Saturday, December 26, 2015

BSO — December Hiatus — 2015/12/26

This week we have another rebroadcast (and webstream) of a concert from last summer's Tanglewood season, courtesy of WCRB. It's Mozart's Symphonies Nos. 39, 40, and 41, conducted by Christoph von Dohnányi in the concert performed on July 26. Their BSO page has a link to their feature "The Answered Question" in which Maestro von Dohnányi and Principal Bassist Edwin Barker preview the program. I posted briefly on it at the time, and the BSO program detail page for the concert is still active as of this writing. This should be very enjoyable listening.

As always, the show begins on Saturday at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, with a repeat on Monday January 3. (The Monday time slot on December 28 will be devoted to the Mussorgsky, Glazunov, Berlioz concert which had been reprised already on December 12 — see my post for that date.)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

BSO — December Hiatus — 2015/12/19

This is the weekend WCRB gives us the Holiday Pops concert from the Boston Pops. I presume Saturday's broadcast/webstream will be live, and that it will be what is repeated on Monday the 23rd, both at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time. Per the BSO program detail page:
Join the Boston Pops and conductor Keith Lockhart, celebrating his 20th anniversary with the orchestra, in a performance filled with holiday music favorites, the traditional Pops sing-a-long, and even a visit from jolly old Santa Claus. The special kids' matinee performances include post-concert photos with Santa and special treats. And the not-to-be-missed New Year's Eve concert with the Boston Pops Swing Orchestra and bandleader Bo Winiker will kick off the new year in style. Don't miss the most popular seasonal tradition around!

Join the conversation online by using #HolidayPops on your social networks to discover the excitement of the season and connect with one another.

As you see, they have a soloist. Also, it appears that the same program description fits all the Holiday Pops concerts, so if you're in the Boston area, and decide to take in one of the concerts live, this is what you can look forward to. There was a review in the Boston Globe. Unbelievably, they've already put it into the archive. Basically, it notes that this year's show includes lots of pieces in medleys, allowing them to cram in a lot more than when each is given a full performance.

It ought to be enjoyable listening.

Friday, December 11, 2015

BSO — December Hiatus — 2015/12/12

WCRB continues their BSO programming during December with another "encore broadcast" and stream of a concert from last summer's Tanglewood season. This week, it's the concert of Sunday, August 9. The orchestra's performance detail page, which is still available with its usual links, has this to say about it:
Longtime Tanglewood favorite Joshua Bell joins [Conductor Charles] Dutoit for a performance of the Glazunov Violin Concerto, on a program which includes Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain and one of the BSO's signature works, Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique.
(Some emphasis added.)

The order of performance is Mussorgsky, Glazunov, Berlioz, with the intermission before the Berlioz.

There is no review in the Boston Musical Intelligencer. The Boston Globe's is archived, and I don't know if it will be accessible to non-subscribers via my link. (It probably won't be, but the Globe website will probably allow an archive search. If so, search for Glazunov in August, 2015.) At any rate, the reviewer liked the Mussorgsky and Berlioz performances, giving particular credit to orchestral soloists in the former. He was also happy that Joshua Bell had chosen the Glazunov concerto but added an incomprehensible remark about how Bell approaches and performs pieces: "Some soloists fold their personalities into the work at hand as if to animate it from within. Bell belongs to a second camp who seem, whether intentionally or not, to inflect every work with their own image."

You can listen to it at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 12, and again on Monday the 28th. The interval between the two is a week longer than usual because Holiday Pops will occupy both the Saturday and Monday slots next weekend. You may also want to check out WCRB's BSO page for additional scheduling information and links to interviews etc.

Friday, December 4, 2015

BSO — December Hiatus — 2015/12/05

While the Holiday Pops has taken over Symphony Hall for the month, WCRB will be giving us repeats of concerts from last summer's Tanglewood season. This week, it's the concert of Saturday, July 25, which I described as follows in my post for that weekend:
Emanuel Ax solos in Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 14. Michael Tilson Thomas is conductor for that and Symphony No. 5 by Mahler. Go to the program detail page for the usual links.
(The link to the program detail page still works.)

On WCRB's BSO page, there is a link to their podcast, "The Answered Question," which includes an interview with the conductor, Michael Tilson Thomas. As noted there, this concert will be heard on air and over the web both on Saturday, December 5, and Monday, December 14, at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time. (On December 7, the concert of November 28 — Haydn, Bartók, and Tchaikovsky — will be rerun in the BSO time slot.)

I can't find a review of the concert in the Boston Globe or the Boston Musical Intelligencer. Both seem to review Tanglewood concerts only sporadically, which is understandable, given the plethora of concerts there every week of the summer. So you can listen without having expectations set by reviews.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

BSO — 2015/11/24-28

That's right, instead of running from Thursday through Saturday (or the occasional following Tuesday) this week's program is being given, as shown by the dates in the title, from Tuesday through Saturday, because there is no concert on Thanksgiving Day. (Unlike certain retail giants, the BSO gives its people the day off.)

It's a concert I would have liked to attend in person and one I'm looking forward to hearing. I'll listen to the Haydn and Bartók live, and the Tchaikovsky during the rebroadcast December 7. The Bartók may be a bit challenging, but the rest should be pleasant. The BSO's performance detail page gives this description (reversing the order of the first two pieces):
Andris Nelsons and Yefim Bronfman collaborate with the BSO in Bartók's dazzling Piano Concerto No. 2, a formidably difficult work the composer wrote for himself to perform. Joseph Haydn's Symphony No. 30, Alleluja, dating from 1765, takes its nickname from the Gregorian chant melody in its first movement. Another relative rarity is Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 1, Winter Daydreams. Begun in 1866 but not premiered until 1883, the symphony is the earliest major work by the composer, and is saturated with elements of Russian folk music style.

Join the conversation online by using #BSOBronfman for this concert series or #BSO1516 on your social networks to discover the excitement of the season and connect with one another!
(Emphasis added.)

That page has its usual links to Media Center, performer bios (click on the thumbnail pics), program notes, and audio previews.

The Globe's review is favorable, as is that in the Boston Musical Intelligencer; although the latter is less than completely satisfied with the sound in the Haydn.

You can listen live on air or via the web on WCRB this evening (Nov. 28) at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, and/or a rebroadcast/stream at 8:00 p.m. on Monday, December 7. The station's BSO page links their feature "The Answered Question," which this week has an interview with the conductor and a remembrance of the late Joseph Silverstein, former BSO concertmaster, by principal cellist Jules Eskin.

