadcasting and streaming the Saturday and Sunday concerts live, as usual, in addition to the pre-recorded concert of Friday. After that, they go back to the regular schedule of presenting BSO concerts on Saturday evenings. Until the BSO begins the Symphony Hall season, the three intervening Saturdays will have rebroadcasts. The station's BSO page has descriptions of those concerts as well as this weekend's and other useful links about on-demand availability of earlier concerts etc.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Tanglewood — 2014/08/15-17

The best (IMO) piece of the whole weekend is going to be performed this evening while I'm out to dinner with a group of people — Beethoven's  Emperor Concerto (Piano Concerto No.5). I was introduced to the piece in my freshman year at college. My roommate had a recording of the concerto. Every Sunday morning he'd put it on his record player; but the record player had a slight malfunction: instead of stopping at the end of the first side, the tone arm would lift and go out to about an inch from the edge and settle down and play through the the remainder of the first movement. It did this over and over until he decided to intervene and flip the record for the second and third movements, which he only let play once. If it had bothered me, I might have spoken to him, but it was a great piece of music, so I was content to hear it over and over, while I was studying or reading the paper.

Friday August 15  The aforementioned Emperor Concerto precedes the intermission, with Stephane Deneve on the podium, and Emmanuel Ax on piano. After intermission, it's Prokofief's score for Alexander Nevsky. As usual, there are links to various sorts of background material on the orchestra's program detail page, which offers this description of the program:
Stéphane Denève returns to the Shed podium on Friday, August 15, to lead the BSO in music by Beethoven and Prokofiev. Pianist Emanuel Ax joins the orchestra for the first half of the program as soloist in Beethoven's ever-popular Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor. After intermission, the BSO welcomes the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and mezzo-soprano Elena Manistina for Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky
(Some emphasis added.)

Saturday August 16  Saturday brings a concert performance of Bernstein's Candide, conducted by Bramwell Tovey, and with vocal soloists too numerous for me to list, since they're mentioned on the performance detail page, along with links to program notes and performer bios.
Operetta and satire come to the Shed on Saturday, August 16, with a complete concert presentation of Bernstein's wittyCandide, based on Voltaire's novel. The BSO and Tanglewood Festival Chorus are conducted by Bramwell Tovey, and the cast of distinguished vocalists includes soprano Anna Christy, mezzo-sopranos Kathryn Leemhuis and Frederica von Stade, tenors Nicolas Phan and Beau Gibson, and baritones Paul LaRosa and Richard Suart, as well as vocal soloists from the Tanglewood Music Center. 
(Some emphasis added.)

I attended a staged performance a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. As for Voltaire's message: whether this is the best of all possible worlds depends on what we mean by "possible." Certainly it is not the best of all conceivable worlds — that's heaven. And the world would be better if we behaved better. But, however we define "possible," it seems to me that the state of the world does not justify Voltaire's atheism.

But listen for the enjoyable music, hopefully well performed, and don't get too hung up on the philosophy.

Sunday August 17 After Bernstein's music on Saturday evening, the Sunday matinee is the Leonard Bernstein Memorial Concert, with three pieces by Russian composers from the first half of the 20th century, performed by the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. Quoting the BSO performance detail page:
Eminent Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit takes the helm of the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra for The Leonard Bernstein Memorial Concert. The talented young fellows perform an all-Russian program featuring Stravinsky'sScherzo fantastique and the complete ballet score for The Firebird, as well as Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3, for which they are joined by Russian soloist Nikolai Lugansky.
(Some emphasis added.)

Go to the detail page for links to background information.

As always, WCRB will broadcast and stream all three concerts, at 8:30, 8:30, and 2:30, respectively, with a half hour of related material beginning 30 minutes before concert time. The station's BSO page gives brief synopses of this and next weeks' Tanglewood broadcasts (next week being the season finale) along with links to interviews and to previous concerts available on demand.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Tanglewood — 2014/08/08-10

I'm writing this more than a week in advance, since I'll be away until late Friday afternoon, but I expect to be back by the time the concerts begin. It looks like a rather eclectic weekend.

