Thursday, August 10, 2017

Tanglewood — 2017/08/11-13

This week I'll be able to enjoy the concerts live, barring unforeseen developments. A friend from the Syracuse area and I will meet a fellow blogger/tweeter from Western PA at Tanglewood. It's a weekend of mostly standard repertoire, the most challenging of which is Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring." The only new piece is "Incantesimi," a curtain raiser by Julian Anderson, which was given its American premiere last January by the BSO. Christoph von Dohnányi had been scheduled to conduct back then and this weekend, but health considerations forced him to cancel both times, and both times, Juanjo Mena is his replacement. I posted about it on January 28, and you can see my comments and the links there. Briefly, I found it pretty good, and I recommend reading the program notes in advance and maybe even while listening on Saturday evening.


Friday, August 11, 2017,  brings us the "dreaded Rite of Spring," but not till we've heard some Dvořák and Brahms and refreshed ourselves during the intermission. Here's more from the BSO's own performance detail page, taking the pieces out of performance order as is their wont:
Violinist Gil Shaham and cellist Alisa Weilerstein join forces on Friday, August 11, for a performance of Brahms's Double Concerto for violin, cello, and orchestra, with Costa Rican conductor Giancarlo Guerrero and the BSO. Brahms composed the concerto-his final orchestral work-as an olive branch to his old friend and close musical collaborator Joseph Joachim, with whom he'd had a falling out over Joachim's divorce. Also on the program are Dvořák's Carnival Overture and Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, the score to an intensely dramatic ballet and on its own some of the most dramatic music ever written.
(Some emphasis supplied.)

See the performance detail page also for the usual links to program notes, audio previews, and performer bios.


Saturday, August 12, 2017.  The concert begins with "Incantesimi," and the program detail page tells about that and the rest of the concert:
Conductor Juanjo Mena leads the BSO in Julian Anderson'sIncantesimi, a BSO-commissioned work that receives its American premiere with the BSO in January 2017.Incantesimi is a study in long lines, using "five musical ideas that orbit each other in ever-differing relationships." Mr. Mena and the orchestra are then joined by violinist Nikolaj Znaider for Brahms's lyrical and refined Violin Concerto. The BSO closes out the program with Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, one of the composer's most popular works.
At the advice of his doctors, Maestro Christoph von Dohnányi regrets that he cannot appear with the Boston Symphony this summer at Tanglewood. He is continuing to heal from a fall he suffered earlier this year and looks forward to leading the BSO as scheduled in November. Conductor Juanjo Mena steps in for Maestro von Dohnányi on Saturday, August 12, on a program featuring violinist Nikolaj Znaider performing Brahms's Violin Concerto. The program also includes Julian Anderson's Incantesimi and Beethoven's Symphony No. 7
(Some emphasis supplied.)

The usual links are on the performance detail page.


Sunday, August 13, 2017.  Read all about it on the program detail page and the material at the links there:
On Sunday, August 13, young Israeli conductor Lahav Shani makes his BSO debut on a program featuring Tanglewood regular, violinist Joshua Bell in Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto.  Mr. Shani also lead the BSO in the overture to Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro and Schubert's Symphony in C, The Great. The composer's ultimate symphony (in both senses of the word: it is his biggest and last work in the genre), the C major was famously praised for its "heavenly length" by Robert Schumann, who observed also that it "transports us into a world we cannot recall ever having been before."
(Some emphasis added.)


It looks like a great series of concerts. You can listen on air or on line over the facilities of WCRB at 8:00 p.m. EDT Friday and Saturday, and 7:00 p.m. Sunday. Their homepage also gives links to a lot of other programming information.

Enjoy the shows.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Tanglewood — 2017/08/04-06

My father had a record (now mine), which he very much liked listening to, of Chopin's first piano concerto, with Edward Kilenyi as soloist. He also had Chopin's second — possibly on the same record or possibly another. We didn't listen to the 2nd nearly as often as the 1st, but I've heard it on the radio several times over the years. So I'm very much looking forward the becoming reacquainted with these friends from the past when they open the show tonight and tomorrow. The rest of the weekend from Tanglewood should be good too.


Friday, August 4, 2017.  The orchestra's program detail page has this synopsis of the program:

UnderScore FridayHans Graf conducts Chopin and Rachmaninoff featuring pianist Garrick Ohlsson 
Tanglewood 
Koussevitzky Music Shed - Lenox, MA - View MapOn Friday, August 4, Mr. Ohlsson performs Chopin's First Piano Concerto, written shortly after the composer finished conservatory. Maestro Graf also leads the BSO in Rachmaninoff's melancholic Symphony No. 3, the composer's final work in the genre, written almost 30 years after his second.

(Some emphasis added.)

The page, as usual, has links to audio previews, program notes, and performer bios. This is another of their "Underscore Fridays," in which they enhance our enjoyment of the music by having an orchestra member give brief introductory remarks from the stage before the music begins. This evening we'll hear from violinist Jennie Shames.


