Saturday, December 17, 2016

BSO — December Hiatus — 2016/12/17

It's back to Tanglewood again for the third week of the December hiatus. This week's rebroadcast is of the final concert of the 2016 Tanglewood Season. The now-traditional performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony is preceded by the much less familiar "Quiet City" by Aaron Copland. I posted about it last August, but unfortunately, the link to the BSO performance detail page goes to the previous week. Here's the correct link. I don't remember any specifics about the Copland work, but my general recollection is that it was pleasant to listen to. As for the Beethoven: of course it's enormous and amazing.

So by all means, listen if you can this evening at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, over WCRB; and check out the rest of their website for other interesting items.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

BSO — December Hiatus — 2016/12/10

This week's Saturday evening broadcast/webstream over WCRB is the concert given at Tanglewood on August 5, 2016. The station's website gives the particulars:
Saturday at 8pm, Giancarlo Guerrero conducts Dvorak's Serenade for Winds and Brahms' Serenade No. 2, and Yefim Bronfman plays Liszt's 2nd Piano Concerto.
December 10, 2016
Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor
Yefim Bronfman, piano
DVORÁK Serenade for Winds
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 2
MAHLER (arr. BRITTEN) What the Wild Flowers Tell Me
BRAHMS Serenade No. 2
(Some emphasis added.)

I posted a bit about it back then, but there were no reviews to link.

The Brahms Serenade was a revelation to me when I heard it for the first time several years ago in a concert at Symphony Hall conducted by James Levine: Brahms could and did actually write cheerful music for orchestra. It's pleasant all the way through and especially delightful toward the end, above all when the piccolo comes in to put the metaphorical frosting on the figurative cake.

There's nothing wrong with the rest of the program either, so enjoy the show at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time. Also explore the WCRB website for other interesting things such as podcasts and schedules for future BSO broadcasts.

Friday, December 2, 2016

BSO — December Hiatus — 2016/12/03

As noted last week, the Boston Symphony Orchestra will not play in Symphony Hall until January 5, and the next live broadcast will be on the 7th. Meanwhile, as on earlier occasions, WCRB will fill the Saturday time slot with rebroadcasts of concerts from last summer at Tanglewood for this weekend and the next two, Pops on at least one of the remaining two weekends. I'm not sure about the fifth.

This week, they rebroadcast the concert of Friday, August 10, 2016, with music of Otto Nicolai, Mozart, Debussy, and Ravel, with Charles Dutoit conducting and Emmanuel Ax playing piano in the Mozart. My brief note about it at the time included this excerpt from the BSO's performance detail page:
On Friday, August 12, at 8 p.m., Swiss maestro Charles Dutoit, one of the BSO's most popular guest conductors since his debut with the orchestra in 1981, conducts his first performance of the season as Tanglewood's 2016 Koussevitzky Artist-an honorary title reflecting the BSO's deep appreciation for his generous commitment to Tanglewood and for his extraordinary 30-plus-year dedication to the BSO at Tanglewood, in Boston, and on the orchestra's 2014 tour to China and Japan. The program opens with the overture to Nicolai's charming, witty operetta The Merry Wives of Windsor, a piece the BSO hasn't performed since 1984. Following the overture is Mozart's warm Piano Concerto No. 22, a personal favorite of American pianist and annual Tanglewood guest Emanuel Ax. Maestro Dutoit also leads the BSO in Debussy's La Merand Ravel's Bolero, music of which Maestro Dutoit is a foremost interpreter, and which has a special place in the BSO repertoire.
(Some emphasis added.)

It should be enjoyable listening over WCRB at 8:00 p.m. on December 3. There will not be a further rebroadcast on the 12th, but it should be available on demand.

Winter Orgy® Period 2016

WHRB's Winter Orgy® period began on December 1 with the Warhorse Orgy. Now they are into the Dvořák Orgy®, which will run through December 9, generally from midmorning until 10:00 p.m. — with interruptions for things like the Metropolitan Opera on Saturday, church service o Sunday, Harvard sports events, etc. See the program guide for specifics, including the approximate timing of works to be played.

Other classical music orgies include

     Menhuin Orgy®, Dec. (after the opera) - 12;
     New York School Orgy, Dec. 13;
     Steve Reich Orgy, Dec. 14;
     Marriner Orgy, Dec. 15-19 (with the first two days all Mozart); and
     Reger Orgy, Dec. 20-21.

Again, see the program guide for specifics. After the Reger Orgy, they return to regular programming, with music for Christmastime through the 25th. You can listen on line (go to the station's homepage) or on air in places reached by their signal on 95.3 FM.

Fortunately, this is happening at a time when the Boston Symphony is off, and Holiday Pops takes over Symphony Hall. WCRB will be broadcasting reruns of previous seasons' concerts. So you don't have to give up a live concert broadcast in order to hear an orgy that interests you.

For new readers, the WHRB orgy periods originated in the 1940's. WHRB is a student run station, and during exam periods, rather than carefully selecting the pieces to be played they came up with the idea of just running through all the records they had by one composer, or performer, and then all by another. And they've been doing it ever since, although it has transformed into a major undertaking, tracking down as much of the orgy subject's music as possible, selecting among recordings of the same piece, and scheduling them in order of composition, as much as practicable.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

BSO — 2016/11/26

The music on this week's program is all familiar enough that I didn't mind missing it since it wasn't part of my subscription — even though the piano concerto is one of my favorites. Then I realized who is the piano soloist, Menahem Pressler, a founding member of the illustrious Beaux Arts Trio. So I decided I must hear this concert. I finally stopped procrastinating on Wednesday and got one of the very few remaining tickets.

The orchestra's program detail page, along with the usual links to podcasts, program notes, audio previews, and performer bios, give this synopsis:
BSO Assistant Conductor Moritz Gnann, making his subscription series and Symphony Hall debuts, joins the eminent pianist Menahem Pressler for Mozart's autumnal Piano Concerto No. 27, his final work in the genre. Mendelssohn's restless, roiling portrait of the northern reaches of the British Isles, The Hebrides Overture, remains one of his most popular works. Dvořák's familiar New WorldSymphony takes its name from the circumstances of its composition: the Czech composer wrote it while a resident of the U.S. as director of a New York conservatory, and its themes are said to have been inspired by American folk and indigenous music.
(Some emphasis added.)

The writer really should read the program notes. Those tell us that there is nothing inherently "autumnal" in the piano concerto, and that there is no good evidence for people to say that the themes of the symphony were "inspired by American folk and indigenous music." Still, it tells you what they'll play.

