Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 is a piece the BSO trots out with greater regularity of late than most orchestras (as Tanglewood aficionados are aware, it’s been the traditional summer closer each August for about a decade now) and, while such familiarity may not exactly breed complacency, it certainly runs the risk of so doing.
As the BSO searches for its new music director, Mr. Salonen’s name is sure to come up. While he’s probably a long-shot candidate, any orchestra that has him on their podium for a week or two a season should count itself lucky.
This recording heralds a serious, probing musician exploring some vital, if unfamiliar, twentieth-century violin repertoire, and, as such, presents a more-than-welcome addition to recent solo violin discography.
If a few of his tempos, particularly in the opening movement, weren’t among the liveliest on record, there was a gravitas and underlying conviction to Mr. von Dohnányi’s interpretation of “A German Requiem” that were wholly appropriate to the piece and its appearance on a program that was presented during Holy Week.
The concert’s other purely orchestral work, Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony (no. 3), came after intermission and offered Mr. Valcuha the opportunity to demonstrate his command of large-scale symphonic structure. Let’s just say he flexed some pretty impressive muscle.
WAM’s Chamber Music Series is a model for what chamber music performance ought to be: excellent musicians performing in a small space with a rather informal air to the proceedings.
Ms. Son’s performance of Debussy’s Preludes nos. 3 – 8, while mostly note-perfect, was marked by a tentativeness that kept any of them from really blossoming.
The Boston Philharmonic Orchestra handled Lutosławski’s aleatoric textures with confidence, though the all-important brass interruptions felt more hesitant than decisive, making the work’s narrative quality rather episodic as opposed to smoothly flowing.
John Oliver, director of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, deserves the thanks of all involved for his willingness to take on this unenviable assignment, as well as credit for ensuring that the performance didn’t fall off the tracks.
The recording was made in December 2010 in San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall, and reveals an orchestra fully at home in John Adams’ distinctive idiom.