Saturday, February 8, 2014

BSO — 2014/02/06-08

Bernard Haitink is back to conduct a second week of concerts (again with no performance on the following Tuesday). Let's see what the orchestra says about it on their performance detail page.
BSO Conductor Emeritus Bernard Haitink is joined by revered American pianist Murray Perahia for the powerful and lyrical Piano Concerto of Robert Schumann. Schumann wrote this piece over several years. Schumann's protégé Johannes Brahms waited until his forties to complete a first symphony, but all four of his works in the genre remain central to the orchestral repertoire. In characteristic understatement, Brahms downplayed the intense, minor-mode Fourth. Opening the program is a wind ensemble re-composition, created by the American, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steven Stucky of the 17th-century Englishman Henry Purcell's funeral music for Queen Mary.
(Emphasis added)
Visit that page for the usual links to various types of background material.

I was in the hall for the Thursday performance, and I found the Stucky arrangement of the Purcell delightful. I'm not so familiar with 17th Century Music that I could have been sure that it was a modern arrangement: it simply sounded like baroque music to me. The favorable reviews in the Boston Globe and in the Boston Musical Intelligencer both picked up on the line in the program note which said that in  the third episode, "Stucky uses sustaining instruments—piano and metallic pitched percussion—as well as added chromaticism and multiple tempos to “smear” the surface of the music, giving it a kind of mysterious glow." I was looking for it and didn't detect the smearing and the glow, but the reviewers found it. I guess that's why they write reviews for publication and I don't; but I can't help wondering if they'd have noticed it if the program note hadn't said it was there. At any rate, I really enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to listening to this evening's broadcast. Maybe I'll get the smearing and the glow, but even if not, it will be good. The Schumann was pleasant enough as well. As for the Brahms, I will have no comment, because I avoided it by leaving at intermission. I find Brahms's orchestral music unpleasant — too forced-seeming, as if the musicians are straining to push it out — and with too much dissonance. The early works don't share those qualities. Several years ago James Levine led the orchestra in a performance of Brahms' Serenade No. 2, and it was delightful. But I know most people don't find most Brahms so unpleasant, so don't let me dissuade you from listening to the second half of the concert.

As always, Classical New England is your headquarters for the broadcast and webstream over WCRB. The concert is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. Boston Time. There are indications that they begin programming for the concert with preliminaries at 7:00, but the past few times I've listened, I haven't heard references to the upcoming concert in the 7-8:00 hour. They have their own BSO page, as I always note, with links to material about this concert and earlier ones and the schedule of upcoming concerts. The rebroadcast/stream will be on Feb. 17th at 8:00 p.m. EST, and it will also be available on demand, as noted in that page.

This is music I think most people will like. Enjoy!

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