The reviews in the Boston Globe and the Boston Musical Intelligencer, despite some minor concerns, were enthusiastic, especially for Menahem Pressler's handling of the Mozart concerto. Maybe it was because of heightened expectations, but I was not that enthusiastic about the playing of the Mozart — not that there was anything bad about it, but it just didn't seem lively enough. One reviewer was happy that Pressler and Gnann took it slower than what we're used to, but it didn't quite work for me. Maybe I'll be happier with it during the broadcast this evening. As for the Mendelssohn and Dvořák, my expectations were not so heightened, and I liked them. I heard some bits that hadn't come through in more routine performances. Overall, I don't mean to be negative: I'm glad I went, and I think most people will really like this concert. It was an auspicious Symphony Hall debut for Maestro Gnann.

By all means listen on air or on line over WCRB this evening at 8:00. Boston Time, repeated on December 5. Check out the other pages on their website for lots of other good stuff, including the podcast available here.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

BSO — 2016/11/19

This week's broadcast (and webstream) is the second half of the second week of the BSO's Brahms mini-festival. The curtain-raising new composition is "Everything Happens So Much," by Timo(thy) Andres. Then we get Brahms's Piano Concerto № 2 and, after intermission, Symphony № 4 (replacing the 3rd, which was played Tuesday and Thursday and is reviewed in the linked material).

The orchestra's program detail page has the usual links to program notes, audio previews, performer bios, and podcasts (including an informative interview with Timo Andres). It also has this synopsis:
The second program of the BSO's two-week Brahms mini-fest encompassing Brahms's symphonies and piano concertos opens with a brief new work commissioned from the Brooklyn-based American composer Timo Andres (the first program having included a new work by American composer Eric Nathan). Andres's new piece opens this week's programs, which feature Hélène Grimaud as soloist in Brahms's magisterial Piano Concerto No. 2. The Third Symphony concludes the concerts of November 15 and 17; the Fourth Symphony completes the concerts of November 18 and 19.
(Some emphasis added.)

I was there on Thursday and enjoyed the show. "Everything Happens So Much" was very accessible. It was easy to follow the opening theme as it was reworked through the piece. It was well received by the audience. By the way, the notes say the piece opens with arpeggios played by piccolo. It turns out they were played by two piccolos.

It seems I am mellowing in my old age: I didn't dislike the Brahms. While I've long considered much of Brahms's music to have an unpleasant "straining" quality to it, this week and last, I didn't hear it in the piano concertos or the Third Symphony. Like the reviewer, I found Martha Babcock's cello solos in the piano concerto very beautiful, and she was warmly applauded for them.

There were some things that I found interesting in my "orchestra watching." Many of the section principals did not play the Andres piece — first violin, cello, bass, horn, trumpet, possibly others — but they were there for the Brahms. Saving their energy? In the concerto and the first movement of the symphony, when just two of the four horns were playing, most of the time it was Mike Winter and Jason Snider, in the third and fourth chairs, not James Somerville and Rachel Childers, the principal and second, as one might expect. At the end of the first movement of the symphony, James Somerville half stood up, turned, and said something to the others. During the second and third movements Snider didn't play a note, and Winter only played a three or four note phrase in the second movement, and a longer phrase at the end of the third. They both did more playing in the finale. I wonder what was going on there.

So far, no review has appeared in the Boston Musical Intelligencer. The Boston Globe's reviewer liked the Andres piece, and joins me in hoping it will become popular. She liked the rest of the concert as well, except for some of the piano playing in the second movement of the concerto.

This concert is well worth listening to, from beginning to end, when WCRB broadcasts and streams it at 8:00 p.m., EST, on November 19, with a rerun on the  28th. Their website also has pages with the schedule for the rest of the season and other information about their programming, as I've noted in prior weeks.


Friday, November 11, 2016

BSO — 2016/11/12

This is an unusual week in the way it is scheduled. There are concerts on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. But instead of the Tuesday concert repeating last week's program, which is what has normally been done, it presented this week's program. Also, the Friday and Saturday programs aren't just the same as that of Thursday (and, this week, Tuesday). What we have is the first week of a "Brahms mini-festival," presenting both of his piano concertos and all four of his symphonies. They do this by giving one concerto each week, and two performances of each symphony. Each week's concerts begin with a work commissioned by the BSO for the occasion and getting its world premiere at these concerts. (I think this arrangement is more convenient for the piano soloist, who can do her performances within a two week period, rather than two and a half.)

As usual, the orchestra's performance detail page gives links to performer bios, program notes, and podcasts. I especially recommend the podcast with an interview with Eric Nathan — actually, there are two versions: one with just the composer talking, linked with the screenshot above the written synopsis; another, which I prefer, that includes Brian Bell as interviewer, accessible through the "Listen" button farther down the page. Via that button, you can also get interviews with the soloist and the conductor. And, of course, there is the usual synopsis of the program:
With these concerts, BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons opens a two-week Brahms mini-festival traversing all four of the composer's symphonies and his two piano concertos. In addition, these concerts feature the world premieres of two brief, complementary works commissioned for the occasion from the young American composers Eric Nathan and Timo Andres. Nathan's piece begins the first of these programs, which continues with the French pianist Hélène Grimaud performing the intense, craggy Piano Concerto in D minor. Brahms's First Symphony concludes the concerts of November 8 and 10; the Second Symphony completes the concerts of November 11 and 12.
(Emphasis added.)

I was there on Friday afternoon and I found "the space of a door" very engaging. Sometimes it's loud, and sometimes it's soft. Although it's definitely "modern," in ways the interview and program notes describe, I never found it unpleasantly dissonant or simply noisy. I'm definitely looking forward to hearing it again during the broadcast and the rebroadcast, so I can get a clearer view of how it all goes together.

The reviews were written after the Tuesday concert, so they tell us about the Symphony № 1, which won't be played on Saturday, as well as "the space of a door" and the First Piano Concerto, which we will hear before intermission. I don't expect review os the Second Symphony to be published, but if I see any, I'll revise this post. The Globe reviewer enjoyed the Nathan piece and loved the Brahms concerto, especially the soloist's playing. The Boston Musical Intelligencer's reviewer gives a bit more detail about "the space of a door" and was also pleased with it. He also has high praise for the pianist.

So the concert comes well recommended. As always, you can listen on air or on line over WCRB at 8:00 p.m. Boston Time on Saturday, November 12, with a rebroadcast/stream on Monday, Nov. 21, also at 8:00. On another page there is a link to their podcast, which includes interviews with conductor and soloist. Finally, you can check out the rest of the season's broadcasts (including "encore broadcasts" of concerts from earlier seasons which will be presented in December, during the period when Holiday Pops takes over Symphony Hall from the BSO) on the Upcoming BSO Broadcasts page.

