Naturgesetz, etc.

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Re: Naturgesetz, etc.

Postby Naturgesetz on Thu Nov 23, 2017 5:37 am

northlondoner wrote:Beethoven's piano concerto number 3 is wonderful.

It certainly is. I love his slow movements. (The fast ones are very good too.) It's unfortunate that the Boston Symphony broadcasts and rebroadcasts are at 1:00 a.m. London Time, but there is the "on demand" feature. For a while WCRB had to stop making BSO concerts available on demand, but I hope the problem has been resolved with the conclusion of labor negotiations.
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Re: Naturgesetz, etc.

Postby Naturgesetz on Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:31 pm

This week we get "the two B's:" Beethoven and Bruckner. Add piano soloist Rudolf Buchbinder, and we have "the three B's" — although not the ones people usually mean by that phrase. Here, to give greater precision, is the description from the BSO's program detail page: https://www.bso.org/Performance/Detail/88614/
BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons and eminent Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder pair up for Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1, a robustly elegant work with which Beethoven made his name as a composer-performer of extraordinary abilities and personality in mid-1790s Vienna. Anton Bruckner wrote his warm, majestic Fourth Symphony in 1874, but as with many of his works he subjected it to extensive revision. Though the 1881 premiere of the second version under Hans Richter in Vienna brought one of the composer's greatest successes, a third version of the score dates from 1888.

(Some emphasis added.)

That page has the usual audio previews, program notes, and performer bios.

I didn't hear either of the previous performances, but the reviews are in. The one in the Globe https://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/music/ ... l#comments is entirely favorable. The two (!) in the Boston Musical Intelligencer (the first here, https://www.classical-scene.com/2017/11/22/bso-bb/ and the second here https://www.classical-scene.com/2017/11 ... ckner-bso/ ) have some disappointments, but also found a lot to like. The first review has lengthy descriptions of both pieces which could take the place of the official program notes from the orchestra.

As always, the concert will be streamed and broadcast live over WCRB http://classicalwcrb.org/#stream/0 at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time, with the usual rebroadcast/stream on Monday, December 4, also at 8. As you can see from their homepage, they offer a lot of other recorded concerts and other music-related material which may be of interest, in addition to their regular programming.

Bruckner's symphonies are on the long side, but not hard to listen to, so I think this should be an enjoyable evening.
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Re: Naturgesetz, etc.

Postby Naturgesetz on Sat Dec 02, 2017 11:55 pm

After this evening, the Boston Symphony gives way to Holiday Pops until January. In December, WCRB will give rebroadcasts of three concerts from last summer at Tanglewood and, on December 23, Christmas-themed music conducted by Seiji Ozawa. For now, I'll let the BSO's performance detail page https://www.bso.org/Performance/Detail/88617/ tell us about this evening's concert, which will be under the baton of Music Director Andris Nelsons.
Greek-born violinist Leonidas Kavakos returns to Symphony Hall as soloist in Sergei Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2. Composed in the mid-1930s, the concerto is by turns beautifully lyrical and scintillatingly virtuosic, with a Spanish-flavored finale as a nod to Madrid, where the work was premiered in 1935. Opening these concerts is American composer Derek Bermel's "spectral love potion" Elixir, which combines colorfully tranquil music for strings with exuberant, Messiaen-like exclamations from wind instruments deployed throughout the auditorium. Completing the program is Richard Strauss's cinematic tone poem An Alpine Symphony, illustrating an excursion up, then down (at a faster pace!) a mountain, with a huge range of instrumental and compositional effects.

(Some emphasis added.)

You can get the usual descriptive material, including program notes, via the usual links on that page.

I wasn't there on Thursday so we have to rely on the reviews in the Globe http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/music/2 ... l#comments (brief, satisfied), and Boston Musical Intelligencer https://www.classical-scene.com/2017/12 ... -triumphs/ (extensive, metaphor laden, grandiloquent, approving) for insights into the performances, while the orchestra's program notes tell about the music as composed.