This is the last BSO concert in Symphony Hall until January 7. December will be taken up with Holiday Pops. WCRB will fill the usual BSO spots in their schedule with rebroadcasts of concerts given last summer at Tanglewood, plus one live broadcast and a rebroadcast of a Holiday Pops concert. Check their BSO page for specific listings. I'll also post weekly about what's coming up.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

BSO — 2015/11/19-21

I don't know how to introduce this week's concert, so I'll simply quote the BSO's performance detail page:
Andris Nelsons leads this intriguing program of seemingly disconnected works. Two of the most important works of the 20th century, Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 and Alban Berg's Violin Concerto were composed within two years of one another. Shostakovich's symphony, which follows a trajectory from darkness to triumph, has long been considered his reaction to official condemnation of his music by the Soviet government, but the reality is far subtler than that.Alban Berg's Violin Concerto was composed as a memorial to eighteen-year-old Manon Gropius (daughter of Walter Gropius and Alma Mahler); the entire work is suffused with elegy. Its second movement quotes Bach's chorale Es ist genug, which has deep musical connections to Berg's piece. That brief Bach chorale from Cantata No. 60, as well as the short motet Komm, Jesu, komm!, open and set the tone for this program.

Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra are recording these performances of Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 for a release in May, 2016!

Join the conversation online by using #BSOShostakovich for this concert series or #BSO1516 on your social networks to discover the excitement of the season and connect with one another!
(Some emphasis added.)

As always, you can find links to their Media Center, performer bios, program notes, and audio previews. What they don't tell you in the above blurb is that the violin soloist is Isabelle Faust and that the order of performance is Bach, Berg, Shostakovich. This concert is part of my subscription, but I'm really not interested in hearing either the Berg or the Shostakovich. If I'd been more alert, I'd have exchanged my ticket to this one for a ticket to either February 4th's concert of Shakespeare-related music, or to the one on March 29 which is in the series giving an American premiere; but after the attacks in Paris, I was content to be there because of the aspect of confronting tragedy and death which the program had.

The review in the Boston Globe isn't exactly glowing, but definitely favorable. The Boston Musical Intelligencer analyzes not only the music but also the performances, noting distinctive elements in Maestro Nelsons' approach.

As for me, I didn't catch most of the features that the program notes and interviews had pointed out, except when the winds repeated the "Es ist genug" theme toward the end of the Berg concerto. I'm beginning to think that I listen too hard at these concerts. Maybe I shouldn't bother to try to catch everything that's happening and just let it wash over me. Having some idea what to expect may be a good thing, but maybe I don't need to try to pick it all out as it happens.

You can hear it for yourself via WCRB's broadcast or webstream at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, on November 21, with a repeat transmission on Monday, November 30, at the same time of day. Also check out the "on demand" availability of this and other concerts from the past year — see their BSO page for information about that (in the upper right corner) as well as the podcast feature and schedule information I've mentioned every week.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

BSO — 2015/11/12-14

Another week, another premiere by the Boston Symphony. This time, it's not merely the American premiere, but the world premiere that they'll give. The work in question is titled Aube, and it's by young Jean-Frédéric Neuburger. Then we step back in time for Bartók's Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta. After the intermission, the orchestra and guest conductor Christoph von Dohnányi are joined by pianist Martin Helmchen for the masterful Piano Concerto № 5, "Emperor," by Beethoven. The orchestra's performance detail page adds a bit more to my description with the following:
Frequent BSO guest conductor Christoph von Dohnányi leads the world premiere of Aube ("Dawn"), a BSO-commissioned work by the celebrated 28-year-old French composer Jean-Frédéric Neuburger. Neuburger's compositional voice is rooted in the brilliant colors and energy of his French predecessors from Ravel to Boulez. An iconic 20th-century masterpiece, Bartók's Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta epitomizes the composer's genius for mood and form. To close the program, German pianist Martin Helmchen plays Beethoven's majestic and high-spirited Emperor Concerto.
Join the conversation online by using #BSOEmperor for this concert series or #BSO1516 on your social networks to discover the excitement of the season and connect with one another!

As you scroll down the page, there are also the usual links to the BSO Media Center, with its podcasts, performer bios, program notes, and audio previews.

The Boston Musical Intelligencer presents a gushing review. The reviewer's analysis of the pieces in the concert could be read alongside the program notes and audio previews. His interpretation of their cosmic significance is unexpected, but not unprecedented in music reviews. The Globe has a very favorable review, devoted mostly to the new piece — which the reviewer liked — but with praise for the performance of the remaining works as well.

My take on what I heard Thursday evening is at once less analytic and less expansive. "Aube" was not unpleasant to listen to, although there were no clear, sustained "tunes" that I recall. It was clearly an organized succession of sounds (unlike some of the truly unpleasant stuff I've occasionally sat through), so it fits the definition of music. I didn't really "get it" on that first hearing. The question of whether there's anything there to get can only be answered with further hearings, so I'm looking forward to hearing it again on Saturday. The composer was warmly applauded (and applauded the orchestra), but didn't seem to want to remain on stage and bask  in it. About the Bartók I'll say I was pleasantly surprised at how listenable it was. The program note spoke at length about how the first movement takes a theme and moves it around the "circle of fifths," starting with A and ending with E flat, and then goes back to A with the theme inverted. Listening to it, I couldn't have told you that either of those things was happening, which tells you something about how untrained my ear is, and perhaps how skillfully Bartók works it.

Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto is one of my favorite pieces. When I went to college, my freshman roommate had a recording of the "Emperor," Van Cliburn I think, that he'd put on his record player every Sunday morning. The machine had a defect: when it finished playing a side, it would return the needle to a point one inch in from the edge, over and over. The result was that Sunday after Sunday I'd hear multiple repeats of the last 3/4 of the first movement. Once in a while he'd play the second side. It was wonderful to hear that great music so much. One time, when I was at the monastery, I put on a record of the "Emperor," and for some reason I found myself actually moved to tears a some point in the slow second movement. That hasn't happened again. My dad always loved the transition from the second to the third movement. When we had the record on during dinner, he'd silence us to listen to the quiet end of the 2nd and beginning of the 3rd and then the forte statement of the triumphant main theme — a masterful moment to be sure.

I liked the performance on Thursday. There wasn't anything truly outstanding that I noticed. One thing I liked was that the pianist varied his dynamics very well. Soft passages, in particular, were really soft. Of course the loud parts were really loud as well. Overall, it was great music, beautifully presented.

