Friday, December 26, 2014

Handel & Haydn 2014/12/21; Pops 2014/12/20

On Sunday I went to Boston to hear the Handel and Haydn's "Bach Christmas" concert. Although it's called Bach Christmas, as you can see, it included lots of music by other composers as well. The whole thing was quite enjoyable —very well played and sung — but after the gemlike delights from the late Renaissance and early Baroque, Bach's more extensive pieces seemed almost too much. I do enjoy most of Bach's music, including Sunday's pieces.and I find no fault in the performances themselves. Only the contrast was a little regrettable.

Holiday Pops is always a nice bit of fluff: mostly stuff you hear nearly everywhere before Christmas. But the Pops play lush arrangements very well. One really nice touch was "The Twelve Days of Christmas" in an arrangement made several years ago for the Pops and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. As they go along, other melodies are substituted for the original tune. For example, the fifth day gets the opening music of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, and seven swans a-swimming get the big tune from "Swan Lake." The music from the "Hallelujah Chorus" makes an appearance in the twelfth day, etc. Of course the audience loved it, and Keith Lockhart told them that it is on the Pops' newest CD, available after the concert. He advised them they could play it "throughout the holiday season. Amaze your friends. Confound your enemies." The concert is available on demand at WCRB.

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