Saturday, August 5, 2017.  The second Chopin piano concerto is followed after intermission by Mendelssohn's "Midsummer Night's Dream." The program detail page provides additional information:
On Saturday, August 5, Mr. Ohlsson returns to perform Chopin's Second Piano Concerto with the BSO, a virtuosic and remarkably successful work considering it was written when the composer was still a student and just 20 years old. The second half of the program features one of the best-known musical works inspired by Shakespeare-Mendelssohn's incidental music to A Midsummer Night's Dream-in a specially designed production adapted by stage director Bill Barclay, which received its world premiere with the BSO at Symphony Hall in Boston in early 2016 as part of the BSO's three-week Shakespeare celebration honoring the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death. Mr. Graf and the orchestra are joined for this performance by soprano Kiera Duffy, mezzo-soprano Abigail Fischer, and singers from the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Chorus, as well as four actors, including Will Lyman as Oberon; Karen MacDonald as Titania; and Caleb Mayo as Felix Mendelssohn/Puck. The costumed actors will perform various passages from A Midsummer Night's Dream interspersed throughout the performance, as prescribed in Mendelssohn's score, with costumes by Kathleen Doyle and sets by Cristina Todesco.
(Some emphasis added.)

See the program detail page for the additional background material linked there. As mentioned in the program notes, the Mendelssohn performance was given (after two other pieces) in 2016. At that time, I posted about it. Here's my reaction to it at that time:
The Boston Musical Intelligencer … found the presentation of the Mendelssohn well done by some participants but flawed in concept.
I tend to agree with BMInt on the Mendelssohn. It makes sense to put music intended to accompany a play into context, but as constructed the whole seemed less than the sum of its parts. I wonder how it will all come across over radio or webstream without the action being visible. 



Sunday, August 6, 2017.  As the program detail page tells us:
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma returns to the Shed on Sunday, August 6, with David Zinman on a program featuring two works by Schumann-the free-flowing and adventurous Cello Concerto, featuring Mr. Ma, and the elevating Symphony No. 2 in C, the longest of the composer's four symphonies. The afternoon concert opens with Mozart's Symphony No. 25, last performed by the BSO at Tanglewood in 2000. 
At the advice of his doctors, Maestro Christoph von Dohnányi regrets that he cannot appear with the Boston Symphony this summer at Tanglewood. He is continuing to heal from a fall he suffered earlier this year and looks forward to leading the BSO as scheduled in November.
Conductor David Zinman replaces Maestro von Dohnányi for the Sunday, August 6, program featuring Yo-Yo Ma in Schumann's Cello Concerto. The program also includes Mozart's Symphony No. 25 and Schumann's Symphony No. 2.

(Some detail added.)

You can also access additional information via that page.


WCRB will transmit the concerts on air and over the web. The Friday and Saturday programs begin at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday's will be provided at 7:00 p.m. (all times EDT). The home page, in addition to the Listen Live button, has links to pages about these concerts and other programming on the station.

It looks like an enjoyable series of concerts.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Tanglewood — 2017/07/28-30

This weekend the Boston Symphony gives three more concerts worth hearing. The offerings include a couple of pieces I don't know and a couple of really popular ones that aren't my figurative cup of metaphorical tea, and one of the ones I really want to hear will be given during my brother's weekly call from Tokyo. Still, I'll be listening to all I can.


Friday, July 28, 2017.   The synopsis on the orchestra's program detail page gives us the basics:
On Friday, Charles Dutoit is joined by pianist Yefim Bronfman for Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 2, one of the composer's most barnstorming, free-spirited works. The BSO opens the program with the Overture to Beethoven's The Creatures of Prometheus. Mr. Dutoit also leads the orchestra in Dvorak's New World Symphony.
(Some emphasis added.)

For additional information, use the links to audio previews and program notes, as well as performer bios (click on the thumbnail photos), on that page. Brahms is among my least favorite of the really popular composers, so I'm not eagerly anticipating the concerto. Of late, however, some of his big pieces are beginning to seem a but less unpleasant than they used to, so I'm not dreading it either. Mine is, of course, a distinctly minority view, so have no fear. The first movement of the "New World" symphony is another very popular piece that I don't enjoy — too jarring for my taste — but I'm planning to listen and see how it goes.


Saturday, July 29, 2017.  The program detail page ignores two of the three pieces on the Saturday program, so I'll give my own synopsis. Chant funèbre, by Stravinsky, opens the program. It was composed upon the death of his teacher, Rimsky-Korsakoff, and after the premiere the score was lost for over 100 years. Next is Ravel's Piano Concerto for the left hand, with Pierre-Laurent Aimard as soloist. After intermission comes Te Deum by Berlioz, with tenor soloist Paul Groves. The concert is again under the baton of Charles Dutoit.

Consult the program detail page for the usual links to background information about the music and performers. I enjoy a lot of Berlioz's music, including his Requiem. This is apparently intended to be comparable, and I'm sorry to have to wait for on-demand availability to hear it because my brother's call will come during the performance. (I see from the program note that Berlioz rearranged the order of some of the lines of the text.)