It'll be interesting to hear what the Bermel piece actually sounds like, although the program notes suggest you really need to be in the auditorium to get the full effect. But I'm looking forward to hearing it over WCRB http://classicalwcrb.org/#stream/0 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Since I'm not a great fan of Strauss, I won't mind missing the Alpine Symphony when my brother calls from Tokyo. You can also hear the"encore broadcast/stream at 8:00 p.m. on Monday, December 11. On the 4th, we get last Saturday's program of Beethoven and Bruckner.
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Re: Naturgesetz, etc.

Postby Naturgesetz on Sat Dec 09, 2017 10:55 pm

The BSO has given way to Holiday Pops for the rest of the year. This evening WCRB favors us with a rebroadcast/stream of the Tanglewood concert of last August 6, describes as follows in the BSO's own program detail page: https://www.bso.org/Performance/Detail/85538/
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 emphasis added.)

I don't find any reviews, but it's all good music, so I'm sure it'll be worth hearing, or rehearing. So listen in on air or over the web as WCRB http://classicalwcrb.org/#stream/0 transmits it at 8:00 p.m. Boston Time this evening. The home page also give a plethora of additional information about programming on the station, so check it out It has been their practice to repeat the Saturday BSO program a week and two days later on Monday evening. I can't find the precise schedule for that, but you can probably hear this evening's program again on December 18, and last week's Bermel, Prokofiev, and Strauss on the 11th.

Happy listening!
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Re: Naturgesetz, etc.

Postby Naturgesetz on Sat Dec 16, 2017 10:29 pm

This week, as the Holiday Pops season continues at Symphony Hall, WCRB returns us to Tanglewood with a recording of the concert of Friday, July 14, 2017. Here's what I wrote back then:
Here's how the BSO performance detail page https://www.bso.org/Performance/Detail/85542/ 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 [from April, 2015].


The order is Ravel, Haydn, intermission, Adès, Mozart.

Unfortunately, neither the Globe nor the Intelligencer reviewed the performance, but except for the Adès, it's all familiar stuff, and my recollection was that the Adès wasn't bad. So have a listen this evening over WCRB http://classicalwcrb.org/#stream/0 at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time. And check out their website for information about other programming.
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Re: Naturgesetz, etc.

Postby Naturgesetz on Sat Dec 23, 2017 4:47 am

I had somehow gotten the idea that we'd hear the Holiday Pops concert this week, but not so. Here's the program listing from WCRB: http://classicalwcrb.org/#stream/0
Saturday night at 8, join us for a night of seasonal favorites led by Seiji Ozawa.

Saturday, December 23, 2017
8:00 PM

Seiji Ozawa, conductor

BACH/STRAVINSKY Chorale Variations on Vom Himmel hoch
TCHAIKOVSKY The Nutcracker, Op. 71
BERLIOZ Overture and "Shepherd's [sic] Farewell" from Part 2 of L'enfance du Christ



(Some emphasis added.)

This probably isn't a recording of a live concert, because you wouldn't have the longest work in the middle. If it is a concert, it would have to be from years before I started this blog, so I have no further information to share about the performance. I can say that it'll be interesting to hear what Stravinsky does with "Vom Himmel Hoch." I was middle aged before I became aware of "L'enfance du Christ." I like it, and I think the Shepherds' Farewell is the best piece in it. "The Nutcracker" (entire ballet, not just the suite) needs no introduction. I find it very episodic and uneven, but it has certainly come to be identified with the season.

So enjoy.
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Re: Naturgesetz, etc.

Postby Naturgesetz on Sat Dec 30, 2017 4:34 pm

While the Holiday Pops series continues in Symphony Hall, WCRB takes us back to a sunny Sunday afternoon at Tanglewood and retransmits the concert of August 13, 2017. Here's how the orchestra's performance detail page https://www.bso.org/Performance/Detail/85539/ described it at the time:
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.)

A review of the whole weekend at Tanglewood in the Boston Musical Intelligencer https://www.classical-scene.com/2017/08 ... anglewood/ included favorable comments on this concert (Sunday at 2:30). I can't find a review in the Globe. I was there for the concert. At this point no specific memories stand out, but a general one of satisfaction.

