Saturday, March 15, 2014

BSO — 2014/03/13-14; 15-18

There are two separate concert programs to cover in this post. The BSO is performing all five of Beethoven's piano concertos and all three of his "Leonore" overtures, plus the triple concerto in two weeks. Here's their overall description:

Over the course of three programs, the orchestra presents all five Beethoven piano concertos with Yefim Bronfman as soloist, along with the composer's Triple Concerto and all three Leonore overtures under the direction of Christoph von Dohnányi.
These concerts trace the evolution of Beethoven as a pianist-composer over 15 years, from the early period influenced by Mozart and Haydn to the middle, so-called "heroic" period, culminating in the Emperor Concerto in 1809. For the final program of the festival Thursday, March 20-Saturday, March 22, Mr. Bronfman will be joined by violinist  Guy Braunstein (BSO debut) and cellist  Alisa Weilerstein in Beethoven's Triple Concerto.
Program 1
Leonore Overture No. 3
Piano Concerto No. 1
Piano Concerto No. 2
TICKETS: MAR 13 8PMTICKETS: MAR 14 8PM(March 14 is an UnderScore Friday Evening)
Program 2
Leonore Overture No. 2
Piano Concerto No. 3
Piano Concerto No. 4
Program 3
Leonore Overture No. 1
Triple Concerto
Piano Concerto No. 5, EmperorTICKETS: MAR 20 8PMTICKETS: MAR 21 1:30PMTICKETS: MAR 22 8PM

As indicated above, March 13 and 14 heard the first of the programs: Leonore Overture No. 3 and Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2, with Yefim Bronfman as soloist and Christoph von Dohnányi at the podium. I was at the Thursday performance. The performance detail page for that program doesn't tell us any more about the concert, but it does have the usual links to program notes, audio preview material, and performer bios (click on their pictures).

My reaction was that it was a well played performance. It didn't seem to me that the performers did anything especially unusual with the music. (I've heard other pianists seem to "swing" a couple of phrases, and Mr. Bronfman didn't.) But they played it straightforwardly, with only one or two seemingly missed notes in the piano. The sound was transparent, meaning that it seemed to me that no instruments seemed to drown others out. This may be partly because of the small number of orchestra members needed in the concertos, and no doubt partly the doing of the conductor. The clarinet solo in the first concerto was particularly impressive, and it was good that the horns played softly when appropriate (often they have seemed to overpower the rest of the winds). There's an enthusiastic review in the Boston Musical Intelligencer. In the (shorter) Boston Globe review, there is less opinion, with a heavier proportion of factual description, but the opinions expressed are favorable.

Because this program isn't being given on a Saturday, it won't be broadcast just now. It has been recorded for later broadcast (date so far unannounced). I'll try to alert you when it's coming up. I think it's definitely worth hearing.

This week's broadcast and webstream is the program scheduled for today and next Tuesday, the Leonore Overture No. 2 and Piano Concertos Nos. 3 and 4. Again, check the performance detail page for links to notes, bios, and audio previews.

As usual, the Saturday concert will be broadcast and streamed virtually live over WCRB, Classical New England, which also has the schedule for the rest of the season and various links on its BSO page. I'm sure this concert will be worth hearing live this evening at 8:00 p.m., in the rebroadcast/stream on March 24 at 8:00 p.m., or on demand when it becomes available. I'll attend on Tuesday, and give my impression and links to reviews some time after that.

This Monday, March 17, the rebroadcast/stream will be of the March 6 "Salome."

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