Sunday, July 30, 2017  brings an old favorite followed by one which I don't recall hearing. The program detail page has the following description:
Violinist Pinchas Zukerman returns to Tanglewood on Sunday, July 30, for a performance of Beethoven's lyrical Violin Concerto with the BSO and English conductor Bramwell Tovey. Mr. Tovey and the BSO are then joined by bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus for Walton's Belshazzar's Feast. An incredibly ambitious oratorio written for a large-scale orchestra including two brass bands along with the baritone soloist and chorus, the work is one of the composer's most celebrated compositions.
(Some emphasis added.)

The violin concerto is great music, in my opinion, and the program note about "Belshazzar's Feast" has me intrigued.


The place to hear it all is, of course, WCRB, where you can hear the Friday and Saturday concerts live at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight (Summer) Time, and the Sunday concert in a delayed broadcast/webstream at 7:30 p.m. Check out the station's website for additional information about programming and other features.

Enjoy the concerts!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Tanglewood — 2017/07/21-23

It looks like a good weekend at Tanglewood, including one of my favorite pieces of all time (which will be played during my brother's weekly phone call from Tokyo). All three concerts include a solo piano in one of the pieces.


Friday, July 21, 2017.  The BSO performance detail page informs us:
Captivating French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet joins the BSO and conductor Gustavo Gimeno-who returns to the Tanglewood podium after making his debut with the orchestra last summer-for Bernstein's Symphony No. 2, The Age of Anxiety, a piece dedicated to Serge Koussevitzky and premiered by the BSO in 1949. Mr. Gimeno also leads the BSO in Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4.
(Some emphasis added.)

That's right, folks: a symphony with a solo piano. From the brief audio preview available via the program detail page, it sounds not too tough to take, and the program note makes it sound interesting. I'm going to dinner at the yacht club with a bunch of people from the Race Committee. I might be able to get home in time to hear the whole thing. If not, there's always the "on demand" feature on WCRB so I can catch it later.

By the way, this is one of the BSO's "Underscore Fridays." To enhance the audience's enjoyment, a member of the orchestra introduces the program briefly just before the performance begins. This evening, it will be Assistant Tympanist Daniel Bauch. His take should be interesting to hear.


Saturday, July 22, 2017.  We start with some 20th century music that I don't think I've ever heard, and end with that favorite of mine. Per the performance detail page:
BSO Artistic Partner Thomas Adès opens the Saturday, July 22 BSO program leading his own …but all shall be well, a piece inspired by lines from T.S. Eliot's quotation of Julian of Norwich in Four Quartets: "Sin is Behovely, but All shall be well, and All manner of thing shall be well." The program also features Emanuel Ax in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor, the last and most monumental of Beethoven's concertos; as well as the dramatically expressive Sinfonia da Requiem by Benjamin Britten, a composer for whom Mr. Adès has a great affinity.
(Some emphasis added.)

Apparently, the order of performance was revised after the program detail page was written. At any rate the season brochure and the program notes agree that the Britten work will precede the Adès. We'll find out who's right on Saturday. As always there are links to audio previews, program notes, and performer bios on the detail page.


Sunday, July 23, 2017.  Again, the performance detail page gives us the basics, with further information available via the links on the page.
On Sunday, July 23, BSO Assistant Conductor Ken-David Masur is joined by Russian pianist Nikolai Lugansky for Prokofiev's sparkling Piano Concerto No. 3. Mr. Masur opens the afternoon program with Aaron Jay Kernis's airy and moving Musica Celestis ("Heavenly Music"), written by the Grawemeyer Award-winning composer in 2000. Closing the concert is Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 2, Little Russian.
(Some emphasis added.)

From the program note and the audio preview, it seems that the Kernis piece should be fairly easy listening, but I've never heard the whole thing, so I can't make any guarantees. Anyway, I'm looking forward to hearing it. Remember, the Sunday concert is recorded when performed and broadcast and streamed 4 1/2 hours later, at 7:00 p.m., Boston Time, by WCRB. The other concerts are transmitted live at 8:00 Friday and Saturday.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Tanglewood — 2017/07/14-16

This looks like a great weekend at Tanglewood, with music from the 18th through the 21st centuries.

Friday, July 14, 2017.  Here's how the BSO performance detail page describes this evening's concert:
Andris Nelsons opens the weekend on Friday, July 14 at Tanglewood with performances of two pieces written as an homage to French Baroque composer François Couperin, composed nearly 90 years apart: Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin and BSO Artist Partner Thomas Adès's Three Studies from Couperin. Also on the program is Haydn's Symphony No. 83, La Poule ("The Hen"), last performed by the BSO in 1990, and Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 in C, K.467, featuring Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov.

(Some emphasis added.)

The BSO page also has the usual links to audio previews, program notes and performer bios.

The Adès piece was performed in Symphony Hall in the concerts of April 23-28, 2015. In my review at the time I wrote,
Thomas Adès's orchestration of harpsichord music of Couperin was very successful, in my opinion. One interesting feature was the use of alto and bass flutes. Both are longer than regular flutes, so much so that the tubes are bent back on themselves; and they have a greater diameter than ordinary flutes. They are held like regular flutes, with the player blowing over the mouthpiece on the top section, and the keys [are] on the lower section.
You can see links to other reviews if you go back to my post.


