Saturday, January 31, 2015

BSO — 2015/01/29-31

This week brings a guest conductor to the podium of the BSO, Asher Fisch. He's conducting three pieces: first the 2011 composition of Avner Dorman, "Astrolatry;" then Prokofiev's Second Violin Concerto, with Julian Rachlin as soloist; and after intermission it's Symphony No.1, "Spring," by Schumann. "Astrolatry" is the first music by Dorman the BSO has ever performed. I hope they'll play it again, soon, and present others of his works.

I hope you'll be able to listen, and as preparation for the Dorman piece, I strongly recommend listening to Brian Bell's conversation with the composer, which is linked on the BSO's performance detail page. There you can check out links to more audio previews an program notes, as well as performer bios. They describe the program as follows:
Israeli conductor Asher Fisch makes his BSO subscription series debut with this diverse program. Opening the concert is the Israeli-born composer Avner Dorman's Astrolatry, a 2012 work inspired by the stars and constellations. These will be the first BSO performances of any music by Dorman, who is a former Tanglewood Music Center Composition Fellow. Lithuanian-born violinist Julian Rachlin returns to Symphony Hall for Serge Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2, a 1930s masterpiece with a breathtakingly beautiful slow movement. Robert Schumann's robust Symphony No. 1, composed in his so-called "symphonic year" of 1841, is one of his most energetic and optimistic scores.

It is "Astrolatry" that interests me most, although the Prokofiev is not hard to take, and the "Spring" symphony is a fine piece. The favorable Globe review, after praising the inclusion of new music in the program, spends most of its space on "Astrolatry." The Boston Musical Intelligencer has two items: an interview with Avner Dorman, and a review of the concert. Interestingly, in the interview, the composer downplays the narrative he gave in his interview with Brian Bell. But I found, as he says, that having that narrative in mind made the music easier to follow and enjoy than might have been the case without it. The review is detailed and respectful with some dissatisfaction with the playing and conducting in the Schumann.

As you can tell, I'm really enthusiastic for "Astrolatry." It is readily accessible as music, not the cacophonies which we sometimes get from contemporary composers, and, as I say, I think it's even more engaging when one is aware of the descriptions in the interview with Brian Bell or in the composer's own program note (included in the notes linked on the BSO performance detail page. If there were a repeat performance next Tuesday (as there is for about half the concerts, I'd get a ticket and go hear it again in the hall.

So if you're within range of WCRB, either by radio or on the web, I encourage you not to miss this concert, either the live performance this evening, January 31, at 8:00 p.m., or the rerun on Monday, February 9, also at 8:00 — or both. Better still, if you can get to Symphony Hall, go and hear it in person. I'm sure seats will be available: on Thursday, there were many empty seats on the sides of the balconies. On WCRB's BSO page, there is further information, including a link to an interview with the conductor about the concert (after you get through the bit about the orchestra's new gong).

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