So I definitely recommend listening to WCRB http://classicalwcrb.org/#stream/0 on air or on line this evening at 7:00 or 8:00*, Boston Time.

*There is some confusion. The web page says 7:00, but on Twitter they've been saying 8:00. Better check at 7:00 to be sure.
Edited to add: WCRB tweeted that it's 8:00, as usual.
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Re: Naturgesetz, etc.

Postby Naturgesetz on Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:48 am

The orchestra is back performing at Symphony Hall, and they have a great program this week. Here's the description from their performance detail page: https://www.bso.org/Performance/Detail/88621/
Two cornerstones of the repertoire anchor this program. The young English pianist Benjamin Grosvenor is soloist in one of Mozart's most familiar concertos, No. 21 in C, an elegant, good-natured work written and premiered in Vienna in spring 1785. Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 is the concerto's polar opposite in mood,a stormy struggle against destiny with a well-earned victory at the close. Opening the program is a rarity: the overture to the 1811 opera The Amazons by the highly successful and prolific opera composer Étienne Méhul, a contemporary of Mozart and Beethoven.

(Some emphasis added.)

The Thursday performance was cancelled because of the weather, so I haven't heard it yet, and I don't see a review in the Globe. The Intelligencer https://www.classical-scene.com/2018/01 ... aring-bso/ is enthusiastic.

The Mozart concerto is a favorite of its genre, and the Beethoven needs no introduction. So this is a concert not to be missed. As always, listen to WCRB http://classicalwcrb.org/#stream/0 at 8:00.
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Re: Naturgesetz, etc.

Postby Naturgesetz on Sat Jan 13, 2018 8:04 pm

This week's concert takes us a century and more froward from last week's, with music by Anton Webern, Igor Stravinsky, and Béla Bartók. While this may not be the most challenging music these composers wrote it is challenging, especially the first half of the concert. That's my opinion. Here's how the orchestra's performance detail page https://www.bso.org/Performance/Detail/88625/ describes it:
In his second week of concerts, François-Xavier Roth works with outstanding French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard in Bartók's percussive, glittering Piano Concerto No. 1, in which the composer's love for Central European folk music merges imaginatively with early 20th-century modernism. Music by two close Bartók contemporaries fills out the program. Anton Webern's lush twelve-minute, single-movement Passacaglia from 1908 predates the crystalline miniatures for which he is best-known. Composed the following year is Stravinsky's The Firebird, the breathtakingly magical score for the Ballets Russes that catapulted the 27-year-old composer to fame and which, more than a century later, remains one of his most beloved pieces.

(Some emphasis added.)


The reviews are in — one in the Boston Globe, https://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/music/ ... story.html and two (!) in the Boston Musical Intelligencer (here https://www.classical-scene.com/2018/01 ... o-runaway/ and here https://www.classical-scene.com/2018/01 ... st-tastes/). All three are favorable, although putting different takes on various elements of the music. They and the program notes and audio previews on the orchestra's page, should give you a pretty good idea of what you're in for if you listen, which you can this evening at 8:00 Boston Time via WCRB http://classicalwcrb.org/#stream/0 on line and on air. Challenging though I consider it, I'll be listening until my brother calls from Japan. Although there is language somewhere on the website which promises a rebroadcast on Monday a week later (which would be January 22 for this concert — and last Saturday's on January 15) I don't see it specifically for this or last week's concert. But it's worth trying if you're interested.
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Re: Naturgesetz, etc.

Postby Naturgesetz on Sat Jan 20, 2018 7:57 pm

A single work is on this week's BSO program: Symphony No. 3 by Gustav Mahler. The BSO's program detail page, https://www.bso.org/Performance/Detail/88627/ with the usual links to background info, gives this description:
The outstanding American mezzo Susan Graham joins Andris Nelsons, the BSO, and the women of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus for Mahler's Third Symphony, which, along with his Symphony No. 2, exemplifies the composer's ambitious expansion of the symphonic genre. This is the second of Mahler's trio of "Wunderhorn" symphonies (Nos. 2-4) employing text from the folk-poetry collection Des Knaben Wunderhorn. The six-movement symphony is divided into two parts. Part I is a massive, 30-plus-minute opening movement representing a Bacchic procession celebrating the arrival of summer. Part II (movements 2 through 6) is a series of character pieces representing the responses of, in turn, wild flowers, animals of the forest, mankind itself, angels, and the spirit of love.