Saturday, July 15, 2017,  brings only one work, but what a work. Again, the BSO tells us about it on the performance detail page:
On Saturday, July 15, Maestro Nelsons leads the BSO in one of the great highlights of the 2017 Tanglewood season: the festival's first-ever complete concert performance of Wagner's epic Das Rheingold, the first of the four dramas from Wagner's masterpiece Der Ring des Nibelungen. The performance features a cast of all-star vocal soloists among the most respected for these roles, including bass-baritone Thomas J. Mayer as Wotan (in his BSO and Tanglewood debuts); mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe as Fricka; tenor Kim Begley as Loge (BSO and Tanglewood debuts); and baritone Jochen Schmeckenbecher (BSO and Tanglewood debuts) as Alberich, along with other prestigious singers known for their expertise performing Wagner's music. The performance of Das Rheingold-sung in German with English subtitles-will run without an intermission. 
Due to ill health, and on the advice of her doctor, Dame Sarah Connolly regretfully has had to withdraw from the BSO's performance of Das Rheingold.  The role of Fricka will now be sung by Stephanie Blythe, who has graciously agreed to join the cast at short notice.
(Some emphasis added.)

See the performance detail for the rest of the cast as well as the usual links. The program notes give a synopsis of the action, but not the full libretto. For that you're on your own. I'd suggest searching something like "Rheingold libretto." I'd suggest going for one with German and English side by side if you can find it. The opera concludes with "The Entry of the Gods into Valhalla," which used to be frequently performed as a stand-alone piece. It's top-notch Wagner, IMO.


Sunday, July 16, 2017.  We're back to orchestral music, with a world premiere and a couple of "warhorses." The BSO tells us
Closing out the weekend on Sunday, July 16, Andris Nelsons and the BSO are joined by violinist Anne Sophie Mutter for the world premiere of Boston Pops Conductor Laureate John Williams' Markings, for solo violin, strings, and harp. Ms. Mutter also joins the orchestra for Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, one of the most popular concertos for the instrument. Berlioz's dazzling Symphonie fantastique completes the program.
(Some emphasis added.)

The above quote is from the orchestra's performance detail page, which also has the usual links to background information. I have no idea how the Williams piece will be, but the remaining works are enduringly popular.


You can hear it all over WCRB on the air or on line. Friday and Saturday' shows begin at 8:00 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time, Sunday's at 7:00. I'm looking forward to it.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

CORRECTION — WCRB July 8, 2017

In my post about this weekend's concert broadcasts over WCRB, I made the mistake of assuming that all three of the major concerts would be broadcast and streamed. This morning I realized that this evening's Pops concert will not be broadcast. Instead they are giving us an "encore broadcast"  of the final Saturday concert of the 2016 Tanglewood season.
http://classicalwcrb.org/post/yo-yo-ma-plays-haydn-and-williams
Here's what I posted back then:
On Saturday we return to regular order. The performance detail page gives these details:
Tanglewood favorite Yo-Yo Ma joins the Boston Symphony Orchestra and conductor Michael Stern on Saturday, August 27, to open the final weekend of the BSO's 2016 Tanglewood season, performing Haydn's Cello Concerto in C and John Williams's Heartwood,for cello and orchestra, and Rosewood and Pickin', for solo cello, on a program that also includes Bernstein's Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront and Respighi's Pines of Rome.
(Some emphasis added.)

The usual background information is available on that page. It looks like a pretty full evening of music.
I'm sorry for the confusion. It looks like a concert worth listening to.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Tanglewood — 2017/07/07-09

The BSO's Tanglewood season begins this weekend. With a couple of exceptions, when other groups such as the Boston Pops and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra will be on stage, they will play concerts every Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 from July 7 through August 27. WCRB will stream and broadcast the Friday and Saturday concerts live, and they will present the Sunday concerts at 7:00 p.m. In addition to their homepage (previously linked), with its Listen Live button, WCRB also has a Tanglewood page, which gives highlights of the season and links a half-hour podcast preview with the orchestra's Artistic Administrator, Tony Fogg.

Since the programs aren't [resented earlier in the week, there are no reviews available. Sometimes I may have thoughts of my own. Some of the pieces to be played were included in concerts in Symphony Hall over the winter. In that case, there may be a review of the earlier concert.


Friday, July 7, 2017.  The opening night gala gives us a single work, described as follows by the orchestra's program detail page:

JUL 7
 2017 
FRIDAY, 8:00 PM

Opening Night at Tanglewood
MAHLER Symphony No. 2, Resurrection

Tanglewood 

Koussevitzky Music Shed - Lenox, MA - View Map




Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra open their 2017 Tanglewood season Friday, July 7, with a gala performance of Mahler's grand, deeply emotional, and ultimately triumphant Symphony No. 2, Resurrection. Soprano Malin Christensson (in her Tanglewood debut) and mezzo-soprano Bernarda Fink join Mr. Nelsons and the orchestra, along with the all-volunteer Tanglewood Festival Chorus.

(Some emphasis supplied.)
The program detail page also includes links to performer bios (click on the thumbnail pictures), program notes, and audio previews.