Friday August 8  This evening's concert features music of the three B's (not the usual three people speak of, but Bolcom, Barlow, and Barber) along with Elgar. It is under the baton of Leonard Slatkin and in honor of his 70th birthday. (Yikes! He's younger than me. I imagined he was older.) The performance detail page, as of this writing — July 31 — has links only for the program notes for the Barber and the performer bios: no notes on the other pieces and no audio links. I hope more will be added as the performance draws near. There is at least the following summary:
The BSO celebrates American conductor Leonard Slatkin's 70th birthday on Friday, August 8, as he leads the orchestra in a program featuring the world premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Bolcom's Circus Overture, commissioned by the BSO for the event. The program also features Wayne Barlow's soulful The Winter's Past, for oboe and strings, with BSO principal oboist John Ferrillo as soloist. Gil Shaham joins Mr. Slatkin and the Orchestra for Barber's Violin Concerto, and the concert concludes with Elgar's kaleidoscopic Enigma Variations.
(Some emphasis added)

Saturday August 9  Again a wide-ranging program awaits on the 9th. The program detail page gives the usual links this time, except for the Szymanowski, and describes the program as follows:
On Saturday, August 9, at 8:30 p.m., French maestro Stéphane Denève takes the podium for a BSO performance pairing music by Tchaikovsky with Debussy's quietly revolutionary Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, which conductor/composer Pierre Boulez said "brought new breath to the art of music." Mr. Denève and the orchestra are then joined by virtuoso Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos for early-20th-century Polish composer Karol Szymanowski's Violin Concerto No. 2. The drama and adrenaline of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 bring the concert to a close.
(Some emphasis added)
Debussy isn't my figurative cup of metaphorical tea, but at least the piece is short. Szymanowski can be quite "modern," but I'm not familiar with this concerto, so I'll be interested to hear how accessible it is.

Sunday August 10  Sunday continues the Tchaikovsky with an all-Tchaikovsky program conducted by David Zinman with Yo-Yo Ma featured as soloist in two of the works. The program detail page tells us
World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma once again takes the stage at Tanglewood on Sunday, August 10, at 2:30 p.m., this time in an all-Tchaikovsky program with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by American maestro David Zinman. Mr. Ma is featured in two works: the Andante cantabile, for cello and strings, and the Variation on a Rococo Theme, for cello and orchestra. The program also includes the Polonaise from Tchaikovsky's operatic masterpiece Eugene Onegin and the perennial favorite Symphony No. 6, Pathétique.
(Some emphasis added)
Again, as of July 31, the links to background material are scant, but that may improve.

WCRB will broadcast and stream all three at the usual times, with pre-concert features a half hour in advance; and their BSO page will probably have links to background material.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tanglewood — 2014/08/01-03

This weekend at Tanglewood can be characterized as "something for everyone." I'm posting a little early because I'll be too busy to post this on Friday.

Friday August 1  At 8:30 p.m., Assistant Conductor Marcelo Lehninger leads the orchestra in the Tchaikovsky Serenade for Strings, followed by Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 1 — with Jean-Yves Thibaudet as soloist. They also list Thomas Rolfs as trumpet soloist for the Shostakovich. After intermission, they'll play Symphony No. 4 of Schumann. The orchestra's performance detail page has links for program notes, an audio preview of the Schumann, and performer bios. It also includes this description of the show:
For The Serge and Olga Koussevitzky Memorial Concert on Friday, August 1, at 8:30 p.m., the Boston Symphony Orchestra is led by Assistant Conductor Marcelo Lehninger and joined by renowned French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet. Opening the program is Tchaikovsky's classically elegant Serenade for strings and concluding it is Schumann's Symphony No. 4, an ambitious and forward-looking work that unites all four of its movements-motivically and by instructing that they be played without pause-into a single continuous musical argument. In between, Mr. Thibaudet is featured in Shostakovich's scintillating Piano Concerto No. 1, an intricate and inspired work that belongs among the composer's best. The piece also includes a brilliant solo part for trumpet, to be played by BSO principal trumpet Thomas Rolfs.

