Saturday, April 4, 2015

BSO — 2015/04/02-04

This week the BSO is giving us a very mixed bag: Shostakovich and Beethoven. Their performance detail page gives this description:
The marvelous German violinist Christian Tetzlaff joins Andris Nelsons and the BSO for Beethoven's peerless Violin Concerto, which, through its lyricism, intensely musical virtuosity, and expansive scope elevated the genre of the violin concerto to ambitious new heights. Shostakovich-a Beethoven devotee-purportedly wrote his Symphony No. 10 as a response to Joseph Stalin's death in 1953. Considered one of his finest, most characteristic orchestral works, the musically and emotionally rich Tenth seems partly to have been an exorcism of his conflicted personal feelings toward the Soviet dictator.
(Some emphasis added.)

I'm not sure why they don't tell us of the excerpt from Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, the work which so shocked Stalin that the composer was in constant danger from then until Stalin died. But you can read all about it in the program notes which, along with audio previews and performer bios, are linked on the detail page.

Of course, the Beethoven Violin Concerto is a beautiful piece, well worth listening to. As for the Shostakovich works, I don't think I've ever heard the Passacaglia, and if I've heard the Symphony, I'm not familiar with it. But I've heard a fair amount of Shostakovich, and I've begun to find his stuff tolerable, but in general it strikes me as percussive and dissonant. He's clearly doing a composer's job of taking themes and developing them, so there's a certain level of interest, but it's certainly not the most pleasant music around.

The concert is not in my subscription. Since it's on Holy Thursday, I wouldn't have gone anyway. I'll also miss the live broadcast on Saturday. Both nights are nights of Holy Week services at church. But I'm not really sorry to miss it. I'll probably listen to the rebroadcast.

The Globe review is favorable, if not quite glowing. The reviewer finds no fault. The Boston Musical Intelligencer provides a very detailed review, telling us both about the music and about specific aspects of the performance. The BMInt reviewer was also quite pleased with what he heard.

WCRB will broadcast and stream the concert at 8:00 p.m. this evening and rebroadcast it at 8:00 p.m. on April 13. Their BSO page, as usual, has a link to a lengthy audio preview with conductor and violin soloist.

If you like Shostakovich, you won't want to miss this one. If you don't know Shostakovich, maybe this is a good chance to get an idea of what he's like. If most 20th Century orchestral music is not to your taste, this could be a low priority.

Happy Easter!

P.S. Don't forget to listen on Monday the 6th at 8:00 for the retransmission of the Gandolfi premiere.

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