Saturday, July 16, 2016

Tanglewood — 2016/07/15-17

I'm sorry to be late with this. Safari basically froze on me earlier on Friday and only unfroze just before 8:00, when it was far too late to write and post this item in time for the concert. So I listened, wile watching the Red Sox game. ("We" won!) Still, I'll include the Friday concert in this post since WCRB's on demand feature will make this concert available to listen to soon, they say.

Friday, July 15.  This an all Mozart concert with Pinchas Zukerman as conductor and violin soloist. The orchestra's program detail page gives the following description:
Violinist Pinchas Zukerman, a frequent BSO guest over the years and a renowned Mozart performer, joins the Boston Symphony Orchestra once again Friday, July 15, at 8 p.m., as both conductor and soloist for a program devoted entirely to that composer's music. From the podium, Mr. Zukerman will lead the orchestra in the Haydnesque Symphony No. 25 and one of Mozart's great, final three symphonies, No. 39 in E-flat. At the heart of the program, he takes up his violin to lead the BSO as soloist in the Violin Concerto-or the second, third, and fourth movements-from the composer's Serenade in D, K.250, Haffner.

The page also has links to audio previews and program notes, with performer bio available by clicking the thumbnail picture.

You can't go wrong with Mozart. I thought there were a couple of spots in the first half where some players got out of sync, but it was very good apart from that. But the big surprise for me was that there is a violin concerto embedded in the Haffner Serenade. I'd never heard that before. Although the program doesn't say so, they performed not only the three "violin concerto" movements but also the opening movement of the serenade, which the "concerto" immediately follows.

Saturday, July 16.  Here's the description from the BSO's program detail page:
On Saturday, July 16, at 8 p.m., BSO assistant conductor Ken-David Masur returns to Tanglewood, along with celebrated American soprano Renée Fleming, for a performance of Strauss's powerfully emotional and autumnally beautiful Four Last Songs, the last major piece the composer wrote before his death a year later in 1949. Also on the program are Tchaikovsky's beloved Symphony No. 6, Pathetiqué-which was also its composer's final work before death-and Ives's atmospheric and ruminative The Unanswered Question, perhaps his most popular work. Ms. Fleming made her BSO debut at Tanglewood 25 years ago, on July 13, 1991, performing Mozart's Idomeneo  with the BSO and Seiji Ozawa.
**Conductor Christoph von Dohnányi, who was scheduled to conduct the BSO concert this Saturday, July 16 and a portion of the TMCO concert on Monday, July 18, has, with great regret, been forced to withdraw from these performances due to complications following recent cataract surgery. BSO Assistant Conductor Ken-David Masur will replace Maestro von Dohnányi for both concerts. The programs remain the same.

Maestro von Dohnányi looks forward to returning to Tanglewood to lead the BSO in the orchestra's traditional season-ending performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 on Sunday, August 28.
(Some emphasis added.)

The program detail page has the usual links to background information. It's the second Saturday in a row that the scheduled conductor has had to withdraw because of health problems. A generation of well-known and revered conductors is passing away. Still, the orchestra should be in good hands with Mr. Masur.

Ives is an unusual composer, unconstrained by the normal rules of form and harmony of his youth, so his music can be jarring. I hope the brief piece of his which opens the program will not chase anybody away. If you're unfamiliar with Ives, be sure to read the program note for the piece before listening if possible. The title of WCRB's podcast, "The Answered Question," is, of course, a take-off on Ives' title, "The Unanswered Question."

The Strauss songs are lush, and the Tchaikovsky symphony probably deserves its status as a "warhorse" of the orchestral repertoire. While I think orchestras would do well to give it a rest and program other, less-performed, deserving works, I'm sure it will be fun to listen to.

Sunday, July 17.  On Sunday, the program is mostly well-known and popular pieces, with the Ravel probably the least well known. The BSO program detail page informs us:
Spanish conductor Gustavo Gimeno makes both his BSO and Tanglewood debuts on Sunday, July 17, at 2:30 p.m., leading the orchestra in Prokofiev's Symphony No. 1, Classical-a work that was inspired by and intended as a tribute to Haydn, and which is one of the earliest pieces in the so-called neoclassical style that became popular in the first half of the 20th century-and the suite from Stravinsky's breakthrough early ballet, The Firebird. Brilliant Chinese pianist Yuja Wang joins Mr. Gimeno and the BSO for two heavily jazz-influenced works: Ravel's Piano Concerto in G, at turns breathless and beautiful, and Gershwin's infectious and well-known Rhapsody in Blue.
(Some emphasis added.)

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). That 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. Regrettably, the decision to delay the broadcast means that I'll have to miss this one, as I'll be away from my radio and computer at that time. I hope you'll be able to catch these standards.

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