Saturday August 2 brings John Williams' Film Night at Tanglewood with the Boston Pops, described as follows on the performance detail page:
John Williams' Film Night has become one of the most eagerly-anticipated evenings of the Tanglewood season. Join Mr. Williams, the Boston Pops, and special guests for a celebration of the music of the silver screen.
The page also has links to info about Maestro Williams and the Pops.

Sunday August 3  The concert will be at 2:30 and is classical-era music. With Juanjo Mena conducting and Augustin Hadelich on the violin, they will play Symphony No. 6, Le Matin, by Haydn; Violin Concerto No. 4 by Mozart; and Beethoven's Symphony No. 2. Go to the performance detail page, which gives this description,
Spanish conductor Juanjo Mena takes the Shed podium on Sunday, August 3, at 2:30 p.m., for a BSO concert devoted entirely to the Classical period and the Austro-German tradition. Young rising German violinist Augustin Hadelich joins the orchestra for Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 4 in D, K.218, at the heart of the program. The Mozart is bookended by the music of his principal predecessor and successor, respectively: Haydn's Symphony No. 6, Le Matin, to begin the program, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 2, to close it. All three works capture their composers at the beginning of their careers and showcase their early genius. Mr. Mena was announced as a replacement conductor for Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, who sadly passed away on Wednesday, June 11.
for links to performer bios, as well as program notes and audio previews for the Mozart and Beethoven works.

All three concerts will be broadcast and streamed live by WCRB, Friday and Saturday at 8:30, and Sunday at 2:30, with preliminary material a half hour earlier. Their BSO page contains listings of the remaining programs of the Tanglewood season and links to interviews and previous concerts available on demand.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Tanglewood — 2014/07/25-27

This weekend we get some mainstream composers from the late 18th to the early 20th century in roughly chronological order.

Friday July 25  We kick off the proceedings with Manfred Honeck leading the orchestra in music of Beethoven, Mozart, and Mendelssohn. As the BSO performance detail page describes it:
Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck, who last led the BSO this spring at Symphony Hall, makes his Tanglewood debut with two BSO performances Friday, July 25, and Saturday, July 26. The July 25 concert, at 8:30 p.m., features English piano soloist Paul Lewis, who elicited raves for his Symphony Hall performances with the orchestra in October 2013, in Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 12 in A, K. 414. Maestro Honeck also leads the orchestra in Beethoven's rarely performed overture to his ballet The Creatures of Prometheus, as well as Mendelssohn's dashing, breathless Symphony No. 4, Italian, which the composer called "the jolliest thing I have ever done."
(Some emphasis added.)

This should be very enjoyable. Although they don't mention it, Maestro Honeck is Music Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Check out the links on the detail page for further info (including performer bios by clicking on the thumbnail photos).

Saturday July 26  Maestro Honeck returns on Saturday evening to lead a performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 2, "Resurrection." See the performance detail page for links to program notes, audio preview, and performer bios. They offer this synopsis:
Manfred Honeck leads the BSO, Tanglewood Festival Chorus, soprano Camilla Tilling, and mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly in Mahler's sprawling and transcendent Symphony No. 2, Resurrection, both one of the great works and the great spectacles of the symphonic repertoire. At approximately 85 minutes in length and calling for an oversized orchestra in addition to the numerous vocal forces, this massive work shakes the rafters and stirs the soul in equal proportions, demonstrating Mahler's ultra-Romantic musical language as well as the intense spirituality ever-present at the core of his work.
Again, worth hearing, in my opinion.

