Classical Music Sampler: July 2012

The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s (BSO) residency at Tanglewood begins with an all-Beethoven concert on July 6th and runs through August 26th (when it concludes with a John Harbison premiere and more Beethoven—the Ninth).

By Jonathan Blumhofer.

Joshua Bell comes to Tanglewood this summer.

A few uninspired programming choices notwithstanding (like Mozart’s over-hyped, dinner music masterpiece Eine kleine Nachtmusik on July 22nd), this looks to be a pretty good 75th anniversary season with plenty of names, big and small, turning up over the next two months and some interesting repertoire to boot. Here are my picks for Tanglewood in July:

Tanglewood (all BSO performances are in the Shed; the rest are in Ozawa Hall)

July 7 (8:30 p.m.): Superstar violinist Joshua Bell (who returns to Symphony Hall in October with Leonard Bernstein’s exuberant Serenade) performs Ravel’s Tzigane and premieres Edgar Meyers’s Double Concerto for violin, double bass, and orchestra. Michael Stern conducts additional scores by Barber and Tchaikovsky.

July 11(8 p.m.): Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and her longtime accompanist Lambert Orkis present a wide-ranging recital of pieces by Mozart, Schubert, and Saint-Saëns, and give the American premiere of André Previn’s Sonata no. 2 for violin and piano.

July 14 (8:30 p.m.): An all-star roster of guest soloists (Ms. Mutter, Yo-Yo Ma, Peter Serkin, Emmanuel Ax, and James Taylor—not to mention special guests who haven’t yet been announced) join four conductors (John Williams, Keith Lockhart, Andris Nelsons, and David Zinman), the BSO, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus (TFC) in a good, old fashioned selection of instrumental, vocal, and orchestral showpieces to celebrate Tanglewood’s 75th birthday. Highlights include works by Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein, and Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy. The evening ends with just about everybody onstage in probably the most appropriate of celebratory pieces for such an occasion: Beethoven’s quirky, majestic Choral Fantasy.

July 15 (2:30 p.m.): Once the BSO and TFC recover from the previous evening, Andris Nelsons conducts them in an afternoon performance of Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, followed by Brahms’s sunny Second Symphony. It should be the perfect tonic with which to close the weekend.

Conductor Andris Nelsons

July 20 (8:30 p.m.): Violinist Dan Zhu joins the BSO in Leonard Bernstein’s aforementioned Serenade, and conductor Christoph Eschenbach leads the Orchestra in Tchaikovsky’s Symphony no. 6.

July 23 (8 p.m.): The Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra (TMCO), comprised of students in residence at the Tanglewood Music Center (TMC), presents a bracing, all-20th century program featuring Arnold Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto (with Emmanuel Ax), Charles Ives’s Three Places in New England, and Stravinsky’s 101-year old ballet, Petrushka, all conducted by fellows from the TMC.

July 28 (8:30 p.m.): Charles Dutoit commences a three-concert residency, leading the BSO, TFC, PALS Children’s Chorus, and soloists (including Susan Graham and Sir Willard White) in Berlioz’s epic masterpiece, La Damnation de Faust. If any piece should fit a summer’s evening like a glove, it’s this one.

July 29 (2:30 p.m.): Emmanuel Ax joins Mr. Dutoit and the BSO in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 3, while the Orchestra concludes its survey of the last three Tchaikovsky symphonies with the best of the lot, the Fifth.

July 30 (8 p.m.): For an arresting program of 20th and 21st century music you’re not likely to hear at Symphony Hall any time soon, check out this program by the TMCO: Magnus Lindberg’s Gran Duo, Olivier Messiaen’s Oiseaux Exotique, Varèse’s Intégrales, and Stravinsky’s Les Noces. Charles Dutoit conducts.

Bang on a Can Festival (all performances at MASS MoCA in North Adams)

July 21 (8 p.m.): The Bang on a Can All-Star present their new, evening-length program, Field Recordings, which features ten composers exploring some feature (or features) of recorded sound. Boston audiences got a glimpse of this at MIT in March, but here is the first regional performance of the whole thing.

July 23 (4:30 p.m.): A free performance of seven new works written by festival composers Samuel Crawford, Daniel Dehaan, Fjola Evans, Molly Fishman, Yotam Haber, Loren Loiacono, Mike Perdue, and John Supko.

July 28 (4-10 p.m.): The 6-hour festival finale features a typically varied mix of musical fare and this year includes a special focus on the music of Steve Reich (who is slated to be in attendance). In addition to Mr. Reich’s 2×5, Eight Lines, and Cello Counterpoint, some seminal (and underperformed) 20th century American music will be played, including George Crumb’s Ancient Voices of Children and Lou Harrison’s Violin Concerto. Where else might you find all this variety brushing up against additional works by Giacinto Scelsi, Pauline Oliveros, and a half-dozen-plus other composers? If anything qualifies as “mustn’t be missed” this summer, I think this might be the event.

And back in Boston . . .

Wednesday Concert Series. At the Church of St. John Evangelist, 35 Bowdoin Street, Boston, MA, every Wednesday, 5:30 p.m, free.

July 4: Linda Papatopoli and Bert Yocum (piano four hands) will present “Marches and Americana:Celebrating America’s Birthday.”

July 11: Carolyn Enger (piano) will perform works by Beethoven, Schubert and Starer.

July 18: Laura Shamu (oboe, English horn); Geoffrey Shamu (cornet, trumpet); Steven Yanger (piano) and Melika Fitzhugh (guitar) will perform works by Falla, poulenc, Vivaldi and a world premiere by Melika Fitzhugh.

July 25: Three Way Split, featuring trumpeters Tom Duprey, Greg Hopkins and Ken Pullig, will perform works by Byrd, Britten, Paganini, Duprey, Hopkins, Pullig and more.

Christopher Wilkins and the Boston Landmark Orchestra

All-Copland Concert. Presented by Christopher Wilkins and the Boston Landmarks Orchestra (BLO). At the Hatch Shell, July 11, 7 p.m.

Christopher Wilkins and the Boston Landmarks Orchestra (BLO) open their season with an all-Copland concert that includes Appalachian Spring, and music from Billy the Kid and The Tender Land. Choral ensemble Boston Sings and baritone Robert Honeysucker join the BLO for additional selections from Copland’s catalogue of vocal music. Rain location is the Back Bay Events Center (180 Berkeley Street).

Music inspired by rivers. Presented by Christopher Wilkins and the Boston Landmarks Orchestra (BLO). At the Hatch Shell, July 25, 7 p.m.

Mr. Wilkins again conducts the BLO, this time in a program of music inspired by rivers. Smetana’s much loved Moldau and Johann Strauss’s An der schönen, blauen Donau are paired with Schumann’s “Rhenish” Symphony and Duke Ellington’s The River. Rain location is, again, the Back Bay Events Center.

Orpheus in the Underworld. Presented by Boston Opera Collaborative. At Strand Theater, Dorchester, MA, July 26–29, times vary.

After the success of last summer’s Falstaff, Boston Opera Collaborative presents their 2012 summer production, Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld.

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