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.

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