Friday, January 16, 2015

BSO — 2015/01/15-17 — Updated

This week, the Boston Symphony gives us music of Mozart and Bruckner. I was in the hall on Thursday, and I definitely recommend this one. Here's how the orchestra's performance detail page describes it:
Acclaimed for his performances of the Classical repertoire, German pianist Lars Vogt returns to Symphony Hall as soloist with Andris Nelsons and the BSO in Mozart's proto-Romantic C minor piano concerto. Composed in the spring of 1786 and premiered by the composer in Vienna, the C minor is unique in its strangeness and restlessness, and features a fascinating theme-and-variations finale. Following intermission, Andris Nelsons conducts Anton Bruckner's magisterial Symphony No. 7, still probably the most popular of that composer's works. Bruckner wrote his Seventh Symphony, often likened to "a cathedral in sound," between 1881 and 1883, and it was premiered in Leipzig in 1884.
(Some emphasis added.)
Also, go to the performance detail page for links to performer bios, program notes, and audio previews.

There is a very favorable review in the Boston Globe, although I didn't notice the lack of directness or the "micro-inflections" the reviewer perceived in the Mozart. As of this writing, the Boston Musical Intelligencer hasn't weighed in yet. When they do, I'll let you know. *

My impression was that the Mozart was well done, if less angst-filled than the program notes had led me to expect. In the Bruckner, there was much beauty, much power, and never a problematic moment. There might have been one or two false notes from the horns, but nothing that interfered with enjoyment of the piece. Four members of the horn section played the Wagner tubas Bruckner called for, meaning that outsiders had to be added to cover all but two of the horn parts. Before the performance, Andris Nelsons spoke impromptu to the audience. He noted that this represents the beginning of a multi-season survey of Bruckner's work. He said many people think first of length of the works when they think of Bruckner. For him, though, he was "infected" with love of music at age five when he heard music of Wagner at a concert. From Wagner, he came to Bruckner and finds in Bruckner's music a channel to God (raising his right hand and pointing above). He hoped that he was infecting the orchestra and that we would have a similar experience to his and also become infected. (He must have mentioned the connection to God three times.) I really admire Maestro Nelsons for daring to speak of music, particularly this music, as drawing the listener to God. It reminds me of the story of Bruckner stopping his lecture and kneeling to pray when he heard the Angelus bell from a nearby church. But, talk doesn't matter if the music isn't well-played. My mistake in listening is trying to follow analytically, remembering all I can from the program notes and connecting it to what I'm hearing. Even so, this was perhaps the first time I've been at a performance of a Bruckner symphony without beginning to feel it was going on too long. The music held my interest all the way through. I wish the program were being given again on Tuesday: I'd get a ticket and go hear it again. As it is, I'm looking forward to hearing the Mozart on Saturday and the Bruckner on the January 26 rebroadcast.

Listen on radio or on line over WCRB beginning at 8:00 p.m. Saturday, Boston Time. And you can hear it also via the repeat on Monday, January 26, at 8:00 p.m. For the remaining schedule for BSO broadcasts and links to interviews about this concert (and the rebroadcast of last week's on January 19), go to the station's BSO page.

*UPDATE: The BMInt review has appeared. It was largely favorable, but the first comment was highly critical, finding that Maestro Nelsons "micromanaged" the Bruckner unhelpfully and that the brass had an off night.

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