Saturday, July 8, 2017.  The first, non-BSO concert of the season brings the Boston Pops and singers for this program of Sondheim. Once more, the program detail page tells us about it:


JUL 8
 2017 
SATURDAY, 8:00 PM

Sondheim on Sondheim at Tanglewood
Boston Pops Orchestra

Tanglewood 

Koussevitzky Music Shed - Lenox, MA - View Map




Hailed as "a funny, affectionate, and revealing tribute to musical theater's greatest living composer and lyricist," the symphonic Sondheim on Sondheim  with the Boston Pops is not to be missed! This retrospective of the life and work of America's finest contemporary musical theater creator is told through his own words via film, live performers, and his amazing music. Experience this acclaimed sampling of Sondheim's extraordinary output, now for the first time with lush new arrangements for full orchestra.

(Some emphasis supplied.)

Sunday, July 9, 2017.  The Boston Symphony "returns." Of course, since there is considerable overlap in the membership of the BSO and the Pops most of them were not away on Saturday evening. This time, as the BSO program detail page tells us, it's for Mozart and another Mahler Symphony. There also links as described in the discussion of Friday's concert.


JUL 9
 2017 
SUNDAY, 2:30 PM

Andris Nelsons conducts Mozart and Mahler

Tanglewood 

Koussevitzky Music Shed - Lenox, MA - View Map



Andris Nelsons returns to the podium for his second concert of the season on Sunday, July 9, for an afternoon program featuring 15-year-old Swedish violinist Daniel Lozakovich in his BSO and Tanglewood debuts performing Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3, and Mr. Nelsons' second Mahler symphony of the weekend-Symphony No. 4 featuring soprano Kristine Opolais. 
(Emphasis supplied.)

Remember, WCRB delays the broadcast/webstream until 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Classical New England/ Tanglewood Preview — 2017/07/01

Next weekend the BSO opens their Tanglewood Season. WCRB previews it this evening at 6:00 p.m.

Tanglewood 2017

Saturday at 8pm, WCRB's Brian McCreath brings you a preview of the Boston Symphony Orchestra's summer season, with music by Dvorák, Ravel, Mendelssohn, and more.
See the station's homepage to listen over the web and to find links to information about other programming. Should be interesting. They transmit three concerts every weekend during this season.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

BSO/Classical New England — 2017/06/24

This week's BSO rebroadcast by WCRB is the concert of November 26, 2016, the one that came right after the Brahms mini-fest we've been hearing the past three weeks. Here's the program, as "printed" in the station's encore broadcasts page:
Moritz Gnann, conductor
Menahem Pressler, piano
MENDELSSOHN Overture, The Hebrides (Fingal's Cave)
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 27
DVORAK Symphony No. 9, From the New World

Of course I posted about it when it was originally performed, so you can check the link to see what I and the reviewers thought about it. As I mentioned in my post at the time, the Mozart concerto is a favorite of mine. It was the first thing I played when my great aunt gave us a new record player in the 1950's and I fell in love with it.

It's a very fine concert, and I'm confident you'll enjoy it. As always, the show begins at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, June 24.

Friday, June 16, 2017

BSO/Classical New England — 2017/06/17

As noted in the previous two posts, last fall's Brahms mini-fest included performances of his two piano concertos and four symphonies. The concertos and symphonies 2 and 4 were programmed for Fridays and Saturdays, while the concertos and symphonies 1 and 3 were on the bill for Tuesdays and Thursdays. So the odd-numbered symphonies didn't make it to the Saturday concerts. But WCRB recorded them in performance and broadcast them on March 4 of this year, when the orchestra was away on tour. This week, those recordings will be the "encore broadcast" while we wait for the Tanglewood season to begin. Of course, I posted about it at the time.

Here's a link to the page which gives the programs of all this spring's encore broadcasts; and here's one for WCRB's home page, where you have the button to listen live to the webstream at 8:00 p.m. on June 17 if you can't, or don't want to, listen via radio at 99.5 FM in the Boston area.

Enjoy, Brahms lovers!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

BSO/Classical New England — 2017/06/10

This evening's BSO rerun continues the Brahms mini-festival from last fall. The WCRB encore broadcasts page tells us:
Andris Nelsons, conductor
Hélène Grimaud, piano
ANDRES Everything Happens So Much (world premiere; BSO commission)
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2
BRAHMS Symphony No. 4

That page also tells us what's coming up on the next two Saturdays. The concert was originally given on November 19, 2016, and I posted about it at the time. As you can see, the Globe reviewer and I both liked the new work that opens the concert, as well as the rest pf the show.

You can hear it all over WCRB Saturday evening , June 10, at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time (= EDST).

Saturday, June 3, 2017

BSO/Classical New England — 2017/06/03

Last fall the BSO gave a Brahms "mini-fest" consisting of all four symphonies and both piano concertos over a two week period. Each week's concerts also had a curtain raiser composed for the occasion on commission from the orchestra. This week WCRB gives us the first broadcast of the mini-fest, originally performed and recorded on November 12, 2016. WCRB's encore broadcast page lists the pieces and performers:
June 3
Andris Nelsons, conductor
Hélène Grimaud, piano
NATHAN the space of a door (world premiere; BSO commission)
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2
I posted about it at the time.

