Friday, March 11, 2016

BSO — 2016/03/10-15

This week we have an all Beethoven concert from the BSO. Herbert Blomstedt conducts and Garrick Ohlsson solos. The BSO performance detail page, where you also find links to their podcast, program notes, audio previews, and performer bios, offers this description:
Swedish conductor Herbert Blomstedt returns to Symphony Hall for this Beethoven pairing. American pianist and audience favorite Garrick Ohlsson performs Beehoven's C major concerto-which shows the composer clearly moving beyond the models of Haydn and Mozart but still maintaining the clarity and balance of Viennese classicism. The beloved Seventh Symphony features a remarkable blend of lyricism and rhythmic drive.
(Emphasis added.)

I enjoyed it so much that I'm seriously considering getting a ticket for the Tuesday performance next week.

The Globe review is favorable, but with cautions. The reviewer liked the symphony more than the concerto. Boston Musical Intelligencer gives us a rave. I agree with BMInt. Frequently, when the music is from the 20th or 21st Century, I find myself grasping at straws to give faint praise — it wasn't so bad as ___ or ___, or there were pleasant moments, or it was tolerable, or it was appropriate for the subject. But in this concert the music was just plain great, and it was superbly performed. The piano concerto was not only pleasant music, but it was masterfully performed. I could hear things in the piano part that sounded similar to things in one of the greatest concertos of all time, Beethoven's "Emperor" concerto. From my seat, I could see the keyboard, and it enhanced the experience being able to see Garrick Ohlsson's hands move up and down the keyboard and his fingers hit the keys to produce the excellent music. In the symphony, it seemed possible to hear every element that went to make up the symphony. Beethoven's skill as a composer was on clear display. It all cohered into a fulfilling whole: satisfying, compelling, and thrilling. This was a performance which showed how great this piece is.

By all means, if you can get to Symphony Hall on Saturday or Tuesday, go. Otherwise, be sure to listen over WCRB, radio or web. If you can't listen on Saturday, there will be a rebroadcast and webstream on Monday, March 21. On their BSO page there is a link to a very lengthy (just over one hour) podcast which includes an interview with Maestro Blomstedt about the concert. I haven't heard it, but it's probably worth listening to if you've got time for it. The page also gives you the broadcast schedule for the rest of the season and links to other features available from the station.

My performer watch continues. In the horn section, Richard Sebring played first horn in the concerto, James Sommerville in the symphony. Rachel Childers played second horn in both, and delivered the low notes of the symphony's third movement with great aplomb. You can hear them: it's two notes that are repeated in the middle of a contrasting passage (the "trio") which is played more than once. In the oboes, Associate Principal Keisuke Wakao took first chair in the concerto and John Ferrillo, Principal, in the symphony. Clint Foreman was in the first chair of the flutes all evening. While the concerto didn't give very much opportunity to shine he played his part well. There was so much solo work for flute in the symphony that it occurred to me that it could be called (with some exaggeration) the "Flute Symphony." Clint Foreman nailed it all, as well as the duets with the oboe, so much so that when Maestro Blomstedt returned to the stage for a bow, the first orchestra member he had stand for a solo bow was Clint Foreman — then John Ferillo. And it seemed to me that he gave Rachel Childers a solo bow even ahead of Jamie Sommerville. What usually happens is that the first chair player gets a solo bow if s/he had a prominent part, then the whole section is asked to stand. In several other sections, I also noticed that the Principals didn't play until after intermission.

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