Next summer promises to be a safe one, musically, at Tanglewood.
By Jonathan Blumhofer
After the Summer-of-all-things-Bernstein that was Tanglewood 2018, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s (BSO) summer home in the Berkshires is resorting to a comparably subdued 2019. The season schedule, released this week, largely reverts to a mix of canonical favorites plus highlights from the BSO’s previous season.
If you love standard fare, it’ll be well-represented in Lenox: pieces by Mozart (Piano Concertos nos. 12 & 22), Beethoven (Symphonies nos. 4, 6, and 9; Piano Concerto no. 4), Schubert (Symphony no. 2), Schumann (Cello Concerto, Symphony no. 2), Grieg (Piano Concerto), Brahms (Piano Concerto no. 2, Symphony no. 1, Serenade no. 1), Dvorak (Symphonies nos. 7, 8, and 9; the Violin Concerto), Tchaikovsky (Hamlet Overture, Symphony no. 6), Rachmaninoff (Piano Concertos no. 1 & 3), Sibelius (Symphony no. 1), and Mahler (Symphonies nos. 4 & 5) all figure prominently.
Tucked in among the familiar are a spate of curiosities and world premieres. BSO music director Andris Nelsons, who helms most of the season’s first four weeks, continues his worthy advocacy of new trumpet concertos, leading the world premiere of Detlev Glanert’s Trumpet Concerto with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra (TMCO; BSO principal trumpet Tom Rolfs is the soloist) and a reprise of HK Gruber’s Aerial (with Hakan Hardenberger). Nelsons also conducts some Copland (Quiet City and Symphony no. 3), and he leads what promise to be two of the summer’s most exciting events: Verdi’s Requiem (with the BSO on July 13th) and a concert performance of Wagner’s Die Walküre (over two days and nights with the TMCO, July 27th and 28th). Amber Wagner, Christine Goerke, Simon O’Neill, and James Rutherford headline the latter’s cast.
Other highlights include Nelsons conducting the world premiere of Kevin Puts’ The Brightness of Light and a Gershwin-Stravinsky triple bill over one weekend (July 20th and 21st); Asher Fisch leading the American premiere of Avner Dorman’s Double Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Orchestra (with Pinchas Zukerman and Amanda Forsyth, August 3rd); and Thomas Adès conducting Ives’ Three Places in New England (August 11th).
Additional soloists appearing with the BSO or TMCO include pianists Emmanuel Ax, Inon Barnatan, Yefim Bronfman, Ingrid Fliter, Kirill Gerstein, Paul Lewis, Nikolai Lugansky, and Jean-Yves Thibaudet; violinists Joshua Bell, Leonidas Kavakos, and Anne-Sophie Mutter; and cellists Gautier Capuçon and Yo-Yo Ma.
There is one birthday celebration in the summer’s mix: Andre Previn’s 90th. The longtime BSO guest conductor is represented by two pieces, his 2003 Violin Concerto (played by dedicatee Mutter on July 6th) and a new work for Renee Fleming and the Emerson String Quartet (July 24th).
The summer’s other guests include Hilary Hahn playing Bach (July 10th), the Venice Baroque Orchestra with Avi Avital (July 11th), Thomas Hampson and Lara Downes offering selections from the American Songbook (July 31st), Antonio Pappano and Joyce DiDonato with the National Youth Orchestra of the U.S.A. (August 1st), the Ax-Kavakos-Ma Trio playing Beethoven (August 6th), Ma presenting the six Bach Cello Suites (August 11th), and Gil Shaham with The Knights in a Hungarian-themed program (August 15th).
Mandolinist Chris Thile has a show on June 15th, James Taylor gives his only New England concerts of the summer on July 3rd and 4th, and the Pops present a handful of events, including a screening of Star Wars: A New Hope (August 16th) with live orchestra.
In all, then, next summer promises to be a safe one, musically, at Tanglewood: a bit of a comedown from 2018, yes, but not one entirely lacking in excitement.
Jonathan Blumhofer is a composer and violist who has been active in the greater Boston area since 2004. His music has received numerous awards and been performed by various ensembles, including the American Composers Orchestra, Kiev Philharmonic, Camerata Chicago, Xanthos Ensemble, and Juventas New Music Group. Since receiving his doctorate from Boston University in 2010, Jon has taught at Clark University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and online for the University of Phoenix, in addition to writing music criticism for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.