The broadcast and webstream will begin at 8:00 this evening, June 3, over WCRB.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

BSO/Classical New England — 2017/05/27

This week the encore broadcast gives us Charles Dutoit and Yo-Yo Ma in music of Walton, Elgar, and Holst. Here's the listing from WCRB's Encore Broadcasts page, which also tell us what's coming up in June.
Charles Dutoit, conductor
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Women of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus
WALTON Portsmouth Point Overture
ELGAR Cello Concerto
HOLST The Planets
As usual, I posted about it when it was performed, on October 22, 2016. As you can see, although I didn't care much for the Elgar concerto, I quite enjoyed the Walton overture and the Holst, particularly the ending. The reviewers were much more favorable. So give it a listen on WCRB on air or online at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time. The program notes will add to the enjoyment of the Holst, but aren't necessary.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

BSO/Classical New England — 2017/05/20

In this week's BSO broadcast/webstream, as WCRB tells us on their homepage:

Nelsons Conducts Bruckner

May 20, 2017: In an encore broadcast, Music Director Andris Nelsons conducts the Symphony No. 3 by Bruckner, and Concertmaster Malcolm Lowe and Principal Violist Steven Ansell are the soloists in Mozart's Sinfonia concertante.

(Emphasis added.)
The Mozart comes first, the Bruckner after intermission. The concert was given on April 9, 2016, and I posted about it at the time. I enjoyed both parts and recommended listening. You can check the original post for specifics and links,

The concert will be broadcast and streamed on May 20 at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time (no Monday repeat).

The schedule of remaining encore broadcasts is here.

Enjoy.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

BSO/Classical New England — 2017/05/13

The Boston Symphony 2016-17 season ended last week, and Tanglewood will begin on July 7. Meanwhile, WCRB will fill the Saturday time slot with rebroadcasts. This week it's the concert of March 5, 2016 — with music of  Ravel and Falla — which I posted about at the time. Check out the station's schedule of May and June BSO "encore broadcasts," and listen on air or on line at 8:00 p.m., May 13 over WCRB. There will not be a Monday repeat.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

BSO — 2017/05/06

This concert is the season finale for the BSO. The remaining Saturdays of May and those of June will have the time slot filled with "encore broadcasts" of concerts previously given. Here's a complete list; I'll have something to say about each on its weekend. But today the concert being broadcast and streamed is live. Here's the description from the orchestra's program detail page (going in reverse order of performance):
Soprano Kristine Opolais returns to Symphony Hall as soloist in Mahler's mellifluous Symphony No. 4, a musical journey from earth to heaven that is also the last of Mahler's symphonies to use words from the folk poetry collection Des Knaben Wunderhorn (Youth's Magic Horn). On this same program, Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes performs Rachmaninoff's last piano concerto, the Fourth, which the composer worked on over the course of ten or more years before giving the premiere in Philadelphia in 1927. Even after that he revised the piece extensively twice, creating the final version in 1941. Opening the concert is a suite of orchestral music from Shostakovich's score for Grigory Kozintsev's 1941 stage production of Shakespeare's King Lear, to be recorded for the BSO's ongoing Shostakovich cycle under Andris Nelsons for Deutsche Grammophon.
(Some emphasis supplied.)

The usual links to background information are available on the program detail page.

The review in the Globe is very enthusiastic and points out a number of elements which the reviewer found especially good. The Boston Musical Intelligencer gives a lot of information about the music, as well as the performance, and is generally quite favorable.

Due to a slight indisposition, I decided not to go to the Thursday performance. The reviews have me wishing I had been there; and I'm looking forward to hearing it this evening at 8:00 over WCRB, which will rebroadcast the concert on May 15, also at 9:00. Check out their website for links to other information, including the podcast in which conductor and pianist talk about pieces on this program.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Spring Orgy® Period 2017

This year's Spring Orgy® on WHRB has begun with the Warhorse Orgy, which started at 1:00 and will run to 10:00 this evening, Boston Time.

Subsequent orgies will be:

  • Monteverdi — May 2
  • Beach (Mrs. H.H.A. Beach) — May 3
  • Telemann — May 4-7
  • Ravel — May 7-9
  • Dinu Lipatti — May 10
  • Vienna Philharmonic — May 12-14


In most cases, they run from 1:00 to 10:00 p.m. (with some irregularities) on the days noted. There are other orgies, featuring rock and jazz music, during other hours. Most notably, there is an Ella Fitzgerald Orgy from 5:00 to 11:00 a.m. on May 10, 11, and 12. For more specific information as well as for listings of works and performers, go to the station's program guide.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

BSO — 2017/04/29

This week's concert was definitely okay, and I'll listen to the broadcast this evening; but I'm not at all tempted to get a ticket and go back and hear it again in the hall on Tuesday. Here is how the orchestra's program detail page describes it (with a notable omission):
Continuing Andris Nelsons' and the BSO's traversal of the complete Shostakovich symphonies is the composer's Symphony No. 6, composed on the eve of World War II and following on the unmitigated success of his Symphony No. 5. Although overshadowed by the Fifth and Seventh (Leningrad), the Sixth is unmistakably Shostakovich in its sardonic humor and melancholy slow movement. The superb German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter opens the concert with Tchaikovsky's evergreen Violin Concerto, among the most popular works in the repertoire. Known for her exploration of contemporary repertoire, Ms. Mutter also performs Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu's 1987 homage to the phenomenal Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky [Nostalghia (In Memory of Andrej Tarkovskij)]. Takemitsu, himself a celebrated film composer, titled this atmospheric piece for violin and strings after one of Tarkovsky's late masterpieces.
(Most emphasis added.)

