Saturday, April 5, 2014

BSO — 2014/04/03-08

A world premiere is being given in Symphony Hall this week, The actual premiere was on Thursday, and I was there. The Saturday broadcast (and webstream) is the "broadcast premiere." It's worth listening to, IMO. First, Robert Spano leads the orchestra in two of the three Nocturnes by Debussy. Then Jonathan Biss joins them for the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra by Bernard Rands — a piece commissioned by the BSO and composed with Mr. Biss in mind. After intermission the orchestra will play Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances. Here's a link to the BSO's performance detail page, where you'll find the usual links to performer bios, podcasts, and program notes. Their description follows:
Robert Spano leads the orchestra's final world premiere of 2013-14, Bernard Rands's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, a BSO commission composed for the probing American pianist Jonathan Biss. Claude Debussy's Nuages and Fêtes are two contrasting movements from the impressionistic orchestral Nocturnes. Rachmaninoff wrote his colorful final work, Symphonic Dances, in 1940 for the Philadelphia Orchestra.
As noted above, I was there on Thursday, and as the new piece was being played, I had the thought that this was something that could well enter the standard repertory* — it is pleasant to listen to, even if not as melodious as the music of the baroque, classical, and romantic eras; it avoids the unpleasant dissonances and general incoherence (as I hear it) of many recent compositions. The Globe's reviewer liked it as well, and gives a fuller description of what it's like than I could. On the other hand, the Boston Musical Intelligencer's reviewer was disappointed in the Rands piece, as well as the first of the two Nocturnes, only waxing enthusiastic for the Rachmaninoff.

You can judge for yourself. The WCRB/Classical New England broadcast/webstream begins at 8:00 p.m., Eastern Daylight Savings Time, with a rebroadcast/stream at 8:00 p.m. on Monday, April 14. Their BSO page has links to interviews with the composer and the conductor, as well as a video of Jonathan Biss playing Schumann in the station's studio.

On Monday, April 7, the rebroadcast will be last week's program of Vaughan Williams, Prokofiev, and Rimsky-Korsakov.

*During the intermission, I encountered Robert Kirzinger, one of the program annotators for the BSO, and expressed my opinion that the Rands work could become a standard. He replied that it might be helped in that direction by the fact that it's already scheduled to be performed in three more places, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Toronto, and a third which he couldn't call to mind at the moment. Since Maestro Spano directs the Atlanta Symphony I suggested Atlanta as the third. He said that would make sense, but he didn't say that was it. Maybe Atlanta will be a fourth.

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