Enjoy the show.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

BSO — 2016/11/05

This week the Boston Symphony gives us an early work of Benjamin Britten, a late one of Jean Sibelius, and a recent one of Thomas Adès, who also did the conducting. The BSO performance detail page provides these specifics:
British composer/conductor/pianist Thomas Adès joins the BSO family in the role of "Artistic Partner" this season, collaborating with the orchestra and its musicians in a variety of capacities. In these concerts he conducts his own 2013 Totentanz ("Dance of Death") for mezzo-soprano, baritone, and orchestra. Set to a text accompanying a 15th-century German frieze depicting Death (represented by the baritone) dancing with individuals from all strata of humanity (represented by the mezzo-soprano), the work is both macabre and funny-the Dance of Death is the one dance none of us may refuse. Opening the program is Britten's dramatic early orchestral work, Sinfonia da Requiem, premiered by the New York Philharmonic in 1941 during Britten's time in the U.S. as a conscientious objector. (Its performance soon afterward by Serge Koussevitzky and the BSO led directly to Koussevitzky's commissioning Britten's opera Peter Grimes.) Also on the program is the great Finnish composer Jean Sibelius's late tone poem Tapiola, which atmospherically depicts the realm of the forest spirit Tapio from the Finnish epic Kalevala.
Immediately preceding that synopsis is a link to a video made at the time of the world premiere of "Totentanz" three years ago. There is a four minute discussion of the piece with the composer/conductor, followed by the actual premiere performance. I think the discussion gives some idea of the concept of the work; while the performance itself can give a preparation no written notes can do. It can also give a nice opportunity to review the piece. There are also the usual links to performer bios, program notes, and podcasts. Fortunately, the program notes give the text this time. The English translation comes after the German original. You might want to read the German along with the video, which has English subtitles, and then follow along in English during the live performance.

The reviews in the Globe and the Boston Musical Intelligencer are limited to descriptions of the music, with almost no comments on how well it had been performed. That is natural enough, since none of the pieces is familiar. When you don't know a piece, it's hard to say whether it is being done well.

I was in the audience on Thursday and I found it all interesting. "Tapiola" was the most accessible: Sibelius composed in a "late Romantic" style. The "Sinfonia da Requiem" had clear contrasts of mood between the three parts, and while the middle section was fairly harsh, the outer parts weren't bad. All of them seemed to fit the mood of the texts that supplied their titles. "Totentanz" was difficult to appreciate simply as music, but it was interesting to get some sense of the different types of music for the different individuals. Still, it may require several hearings to be able to really "get" the music and maybe even enjoy it.

As always, you can hear it all via WCRB on Saturday, November 5 at 8:00 p.m. Boston Time, with a repeat on Monday the 14th. There is a page on their website with a link to the podcast "The Answered Question," with  a lot about this concert, including a very informative discussion with Thomas Adès over the first 19 minutes (after a brief introduction). You might also want to check out the remaining concert schedule for this season and poke around the website for other things they do.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

BSO — 2016/10/29

This week's concert was part of my subscription, but I didn't attend because I had a slight cold and the weather outside was frightful (windy, cool, and rainy), and it wasn't a "must hear" for me. The Mozart Symphony № 39 is very good, but I've heard it enough to be able to pass up this opportunity. The other piece, a concert performance of Bluebeard's Castle by Bartók, is something I've heard and I don't want to hear it again. Therefore, I have no impression of how well the performance went on Thursday. I plan to listen to the Mozart on Saturday, but I won't mind missing the Bartók when my brother makes his weekly call from Tokyo.

The Boston Symphony's program detail page has this description of the program:
This second program celebrating Charles Dutoit's 80th birthday juxtaposes music of Mozart and Bartók. First performed in 1918, Bartók's one-act, two-character Bluebeard's Castle, his only opera, pairs a lush and exotic score with a psychologically penetrating libretto by Béla Balázs. Its seven tableaux correspond to seven doors opened by Bluebeard's new bride Judith, each scene a catalyst for the composer's fantastical musical imagination. Opening the program is Mozart's Symphony No. 39 in E-flat, the first of the composer's final trio of symphonies composed in quick succession in the summer of 1788.
(Some emphasis added.)

The program detail page has the usual links to performer biographies (click on the thumbnail photos), podcasts, audio previews, and program notes, including an excellent analysis of the plot and music of "Bluebeard's Castle" by Marc Mandel. If you are going to listen to the opera, I strongly recommend reading it before listening and having it handy during the performance, so you can have an idea of what the music represents. This is especially needed since the full program notes do not provide the libretto. It seems that management doesn't care about the radio audience or audience members who'd like to peruse the text beforehand or reflect on it afterwards. They seem to think, wrongly IMO, that giving a projected English surtitle translation during the performance is enough.

The reviews are in. Neither is a rave. The one in the Boston Musical Intelligencer finds things to question and things to admire in the Mozart and is pleased with the Bartók. The Globe's  reviewer liked the Mozart and found the Bartók unevenly performed.

By all means, listen to the Mozart symphony, and stick around for the Bartók opera if you like that kind of stuff or if Marc Mandel's program note and the reviews have piqued your interest. WCRB will present the concert on air and over the internet on Saturday at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time (EDT), and again on Monday, November 7, at 8:00. See also their page with the schedule of broadcasts/webstreams for the rest of this season (through April). There is also a page which describes their podcast, The Answered Question, which includes interviews concerning each week's concert. The podcast is available online for concerts through last February 16. Apparently now you can only access it through iTunes, but the interviews I heard in the old days were informative.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

BSO — 2016/10/22

It's British composers week at symphony this week. We start with an unfamiliar work (at least I can't recall ever hearing of it, much less actually hearing it, until now) and move on to a couple of better known pieces. Here's the scoop from the orchestra's own performance detail page, which also carries links to performer bios, program notes, audio previews, and podcasts about the program:
For this first of two weeks celebrating Charles Dutoit's 80th birthday, the eminent Swiss conductor-who is also continuing a close, multi-season collaboration with the BSO-is joined by Yo-Yo Ma for Edward Elgar's substantial and popular Cello Concerto. The program of works by three 20th-century English composers opens with William Walton's Portsmouth Point Overture, a vibrant and jazzy early work inspired by a print of colorful activity at a seaport. Written between 1914 and 1916, Gustav Holst's astrologically inspired The Planets is by far his most enduringly popular work, a series of orchestrally rich character pieces, from fleet Mercury to mysterious Neptune.
(Some emphasis added.)