The omission is that the blurb fails to mention the Shostakovich Festive Overture, which opens the program. I guess the curtain raiser was an afterthought. It is, however, listed at the bottom of the page as part of the program. The page contains the usual links to podcast, performer bios, program notes, and audio previews.

The generally favorable reviews in the Globe and the Boston Musical Intelligencer, although differing on certain points, at least give a good idea of the music itself.Overall, though, I just didn't enjoy most of it. The opening Festive Overture was fun — nothing too serious, just loud, lively, and cheerful. In the Tchaikovsky, I found Ms. Mutter's tone harsh much of the time, especially on the lower strings, except in the second movement. The familiar sections often seemed strangely played, and the surrounding parts didn't seem related to them. I think the BMInt reviewer had the same feeling.

After intermission, the Takemitsu piece was better than I expected. I think of his music as unpleasant, but "Nostalghia" was calm and almost beautiful. But to me it was also dull and overlong. The first movement of the Shostakovich was also dull and overlong. The rest was livelier. Some of, as suggested by the program note sounded like "Rossini meets Prokofiev." So, while it had its moments, overall it was a disappointment.

As I said at the beginning, I will be listening to this evening's performance over WCRB at 8:00 Boston Time (EDT) and/or the rebroadcast/webstream on Monday, May 8. Maybe it will sound better the second time around. Listen in and see what you think, although I wouldn't blame you for deciding at some point that you've  heard enough and switching to something else. Maybe listening to the station's podcast in advance will make it more enjoyable.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

BSO — 2017/04/22

Mozart is our composer this week. The orchestra's performance detail page gives the essentials (typically not listing the pieces in the order in which they will be played):
Andris Nelsons leads this all-Mozart program featuring four acclaimed vocalists in Mozart's transformative Requiem, which he began in response to a mysterious commission. The work remained incomplete at his death in 1791, but at Constanze Mozart's request, Mozart's pupil Franz Xaver Süssmayer finished it with remarkable fidelity to the master's style. Opening the program, the great Romanian pianist Radu Lupu plays one of Mozart's most unusual piano concertos, No. 24 in C minor. Composed in the spring of 1786 and premiered by the composer in Vienna, the proto-Romantic C minor is unique in its strangeness and restlessness, and features a fascinating theme-and-variations finale.
(Emphasis added.)

See the performance detail page  also for all the usual links to background material.

The reviews in the Globe and BMInt are favorable, if slightly mixed in the Globe's case. Like the reviewers, I found the concerto cleanly performed and, for a piece in minor mode, placid. The Requiem had its loud and forceful moments, which I felt as more earnest than desperate. I'd like to hear it all again, but unfortunately I'll be tied up both this evening and on May 1, when it is to be rebroadcast.

As always, you can hear it on air or on line through WCRB at 8:00 p.m., EST, this evening, with a rerun on May 1, also at 8:00. Check the website for links to other information. Enjoy the concert.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

BSO — 2017/04/15

Although this week's program was part of my subscription, I didn't go because I was attending the Holy Thursday Mass. The BSO program detail page gives the usual links, including this week a video podcast about Bruckner. And here's what they say about the concert:
Japanese pianist Mitsuko Uchida, one of the foremost Mozart pianists of  our age, plays the composer's mysterious, stormy, proto-Romantic D minor piano concerto, a work owing much to the composer's sensitivity to operatic drama and emotion. Bruckner's seldom heard Symphony No. 6, written between 1879 and 1881, was the work he considered his boldest, though only the second and third movements were performed during his lifetime. Gustav Mahler led all four movements-but with cuts-in 1899, in Vienna; the first complete, uncut performance was given in 1901, in Stuttgart. Energetic, lyrical, and expansive, the Symphony No. 6 is a uniquely absorbing example of the composer's monumental symphonic style.
(Some emphasis added.)

Music Director Andris Nelsons will be on the podium.

We have the clash of the reviewers. The Globe found a lot of fault with the way both pieces were performed, whereas the Boston Musical Intelligencer was very pleased.