You can listen on line or on air via WCRB at 8:00 p.m. EST (Boston Time, as I call it) today, November 14, with a repeat broadcast/webstream on Monday the 23rd, also at 8:00. The station's BSO page gives a link to their audio feature "The Answered Question," which this week includes interview material with conductor and pianist.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

BSO — 2015/11/05-10

This week we have one work that is considered standard repertory but one I don't often hear, Liszt's Totentanz, one piece getting its American premiere in these concerts, Mannequin by Unsuk Chin, and an old favorite, Symphony No. 3, "Rhenish," by Schumann. Indulging their penchant for describing the pieces in an order other than that in which they'll be performed, the writers of the BSO program description page, describe the concert as follows:
BSO Assistant Conductor Ken-David Masur leads the second BSO co-commission of the season, Korean composer Unsuk Chin's Mannequin in its American premiere. Mannequin was inspired by a short story by the great 19th-century German music critic and fantasist E.T.A. Hoffmann. Opening the program is Franz Lizst's dark and virtuosic Totentanz, played by French pianist Louis Lortie. Totentanz is considered among the most difficult pieces in the standard repertoire for piano and orchestra. Closing these concerts is Robert Schumann's innovatively structured paean to the Rhine River, the composer's Symphony No. 3.
Join the conversation online by using #BSOLiszt for this concert series or #BSO1516 on your social networks to discover the excitement of the season and connect with one another!
(Some emphasis added.)

As always, the performance detail page has links to program notes, audio previews, and performer bios (click on the thumbnail pictures), and — new this year — the BSO Media Center with its own podcasts and notes. The video excerpt from "Mannequin" gives a bit of the gentler portion of the piece, but it gives you some idea of what it's like. You get a bit more in the audio preview which follows the video.

Reviews were mixed. The Globe's was generally favorable, but found Maestro Masur's conducting in the older pieces unexciting. The Boston Musical Intelligencer really liked the "Totentanz," and found no fault with the conductor there, while joining the Globe in disappointment with his leadership in the Schumann. As for "Mannequin," the reviewer found little difference between the four movements.

I was there on Thursday and found the Liszt spectacular. The Chin piece was suitable as a depiction of a frightened frame of mind, but apart from the music-box-like elements in the first movement, there didn't seem to be much difference between the four — at least not at first hearing. I'll listen tonight over the radio and see if there's more distinction between the scenes. I wonder if the large variety of percussion, including some unconventional items, was really necessary. Still, since it was suitable as a depiction of a frightened mood, I applauded the composer enthusiastically. As for the Schumann, it's really enjoyable music to listen to, and I didn't find any fault with how it was conducted: I just liked hearing it.

So I think it worth your while to listen this evening, November 7, at 8:00, Boston Time (EST), and/or Monday, November 16, also at 8:00, over the radio or internet streaming of WCRB. As you know if you've been following my posts on the BSO, WCRB also has a BSO page of their own. This year, they embed their concert preview interview in a longer podcast called "The Answered Question." This week, the whole thing runs to 53 minutes. I haven't heard it yet, but somewhere it includes an interview with the conductor about the program — no doubt interesting, if you get a chance to hear it.

Anyway, I was glad to be at the concert, and I'm looking forward to hearing the first two pieces this evening before my kid brother's call from Tokyo and the "Rhenish" during the rebroadcast on the 16th. As is usually the case, I recommend listening to this one.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

BSO — 2015/10/29-31

This week's Boston Symphony is pleasant music throughout — nothing challenging for listeners or, I suppose, performers, with music by Tchaikovsky, Elgar, and Schubert.  We read, on their performance detail page:
Violinist/conductor Pinchas Zukerman returns to the BSO podium in both roles in two short, beautiful Tchaikovsky works for violin and orchestra [Mélodie and Sérénade Mélancolique], and to lead the composer's famous Serenade for Strings. Edward Elgar's warmhearted Chanson de nuit is one of two brief pieces originally for solo violin and piano (the other being Chanson de matin), later rescored for orchestra. Franz Schubert wrote his charming, four-movement Symphony No. 5 when he was just nineteen. Its balance of materials and control of the orchestra show the influence of Mozart and Beethoven.

Join the conversation online by using #BSOZukerman for this concert series or #BSO1516 on your social networks to discover the excitement of the season and connect with one another!
(Some emphasis added.)

See that page also for links to audio previews, program notes, their new "media center," and performer bio for Mr. Zukerman. Surprisingly, two of the five pieces are getting their first performances by the BSO — the two curtain raisers by Tchaikovsky — and the Elgar was never played by them in Symphony Hall.

As of this writing, there is no review yet in the Boston Musical Intelligencer. The Boston Globe has an unflattering review, finding the leadership of Maestro Zukerman uninspired and recalling superior performances of the main works by the orchestra in recent years. I was there on Thursday evening, and I found no fault with how anything was played. There's a lot to be said for a concert that's all "easy listening." But I was extremely annoyed by Zukerman's gesture when taking his bow at the end. He raised his hands about to shoulder level and made beckoning gestures with his fingers. The reviewer writes,
Taking his bows at the end of the night, Zukerman gestured to the crowd with his hands, as if to raise the level of the volume of the applause. There are other ways to do so.
I agree completely. The audience responded at once with cheers and much louder applause. I immediately walked out of the auditorium in disgust at the uncouth and unprofessional action. In my annoyance, I thought that Mr. Zukerman may have realized that his choice of unspectacular music didn't give the audience anything to go wild about, and maybe he thought the orchestra deserved a warmer ovation. (I later had the uncharitable thought that he chose pieces within his current capabilities as a violinist and as a conductor.) But it's an insult to the audience to tell them that they aren't applauding enough. I'm sorry many in the audience fell for it, and I wish I had had the presence of mind to boo the gesture before I left. Fortunately, if he does it again on Saturday, you won't see it over the radio or the internet.

Despite the unfortunate extraneous business at the end, I think the concert is worth listening to. You can do so over the radio and streaming facilities of WCRB — as you know by now, unless you're new to this blog. As usual, the live broadcast/webstream is on Saturday at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, with a rerun on Monday, November 9, also at 8:00. The station's BSO page includes a link to an audio piece which, after looking back to the "Elektra" of two weeks ago, includes interviews with Mr. Zukerman and, unrelated to the BSO, with the mandolinist who will take over as host of "A Prairie Home Companion," Chris Thile.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

BSO — 2015/10/24

This week it's members of the wind and string sections of the BSO performing three pieces by Dvořák. Here's what the orchestra's performance detail page has to say about it:
The BSO's wind and string families perform conductor-less in this program of three works by the Czech composer Antonín Dvořák. The five-movement Serenade for Strings, is one of the composer's most familiar and popular pieces. In much the same vein of elegant entertainment is the Wind Serenade. The lesser-known but gorgeous Nocturne began life as the slow movement of a string quartet; its six-minute span is one of nearly unbroken melody.
Join the conversation online by using #BSODvorak for this concert series or #BSO1516 on your social networks to discover the excitement of the season and connect with one another!
(Some emphasis added.)

As always, that page has links to program notes, audio previews, and a podcast about the concert, but no performer bio this week: if you click on the thumbnail photo of the orchestra, you just get a larger photo. You'll note that once more the performance detail writer has taken the pieces out of the order in which they'll be performed. First it'll be the winds, then the Nocturne, and the String Serenade to conclude.