I was there on Thursday, and I think it's worth hearing, which you can do this evening (Saturday) over the facilities of WCRB — radio or webstream — at 8:00 Boston Time. They also provide a page with the schedule of broadcasts and rebroadcasts for the remainder of the BSO season.

The curtain raiser by Walton was new to me, and the BSO hadn't played it since 1941. Based on a painting from the late 18th century of the English seaport, it's lively and engaging. The Elgar cello concerto I found dull and plodding. Maybe it was from having expectations that were too high, maybe the music just isn't that good, or maybe it was the way Ma and Dutoit chose to perform it, but it didn't hold my interest. Of course most people think the concerto is good, Dutoit is excellent, and Ma is the greatest cellist of his generation, so my opinion is probably that of a very small minority. Interestingly, there was no encore, despite the prolonged standing ovation. Mr. Ma left his cello backstage each time he returned (once alone and twice with Maestro Dutoit) to acknowledge the applause. Was he dissatisfied with his work? "The Planets" is good stuff, and I liked the performance. The female chorus faded out so well at the end that people didn't start applauding until Maestro Dutoit gave a gesture of ending at least five seconds after the chorus had stopped.

Published reviews are more favorable than mine. The Globe's found everything highly satisfactory. The reviewer was very pleased with Yo-Yo Ma's playing, noting some elements of his performance which I noticed, and dome which were beyond my grasp. The review in the Boston Musical Intelligencer was equally favorable, noting some of the same things about aspects of Yo-Yo Ma's playing as the Globe review said in other words. There was also some good detail about "The Planets," and the references to individual musicians in the orchestra give us something to listen for.

So I'll be listening afresh this evening to give Ma and Dutoit a second chance with the Elgar. Maybe it'll seem better this time.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

BSO — 2016/10/15

This week the Boston Symphony concert which WCRB will broadcast and stream at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 15, and replay on Monday, October 24, consists of four works by eastern European composers. The orchestra's performance detail page provides some specifics, along woth the usual links to background information.
The Czech conductor Jakub Hrůša, making his BSO debut, is joined by acclaimed German violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann for Béla Bartók's scintillating Violin Concerto No. 2, a 1938 work strongly influenced by Central European folk music. The other three works on the program are based on Slavic myth and legend. Smetana's Šárka, a tone poem from his large cycle Má Vlast ("My Country"), is named for a legendary Czech maiden warrior and illustrates an episode from her life. Mussorgsky's famously scary Night on Bald Mountain (depicted in Disney's Fantasia) seems to have originated in plans for an unrealized opera on the subject of a witches' sabbath, in part inspired by the great Russian writer Nikolai Gogol. Based on a Gogol novella, Janáček's 1918 orchestral rhapsody Taras Bulba is one of his most familiar works-but has never been performed by the BSO.
(Some emphasis added. As is often the case, this note mixes up the order of the pieces. Šarka is first, followed by the concerto. After intermission, it's Mussorgsky and Janáček, as stated.)

This concert wasn't part of my subscription, so I can't give you my impressions, but the reviews were favorable. The Globe's reviewer was very happy with how Maestro Hrůša conducted the pieces but not entirely satisfied with Mr. Zimermann's playing in the outer movements of the Bartók. The Boston Musical Intelligencer thought Mr. Zimmermann was fine (but found minor fault with the woodwinds in the concerto). The reviewer was also pleased with the playing and the conducting in the remaining pieces. He did, however, wish that the conductor had chosen Mussorgsky's own, "raw" version of his piece over Rimsky-Korsakov's tamer orchestration. He was also displeased with the nationalism of the Janáček — not a musical complaint, but still one which a listener to a narrative piece of music is entitled to have.

I'm looking forward to hearing this concert this evening, and catching up on what I miss during my brother's phone call when it's rebroadcast and streamed on the 24th. It should make for an exciting evening of music. Listen over WCRB, and consult their specialized pages for the remaining broadcast/webstream schedule as well as links to other background material, such as their own weekly podcast.

Friday, October 7, 2016

BSO — 2016/10/08

Something old following something new: responses to death make up the program from the BSO on Saturday evening. Jörg Widmann had planned to write a four movement piano concerto for Yefim Bronfman and the Berlin Philharmonic, but the slow introduction to the first movement took over. He set aside any thought of the remainder and developed that intended intro into "Trauermarsch" — Funeral March. After intermission, we get the "German Requiem" of Brahms. Here's what the orchestra's performance detail page (which also has links to performer bios, program notes, audio previews, and podcasts) gives as a summary:
Eminent Israeli-American pianist Yefim Bronfman joins Andris Nelsons and the BSO in Trauermarsch ("Funeral March") by the German Jörg Widmann, a composer new to the BSO. Writing this concerto-like piece for Bronfman and the Berlin Philharmonic, who premiered it in 2014, Widmann set out deliberately to evoke and engage with music of the Romantic era. A German Requiem, Brahms's largest work, originated with music he wrote following Robert Schumann's attempted suicide in 1854 and seems also to have been connected to the death of the composer's own mother. The result is an utterly personal, scarcely ceremonial Requiem for soprano and baritone soloists, chorus, and orchestra, episodically setting texts chosen by Brahms from the Bible. Its "German"-ness derives partly from the fact that, unlike the traditional Latin Requiem text, Brahms used Martin Luther's German translations of scripture. A German Requiem was the composer's first nearly universal success among his large-scale works, unequivocally fulfilling Schumann's early predictions of Brahms's greatness.
(Some emphasis added.)

I was at Symphony Hall for the Widmann on Thursday, but I didn't stay for the Brahms, partly as a protest against too frequent performances and partly because I had had a procedure performed on my eye just before I left for Boston, and discomfort was growing as the novocaine wore off. I didn't especially enjoy the Widmann piece. Much of it was noisy and without apparent rhyme or reason. Perhaps it will sound better over the radio. Perhaps listening to it a second time will disclose value not apparent at the first hearing. But at this point I don't want to hear it again after this concert. It's good to have a chance to hear new compositions, and I try to attend all world, American, or BSO premieres given by the orchestra, but there are some I hope they'll play again and some I don't.

On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with the Brahms German Requiem. Complaining about it's being performed too often is just my personal quirk. I'm sure almost everybody will be pleased to hear it.

Reviews of the concert were noncommittal about the Widmann. The Boston Musical Intelligencer was very pleased with the Brahms, while the Globe found fault here and there.

Listen at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, on October 8, over WCRB. If you'd rather skip the Widmann, be listening by 8:50 to make sure you catch all the Brahms. Check out their BSO page for the schedule of future broadcasts, and note that most concerts, including this one, are repeated nine days later and become available for on demand listening for a year. There's also a podcast about the concert linked on this page.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

BSO — 2016/10/01

N.B.: This week's Saturday Concert begins an hour earlier than usual, at 7:00, Boston Time (and ends an hour later than usual, at 11:15 or so).