So, it's up to you to decide for yourself. You can listen this evening on WCRB at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time. I probably won't be home from church in time for the Mozart, and my brother will probably call from Japan while the Bruckner is on, so I'll have to listen to the rerun on April 24 (also at 8:00). As you surely know if you're a regular reader, the 'CRB website has lots of material linked to the home page — including a podcast about this concert and other offerings on the station. You also know that within broadcast range, you can hear them at 99.5 FM, otherwise via webstream.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

BSO/Classical New England — 2017/04/08

This week the orchestra isn't playing in Symphony Hall (or anywhere else that I can see on their website). So WCRB is giving us a rerun of a concert from 15 months ago. Here's the description on their Upcoming BSO Broadcasts page, where you can also see the broadcast/webstream schedule for the rest of the season:
Saturday, April 8
Johannes Moser is the soloist in Dvorák's Cello Concerto, part of an All-Czech program that also includes "The Moldau," from Smetana's My Country, and Martinu's Fantaisies symphoniques (Symphony No. 6), all conducted by Ludovic Morlot, in a concert recorded on January 23, 2016.
Ludovic Morlot, conductor
Johannes Moser, cello
SMETANA “The Moldau” from Ma Vlast
MARTINU Fantaisies symphoniques (Symphony No. 6)
DVORAK Cello Concerto
Of course, I posted about it at the time of the performance. Unfortunately, I neglected to include a link to the review in BMInt. Here it is.

Anyway, this should be worth tuning in or listening on line on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Boston Time. It doesn't look as if they're planning to play it again on Monday the 17th.

BTW, while I was looking up the BMInt review of this week's rebroadcast, I noticed that there is an extensive, and fascinating to me, discussion about conducting in the comments on the review of last week's concert.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

BSO — 2017/04/01

This week we have a French guest conductor leading an all French concert. See the BSO's performance detail page for the usual links to background information. There, the program is described as follows:
French conductor Alain Altinoglu, making his BSO debut, leads this all-French program and is joined by his countryman, the violinist Renaud Capuçon, for Édouard Lalo's Symphonie espagnole, written for the great Spanish virtuoso Sarasate in 1874 and a brilliant concerto in all but name. Berlioz's Roman Carnival Overture, by turns romantic and exuberant, opens the program. Albert Roussel's Suite No. 2 from his 1930 ballet Bacchus et Ariane was strongly championed with the BSO by Charles Munch. It was also Munch who introduced Henri Dutilleux's music to the orchestra and called for the commission of his atmospheric Symphony No. 2, Le Double, to commemorate the BSO's 75th anniversary.
(Some emphasis added.)

The reviews are favorable. The Globe finds no fault. The Boston Musical Intelligencer, with no space limitations, goes into more detail, but only has a couple of minor faults to find. I didn't go because I seemed to have a bit of a cold, but I'm looking forward to hearing the first half this evening, before my brother calls from Japan, and the rest in the rebroadcast on Monday, April 10.

As always, you can hear it tonight at 8:00 p.m. EST over WCRB on line or on air. And there is the usual rebroadcast at 8:00 p.m. on April 10. Their website has much information about their programming, including this page devoted to the concert, with a link to a podcast.

Enjoy.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

BSO — 2017/03/25

This week we have a world premiere between two works from the early 19th Century, one a staple of the repertory and the other somewhat less familiar. Here's the description from the orchestra's performance detail page:
American cellist Alisa Weilerstein joins French conductor François-Xavier Roth for the world premiere of the BSO-commissioned un despertar, for cello and orchestra by German composer Matthias Pintscher, with whom Weilerstein has collaborated in the past. Pintscher, also a noted conductor, is a major figure in classical music in both Europe and the U.S. Opening the program is Hector Berlioz's alternately romantic and swashbuckling Le Corsaire Overture, which, as was often the composer's practice, took shape from earlier sketches. The title is an incidental reference to James Fenimore Cooper's The Red Rover ("Le Corsaire rouge"). Beethoven's Symphony No. 6, Pastoral, is his only explicitly programmatic symphony, a fundamentally cheerful work illustrating a sojourn in the countryside.
(Some emphasis added.)

See that page also for links to program notes and audio previews, performer bios and a podcast.

On Thursday evening, I enjoyed the Berlioz overture — a pleasant piece. I thought they did a good job with the Beethoven. As can happen with a good conductor and orchestra, there will be details which become noticeable in the performance which are usually covered by other instrumental lines. In this case, I heard wind parts in the first movement which normally are obscured by the strings. What makes this desirable is that I get to see a bit more of how Beethoven composed. I shouted bravo at the end to get the audience started on the deserved applause, since the symphony doesn't end with the sort of loud and fast music that guarantees a standing ovation.

On the other hand, it is hard to find something good to say about the cello concerto which received its world premiere on Thursday and will have its broadcast premiere this evening. For one who is not a music professional it was not possible to see any connection among the things that were played. Notes succeeded notes, phrases succeeded phrases, but without any apparent relation to one another. The good things were that it was not too terribly dissonant, it was pretty calm and mostly quiet, and even the loud parts weren't ear-splitting. So even though it had no apparent value, it wasn't unpleasant to listen to. It was apparently a workout for the cellist in places, and she and the orchestra deserve credit for carrying it off, but IMO no credit to the composer. Nevertheless, I'll listen to the broadcast and see if I can find more value in it on a second hearing.

The reviews (Globe here, and Boston Musical Intelligencer here) have no substantial criticism of the Pintscher piece, and only minor complaints about the opening and closing works. So we agree thar rhe concert is worth hearing when WCRB broadcasts and streams it at 8:00 p.m, Boston time, with a repeat on Monday, April 3 (although I wouldn't blame you for going to the fridge during the Pintscher — the Beethoven won't begin until after 9:00). As always, there's other good material about the concert and other programming available on the 'CRB website.