Saturday, November 26, 2016

BSO — 2016/11/26

The music on this week's program is all familiar enough that I didn't mind missing it since it wasn't part of my subscription — even though the piano concerto is one of my favorites. Then I realized who is the piano soloist, Menahem Pressler, a founding member of the illustrious Beaux Arts Trio. So I decided I must hear this concert. I finally stopped procrastinating on Wednesday and got one of the very few remaining tickets.

The orchestra's program detail page, along with the usual links to podcasts, program notes, audio previews, and performer bios, give this synopsis:
BSO Assistant Conductor Moritz Gnann, making his subscription series and Symphony Hall debuts, joins the eminent pianist Menahem Pressler for Mozart's autumnal Piano Concerto No. 27, his final work in the genre. Mendelssohn's restless, roiling portrait of the northern reaches of the British Isles, The Hebrides Overture, remains one of his most popular works. Dvořák's familiar New WorldSymphony takes its name from the circumstances of its composition: the Czech composer wrote it while a resident of the U.S. as director of a New York conservatory, and its themes are said to have been inspired by American folk and indigenous music.
(Some emphasis added.)

The writer really should read the program notes. Those tell us that there is nothing inherently "autumnal" in the piano concerto, and that there is no good evidence for people to say that the themes of the symphony were "inspired by American folk and indigenous music." Still, it tells you what they'll play.

The reviews in the Boston Globe and the Boston Musical Intelligencer, despite some minor concerns, were enthusiastic, especially for Menahem Pressler's handling of the Mozart concerto. Maybe it was because of heightened expectations, but I was not that enthusiastic about the playing of the Mozart — not that there was anything bad about it, but it just didn't seem lively enough. One reviewer was happy that Pressler and Gnann took it slower than what we're used to, but it didn't quite work for me. Maybe I'll be happier with it during the broadcast this evening. As for the Mendelssohn and Dvořák, my expectations were not so heightened, and I liked them. I heard some bits that hadn't come through in more routine performances. Overall, I don't mean to be negative: I'm glad I went, and I think most people will really like this concert. It was an auspicious Symphony Hall debut for Maestro Gnann.

By all means listen on air or on line over WCRB this evening at 8:00. Boston Time, repeated on December 5. Check out the other pages on their website for lots of other good stuff, including the podcast available here.

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