This week the BSO gives us a single work, but what a work! It's the opera "Der Rosenkavalier," by Richard Strauss. Music Director Andris Nelsons will be on the podium, and Assistant Conductor Ken-David Masur will conduct the off stage band in the third act. Here's the synopsis from the BSO's performance detail page:
Continuing their series of Richard Strauss operas in concert, which has so far brought star-studded performances of Salome in March 2014 and Elektra in October 2015, Andris Nelsons and the BSO open their 2016-17 subscription season with the composer's far more genteel, elegant, and touching Der Rosenkavalier, the second (following Elektra) in Strauss's own series of remarkable collaborations with playwright Hugo von Hofmannsthal. A dream cast headlined by Renée Fleming's Marschallin, Susan Graham's Octavian, Erin Morley's Sophie, and Franz Hawlata's Baron Ochs anchors the BSO's performances of this subtle, often funny, and beautiful opera, one of the composer's finest.
Complete concert version with two intermissions, sung in German with English supertitles 
(Some emphasis added.)

See the performance detail page for links to a podcast, program notes, audio preview, and performer bios.

I was there on Thursday, and was very pleased with the semi-staged performance. Strauss is far from my favorite composer, but this is one of his good compositions, IMO. The interactions of the singers, the changes of clothing for Octavian/Mariandel, the few chairs and props, and the surtitles made for a clear understanding of what was going on, in both the comic and the poignant moments. I found it both entertaining and thought provoking — the latter having to do with the contrast between the affair of the Marschallin and her religiosity and sense of honor.

I'm not sure how well it will work without all the visual items I mentioned as part of the performance. The music was fine, not only the lead singers, but several in minor roles; but I don't think the full experience can be there for someone who isn't already very familiar with the libretto and the action, perhaps having seen a staged performance. But certainly the music is worth listening to in its own right. The review in the Globe was very favorable. The one in the Boston Musical Intelligencer qualifies as a rave. I'm having trouble getting the favorable one in the Boston Globe to link. If I can get it later, I'll link it here.

As always, WCRB will make it available via radio and internet (click on "Listen Live" near the top of the homepage for the webstream). There is a page about the performance with some detail and a link to a podcast. the Upcoming BSO Broadcasts page lists future broadcasts/webstreams, but doe not include the usual Monday repeat of this show, so apparently this evening is the only chance to hear it.

Don't forget, the show starts at 7:00 — an hour earlier than usual. Enjoy.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Opera and Chamber Music Concerts

Regular readers of my other blog know that my year can be roughly divided into two parts: 1.) running sailboat races, June-September; and 2: going to concerts, October-May. Of course that's not all I do, but those are activities which I don't engage in all year. The separation isn't absolute, especially in September. This year, for example, my last scheduled race committee duty* is Saturday, October 1, and as of this writing, I have already attended four concerts. Here I'll t6ell of the first three, and I'll blog about the BSO subscription opener in my preview of the Saturday broadcast.

Dimitrij.  On Friday, September 16, I went to Boston for Odyssey Opera's concert performance of "Dimitrij," by Antonin Dvořák It's about a man who claims to be the lost son of Tsar Ivan the Terrible. He has a polish fiancée, Marina, and Polish forces are supporting him in an attempt to gain control of Russia. The Russian people accept him, but once he is crowned as tsar, things unravel. The Russians resent the Poles. Dimitrij resists his (now) wife's plans to catholicize Russia and falls in love with Xenie, the daughter of  Boris Godunov, his predecessor as tsar. His wife, Marina, has Xenie killed and reveals that he isn't really Dimitrij. Dimitrij was murdered as a child, and the new tsar is actually Grigoriy Otrepyev. He is killed and so is she.

The opera is in Czech, and Czech opera stars were brought in to sing the leading roles. They were excellent. I found the opera very good, both musically and as a drama. The Boston Musical Intelligencer gave an extensive, and very favorable review. They had previously published a very informative preview. The Boston Globe also gave an informative and favorable review.

Boston Artists Ensemble.  The following Friday, September 23, I attended the season opener of the BAE, in Hamilton Hall, Salem. The program was a couple of trios for piano, violin, and cello, with the world premiere of a work for cello and piano between the two. The Beethoven, which began the program, and the Schumann, which followed intermission, are more to my musical taste than the Weir piece. Still, the Weir was unmemorable, rather than really unpleasant. After the concert, I asked the composer if she had specifically decided to ignore the traditional tunes for the words of the first two "chorales." She had done that, so as not simply to give variations on those tunes. I think it was a good decision. With her own music, she was able to evoke the mood she wanted form the text. In the third chorale, since Hildegard's tune is not familiar to us, she could use it for her evocation of the text.

The Boston Musical Intelligencer gave a review of the Sunday performance in Brookline. (There is a minor error. The reviewer says, "The second" when she refers to the third movement, the one based on music of Hildegard von Bingen.)

Handel and Haydn. Less than 48 hours later,o n Sunday afternoon I traipsed into Boston for a concert of music by Bach, with one item by Schütz thrown in. The full program was

  • Komm, Jesu, komm BWV 229
  • Concerto for Three Violins in D (reconstructed) BWV 1064
  • Cantata 149, Man singet mit Freuden vom Sieg
  • Intermission
  • Cantata 50, Nun is das Heil und die Kraft
  • Herr, nun lässest du deinen Diener SWV 432 (Schütz)
  • Magnificai in D BWV 243

It was all good, with the Cantata 50 and Magnificat being especially stirring. I like Schütz's music, but I was hoping for something a bit livelier to represent his oeuvre. The piece is calmer, to fit the mood of the text, and may have been chosen to contrast with the vigorous pieces on either side. It also had the effect of giving us two of the three canticles from the Gospel of St. Luke to end the program.

The Boston Musical Intelligencer provides an entertaining but critical review. The Boston Globe also provides a very favorable review, but I haven't been able to link the page.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

BSO — 2016/09/24

It's opening night at Symphony, and they are giving an all-Russian program — a fairly short one, maybe because there are post-concert celebrations for the musicians and audience to get to (just my guess). The orchestra's program detail page furnishes this description:
For this all-Russian program, superstar Chinese pianist Lang Lang joins Andris Nelsons and the BSO as soloist in Sergei Prokofiev's brilliant, witty Piano Concerto No. 3. The composer himself was soloist in the premiere in front of an unenthusiastic Chicago audience in 1921, but in short order this sparkling, virtuosic piece became one of the most popular of 20th-century concertos. Opening the concert is the celebratory Festive Overture of Dmitri Shostakovich, who wrote this short, exciting piece for the Bolshoi Theatre to mark the 37th anniversary of the Soviet Revolution. The great orchestral showpiece Pictures at an Exhibition-Ravel's orchestration of Mussorgsky's solo-piano impressions of a series of paintings and illustrations-closes the program. Ravel made this famous orchestration for legendary BSO conductor Serge Koussevitzky.
Join us at 5pm for a celebratory pre-concert reception and a complimentary glass of wine or champagne.
(Some emphasis added.)

