Friday, October 9, 2015

BSO — 2015/10/08-10

This week the Boston Symphony gives us one new work in its Boston premiere and two very familiar ones. Music Director Andris Nelsons will be on the podium. Here's what the BSO's performance detail page says about it, this time listing the works in the order they'll be performed:
The Grawemeyer Award-winning American composer Sebastian Currier's Divisions was co-commissioned by the BSO with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and the National Orchestra of Belgium to commemorate the centennial of World War I. The title's meaning refers to both the military connotation of "divisions" as well as to its 16th-century usage as a set of instrumental variations. Two strongly contrasting 19th-century works balance the program. German pianist Lars Vogt plays Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3. Brahms's Second Symphony is one of the composer's most gracious and sunny works-but with striking formal innovations.

Join the conversation online by using #BSOBeethoven for this concert series or #BSO1516 on your social networks to discover the excitement of the season and connect with one another!
(Some emphasis added.)
As usual, there are also links on that page for the BSO media center, performer bios, program notes, and audio previews.

The Globe review summarizes it fairly well, I think. So far, there's nothing about it in the Boston Musical Intelligencer or on The Arts Fuse. Having read the program notes a day or so before the Thursday performance and again at Symphony Hall, I was pretty well prepared for "Divisions," but I found it much more listenable than I had expected. It's definitely in a 21st century idiom, which I was expecting, but it somehow seemed more coherent than a lot of recent music. The second half was even gentler that I anticipated. Even the usher who has no use for recent music found this piece not too bad. I hope I'm not raising expectations too much. I just want say even if you don't like recent music, don't be afraid to listen to this fairly short piece.

The composer was present and came out for a bow after the piece was played. He seemed uncomfortable, making awkward gestures of waving to the audience and applauding the performers; he hung back from going to the front of the stage to receive the warm applause the audience gave him, staying three feet or so back. This was the first piece of Currier's the orchestra had performed. I hope they'll do it again and play other music by him.

The Beethoven piano concerto was well played, except that in a couple of places the strings drowned out the woodwinds. From my seat, I could see that during the first movement cadenza Maestro Nelsons turned to the last two pages of his score. I thought he was studying something about the end of the concerto, but eventually I concluded that those pages gave to music for the cadenza Mr. Vogt was playing (not printed where it occurs in the first movement because the pianist could do something different). So Maestro Nelsons was just following along to be ready to cue the orchestra when they came back in.

I decided not to stay for the Brahms and got home earlier than usual.

As always, you can hear the concert broadcast live or streamed over the facilities of WCRB. The station's BSO page has, among other things, a link to a podcast in which Lars Vogt, the pianist in the Beethoven, previews the concert. The live broadcast/webstream will be Saturday, October 10, at 8:00 p.m. EDT (Boston Time), and the repeat will be at 8:00 on Monday, October 19, just over a week later.

See what you think of the Currier. I hope you'll enjoy it as well as what follows.

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