(Some emphasis added.)

The reviews in the Globe https://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/s ... story.html and in the Boston Musical Intelligencer https://www.classical-scene.com/2018/01 ... surpassed/ are detailed and highly favorable. I was there for the Thursday performance and enjoyed it. It's a massive work, but there is very little that seemed superfluous. I was very impressed with the playing all around, especially a fine trombone solo and the offstage posthorn solo.

I definitely recommend listening this evening at 8:00, Eastern Time, over WCRB. http://classicalwcrb.org/#stream/0 On Monday at 8:00 you can hear a rebroadcast of last week's concert of Webern, Bartók, and Stravinsky. The following Monday, this will be rebroadcast.
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Re: Naturgesetz, etc.

Postby Naturgesetz on Sat Jan 27, 2018 11:58 pm

This week, the BSO gives us something old, somethings new (but not brand new) something borrowed, but nothing blue, so far as I can tell; so it isn't a wedding. What it is, we learn from the orchestra's performance detail page: https://www.bso.org/Performance/Detail/88630/
BSO Artistic Partner Thomas Adès returns to lead music of his own-a suite from his acclaimed 1995 chamber opera Powder Her Face-and joins with violinist Augustin Hadelich for György Ligeti's 1993 Violin Concerto, a wonderfully varied work that touches on virtually all of Ligeti's late musical concerns in material ranging from poignant, folk-like melody to delighted virtuosity. These performances will include a cadenza written by Thomas Adès for the finale. Opening the program is Beethoven's most boisterous and jolly symphony, No. 8. Closing the program is music from Stravinsky's 1928 ballet The Fairy's Kiss, an homage to Tchaikovsky drawing liberally on the latter's music.

(Some emphasis added.)

The old is the Beethoven, which opens the concert. The new are the Ligeti and Adès on either side of the intermission. The borrowed is music of Tchaikovsky which Stravinsky used in his ballet and divertimento. Read more about them via the links on the BSO page. Also, click on thumbnail photos for performer bios.

There is a mixed review (loved the Ligeti, liked the Adès, disappointed in the Beethoven, and doesn't like the Stravinsky) in the Boston Musical Intelligencer. https://www.classical-scene.com/2018/01 ... -buttoned/ The Globe reviewer http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/st ... l#comments found no fault with (said almost nothing about) the Beethoven and Stravinsky, liked the Adès, and raved about the Ligeti. Both found Hadelich's playing spectacular. The BMInt suggests you need to be in Symphony Hall to get the full effect of the violin playing in the Ligeti, but the reviews give good information about the pieces.

I'll be listening to WCRB http://classicalwcrb.org/#stream/0 this evening from 8:00 Boston Time until 9:00, when my brother calls from Tokyo. I'll try to catch the rest when the show is rebroadcast/streamed on Monday, February 5 at 8:00. The middle pieces may not be everybody's figurative cup of metaphorical tea, but you never know until you give it a try. I'm not sure I'll like them, although my interest is piqued for the Ligeti. They probably won't reach that spectacular cadenza the reviewers tell about before 9:00. It definitely gives me a reason to listen to the rebroadcast. If you decide to leave during the Adès, the Stravinsky will probably begin about 10:05.
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Re: Naturgesetz, etc.

Postby Naturgesetz on Sat Feb 03, 2018 11:46 pm

This week's Boston Symphony has works by Mozart and Shostakovich. As always, the orchestra's program detail page https://www.bso.org/Performance/Detail/88634/ offers links to performer bios, audio previews, program notes, and a brief description of the concert:
Andris Nelsons conducts Mozart and Shostakovich featuring soprano Kristine Opolais [and bass Alexander Tsymbalyuk]

The BSO presents one of Shostakovich's most unusual symphonies, No. 14, which continues the BSO's complete cycle of Shostakovich symphonies being recorded for future release on Deutsche Grammophon. Composed in 1969 and dedicated to Benjamin Britten, No. 14 requires the smallest instrumental forces of any Shostakovich symphony-string orchestra with ten percussionists. Opening the program is music of a very different stripe, Mozart's wonderfully amiable Gran Partita for winds. This sevenmovement serenade dates from about 1782 and is considered by many the finest work of "Harmoniemusik"- music for wind band-ever written.