The program detail page also has links to a podcast featuring Maestro Nelsons, program notes, brief audio previews of the music, and performer bios (click on the thumbnail photo).

Since this is opening night, there are no reviews to link. I don't think I've ever heard the Shostaovich overture; I'm interested to hear it. I've probably heard the Prokofiev, but I couldn't quote any of the tunes, and I'm also looking forward to hearing it as an opportunity to get to know it (better). As for the "Pictures at an Exhibition," it must be good because so many people like it and it's so often performed. IMO, apart from "The Great Gate of Kiev," it's all quite forgettable, although it may well be very good as musical representation of the pictures in question. By the time they start playing, my brother's weekly phone call from Japan will be in progress, so I won't have to listen. Of course, it's always possible that this will be a performance for the ages, and all who hear it will count themselves among the blessed of the world. So, don't miss it.

If you can't get there, you can hear it over the radio or the internet via WCRB. Within radio range, tune in 99.5 or one of the other stations listed under the Ways to Listen tab. Outside the listening area, click the Listen Live button on the home page. The show begins at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time.

For the schedule of broadcasts/webstreams for the rest of the season, see the Upcoming BSO Broadcasts page(s).

Enjoy opening night and the rest of the season.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

BSO/Classical New England — 2016/09/17

This evening's BSO rebroadcast on WCRB is the concert of February 6, 2016, the second in their Shakespeare Festival. I p/reviewed it at the time, and don't have anything particular to add. You can hear it at 8:00 p.m. this evening, Boston Time. I'll be listening until we get my brother's weekly phone call at 9:00.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

BSO/Classical New England — 2016/09/10

This week's rebroadcast over WCRB is the concert of  January 30, 2016,  conducted by Andris Nelsons. It begins with the Overture to "Oberon," by Weber and continues with the Henze Symphony No. 8. After intermission we get Incidental Music to "A Midsummer Night's Dream," by Mendelssohn. It was part of the orchestra's "Shakespeare Festival" in honor of the fourth centenary of the playwright's death. The Weber opera takes a character from "A Midsummer Night's Dream," but has him in a different story. The symphony is inspired by certain scenes in Shakespeare's play, and the Mendelssohn is also based on the play. I wrote about the concert at the time it was performed, with links to reviews and useful background information (especially the program notes for the Henze).

I like Weber's music, and enjoyed this performance. The Henze symphony isn't beautiful, but it's not horrid, and when you read the program note, it's interesting to try to see how the music fits the things in the play that inspired it. While the use of actors to perform the scenes depicted in Mendelssohn's music didn't work IMO, the music itself is popular, and that's what you get on radio. So, I'd recommend listening on September 10 at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time.

Friday, September 2, 2016

BSO/Classical New England — 2016/09/03

To fill the empty weeks between Tanglewood and the start of the BSO's Symphony Hall season, WCRB rebroadcasts and streams concerts from the previous year. This week it's the performance of Symphony No. 9 by Mahler, with Music Director Andris Nelsons conducting. The concert was performed on April 16, and I wrote about it back then, including links to background material from the BSO and published reviews. I'm looking forward to the rebroadcast, although my brother's call from Tokyo will interrupt it.

As usual, the broadcast and webstream will be on Saturday at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time. You can also get the schedule for the next two weeks of reruns as well as the upcoming season on the station's Boston Symphony page.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Tanglewood — 2016/08/26-28

This is the final weekend of the Boston Symphony's Tanglewood season. As has become customary, the Sunday concert will feature the Beethoven Ninth Symphony. I'll say more about it when we get to the description of the Sunday concert

Friday, August 26.  In the past couple of years, the BSO management has begun occasionally presenting movies with a live orchestra providing the music of the soundtrack. On Friday, the Boston Pops, conducted by Keith Lockhart, will accompany "Raiders of the Lost Ark" with John Williams' score. But it seems that WCRB won't be broadcasting or streaming it. I don't see what will fill the 8: p.m. time slot, so I guess we can only tune in, prepared to be surprised.

Saturday, August 27.  On Saturday we return to regular order. The performance detail page gives these details:
Tanglewood favorite Yo-Yo Ma joins the Boston Symphony Orchestra and conductor Michael Stern on Saturday, August 27, to open the final weekend of the BSO's 2016 Tanglewood season, performing Haydn's Cello Concerto in C and John Williams's Heartwood,for cello and orchestra, and Rosewood and Pickin', for solo cello, on a program that also includes Bernstein's Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront and Respighi's Pines of Rome.
(Some emphasis added.)

The usual background information is available on that page. It looks like a pretty full evening of music.

Sunday, August 28.  The Sunday concert, as noted above, brings the Beethoven Choral Symphony to close the season.  The performance detail page informs us:
Music Director Andris Nelsons will lead the Boston Symphony Orchestra in its traditional season-ending performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 on Sunday, August 28, at 2:30 p.m. Conductor Christoph von Dohnányi, who was scheduled to lead the Ninth Symphony, has been forced to withdraw from the concert due to recent health challenges, and advice from his doctors to avoid any long distance flights for the next four months.  
Bass Günther Groissböck, who was scheduled to perform Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with Andris Nelsons and the BSO on Sunday, August 28, had a bicycling accident and is unable to travel overseas at this time. Bass Wilhelm Schwinghammer, in his Tanglewood and BSO debuts, will replace Mr. Groissböck for the August 28 performance.
(Some emphasis added)

For some reason, they don't bother to tell us in the blurb that the orchestra will begin the concert with a work by Aaron Copland, "Quiet City," but the program note is included in the usual place.

