Saturday, November 19, 2016

BSO — 2016/11/19

This week's broadcast (and webstream) is the second half of the second week of the BSO's Brahms mini-festival. The curtain-raising new composition is "Everything Happens So Much," by Timo(thy) Andres. Then we get Brahms's Piano Concerto № 2 and, after intermission, Symphony № 4 (replacing the 3rd, which was played Tuesday and Thursday and is reviewed in the linked material).

The orchestra's program detail page has the usual links to program notes, audio previews, performer bios, and podcasts (including an informative interview with Timo Andres). It also has this synopsis:
The second program of the BSO's two-week Brahms mini-fest encompassing Brahms's symphonies and piano concertos opens with a brief new work commissioned from the Brooklyn-based American composer Timo Andres (the first program having included a new work by American composer Eric Nathan). Andres's new piece opens this week's programs, which feature Hélène Grimaud as soloist in Brahms's magisterial Piano Concerto No. 2. The Third Symphony concludes the concerts of November 15 and 17; the Fourth Symphony completes the concerts of November 18 and 19.
(Some emphasis added.)

I was there on Thursday and enjoyed the show. "Everything Happens So Much" was very accessible. It was easy to follow the opening theme as it was reworked through the piece. It was well received by the audience. By the way, the notes say the piece opens with arpeggios played by piccolo. It turns out they were played by two piccolos.

It seems I am mellowing in my old age: I didn't dislike the Brahms. While I've long considered much of Brahms's music to have an unpleasant "straining" quality to it, this week and last, I didn't hear it in the piano concertos or the Third Symphony. Like the reviewer, I found Martha Babcock's cello solos in the piano concerto very beautiful, and she was warmly applauded for them.

There were some things that I found interesting in my "orchestra watching." Many of the section principals did not play the Andres piece — first violin, cello, bass, horn, trumpet, possibly others — but they were there for the Brahms. Saving their energy? In the concerto and the first movement of the symphony, when just two of the four horns were playing, most of the time it was Mike Winter and Jason Snider, in the third and fourth chairs, not James Somerville and Rachel Childers, the principal and second, as one might expect. At the end of the first movement of the symphony, James Somerville half stood up, turned, and said something to the others. During the second and third movements Snider didn't play a note, and Winter only played a three or four note phrase in the second movement, and a longer phrase at the end of the third. They both did more playing in the finale. I wonder what was going on there.

So far, no review has appeared in the Boston Musical Intelligencer. The Boston Globe's reviewer liked the Andres piece, and joins me in hoping it will become popular. She liked the rest of the concert as well, except for some of the piano playing in the second movement of the concerto.

This concert is well worth listening to, from beginning to end, when WCRB broadcasts and streams it at 8:00 p.m., EST, on November 19, with a rerun on the  28th. Their website also has pages with the schedule for the rest of the season and other information about their programming, as I've noted in prior weeks.


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