This program is only being given once, on Saturday, so there are no reviews of earlier performances since there were no earlier performances. But Dvořák isn't too tough to take, so I'm sure you'll find it enjoyable if you listen over the air or on line to WCRB at 8:00 p.m. on October 24. As usual, they will offer a rebroadcast/webstream just over a week later, on November 2. Their BSO page has a link to an interview about the concert as well as brief descriptions of what's coming up for the remainder of the BSO 2015-2016 season.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

BSO — 2015/10/15-17

This Saturday's BSO concert is Richard Strauss's opera Elektra, in a semi-staged (no costumes, very limited action) performance led by Andris Nelsons with soloists too numerous for me to list. Go to the BSO's performance detail page for a listing, along with the usual links to background information. They give the following description:
Richard Strauss's Elektra, first performed in 1909, remains one of the most powerful and influential operas in the repertory. The first collaboration between Strauss and librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Elektra is an intense, modernist adaptation of the ancient Greek revenge drama, in which Electra and her brother Orestes plot to avenge their father Agamemnon's death. Building upon the mastery of the orchestra and musical form Strauss had achieved in his orchestral tone poems, Elektra, along with its predecessor Salome, broke new ground in opera as a musical investigation of human emotion and psychology.
Join the conversation online by using #BSOElektra for this concert series or #BSO1516 on your social networks to discover the excitement of the season and connect with one another!

I exchanged my subscription ticket for one for November 5. I saw Elektra on PBS a number of years ago, and that was enough. I like some of Strauss's music — the horn concertos, Ariadne auf Naxos, Metamorphosen, the clarinet concerto, and the Four Last Songs come to mind — but there's a lot, including Elektra, I can do without. On the other hand, the Boston Globe had a glowing review, focused mainly on the leading soprano, but with praise for other elements of the performance as well, and concluding with, "Nelsons and company reprise the opera on Saturday. My advice: Catch it before it’s gone." The Boston Musical Intelligencer gives a very full review which includes an analysis of the opera (which expresses misgivings similar to mine about the music itself) and then gives very high praise for the performance. (I'm beginning to regret missing it on Thursday, and to consider listening on the radio.)

As always, you can hear the live broadcast or stream over WCRB at 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 17, or repeated on Monday, October 26. The station has a BSO page which describes the concert briefly
Soprano Christine Goerke sings the title role in Strauss's psycho-dramatic masterpiece Elektra, in a concert performance that also includes soprano Gun-Brit Barkmin, mezzo-soprano Jane Henschel, tenor Gerhard Siegel, and baritone James Rutherford, all conducted by Andris Nelsons.
and also includes a link to a podcast about last week's (and next Monday's rebroadcast) concert and this week's.

By the way, the BSO will also play last week's program of Currier, Beethoven, and Brahms on Tuesday, October 20, in New York's Carnegie Hall. If you're in the NYC area and can get to it, you may well want to go.

Friday, October 9, 2015

BSO — 2015/10/08-10

This week the Boston Symphony gives us one new work in its Boston premiere and two very familiar ones. Music Director Andris Nelsons will be on the podium. Here's what the BSO's performance detail page says about it, this time listing the works in the order they'll be performed:
The Grawemeyer Award-winning American composer Sebastian Currier's Divisions was co-commissioned by the BSO with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and the National Orchestra of Belgium to commemorate the centennial of World War I. The title's meaning refers to both the military connotation of "divisions" as well as to its 16th-century usage as a set of instrumental variations. Two strongly contrasting 19th-century works balance the program. German pianist Lars Vogt plays Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3. Brahms's Second Symphony is one of the composer's most gracious and sunny works-but with striking formal innovations.

Join the conversation online by using #BSOBeethoven for this concert series or #BSO1516 on your social networks to discover the excitement of the season and connect with one another!
(Some emphasis added.)
As usual, there are also links on that page for the BSO media center, performer bios, program notes, and audio previews.

The Globe review summarizes it fairly well, I think. So far, there's nothing about it in the Boston Musical Intelligencer or on The Arts Fuse. Having read the program notes a day or so before the Thursday performance and again at Symphony Hall, I was pretty well prepared for "Divisions," but I found it much more listenable than I had expected. It's definitely in a 21st century idiom, which I was expecting, but it somehow seemed more coherent than a lot of recent music. The second half was even gentler that I anticipated. Even the usher who has no use for recent music found this piece not too bad. I hope I'm not raising expectations too much. I just want say even if you don't like recent music, don't be afraid to listen to this fairly short piece.

The composer was present and came out for a bow after the piece was played. He seemed uncomfortable, making awkward gestures of waving to the audience and applauding the performers; he hung back from going to the front of the stage to receive the warm applause the audience gave him, staying three feet or so back. This was the first piece of Currier's the orchestra had performed. I hope they'll do it again and play other music by him.

The Beethoven piano concerto was well played, except that in a couple of places the strings drowned out the woodwinds. From my seat, I could see that during the first movement cadenza Maestro Nelsons turned to the last two pages of his score. I thought he was studying something about the end of the concerto, but eventually I concluded that those pages gave to music for the cadenza Mr. Vogt was playing (not printed where it occurs in the first movement because the pianist could do something different). So Maestro Nelsons was just following along to be ready to cue the orchestra when they came back in.

I decided not to stay for the Brahms and got home earlier than usual.

As always, you can hear the concert broadcast live or streamed over the facilities of WCRB. The station's BSO page has, among other things, a link to a podcast in which Lars Vogt, the pianist in the Beethoven, previews the concert. The live broadcast/webstream will be Saturday, October 10, at 8:00 p.m. EDT (Boston Time), and the repeat will be at 8:00 on Monday, October 19, just over a week later.

See what you think of the Currier. I hope you'll enjoy it as well as what follows.

Friday, October 2, 2015

BSO — 2015/10/01-03 — Updated

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is back where it belongs — in Symphony Hall. This week they open the 2015-2016 season with a concert described as follows in their performance detail page:
For the first concerts of the BSO's 2015-2016 season-an all-Russian program-Andris Nelsons and the orchestra continue their survey of Stalin-era works by Dmitri Shostakovich. Composed at the end of World War II, the atypically short, five-movement Ninth Symphony was criticized as being insufficiently serious for the time. Shostakovich's older compatriot Sergei Rachmaninoff wrote his final work, the vibrant, symphony-like Symphonic Dances, in 1940 while living in the United States. In between these two pieces, the marvelous Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin plays Tchaikovsky's beloved Concerto No. 1.
Join the conversation online by using #BSOKissin for this concert series or #BSO1516 on your social networks to discover the excitement of the season and connect with one another!
(Some emphasis — most, actually — added.)
That performance detail page also has a number of links. Program notes are accessible by clicking icons in the "Notes" column near the bottom of the page, audio previews by clicking those under "Audio," and performer bios by clicking on the thumbnail photos of the "Featured Performers." In addition, there is a "Media Center: Podcasts/Notes" graphic which gives links to some of the same material, as well as a brief (approximately two-minute) introduction to the music.

