Friday, March 21, 2014

BSO — 2014/03/20-22 — Updated

(Updated to include link to the BMInt review. See second paragraph italics.)

Now we come to the wrap-up of the Beethoven mini-festival at the BSO, as they present his Leonore Overture No. 1, the Triple Concerto, and Piano Concerto No. 5, "Emperor." Christoph von Dohnányi conducts; Yefim Bronfman is the piano soloist, and Guy Braunstein and Alisa Weilerstein sit in on violin and cello, respectively, in the Triple Concerto. Go to the performance detail page for links to audio previews, an interview, program notes, and performer bios.

The Globe reviewer liked it. Boston Musical Intelligencer provided a thorough description. The reviewer was quite pleased.

Overall, I enjoyed the performance on Thursday. The overture was quite different from the other two, but very satisfying. The Triple Concerto is one I've thought highly of since I first heard it decades ago. Somehow, this performance was mildly disappointing. For one thing, the cellist's tone seemed harsh and forced. For another there were points where the orchestra and string soloists weren't playing as softly as Mr. Bronfman and made it difficult, if not impossible at points, to hear the piano. When I was a college freshman, my roommate had a record of the "Emperor" concerto with Van Cliburn. He'd play it every Sunday morning, but his record player would loop back to a point about one inch in from the edge after the first side had been played, so for hours I'd hear the last 3/4 of the first movement over and over — it was wonderful. Eventually, he'd turn the record over and I'd hear the second and third movements. Ever since, the piece has been one of my great favorites. I was not disappointed with the performance on Thursday. Van Cliburn's playing may have had a bit more fluidity, but I have no complaints with Bronfman. Again, the other players would have done well to adjust their dynamics to match his in a couple of the softer passages. Overall, though, I thought the performance deserved the standing ovation it got. In fact I'd have liked it if there had been another curtain call or two.

Be sure to listen over WCRB Classical New England. If you can't do so for the live broadcast/webstream on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Boston Time, the rebroadcast will be on Monday, March 31, also at 8:00. (On the 24th, it'll be the repeat of the program from March 15.) At some point it will also become available for on demand listening over the web. See the station's BSO page for interviews with Mr. Bronfman as well as access to the on demand concerts, among other information and links.

IMO this one is not to be missed.

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