The Saturday concert can be heard via WCRB radio or web at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, and the Sunday program will be aired and streamed at 7:00, p.m. (not live at 2:30). Their home page, in addition to the link for listening over the web, gives information about other special programming which may be of interest. Their BSO page, in addition to listing the works to be played, gives similar information about the broadcasts which will occupy the three following Saturdays until Opening Night of the regular Symphony Hall season on September 24. The station has chosen three concerts from last season, including two from last winter's "Shakespeare Festival" commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death. After those listings, they give the schedule of broadcasts/streams for the upcoming season.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Tanglewood — 2016/08/19-21

Friday, August 19.  Here's how the BSO's performance detail page — with its usual links — describes the program:
Menahem Pressler-longtime pianist of the legendary Beaux Arts Trio-joins maestro Charles Dutoit and the Boston Symphony Orchestra on Friday, August 19, at 8 p.m., for Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23 in A, K.488, notable for its intimate, chamber-musical character and heightened lyricism. Mr. Dutoit-Tanglewood's 2016 season Koussevitzky Artist-opens the program with Mozart's overture to The Marriage of Figaro. The second half of the program is Rossini's Stabat Mater, the most significant of the composer's late works. This performance of the 1841 choral masterpiece features soprano Simona Saturova (Tanglewood debut), mezzo-soprano Marianna Pizzolato (Tanglewood debut), tenor Pavol Breslik, bass Riccardo Zanellato (Tanglewood debut), and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus.
(Some emphasis added.)

You can't go wrong with one of Mozart's late piano concertos; the curtain-raiser is good; and Rossini's "Stabat Mater" is not to be missed. By all means, read the program note from the performance detaio page if you're unfamiliar with it or the "Stabat Mater" in general, and preview the text. To whet your appetite for the it, here's an excerpt from a rehearsal last year by the Paris Orchestra with tenor Paolo Fanale. Tonight's tenor was to have Metropolitan Opera star been Matthew Polenzani, but from the bio it seems that Pavol Breslik should be a more than adequate replacement. Much as I like Verdi (see tomorrow's program), if I could only hear one of this weekend's concerts, this would be it.

James Markey, who is scheduled to give the preliminary remarks for this evening's "Underscore Friday," is the orchestra's bass trombonist. He's fairly young and joined the orchestra only a few years ago.

Saturday, August 20.  Saturday the first two acts of Aida by Verdi. The performance detail page, unsurprisingly, gives additional details:
BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons returns for two performances with the orchestra August 20 and 21. For the first performance, he leads the first two acts from Verdi's magnificent opera of star-crossed love in ancient Egypt, Aida, on Saturday, August 20, at 8 p.m. Maestro Nelsons and the orchestra are joined by the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and a cast of vocal soloists, including soprano Kristine Opolais in the demanding title role, mezzo-soprano Violeta Urmana (BSO and Tanglewood debuts) as Amneris, tenor Andrea Carè (BSO and Tanglewood debuts) as the male lead and love interest Radamès, baritone Franco Vassallo (BSO and Tanglewood debuts) as Amonasro, and bass Kwangchul Youn (Tanglewood debut) as Ramfis.
(Some emphasis added.)

I like the music of the first two acts of "Aida" better than that of the remainder of the opera. The biggest highlight, IMO is the Triumphal March in the second act. Strangely, the program notes suggest a different program, consisting of the chorus "Va, pensiero" from Verdi's opera Nabucco followed by the Triumphal Scene from "Aida." We'll find out on Saturday which it is. The two acts of "Aida" make for a long concert, the chorus and Triumphal scene, for a short one. Considering that the brochure printed months ago lists the longer program, it seems to me that the scaled down program represents the more recent thinking. Either way, it will be some really good music.

Sunday, August 21.  The Sunday concert is a reprise of some of the music performed during last winters "Shakespeare Festival" at Symphony Hall The performance detail page informs us:
On Sunday, August 21, at 2:30 p.m., Andris Nelsons leads the BSO in a program that includes three works inspired by Shakespeare and honors the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death. The overture to Berlioz's Béatrice et Bénédict(based on Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing) opens the program, followed by American composer George Tsontakis's Sonnets, a Shakespeare-inspired tone poem for English horn and orchestra commissioned by the BSO and featuring BSO English horn player Robert Sheena. The Mr. Sheena and the BSO gave the world premiere of Sonnetsearlier this year at Symphony Hall. Croatian pianist Dejan Lazić, making his BSO and Tanglewood debuts, joins Mr. Nelsons and the orchestra as soloist in Saint-Saens's Piano Concerto No. 5, Egyptian, and the program closes with a suite from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, one of the composer's most familiar and popular pieces.
Gates open at Noon.
(Some emphasis added)

Here's what I wrote about the Tsontakis "Sonnets" back in February:
The Tsontakis Sonnets at a few points made me think of bits of Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story, which I guess means that the musical style is fairly accessible. You won't mistake it for Haydn, but you won't run screaming from the auditorium, or wherever you radio or computer speakers are located. In each sonnet, the music is softer at the beginning, corresponding to the first quatrian, and it intensifies for the second, and more so for the third. The it calms down for the final couplet. Glancing at the texts in the program notes, I could see some connection between the music and the theme of the sonnet. The BSO has posted a video of a bit of the second sonnet. It gives as good an impression of the piece as you can in a short time.
My review also included links to other reviews, and the program notes give a full description as well as the texts of the sonnets which inspired the music. The rest of the program is decent stuff, I supppose — I especially like the Berlioz while the Prokofiev seems popular. I don't recall the piano concerto, but I'm confident it'll be okay.

The Friday and Saturday concerts can be heard via WCRB radio or web at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, and the Sunday program will be aired and streamed at 7:00, p.m. (not live at 2:30). Their home page, in addition to the link for listening over the web, gives information about other special programming which may be of interest. Their BSO page, in addition to listing the works to be played, gives similar information about the remaining Tanglewood concert broadcasts and various other interesting items and links.


Friday, August 12, 2016

Tanglewood — 2016/08/12-14

Friday, August 12.  Here's how the BSO's performance detail page — with its usual links — describes the program:
On Friday, August 12, at 8 p.m., Swiss maestro Charles Dutoit, one of the BSO's most popular guest conductors since his debut with the orchestra in 1981, conducts his first performance of the season as Tanglewood's 2016 Koussevitzky Artist-an honorary title reflecting the BSO's deep appreciation for his generous commitment to Tanglewood and for his extraordinary 30-plus-year dedication to the BSO at Tanglewood, in Boston, and on the orchestra's 2014 tour to China and Japan. The program opens with the overture to Nicolai's charming, witty operetta The Merry Wives of Windsor, a piece the BSO hasn't performed since 1984. Following the overture is Mozart's warm Piano Concerto No. 22, a personal favorite of American pianist and annual Tanglewood guest Emanuel Ax. Maestro Dutoit also leads the BSO in Debussy's La Merand Ravel's Bolero, music of which Maestro Dutoit is a foremost interpreter, and which has a special place in the BSO repertoire.
(Some emphasis added.)