I enjoyed the concert, especially the Shostakovich. The program note refers to "a darker mood" in the middle of the second movement and "ominous" moments and others of "grief and desolation" in the third. Although the note had me expecting those elements, I didn't hear anything I'd have characterized that way. It wasn't all rollicking and playful, but I'd have called some parts calm, and some solemn. Shostakovich has his dissonances, but, to me at least, they aren't hard to take in this symphony. The Boston Globe, as of this writing, hasn't favored us with a review. Maybe one will become available later on the page I've linked. There is a typically lengthy review at the Boston Musical Intelligencer. The reviewer was aware of nuances in the performances which I hadn't picked up on. Maybe I'll notice them during the Saturday broadcast. One thing I would add is that in addition to the fine solos he mentioned, Clint Foreman opened the second movement of the Tchaikovsky very well on the flute.

As always, WCRB will broadcast the Saturday evening performance over 99.5 FM in Boston and stream it over the web. (The "Listen Live" button is on the right side of their homepage, near the top.) They also have a page devoted to the BSO. That page features an interview with Maestro Nelsons about this concert, as well was their complete BSO broadcast/webstream schedule for the season, and other items. The concert coverage begins at 8:00 p.m. "Boston Time" on October 3. If you miss it then, they repeat the broadcast/stream on Monday, October 12, also at 8:00.

Happy listening.

Update: The Globe has published a favorable review. While I'm at it, let me also note a somewhat critical review in the online publication, The Arts Fuse.

Friday, September 25, 2015

BSO/Classical New England — 2015/09/26

This is the last week before the BSO begins the 2015-16 Symphony Hall Season on October 1. For this Saturday's rebroadcast WCRB has chosen the September 27, 2014, concert, which was Andris Nelsons' first as Music Director of the orchestra. Here is how 'CRB describes it on their BSO page:
In his first concert as BSO Music Director, Andris Nelsons conducts excerpts from operas by Wagner, Puccini, and Mascagni, featuring soprano Kristine Opolais and tenor Jonas Kaufmann, as well as Wagner's Tannhäuser Overture and Respighi's The Pines of Rome.
(Some emphasis added.)
That BSO page also has a link to an interview with the maestro and a preview of the concert, as well as the broadcast schedule for the upcoming season.

The concert begins with the Tannhäuser Overture and ends with the Respighi, with the singing in between. The BSO's own performance detail page lists all the selections which are to be sung. There are the usual links to background information.

Since this concert was only given on that Saturday evening, there were no reviews to link when I wrote my preview at the time. Here's a link to a lengthy review in the Boston Musical Intelligencer. The reviewer liked most of what he heard but groused about the choice of pieces and the intrusions of PBS's cameras and lighting to record the show for television. He also tells about the encore: "O soave fanciulla" from La Bohème.

As usual, the concert can be heard on air or over the web from WCRB (link above) at 8:00 Boston Time. It should be enjoyable.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

BSO/Classical New England — 2015/09/19

WCRB gives us another "encore performance" of a concert given within the past year. I was at the Thursday November 20 performance. They recorded the one on November 22, 2014. Here's how WCRB briefly describes it on their BSO page:
Yo-Yo Ma is the soloist in Prokofiev's Symphony-Concerto for cello and orchestra, and Andris Nelsons conducts Harbison's Koussevitzky Said, Rachmaninoff's The Bells, with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and a world premiere by Eriks Ešenvalds.
(Some emphasis added.)

That page also has the schedule of concerts to be broadcast and streamed next week and over the coming season as well as links to some interviews.

I don't know why they won't list the pieces in the order they are performed. Harbison's piece opens the concert, followed by Ešenvalds and Prokofiev. Rachmaninoff follows the intermission, and concludes the concert.

The piece given its world premiere in the Thursday concert and its broadcast premiere on Saturday was titled "Lakes Awake at Dawn."

My recollection of the concert is that it was very good. The Harbison is brief, intended as a curtain-raiser, and quite amusing; the Ešenvalds sets the moods of the poetry well; and the Rachmaninoff is very stirring. Since all three of them have sung texts, it's an especially good idea to go to the BSO performance detail page and access the link to the program notes, where you can find the words. I think it will also be especially useful to read the notes on the pieces and check out the other background info.

The p/review I posted at the time has links to reviews. along with my impressions back then.

As usual, the concert is available by radio or webstream from WCRB on Saturday evening at 8:00 p.m. Boston Time (EDT). See the first link above. I recommend listening.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

BSO/Classical New England — 2015/09/12

On September 12, at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, WCRB will give us an encore presentation of the concert recorded almost a year ago — on September 20, 2014. They describe it as follows on their BSO page:
BSO Assistant Conductor Marcelo Lehninger leads the orchestra in Mozart's Sinfonia concertante, K. 297b, featuring BSO soloists, Bachianas brasileiras No. 5 by Villa-Lobos, with soprano Nicole Cabell, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 5.
(Emphasis added.)

That page also has a link to a conversation with Maestro Lehninger and a preview of the concert. In addition, they give the concert broadcast and webstream schedule for the whole upcoming BSO season. I'm happy to see that they'll again be replaying each concert on the Monday nine days later.

My post about it at the time (with links to reviews and the BSO page) is here. I put a question mark after Mozart's name because the program notes say that some scholars doubt that Mozart actually wrote the piece in question.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

BSO/Classical New England — 2015/09/05

As we wait for the Symphony Hall season to begin, this week WCRB gives us a repeat of the concert of January 24, 2015. That concert found BSO Assistant Conductor Ken-David Masur on the podium replacing the scheduled conductor, who was ill. He conducted Berlioz's Overture "Le Corsaire," followed by Cello Concerto No. 1 by Saint-Saëns with Johannes Moser as soloist. After intermission, it was Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov.

You can listen to the concert on demand at the station's BSO program page. There's a pretty good action shot of the maestro. There are also links to other available concerts. As always, the broadcast and webstream will be on Saturday, September 5, at 8:00 p.m. EDT (or "Bostpn Time," as I like to call it.)