(Some emphasis added.)

The reviews also give information about the pieces. The one in the Globe https://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/music/ ... story.html finds less fault with the performances than does the one in the Intelligencer. https://www.classical-scene.com/2018/02/02/39804/ Although the Thursday performance was part of my subscription, when it was time to leave, I didn't feel like making the trek into Boston, so I have nothing to add to the above information. After reading the reviews, I'm sorry I missed it. I'll listen to WCRB http://classicalwcrb.org/#stream/0 this evening and on February 12 at the usual time. Note the other programming listed on the station's website.
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Re: Naturgesetz, etc.

Postby Naturgesetz on Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:26 pm

It's Leipzig Week at the BSO, so they're offering four works from composers connected with Leipzig and the world premiere of a piece commissioned jointly by the BSO and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. As usual, the performance detail page https://www.bso.org/Performance/Detail/88637/ refuses to tell about the program in order of performance — starting with the fourth piece, back to the first, on to the last, and finishing with the second and third ("not last but least"?). Anyway, here's what they say:
Andris Nelsons conducts J.S. Bach, Schumann, Shepherd and Mendelssohn featuring pianists Thomas Adès, Kirill Gerstein and Jean-Yves Thibaudet
Boston Symphony Orchestra

Symphony Hall - Boston, MA - View Map
This excitingly varied, Leipzig-centric program-the BSO's first "Leipzig Week in Boston"-celebrates Andris Nelsons and the BSO's compelling new collaboration with the venerable Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra by featuring three composers strongly associated with that city, plus a new work jointly commissioned by both ensembles from the accomplished American orchestral composer Sean Shepherd, a Tanglewood Music Center alumnus now based in New York City. The opener brings together three world-class virtuoso pianists for Bach's triple keyboard concerto, BWV 1063, possibly created for performances involving his two elder sons, W.F. and C.P.E Bach, at Zimmermann's coffeehouse in 1730s Leipzig. Closing the concert is the deeply Romantic Scottish Symphony of Felix Mendelssohn, who was music director of the Gewandhaus from 1835 to 1847. And it was Leipzig where Robert Schumann met his wife Clara and spent much of his early career; his two contrasting, rarely heard works for chorus and orchestra on this program date from the late 1840s.


(Some emphasis added.) They don't give the titles of the Shepherd and Mendelssohn works either. Mendelssohn's song are Nachtlied and Neujahrslied; Shepherd's is titled Express Abstractionism.

I attended the Thursday performance, and I was unimpressed with "Express Abstractionism." The first three movements seemed unfocused and meaningless. The thought came to me, "There is no beauty in this." At least the last movement was calm and pleasant to listen to, beautiful in a way. When the composer came on stage for his bows, I stopped applauding. I'll give it another chance during the rebroadcast on February 19 to see if it makes more sense, but at this point (unlike one of the reviewers), I'm not hoping they will play it again.

During the Bach concerto, I noticed that Maestro Nelsons, was not conducting with a precise beat: up, down, in, out. It looked more like the way people conduct Gregorian chant, with flowing, sweeping, and occasionally circular, hand motions. The use of pianos gave a very different sound from what harpsichords give. Maybe that lusher sound had something to do with how Nelsons conducted.

The Globe https://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/specia ... story.html and Intelligencer https://www.classical-scene.com/2018/02 ... s-leipzig/ reviews are generally favorable. They, along with the program notes linked on the performance detail page, will give some idea of what to listen for — especially in the Shepherd piece — unless you prefer just to let it unfold with no preconceptions. Also available is this interview with the composer. https://www.bso.org/Medias?playlist=94150

It's all there for you — the good and the not so good — at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, over WCRB http://classicalwcrb.org/#stream/0 radio and internet, with a repeat transmission on Feb. 19, also at 8:00. Be sure to check out their website for information about other offerings.
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Re: Naturgesetz, etc.