Sunday July 27  The matinee includes music of Rachmaninoff and Verdi and features the debut of conductor Jacques Lacombe. As always, there are links to background info on the performance detail page, which also give this description of the program:
Canadian conductor Jacques Lacombe makes his BSO and Tanglewood debuts on Sunday, July 27, at 2:30 p.m., leading a varied program of Rachmaninoff and Verdi. On the first half of the program, Venezuelan-American pianist Gabriela Montero plays Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2, full of passionate emotion and hummable melodies that stick with the listener long after the performance has ended. The operatic second half of the program-featuring soprano Marjorie Owens, mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Bishop, tenor Issachah Savage, baritone Stephen Powell, and basses Morris Robinson and Julien Robbins-is devoted to the music of Verdi, including the Overture and Va, pensiero (Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves) from Nabucco and the Finale of Act II from Aida.
(Some emphasis added.)

Another very enjoyable concert, I think. The Verdi excerpts are all first rate.

WCRB will broadcast and stream all three concerts. Those on Friday and Saturday are scheduled for 8:30 p.m., Boston (and Lenox) Time, and Sunday's is at 2:30 p.m. Each will be preceded by a half-hour warm-up. These usually include recordings of other works by the composers on the concert or performances by the soloists or the conductor. The station's BSO page also gives overviews of the concerts, along with the schedule for the remainder of the Tanglewood broadcasts and links relating both to this weekend and to other BSO matters.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Tanglewood — 2014/07/18(belated)-20

I'm sorry to be late with this. The Friday concert has already been completed, of course; but since it will be available for listening on demand, it might be still worthwhile for me to include the information about it.

Friday, July 18  From the BSO's performance detail page, we get the usual program notes, audio previews of some of the works, and performer bios, as well as the following blurb:
Edward Gardner joins the BSO at Tanglewood in his BSO debut for Strauss's musical joke about the German peasant, folk hero and trickster, Till Eulenspiegel. Baritone Thomas Hampson, dubbed "the ambassador of American song," performs Aaron Copland's deceptively plain Old American Songs. Beethoven's Symphony 7 rounds out a program that is in turns, dark, joyful, nostalgic and hopeful.
(Emphasis added)

They also note:
Conductor Christoph von Dohnányi has been forced to cancel his upcoming concerts at Tanglewood because of serious illness in his family. The concert on Friday, July 18 will now be led by British conductor Edward Gardner  in his BSO debut. The concerts on Friday, July 25 and Saturday, July 26 will be conducted by Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck in his Tanglewood debut. Programs and soloists remain unchanged.

Saturday, July 19  The concert, which begins at 8:30 p.m., Boston Time, includes the Brahms Symphony No. 3; Rolf Martinsson's "Bridge," Trumpet Concerto No. 1, with Håkan Hardenberger as soloist; and Capriccio Italien by Tchaikovsky: all under the baton of Andris Nelsons. Instead of describing the concert, the performance detail page gives information about procedures for area residents to obtain tickets for this Berkshire Night concert. It also gives the usual links to background material.

Sunday, July 20  Andris Nelsons returns to the podium for Rapture, by Christopher RouseLalo's Symphonie espagnole for violin and orchestra — with Joshua Bell as soloist — and the ever popular Fifth Symphony of Beethoven to close the program and evoke a standing ovation. Go to the performance detail page for the usual links.

The Sunday Concert begins at 2:30. Both it and the 8:30 Saturday concert will be broadcast and streamed approximately live (a few seconds delay) by WCRB, whose own BSO page includes a link to an interesting-sounding interview with Maestro Nelsons as well as brief descriptions of all three concerts for this weekend, the schedule for this summer's remaining Tanglewood broadcasts, and other links and information. They have a sort of preview show beginning ½ hour before the scheduled concert time. (The BSO, in my experience, never actually starts on time. They always begin at least 5 minutes late, which provides a little grace period for audience members who might have been on time but for some slight delay.)

I'm not familiar with the Martinsson, Rouse, or Lalo pieces, but I'm curious to hear them. I don't care much for Brahms, but I'm sure the Tchaikovsky and the Beethoven will be good. Enjoy.