I p/reviewed it in January. At that time I wrote, "I liked Maestro Masur's conducting style, and found nothing in the music to dislike." The post also contains links to reviews and other background information.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

BSO/Classical New England — 2015/08/29

This Saturday's BSO broadcast/webstream on WCRB at 8:00 is an "encore" of the concert of February 28, 2015. It includes the Stravinsky "Dumbarton Oaks" Concerto, Images, for Orchestra, by Debussy, and the Brahms Violin Concerto. Charles Dutoit conducts with Julia Fischer as the violin soloist. The WCRB page describing the concert (with a recording available) indicates that Ms. Fischer played Paganini's Caprice No. 24, as an encore.

I previewed the concert, with all the usual links to background material, back when it was about to be given. You can check it out if you're interested. I'll just comment, as I did then, that the Stravinsky is from his "neoclassical period," nothing like "Rite of Spring." I find it pleasant enough. And Debussy and Brahms are generally well liked, so I think it's worth hearing, or hearing again.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

BSO/Classical New England — 2015/08/22

With the Boston Symphony's Tanglewood season finished (although there are other events occurring there over the next couple of weekends) and Opening Night at Symphony Hall six weeks away (and the orchestra on tour in Europe "as we speak") WCRB is giving us repeats of concerts from last season in the 8:00 p.m. Saturday evening time slot. You can hear them over the air or over the web.

As I read their website, this week, on August 22, they will give us an encore presentation of the concert of October 3, 2014, which I p/reviewed back then. It includes Beethoven's 8th Symphony, a Suite from The Miraculous Mandarin by Bartók, and Symphony No. 6, "Pathétique," by Tchaikovsky. Music Director Andris Nelsons is the conductor. On their webpage for this concert, WCRB also has a video of the concert and a link to an interview with Malcolm Lowe, the BSO Concertmaster. I haven't listened to the interview yet, so I don't know what it's about, but it should be interesting anyway.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Tanglewood — 2015/08/14-16

This is the BSO's final weekend at Tanglewood this year, concluding, as usual in recent years, with the Beethoven 9th on Sunday.

Friday, August 14.  The weekend kicks off with Music Director Andris Nelsons leading the orchestra and solo violinist Christian Tetzlaff in the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto and Mahler's Symphony No. 6. The performance detail page give links to the usual program notes, audio previews, and performer bios. It also gives the following notice:
Several Friday-evening Shed performances will be part of the popular UnderScore Friday series this season. At these performances, patrons will hear comments about the program directly from an onstage BSO musician. UnderScore Fridays will occur on July 17, July 31, and August 14.
This time, trumpeter Benjamin Wright will give the opening remarks.

Saturday, August 15.  Maestro Nelsons returns to the podium, and his wife, Kristine Opolais, joins him and the orchestra for a couple of operatic numbers, including — appropriately for Assumption Day — an Ave Maria. The performance detail page gives this description:
Andris Nelsons conducts an array of Italian operas which include Verdi's Willow Song and "Ave Maria" from Otello, Act IV, Puccini's Intermezzo from Manon Lescaut Act III, and Boito's "L'altra notte in fondo al mare" from MefistofeleAct III starring soprano, Kristine Opolais. The BSO will then perform Strauss's Ein Heldenleben and Barber's Second Essay for Orchestra.
(Some emphasis added.)

Although the way they phrase it implies that both the Strauss and the Barber pieces will come after the operatic selections, the way they are listed lower in the page suggests that the Barber will open the concert, not conclude it. So far there is no background material on the music other than the Strauss.

Sunday, August 16.  As indicated above, this is the final broadcast concert of this Tanglewood season. The performance detail page has some of the usual links, as well as this information about the concert:
The BSO's final concert of the 2015 Tanglewood season, under the direction of Asher Fisch, will open with the TMC Orchestra playing Copland's Symphonic Ode. Also in the program is Beethoven's Symphony no.9, with the Tanglewod Festival Chorus and the TMC Ochestra. Special guests include Julianna Di Giacomo, Renée Tatum, Paul Groves,and John Relyea.
(Emphasis added.)
Although this blurb indicates that the TMC Orchestra (not the BSO) will be performing the Beethoven, elsewhere on the page, when it mentions the TMC Orchestra it puts "(Copland)" after the listing, which suggests they will not be playing the Beethoven. We'll find out who plays the Beethoven when we listen in, I guess.

The Tanglewood Festival Chorus was founded 40 years ago with John Oliver as its director, to serve as the chorus for Boston Symphony and Pops concerts. Among their notable achievements is that they perform without having the printed music in their hands. They memorize every piece they sing, and that is Maestro Oliver's doing. For forty years he has been preparing the chorus for every performance. He is retiring at the end of the Tanglewood season, so the Beethoven Ninth will be the last performance for which he will have prepared the chorus.

The Friday and Saturday concerts will be at 8:30, and the Sunday at 2:30, Boston Time. WCRB will broadcast and stream them. The station's BSO page also has brief blurbs about these concerts. More importantly, since this is the end of the Tanglewood broadcast season, they revert on August 22 to the regular pattern of weekly concerts at 8:00 on Saturdays. That BSO page gives the schedule of "Encore Broadcasts" of concerts from last season that will take us from August 22 through September 26, after which the BSO returns to Symphony Hall and the live broadcasts/webstreams will resume.

The orchestra will be on tour in Europe, with concerts on 12 days in the period August 22—September 5. Then they may be able to take a little vacation before they have to start rehearsing for opening night in Symphony Hall, October 1.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Tanglewood — 2015/08/07-09

This weekend brings some music that's less familiar than much of the past weekend's programming, but I think only one piece will be new to me.

Friday, August 7.   The BSO program detail page has this to say about the Friday evening concert:
Audience favorite Charles Dutoit leads the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Ravel's Mother Goose Suite and Stravinsky's Petrushka (1911 version), on a program with Sibelius's Violin Concerto, with soloist Leonidas Kavakos.
(Some emphasis added.)
As I write this there are links on the detail page to program notes and audio previews for the Sibelius and the Stravinsky, as well as for performer bios (click on the photos), but nothing so far for the Ravel. If I see anything before I publish this post, I'll revise the above.

Presumably the Sibelius is after the Ravel and before intermission.

Saturday, August 8.  The Saturday concert is a single work — Symphony No. 8 by Mahler — with Andris Nelsons on the podium. The orchestra will not be the BSO but the Tanglewood Music Center orchestra. They will be joined by eight singing soloists and three choruses, all listed on the program detail page (click on photos for further info about each). Here's the description from that page:
 BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons will conduct Mahler's Symphony no. 8 along with the  Tanglewood Festival Chorus, BUTI Chorus, and the American Boychoir. Special guests include Erin Wall, Christine Goerke, Lioba Braun, Jane Henschel, Klaus Florian Vogt, Matthias Goerne, and Ain Anger.
Mezzo-soprano  Lioba Braun, who was scheduled to sing the role of Mulier Samaritana in this performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 8, under the direction of Andris Nelsons, has canceled her appearance due to a back injury which prevents her from traveling.  Mezzo-soprano Mihoko Fujimura will now sing the role of Mulier Samaritana.

