Friday, July 29, 2016

Tanglewood — 2016/07/29-31

Friday, July 29.  Music Director Andris Nelsons conducts this evening's concert as well as the remaining two broadcasts of the weekend. This evening the concert opens with Mozart's Piano Concerto № 27 in B-flat, K.595, with Jonathan Biss tickling the ivories. After intermission, Maestro Nelsons will lead the orchestra in Symphony № 9 by Gustav Mahler. The BSO's own performance detail page lacks their usual synopsis of the program but it does contain the familiar links to audio previews and program notes, with performer bios available by clicking the thumbnail picture.

In the 1950's my father's Aunt Glad gave us a 3-speed record player and changer. The first thing I played on it was a multi-record 78 rpm set of Robert Casadesus playing the Mozart 27th with the New York Philharmonic conducted by John Barbirolli. I was instantly captivated by the piece, and it has remained one of my favorites. Some writers seem to consider it a lightweight. It was Mozart's last piano concerto, and I gather they would like something more majestic for his "farewell" to the genre; but of course he had no way of knowing that this was to be his last, and on its own it's beautiful. I'm really looking forward to hearing it again.

As for the Mahler, the orchestra performed it with Maestro Nelsons last April. I reviewed it at the time, and liked it, especially after the first movement, so I'm also looking forward to hearing it again. It will be interesting to hear if the Tanglewood audience remains silent at the end for a few moments as the Symphony Hall audience did in April .

Saturday, July 30.  Maestro Nelsons conducts the orchestra, and Augustin Hadelich is violin soloist in the program which the BSO performance detail page describes as follows:
On Saturday, July 30, at 8 p.m.,  Maestro Nelsons returns to the Shed podium to lead the BSO in a program that pairs Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer John Corigliano's expressive  Fantasia on an Ostinato(1985, arranged for orchestra in 1986) with the work that inspired it, Beethoven's rousing Symphony No. 7, one of the composer's most popular works. Corigliano's piece is based on a famous repetitive passage from the second movement of Beethoven's symphony. In between those two works, young German violinist  Augustin Hadelich joins Mr. Nelsons and the orchestra for Sibelius's soaring Violin Concerto, a pinnacle of the concerto repertoire.
(Some emphasis added and some removed.)

The program detail page also has the usual links to background information.

The violin concerto is being played for the third time in as many years. It's not a bad piece, but maybe there are things that deserve a hearing ahead of another repetition of this one. The Beethoven was performed last March, and is played, it seems, every two years or so. Again, could something else have been given instead of  yet another Beethoven 7th — although the presence of the Corigliano on the program makes it appropriate. Ah well, it gets pointed out that for Tanglewood, the orchestra has to prepare two or three concert programs every week, whereas for Symphony all it's only one program per week. The daunting task is made more manageable when they do works that they have performed recently. So maybe I should reserve these criticisms for the winter season.

Although I don't know the Corigliano, it sounds as if it will be interesting, and the other pieces are definitely worth hearing. So listen if you can.

Sunday, July 31.  On Sunday, it's all Brahms, performed by the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, which is made up of the young professional musicians studying at Tanglewood over the summer. The BSO program detail page informs us:
The Leonard Bernstein Memorial Concert
Renowned English pianist Paul Lewis joins Andris Nelsons and the instrumental Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra on Sunday, July 31, for the annual Leonard Bernstein Memorial Concert. The all-Brahms program opens with the Piano Concerto No. 1, the composer's first large-scale orchestral masterpiece and a work that took some eight years and considerable struggle for the composer to complete. Mr. Nelsons also leads the BSO in the composer's powerful, heroic Symphony No. 1, the only piece that gave Brahms even more trouble than his First Piano Concerto, requiring more than 20 years of false starts, abandoned drafts, and torturous labor to bring to fruition, and thereby fulfill the public's expectation that he was to become the symphonic heir to Beethoven.
(Some emphasis added or modified.)

Brahms's concertos and symphonies aren't my cup of tea, so I might not listen, especially if it conflicts with a Red Sox game. But that's my personal idiosyncracy. Most people nowadays think Brahms is great, so enjoy!

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.

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