Postby Naturgesetz on Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:46 pm

It's French Impressionists this week. (Are there Impressionists from any other country?) Here's the synopsis from the BSO's program detail page https://www.bso.org/Performance/Detail/88639/ (where you can also find the usual links to background information):
This all-French program features pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet in Ravel's serious, single-movement Piano Concerto for the left hand. Closing the program is a work that's long been a staple of the BSO repertoire, Ravel's ballet score Daphnis et Chloé, a tourde-[sic] force of orchestral coloration and dramatic atmosphere the composer felt was one of his best works. Opening the program are Ravel's orchestrations of two contrasting Debussy piano pieces. These concerts mark the 90th anniversary of Ravel's conducting the BSO at Symphony Hall while visiting America in 1928.

(Some emphasis added.)

This concert wasn't part of my subscription, so I have no impressions of my own to offer. The reviews are favorable. The Globe https://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/2018/0 ... story.html finds no fault. The Boston Musical Intelligencer https://www.classical-scene.com/2018/02/16/bso-roots/ finds a few bits that were less than perfect, but overall is very satisfied. That review also gives extensive information about the pieces, almost like program notes.

You can hear it all this evening, February 17, over WCRB http://classicalwcrb.org/#stream/0 at 8:00 p.m., Eastern time, with the usual repeat transmission at 8:00 p.m. on Monday, February 26. Impressionists aren't my favorit figurative cup of metaphorical tea, but most people like them, so enjoy.
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Re: Naturgesetz, etc.

Postby Naturgesetz on Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:16 am

"Abstract Expressionism," by Sean Shepherd, received its world premiere performance from the Boston Symphony Orchestra on the 8th, 9th, and 10th of this month. I reported on it in my post previewing the Saturday, Feb. 10, concert. This evening I listened to the rebroadcast of the concert, and can say a bit more about it. On first hearing, February 8, I couldn't tell where the divisions between the first three movements came. This time it was clear where the first movement ended and the second began. The dividing line between Nos. 2 and 3 was still unclear.

As for the music itself, the first movement seemed more coherent than it had on first hearing. The composer was clearly working with some musical ideas, and it was interesting. While there was nothing extremely beautiful, it was fairly gentle and not unpleasant to listen to.

The second and third movements still seemed overly loud, and empty of real music. At one point, I got the idea that the percussionists might be having fun playing their parts. Some others might also be having fun playing it.

But fun for the musicians doesn't necessarily mean fun for the audience. I think of an article written in the 1950's by the composer Milton Babbitt, which was given the title, "Who Cares if You Listen." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Cares_if_You_Listen Babbitt suggested that contemporary serious music, such as his, was beyond the ability of most concert-goers to understand and appreciate — "better than it sounds," as a 19th Century wit said of Wagner. I mention this, not to suggest that Sean Shepherd shares the late Mr. Babbitt's contempt for the audience, but only to make the point that professional musicians can appreciate things which exceed the grasp of ordinary amateur listeners. Having said that, I'll also give the music the faint praise of saying that I'd much rather listen to it than the horrors by Babbitt and Elliot Carter which James Levine inflicted on us when he was Music Director of the BSO.

Surprisingly (or not because of heightened expectations), I found the fourth movement somewhat less appealing than I had at the premiere. In the hall, it had seemed calm and gentle. Maybe it was the fault of the broadcast engineer, but over the radio it seemed significantly louder, which made individual parts stand out more but concomitantly detracted from its overall beauty.

I wasn't listening with program notes in hand to try to see how the music related to the work of the visual artists who were the composer's inspiration; I was approaching it simply as music. On a third hearing, if it happened, I would try to make those associations. But for now, I'll just say that I can appreciate that Sean Shepherd had some ideas, some inspirations he tried to put into music, and he didn't utterly fail. But this listener has not been moved to want to hear it again and again, which would be necessary for the piece to have any chance of revealing that it's better than it sounds.
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