This time, they've actually listed the pieces  in the order they'll be performed. The music is fairly familiar, although I can't at this moment call to mind any tune from the Nicolai or the Mozart, but I'm especially looking forward to the first half. The Debussy is tolerable and it's always interesting to hear the music build in "Boléro."

Saturday, August 13.  Saturday brings us Film Night with the Boston Pops instead of the BSO. John Williams himself shares the podium with Richard Kaufman in a program about which we read, on the performance detail page:
A beloved summer tradition continues on Saturday, August 13, at 8 p.m., with John Williams' Film Night, featuring conductors John Williams and Richard Kaufman with the Boston Pops. John Williams' Film Night has long been established as one of the Tanglewood calendar's most consistently appreciated evenings. The second half of the concert will feature John Williams leading the Boston Pops in the unforgettable themes he composed for Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back,and Return of the Jedi, as well as Rey's Theme and The Jedi Steps & Finale from the franchise's latest film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. For the first half of the program, Richard Kaufman leads music from iconic cinematic flight sequences-with music from movies including HookOut of AfricaE.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, and Superman.
(Some emphasis added.)

Need I say more?

Sunday, August 14.  On Sunday, we get Beethoven and Schumann. This is the concert I'm most looking forward to this weekend. The program detail page informs us:
For The Serge and Olga Koussevitzky Memorial Concert on Sunday, August 14, at 2:30 p.m., German conductor David Afkham and Russian-German pianist Igor Levit both make their Boston Symphony Orchestra debuts in an afternoon program of Beethoven and Schumann in the Koussevitzky Music Shed. Mr. Afkham leads the BSO in Beethoven's dramatic, foreboding Coriolan Overture, written for Heinrich Joseph von Collin's 1804 play; as well as Schumann's ambitious and innovative Symphony No. 4, a lyrically powerful work that proceeds through all four movements without pause. Mr. Levit performs Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3, the stormiest of the composer's five essays in the genre, as the centerpiece of this program.
(Some emphasis added)

The Beethoven precedes intermission, and the Schumann concludes the concert. These may not be the most performed of the composers' works in each genre, but they're all fine pieces, well worth hearing, IMO.

The Friday and Saturday concerts can be heard via WCRB radio or web at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, and the Sunday program will be aired and streamed at 7:00, p.m. (not live at 2:30). Their home page, in addition to the link for listening over the web, gives information about other special programming which may be of interest. Their BSO page, in addition to listing the works to be played on Friday and Sunday and giving a short blurb about Film Night, gives similar information about the remaining Tanglewood concert broadcasts and various other interesting items and links.


Friday, August 5, 2016

Tanglewood — 2016/08/05-07

Friday, August 5.  Here's how the BSO's performance detail page — with its usual links — describes the program:
Costa Rican conductor  Giancarlo Guerrero  leads the Boston Symphony Orchestra in two programs, August 5 and 6, both featuring world-class pianists. On Friday, August 5, at 8 p.m., Mr. Guerrero is joined by  Yefim Bronfman for Liszt's innovative and sparkling one-movement Piano Concerto No. 2. The program will also feature the BSO in Dvořák's Serenade for Winds, Britten's arrangement of Mahler's  What the Wild Flowers Tell Me (the original second movement of Mahler's Symphony No. 3), and Brahms' Serenade No. 2, which was dedicated to Clara Schumann and represents one of Brahms's various developmental steps in orchestral composition along his long path to completing his First Symphony.
(Some emphasis added and some changed.)

Regular readers may recall that I don't care for Brahms' symphonies and concertos. But several years ago James Levine led the orchestra in a performance of "Serenade № 2," and I found it delightful. More precisely, it was all pleasant enough, but the final section was a joy. The rest of the concert should be okay, although I don't really need to hear the Dvořák again, but it's not bad. I don't recall the Liszt concerto. It'll be interesting to hear what Britten does with the Mahler.

It's another of the unnecessary Underscore Fridays, but I'm actually looking forward to this one, partly because the last time some of the comments from the stage actually were worth hearing and more because I met Jamie Sommerville at a Harvard Musical Association concert and found him pleasant to talk to so I want to hear what he will say. Maybe he can even make the Dvořák interesting for me.

Saturday, August 6.  This time, the performance detail page says nothing about the pieces to be played, just about the change in scheduled artists:
Pianist Daniil Trifonov, who was scheduled to perform a recital on Thursday, August 4, and feature with the Boston Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, August 6, has, with great regret, been forced to withdraw from these concerts due to an ear infection. Marc-André Hamelin replaces Mr. Trifonov for the recital at Ozawa Hall on August 4, and Ingrid Fliter performs as soloist in Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 in her BSO and Tanglewood debuts on August 6. Changes have been made to the August 4 recital repertoire, while the August 6 program remains the same.
(Emphasis added.)

What is the unchanged program, you ask? Well, it opens with a piece titled Harmonienlehre, by John Adams. I recommend reading the program note linked on the detail page. It sounds fascinating. After intermission comes the Chopin, and the show wraps up with Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks by Strauss — another one of the pieces that this curmudgeon thinks is much overplayed, but at least doesn't need a lot of rehearsal time, and it's not too long. We had recordings of the Chopin piano concertos which got played fairly regularly when I was young — one much more than the other. I'm not sure which one this is, but I'm looking forward to hearing it anyway and maybe experiencing a bit of nostalgia for the younger days when I used to hear it occasionally. Again, the program note may be useful reading. All is once more under the baton of Maestro Guerrero. The program detail page also has the usual links to background information.

Sunday, August 7.  On Sunday, we get Mozart and Mahler, The program detail page informs us:
On Sunday, August 7, at 2:30 p.m., BSO assistant conductor  Moritz Gnann makes his Boston Symphony Orchestra debut at Tanglewood with works by Mozart and Mahler. Acclaimed Brazilian pianist  Nelson Freire joins Mr. Gnann and the orchestra for Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 9, considered the composer's first masterwork of the piano concerto genre, written in 1777 when he was just 21 years old. The program closes with Mahler's at times brooding, at times vigorously energetic Symphony No. 1. Completed when the composer was in his late twenties, it is in a four-movement, mostly traditional form, but already hints at the expansiveness and innovation of his later symphonies.
(Emphasis added or modified.)

I think both should be worth hearing

The Friday and Saturday concerts can be heard via WCRB radio or web at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, and the Sunday program will be aired and streamed at 7:00, p.m. (not live at 2:30). Their home page, in addition to the link to listen over the web, gives information about other special programming which may be of interest. Their BSO page, in addition to brief descriptions of the Saturday and Sunday concerts, gives similar information about the remaining Tanglewood concert broadcasts and various other interesting items and links.