(Emphasis added.)

Sunday, August 9.  The BSO and Maestro Dutoit return to the stage on Sunday, together with Joshua Bell as violin soloist for a program described as follows on the performance detail page:
Longtime Tanglewood favorite Joshua Bell joins Mr. Dutoit for a performance of the Glazunov Violin Concerto, on a program which includes Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain and one of the BSO's signature works, Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique.
(Some emphasis added.)

The usual links are available, except that there is nothing yet about the Glazunov concerto, which, despite being mentioned first in the blurb, seems to be scheduled to be played after the Mussorgsky. The lack of preview material is unfortunate, since the Glaznov is the least known of the scheduled works.

As usual, the concerts can be heard at 8:30, 8:30, and 2:30 p.m., respectively, over WCRB. (Times are EDT.) The station has a page which gives information about future broadcasts and links to BSO-related material.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Tanglewood — 2015/07/31-08/02

This weekend brings us a number of familiar works from the core repertoire, works that would have been familiar and well-received a century ago, along with a couple of more recent pieces.

Friday, July 31.  The Friday concert is in a traditional format, with a curtain-raiser followed by another, longer piece. The major offering follows the intermission. Here's the BSO performance detail page's description:
Boston Symphony Orchestra Assistant Conductor Ken-David Masur will lead a program opening with the overture to Weber's Der Freischütz, followed by Schubert's Symphony No. 4, Tragic,  and Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor, with soloist Garrick Ohlsson.
(Some emphasis added.)

The page also notes that this is an "Underscore Friday," with a brief introduction from the stage by one of the musicians. It also gives the usual links to program notes, audio previews, and performer bios.

The Weber overture is a thrilling piece containing some of the best themes from the opera — a very fine choice to open the concert. The Emperor concerto is one of Beethoven's greatest achievements, in my opinion. I have a dinner engagement that evening and I'll almost certainly miss the first half of the concert, but I hope to be home in time to hear the whole Beethoven concerto. It should all be enjoyable if you have a chance to listen.

Saturday, August 1.  For some reason, the BSO website isn't showing the program for this evening — although it was there when I began writing this post a half hour or so ago.* WCRB tells us:
Music Director Andris Nelsons leads the BSO in Beethoven's "Triple" Concerto, with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, violinist Renaud Capuçon, and cellist Gautier Capuçon, and the Symphony No. 10 by Shostakovich.
(Emphasis added.)

While the Triple concerto may not be quite at the pinnacle occupied by the "Emperor" — having been composed with Beethoven's piano pupil the Archduke Rudolf, a talented amateur, as the intended soloist, rather than Beethoven himself or a good professional — it is definitely worth hearing. I don't recall the Shostakovich specifically. I'll just say that Shostakovich's music can be powerful but challenging.

Sunday, August 2.  The BSO gives us the following on their performance detail page:
BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons will conduct Haydn's Symphony no. 90, Dean's Dramatis personae featuring trumpet player Håkan Hardenberger, and Strauss's Don Quixote with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and violist Steven Ansell.
(Some emphasis added.)

There are full program notes and an audio preview of the Haydn linked on the BSO page. As noted there, Hardenberger was the soloist for the American premiere by the BSO last November. I reviewed it at the time** and liked it more than I had expected. I'm looking forward to hearing it again. The Strauss is being performed in observance of the 400th anniversary of the publication of Part II of Don Quixote.

The concerts can be heard via WCRB radio or web: Friday and Saturday at 8:30 p.m., Sunday at 2:30 — all Boston Time. Their BSO page, in addition to the description of the Saturday concert posted above, gives similar information about the remaining Tanglewood concert broadcasts along with an overview of the upcoming Symphony Hall season and various other interesting items and links.

* After drafting this post, I set it aside overnight, and now the BSO performance detail page is back, with the usual links to background material.

** "Spoiler" In my review of the Dean piece, I refer to a composer I was reminded of by the third part of the work. If you want to know who it is, it's Charles Ives.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Tanglewood — 2015/07/24-26

This weekend the Tanglewood concerts will give us familiar music of familiar composers.

Friday, July 24.  This will be an all-Beethoven concert. Christoph von Dohnányi will be on the podium for Symphony No. 4 (in my opinion Beethoven's worst symphony) and the Violin Concerto. Vadim Gluzman makes his debut with the BSO as the soloist in the concerto. The orchestra's program detail page has links to audio previews, program notes, and performer bios.

Saturday, July 25.  Emanuel Ax solos in Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 14. Michael Tilson Thomas is conductor for that and Symphony No. 5 by Mahler. Go to the program detail page for the usual links. They also list the New Fromm Players as performers in the concert, but that's a chamber music group, so I think it's a mistake. It seems much more likely that they'll be performing in the preview concert at 6:00 (not broadcast). We'll see.

Sunday, July 26.  Christoph von Dohnányi will return to conduct Mozart's last three symphonies (Nos. 39., 40, and 41 — the last nicknamed "Jupiter"). Program notes, audio previews, and performer bio (click on the photo) are available on the program detail page.

You can hear all three over the facilities of WCRB — either broadcast or webstream. Their BSO page gives the schedule for this weekend of BSO concerts and the remainder of the Tanglewood season. As usual, the Friday and Saturday concerts are at 8:30 p.m; and the Sunday concert is at 2:30 p.m.  all Boston Time.

As I suggested, I don't care very much for Beethoven's Fourth Symphony. Except for the second movement, it's too gruff. I found it okay when I encountered it for the first time, but I soon tired of the third and fourth movements. But the rest of the weekend's programming is music I want to hear, and your opinion of the Beethoven 4th may differ from mine. Enjoy.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Tanglewood — 2015/07/17-19

Just two composers' music is to be performed this weekend in the broadcast concerts: Mozart and Schumann. I think this is music we can all enjoy, although some may not be entirely thrilled with having vocal solos on Saturday. Anyway, I'll tell you about each concert.

Friday, July 17.  This evening we hear Schumann and Mozart under the baton of Christian Zacharias. We start and end with Schumann: the Manfred Overture and Symphony №2, respectively. Those are sandwiched around Mozart's Violin Concerto №5 in A, K. 219, and and the Rondo in C for violin and orchestra, K. 373, with Baiba Skride as soloist in both pieces. The BSO's performance detail page doesn't tell us whether the intermission will come between the Mozart pieces or follow them. I'm guessing the latter. As usual, there are links to program notes, audio previews, and performer bios. They also inform us that it's an "Underscore Friday," meaning that there will be some sort of introduction from the stage — this time by double bassist Benjamin Levy. In addition,
Berkshire Night will take place on Friday, July 17. 

