Saturday, November 21, 2015

BSO — 2015/11/19-21

I don't know how to introduce this week's concert, so I'll simply quote the BSO's performance detail page:
Andris Nelsons leads this intriguing program of seemingly disconnected works. Two of the most important works of the 20th century, Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 and Alban Berg's Violin Concerto were composed within two years of one another. Shostakovich's symphony, which follows a trajectory from darkness to triumph, has long been considered his reaction to official condemnation of his music by the Soviet government, but the reality is far subtler than that.Alban Berg's Violin Concerto was composed as a memorial to eighteen-year-old Manon Gropius (daughter of Walter Gropius and Alma Mahler); the entire work is suffused with elegy. Its second movement quotes Bach's chorale Es ist genug, which has deep musical connections to Berg's piece. That brief Bach chorale from Cantata No. 60, as well as the short motet Komm, Jesu, komm!, open and set the tone for this program.

Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra are recording these performances of Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 for a release in May, 2016!

Join the conversation online by using #BSOShostakovich 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 always, you can find links to their Media Center, performer bios, program notes, and audio previews. What they don't tell you in the above blurb is that the violin soloist is Isabelle Faust and that the order of performance is Bach, Berg, Shostakovich. This concert is part of my subscription, but I'm really not interested in hearing either the Berg or the Shostakovich. If I'd been more alert, I'd have exchanged my ticket to this one for a ticket to either February 4th's concert of Shakespeare-related music, or to the one on March 29 which is in the series giving an American premiere; but after the attacks in Paris, I was content to be there because of the aspect of confronting tragedy and death which the program had.

The review in the Boston Globe isn't exactly glowing, but definitely favorable. The Boston Musical Intelligencer analyzes not only the music but also the performances, noting distinctive elements in Maestro Nelsons' approach.

As for me, I didn't catch most of the features that the program notes and interviews had pointed out, except when the winds repeated the "Es ist genug" theme toward the end of the Berg concerto. I'm beginning to think that I listen too hard at these concerts. Maybe I shouldn't bother to try to catch everything that's happening and just let it wash over me. Having some idea what to expect may be a good thing, but maybe I don't need to try to pick it all out as it happens.

You can hear it for yourself via WCRB's broadcast or webstream at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, on November 21, with a repeat transmission on Monday, November 30, at the same time of day. Also check out the "on demand" availability of this and other concerts from the past year — see their BSO page for information about that (in the upper right corner) as well as the podcast feature and schedule information I've mentioned every week.

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