Friday, January 13, 2017

BSO — 2017/01/14

This week's Boston Symphony concert is unusual in that the two works preceding intermission feature the organ. Here's how the BSO describes it on their performance detail page:
English conductor Bramwell Tovey is joined by virtuoso American organist Cameron Carpenter, who makes his BSO subscription series debut in a work written for him, At the Royal Majestic, by the innovative American composer Terry Riley, a founding father of musical minimalism. Himself an organist, Riley created this eclectic large-scale concerto "shifting, as its title suggests, from sounds reminiscent of the Mighty Wurlitzer housed in the grand movie palaces, to fragments of Calliope, Baroque Chorales, occasional craggy dissonance of clashing pipes, and boogie." To open the concert, Carpenter is soloist in Samuel Barber's 1960 organ-and-orchestra work Toccata Festiva, by turns exuberant and lyrical. The English composer Edward Elgar's tour-de-force of orchestral and expressive imagination, the EnigmaVariations, is a series of widely varied portraits of his friends achieved via transformations of a common musical theme.
(Some emphasis added.)

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

The reviews are favorable. The Globe describes things concisely and identifies the two! encores, each of which was spectacular in its own way, and good for giving us a chance to hear the organ unimpeded by sounds from the orchestra. Of course, if there is an encore or two on Saturday, it/they will not necessarily be the same, but I'm sure you'll recognize "Fly Me to the Moon," if he does it. The Boston Musical Intelligencer has more space available for its reviews, and this review describes the music and the performance in greater detail — including noting that Cameron Carpenter played the (optional) organ part in the Elgar.

The concert was enjoyable to listen to. Seeing the organist playing, especially watching his feet on the pedals, certainly added to the experience. He frequently changed the stops, but most of the time, I didn't notice any change in the sound of the organ. But I think it'll be worth hearing even without the added visuals. So I definitely recommend going to WCRB on air or on the internet at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time. If you miss any of it on January 14, they will rebroadcast/stream it at 8:00 p.m. on Monday January 23. Their podcast, "The Answered Question" includes a useful discussion of this week's program during the first 15 minutes.

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