Saturday, February 18, 2017

BSO — 2017/02/18

You can't go wrong with Mozart and Beethoven, and the Gunther Schuller piece which precedes them in this week's Boston Symphony isn't as "advanced" as some of his stuff. Here's a synopsis from the BSO's own program description page:
Andris Nelsons and Emanuel Ax team up for one of the pianist's favorites, Mozart's gregarious, large-scale Piano Concerto in E-flat, K.482, composed in late 1785 when Mozart was also working on his comic opera The Marriage of Figaro. The American composer Gunther Schuller wrote his kaleidoscopic Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee in 1959. Each of its movements is based on a different Klee work, inspiring from the composer a wealth of styles ranging from the blues to mysterious modernism. Closing the program is Beethoven's revolutionary Symphony No. 3,Eroica, which radically expanded the boundaries of the symphonic genre.
(Some emphasis added.)

That page also has the usual links to background material.

I was there for the Thursday performance, and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy to take the Schuller was; I really liked Emmanuel Ax's playing in the Mozart: and I found the Beethoven adequately performed. It will be interesting to hear it again this evening.

The reviews — Globe here, and Boston Musical Intelligencer here — are favorable, but each reviewer finds fault with some details — a good concert, maybe even very good, but not flawless, in their opinion. The BMInt reviewer makes the Schuller sound a bit less accessible than I found it, and my metaphorical eyes figuratively glazed over at his extended discussion of tempi in the Beethoven. The good acquaintance who gave me a ride to the subway garage thought Nelsons slowed things too much in the ritardandi in the Beethoven; and the man who sat across the aisle from me stormed out during the applause saying vehemently several times that he found it horrible. The rest of the audience seemed to love it.

Near me were maybe 20 B.U. students. Before the concert several of them exchanged cheerful waves with schoolmates in the opposite balcony. Some left during the intermission. I guess they were there mainly for the Schuller, but anyway it was nice to have a good sized contingent of young people in attendance.

As always you can hear it on radio or over the web through the facilities of WCRB at 8:00 p.m. this evening and rerun on Monday, February. Their website has links to other information about this and other programming, including their podcast, "The Answered Question." See what you think. It will probably help a lot if you've looked at the program note for the Schuller before the concert, and the podcasts from the orchestra and WCRB would also help explain what it's all about. At one time, the BSO had pre-concert lectures, which I found very useful, especially for new works. These podcasts are a pretty good replacement, and you don't have to be in Symphony Hall in order to hear them. The WCRB website also has a gallery of the seven paintings, which could be good to see while the associated music is being played.

No comments:

Post a Comment