Saturday, January 25, 2014

BSO — 2014/01/23-25

This week's concert presents works by Wagner, Lutosławski, and Shostakovich. Here's what the BSO's performance detail page says about it.
For his first full BSO subscription concerts, Latvian BSO Assistant Conductor Andris Poga is joined by eminent American pianist Garrick Ohlsson for the great Polish composer Witold Lutosłaswki's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, a rhapsodic work from 1988. Its only previous performances by the BSO were led by the composer himself at Symphony Hall in October 1990. Opening the program is Wagner's boisterous overture to his early opera Rienzi, composed partly in Poga's hometown of Riga, Latvia, and premiered in 1842 in Dresden. Shostakovich's utterly characteristic final symphony, No. 15, closes the program. The Russian composer wrote this big piece in 1971.
Emphasis added.

See that page also for the usual links to background material.

I was at the Friday matinee and really enjoyed it. In the first place, the Rienzi overture is a stirring piece of music which I am always happy to hear. The BSO at one time frequently began its concerts with a "curtain raiser," often an opera overture or concert overture. Recently these brief starters for the concert have become less common, but I think they are a good way to begin. The Lutosławski concerto was performed in substitution for the originally programmed world premiere of the piano concerto by Justin Dello Joio, which the BSO  had commissioned. Apparently it wasn't completed in time to be rehearsed and presented at these concerts. The Lutosławski was not unpleasant to listen to, although it seemed kind of disjointed. After intermission, the Shostakovich symphony was quite enjoyable (with quotes from the William Tell Overture in the first movement, and the "fate" motive from Wagner's Ring Cycle in the fourth, and a wonderful conclusion featuring unusual percussion). There were numerous solos or duets from various instruments, and the composer did a good job of quieting the orchestral accompaniment so that they could be clearly heard. All seemed very ably performed. The Globe's review was largely positive.

As usual, you can listen in to the Saturday evening performance (8:00 p.m., Boston Time) on Classical New England. It will be broadcast and streamed again on February 3, again at 8:00 p.m. Also as usual, CNE's page devoted to the BSO has a link to an interview with the conductor, a schedule of the remaining BSO concerts this season (including a reminder that last week's Mozart/Bruckner concert will be rebroadcast/streamed on January 27), and various other links.


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