Friday, August 15, 2014

Tanglewood — 2014/08/15-17

The best (IMO) piece of the whole weekend is going to be performed this evening while I'm out to dinner with a group of people — Beethoven's  Emperor Concerto (Piano Concerto No.5). I was introduced to the piece in my freshman year at college. My roommate had a recording of the concerto. Every Sunday morning he'd put it on his record player; but the record player had a slight malfunction: instead of stopping at the end of the first side, the tone arm would lift and go out to about an inch from the edge and settle down and play through the the remainder of the first movement. It did this over and over until he decided to intervene and flip the record for the second and third movements, which he only let play once. If it had bothered me, I might have spoken to him, but it was a great piece of music, so I was content to hear it over and over, while I was studying or reading the paper.

Friday August 15  The aforementioned Emperor Concerto precedes the intermission, with Stephane Deneve on the podium, and Emmanuel Ax on piano. After intermission, it's Prokofief's score for Alexander Nevsky. As usual, there are links to various sorts of background material on the orchestra's program detail page, which offers this description of the program:
Stéphane Denève returns to the Shed podium on Friday, August 15, to lead the BSO in music by Beethoven and Prokofiev. Pianist Emanuel Ax joins the orchestra for the first half of the program as soloist in Beethoven's ever-popular Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor. After intermission, the BSO welcomes the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and mezzo-soprano Elena Manistina for Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky
(Some emphasis added.)

Saturday August 16  Saturday brings a concert performance of Bernstein's Candide, conducted by Bramwell Tovey, and with vocal soloists too numerous for me to list, since they're mentioned on the performance detail page, along with links to program notes and performer bios.
Operetta and satire come to the Shed on Saturday, August 16, with a complete concert presentation of Bernstein's wittyCandide, based on Voltaire's novel. The BSO and Tanglewood Festival Chorus are conducted by Bramwell Tovey, and the cast of distinguished vocalists includes soprano Anna Christy, mezzo-sopranos Kathryn Leemhuis and Frederica von Stade, tenors Nicolas Phan and Beau Gibson, and baritones Paul LaRosa and Richard Suart, as well as vocal soloists from the Tanglewood Music Center. 
(Some emphasis added.)

I attended a staged performance a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. As for Voltaire's message: whether this is the best of all possible worlds depends on what we mean by "possible." Certainly it is not the best of all conceivable worlds — that's heaven. And the world would be better if we behaved better. But, however we define "possible," it seems to me that the state of the world does not justify Voltaire's atheism.

But listen for the enjoyable music, hopefully well performed, and don't get too hung up on the philosophy.

Sunday August 17 After Bernstein's music on Saturday evening, the Sunday matinee is the Leonard Bernstein Memorial Concert, with three pieces by Russian composers from the first half of the 20th century, performed by the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. Quoting the BSO performance detail page:
Eminent Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit takes the helm of the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra for The Leonard Bernstein Memorial Concert. The talented young fellows perform an all-Russian program featuring Stravinsky'sScherzo fantastique and the complete ballet score for The Firebird, as well as Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3, for which they are joined by Russian soloist Nikolai Lugansky.
(Some emphasis added.)

Go to the detail page for links to background information.

As always, WCRB will broadcast and stream all three concerts, at 8:30, 8:30, and 2:30, respectively, with a half hour of related material beginning 30 minutes before concert time. The station's BSO page gives brief synopses of this and next weeks' Tanglewood broadcasts (next week being the season finale) along with links to interviews and to previous concerts available on demand.

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