Saturday, April 25, 2015

BSO — 2015/04/23-28

This week Guest Conductor Emeritus Bernard Haitink leads the BSO in a music of Ravel, Adès, and Mozart, with Jean-Yves Thibaudet as soloist in Ravel's Piano Concerto in G. If you go to the BSO's performance detail page, you can find links to program notes and audio previews of the concert, as well as performer bios available by clicking on the thumbnail photos. There, we find this description of the program:
BSO Conductor Emeritus Bernard Haitink ends the BSO's 2014-15 season with two weeks of concerts. First, he and the orchestra are joined by dazzling French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet for Ravel's 1931 Piano Concerto in G, featuring thrilling outer movements and one of the most meltingly beautiful slow movements in the repertoire. Mother Goose, an earlier Ravel score illustrating the stories of Tom Thumb, Beauty and the Beast, and others, began life as a four-hand piano suite written for children, was orchestrated in 1911, and expanded into the complete ballet score the following year with added interludes. Mozart wrote his Linz Symphony in emergency conditions: arriving in the Austrian city on October 30, 1783, without a symphony in hand, he had the four-movement work ready for performance four days later with nary a seam showing. In keeping with the French/Classical theme that underscores this program, Three Studies from Couperin (2006) by the brilliant English composer Thomas Adès offers his modern orchestral take on harpsichord music by the great French master.
(Some emphasis added.)

I enjoyed the concert, although Ravel is not my favorite composer: in general, I don't really care for the music of the impressionists. The "Mother Goose" music is innocuous fluff, in my opinion. The piano concerto which followed is more lively, and, as the program note points out, shows some familiarity with Gershwin. The second movement is lyrical for the most part, but it also gets loud at one point. Thomas Adès's orchestration of harpsichord music of Couperin was very successful, in my opinion. One interesting feature was the use of alto and bass flutes. Both are longer than regular flutes, so much so that the tubes are bent back on themselves; and they have a greater diameter than ordinary flutes. They are held like regular flutes, with the player blowing over the mouthpiece on the top section, and the keys on the lower section. The Linz Symphony, which finished the evening is delightful Mozart. I'm not able to say whether this performance was extraordinary or merely competent. I enjoyed the music, but didn't notice anything remarkable about the performance in either a good or a bad way. The orchestra liked Maestro Haitink's work, remaining seated briefly after he motioned them to rise in response to the audience's applause during his curtain calls — thus focusing the applause on the maestro.

The Globe gave a favorable review — as usual without very much detail about the playing and conducting. By contrast — both with the Globe and, even more, with me — the Boston Musical Intelligencer's reviewer raved about the piano concerto, found the Mother Goose good in some respects, and was unimpressed with  the Adès as composed and the Mozart as performed.

So you can decide for yourself by listening to WCRB at 8:00 p.m. Boston Time on April 25 and/or May 4. Their BSO page offers, among other things, an extensive preview including interviews of conductor and soloist. I think it's worth listening to, if you can.

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