Tickets are distributed at the Tanglewood Main Gate Box Office on a first come first served basis. Once the allotment of Shed tickets are gone we will distribute Lawn tickets. Residents of Berkshire County must show a drivers license, utility bill, library card, or some other form of proof of residence in Berkshire county or adjoining towns in New York state.
So, if you live in the designated area, you might want to head on over.

Saturday, July 18.  Maestro Zacharias returns to conduct and play piano in an all-Mozart program described as follows in the performance detail page:
Mr. Zacharias leads an all-Mozart program with Sarah Connolly joining Mr. Zacharias as pianist in "Ch'io mi scordi di te…Non temer, amato bene," concert aria for soprano and orchestra with piano, K.505; Ms. Connolly will also perform "Deh per questo istante solo" from Act II of Mozart's La clemenza di Tito, on a program that will also include Mozart's Symphony No. 38, Prague.
(Some emphasis added.)
For some reason, they avoid telling us that the program opens with Piano Concerto №25 in C, K. 503.  As of this writing, there are no links to program notes or audio previews. But maybe they'll have posted them sometime before the concert. So keep checking, if you're interested.

Sunday, July 19 sees Sir Neville Marriner take the podium for a program that begins and ends with Mozart, with Schumann in the middle.  Sir Neville is so well known as a conductor in recordings with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields that it's exciting to be able to hear the BSO under his direction.
Sir Neville Marriner will be joined by pianist Paul Lewis for Schumann's Piano Concerto, on a program spotlighting the orchestra in two of Mozart's most beloved symphonies: Symphony No. 35, Haffner, and Symphony No. 36, Linz.
So we read in the performance detail page (with some emphasis added). The usual links to preparatory materials are there .

Our friends at WCRB will broadcast and stream all three concerts. Those on Friday and Saturday start at 8:30, and Sunday's is at 2:30 — all p.m., all Boston Time. Their BSO page tells what's on each program and who the performers are for this weekend and the remainder of the season (I'm really looking forward to July 31.) along with other information and an interesting link to an interview with Erich Leinsdorf which I want to listen to sometime.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Tanglewood — 2015/07/10-12 (Updated July 11)

This weekend we get a full schedule of concerts from Tanglewood. Mostly, it's music that's more or less familiar to classical audiences (and in some cases, the general public); but there are a couple of items that are new to me, at least, and that I look forward to hearing, along with most of the classics.

Friday, July 10.  The Friday concert features works for organ, with Cameron Carpenter as soloist, and frequent guest conductor Stéphane Denève on the podium. BSO assistant timpanist Daniel Bauch (who seems to play timpani at least a third of the time at Symphony Hall) will be the other soloist in the concerto. Here's how the BSO's performance detail page describes it:
Popular guest conductor Stéphane Denève leads a program featuring the BSO debut of superstar organist Cameron Carpenter performing Poulenc's Concerto for Organ, Strings, and Timpani and Saint-Saëns' Symphony No. 3, Organ, on a program with Barber's Adagio for Strings. Following his BSO appearance, organist Cameron Carpenter will give a short recital of virtuoso solo works, featuring his Marshall & Ogletree touring organ.
(Some emphasis added.)
See the performance detail page for links to program notes, audio previews, and performer bios (click on the thumbnail picture), as during the Symphony Hall season.

The Barber seems to be the curtain-raiser. It's quite familiar, and deservedly so, IMO. I don't think I've ever heard the Poulenc, and I'm looking forward to hearing it — not that I like Poulenc all that much; I just wonder what it will be like. The Saint-Saëns organ concerto is given now and then at Symphony Hall to showcase the organ there, and it's not bad. I do wonder how the organ will sound outdoors and on what must be a smaller instrument that the one in Symphony Hall. It may well sound fuller over the radio than on the Tanglewood lawn. The show begins at 8:30 p.m., Pittsfield Time (same as Boston Time).

Saturday, July 11.  In an interesting bit of programming, the overture to Verdi's La Forza del Destino will precede a concert performance of the first act of Puccini's Tosca. The BSO performance detail page is concise in its description and has no audio previews, but does give program notes and performer bios along with the following:
Bramwell Tovey will lead an all-Italian program to include a concert performance of Act I from Puccini's Tosca featuring Bryn Terfel as Scarpia and Sondra Radvonovsky as Tosca.
(Some emphasis added.)
The Verdi overture is a good piece: a nice patchwork of music from the opera itself. It seems to me that if Maestro Tovey felt it necessary to precede the Puccini with something else, it would have made sense to go outside the operatic repertoire, rather than preceding it with something designed to precede a different opera. Maybe it will work, though. We'll see. On the other hand, Puccini isn't a big favorite of mine, and I may well listen to the Red Sox after the Verdi. (See edit below.)**

Again, the concert starts at 8:30.

Sunday, July 12. The concert begins at 2:30, with The Light That Fills the World, by John Luther Adams.* Next will be Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3, K. 216, with Pinchas Zukerman as soloist. After intermission, they'll perform Symphony No. 7 by Dvořák. Former BSO assistant conductor Ludovic Morlot, now Music Director of the Seattle Symphony, will conduct the performance. I've told you everything that's mentioned in the blurb on the BSO performance detail page, but it's still worth seeing for the links to program notes, audio previews, and performer bios.

When I saw the Adams work on the program, I was curious about it, and I tracked down a YouTube video of a performance.

It turns out what I saw is the original version of the piece for a chamber ensemble. The composer decided to orchestrate it for a normal-sized symphony orchestra, and that's the version the BSO will play. I found it easy enough to listen to. If you're at all uncertain about contemporary concert music, I suggest reading the composer's description, which is included in the program notes, and listening to the video. I'm looking forward to hearing it again.

* Not to be confused with John Coolidge Adams, the composer of the operas "Nixon in China," "The Death of Klinghoffer," and "Doctor Atomic," among other things.

As always, you can listen to these concerts approximately live over WCRB — either via broadcast, if you're within range of their signal, or via streaming on the world wide web — at the times indicated. The station's BSO page gives a very brief synopsis of each program, as well as a listing of future concerts they'll carry from Tanglewood. Note also, on their home page, an opportunity to vote for concerts from the past year to be broadcast/streamed during the interval in August and September between the end of the Tanglewood season and the beginning of the Symphony Hall season.

**Edited to add: It turns out the "Forza del Destino" overture isn't the only Verdi work on the program. They'll also present his "Stabat Mater," followed by "Ella giammai m'amò" from Don Carlo — which I really like — and "Ehi! paggio! l'onore" from Falstaff — which I don't really know. Then there's an intermission, followed by the Puccini. With these additional pieces, the program makes a lot more sense than just the two pieces shown of the BSO program detail page. I don't understand why the BSO won't list all works in a program on the performance detail page.