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.

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