Every single player and singer seemed thrilled to be performing this music, absorbed in it, attentive to their masterful conductor and having a good time. It made me think how often that is not the case at symphony concerts.
There were no star soloists or conductors around on Friday night and since the TMC is over, no music students to paper the hall. But with David Zinman (pictured) conducting a raring-to-go Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) and an even more psyched Tanglewood Festival Chorus and soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, Friday night’s program of Poulenc’s Gloria and Holst’s The Planets Suite for Large Orchestra proved to be one of the highlights of this long, uneven summer at Tanglewood.
The evening sent the ovation-inflation monitor soaring. The orchestra and conductor received prolonged standing ovations from the audience; each section received ovations from the others; the choral director received an ovation from the musicians; everybody applauded the conductor.
The Tanglewood Festival Chorus under John Oliver was particularly crisp and alive with Armenian-Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian (pictured at left) making a satisfyingly earthy soloist for this less than ethereal piece of liturgical music. Holst’s astrological suite (we often hear the Jupiter section on classical radio stations), with its two harps, six timpani, and glockenspiel showcased the entire orchestra to advantage and gave anyone with a passing interest in astrology a lot to think about (Holst, a schoolteacher as well as amateur astrologer apparently enjoyed casting his friends’ horoscopes) and, as I listened to his program for the planets that control each sign, I found myself thinking of the temperaments of family and friends.
Musicians so like playing these pieces and audiences so much like hearing them it makes you wonder why they are not performed more frequently in Boston. Every single player and singer seemed thrilled to be performing this music, absorbed in it, attentive to their masterful conductor and having a good time. It made me think how often that is not the case at symphony concerts.
Helen Epstein is the author of Music Talks in paper and on Kindle.