Spanish conductor Juanjo Mena, chief conductor of the BBC Philharmonic, is joined by the fine German violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann for Sibelius's great Violin Concerto. The Finnish composer wrote this work between 1902 and 1905, and Richard Strauss led the premiere of the definitive version. A violinist himself, Sibelius is said to have worked out his one-time ambition to become a concert virtuoso with this three-movement concerto, which features the composer's distinctive, Finnish folk music-influenced flavors in a work by turns fiery and lyrical. Franz Schubert wrote his towering orchestral masterpiece, the so-calledGreat C major symphony, toward the end of his short life. Its exact dates have never been established, but he wrote this formally and harmonically innovative piece at around the same time Beethoven wrote his Ninth Symphony.(Some emphasis added.)
As always, the page has links to audio previews, program notes, and performer bios.
I was in the hall for Thursday's performance, and I enjoyed it a lot. The cadenza in the middle of the first movement of the Sibelius did not seem as long as the program note led me to expect. Come to think of it, nothing seemed long. Even the Schubert never seemed overlong. Every moment was welcome. There are pieces in which I have found myself thinking, "Enough!" but despite this symphony's oft-remarked length, it never felt like too much. There may have been a few technical lapses along the way, but nothing serious, nothing that could spoil the enjoyment of an evening of good music well played. (I'm beginning to wonder if I have some hearing loss. The brass don't overpower as they used to and the various sections of the orchestra seem more distinct. But reviewers have remarked on the latter phenomenon, so I hope it's the conductors who get the credit.)
For technical explanations, I turn to the published reviews. First, the Boston Globe. Then there is this from the dissatisfied reviewer in the Boston Musical Intelligencer. Maybe it was the speed that helped with the Schubert. It certainly never dragged, as it sometimes seems to.
You can form your own opinions if you listen this evening or November 10 at 8:00 p.m. over WCRB on air or via web stream. The station also has their own Boston Symphony page with symphony broadcast schedules and links to on-demand concerts from the past 12 months and lots of interviews.