French conductor Stéphane Denève, a frequent BSO guest in recent seasons, leads this diverse program including John Williams's Violin Concerto, a soaring and heartfelt work that has been championed by Gil Shaham-and which he recorded with John Williams and the BSO. Opening the program is music by another American composer, Pulitzer Prize-winner Jennifer Higdon, whose colorful, atmospheric tone poem Blue Cathedral is her most frequently performed orchestral work. Closing the program and featuring the grand Symphony Hall organ is the sonorous, ultimately uplifting Symphony No. 3 by Camille Saint-Saëns.(Most emphasis added.)
The Globe review finds nothing to dislike. So far, the Boston Musical Intelligencer hasn't published a review. If they do, I'll note it.
I was there on Thursday evening and found it all okay. The first piece, "Blue Cathedral," is pretty well described in the program notes, and it was nice to be able to follow it as it unfolded. I noticed that the four horn players had the glasses with water in them, which they were to play by dipping a finger in the water and rubbing the rim. (You can try this at home.) They didn't actually play them until toward the end, as it got quiet, but even the quiet music drowned them out for a while. Eventually they were faintly audible for five or ten seconds. Other musicians then started playing the chinese bells. The whole effect was charming. The Williams violin concerto didn't remind me of his movie music. Gil Shaham seemed to do a very nice job with it, but the piece itself isn't something I feel I need to hear again (although I'll give it another hearing during the broadcast — it isn't unpleasant). In the Saint-Saëns I had never actually noticed the organ before it enters loudly in the final movement. But this time I heard it quietly accompanying some of the softer parts earlier in the piece. Listen carefully, and you may hear it too. The sound is just a bit different from the woodwinds.
The place to listen is WCRB via radio or web at 8:00 p.m. EST (Boston Time) on Saturday, March 19, with a rerun on Monday, March 28 (same time of day, same station). Their BSO page has a link to their podcast, "The Answered Question," with interviews with the conductor and the violinist. There is also the schedule for the rest of the season as links to previews of the upcoming Pops and Tanglewood seasons.