Saturday, March 11, 2017

BSO — 2017/03/11

The Boston Symphony has returned to Symphony Hall just over a week ahead of the swallows' return to Capistrano. Unfortunately, they weren't back in time to play on Thursday, so I haven't heard the abbreviated week's very full concert under the baton of Finnish guest conductor Sakari Oramo. The show opens with Symphony № 3 by Sibelius. Then, after intermission, orchestra and conductor are joined by pianist Kirill Gerstein and the men of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus for the Piano Concerto of Busoni. That's right. There's a men's chorus in the fifth(!) movement of this 70-75 minute work. The orchestra's performance detail page provides the usual links and this description:
Finnish conductor Sakari Oramo and Russian pianist Kirill Gerstein return to Symphony Hall, joining the BSO and the men of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus for the visionary Italian composer Ferruccio Busoni's monumental Piano Concerto, a fascinating but rarely heard work of Mahlerian scope dating from the first years of the 20th century. These are the first BSO performances. (Future BSO conductor Karl Muck led the premiere in Berlin in 1904.) Opening the program is a very different sort of piece from the same era, Jean Sibelius's Symphony No. 3, a sunny, open work with numerous touches of folk-music simplicity.
I generally like Sibelius, and this symphony should be enjoyable. I don't know what to expect from the Busoni. I've heard the audio preview linked on the BSO page, and what's there sounds okay; but will the whole thing be engaging, or too much of an okay thing?

Surprisingly, there is already a review in the Globe. It's quite favorable and gives a fair amount of description of the music. The reviewer praises both conductor and pianist, and finds no fault with anything. (On the other hand, there are no raves such as "best performance ever.")

This sounds like a pretty good one to listen to on WCRB radio or internet, at 8:00 p.m. Boston Time Saturday, with a rerun available at 8:00 on Monday, March 20. There is a link to a podcast on one of the interior pages. Browse the site for other information about the station's offerings.

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