On the whole, 2016-17 is shaping up to be one of the liveliest Boston Symphony Orchestra seasons since the first years of James Levine’s tenure.
Gustav Mahler’s 3rd Symphony as performed on the opening weekend at Tanglewood by the Boston Symphony and choruses under the direction of Rafael Frubeck De Burgos was a triumph of both interpretive and technical performance.
It’s rather melancholy to think that this incarnation of the TMCO will never perform again as an ensemble. Such is the nature, though, of Tanglewood and many summer music festivals.
The overall prognosis for the Boston Symphony Orchestra is good. While there remains room for growth and improvement both artistically and financially, the Orchestra has the advantage of a solid musical reputation and a strong core of patrons who support its mission.
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.
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.
Perhaps most remarkably, BSO conductor Stéphane Denève managed to create an atmosphere in which the Symphony Hall audience, which at this time of year sometimes sounds like it’s made up of inpatients from a tuberculosis ward, was utterly captivated: even the quietest moments were accompanied by a welcomed, attentive silence.
After the “Lobgesang”’s premiere, Robert Schumann declared this movement “a glimpse of heaven filled with Raphael’s madonnas,” and Saturday’s performance by the BSO came about as close to that as one could imagine, sensitively phrased and beautifully blended.
Guest conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, music director of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, is a big man who conducts with big gestures. In the first half of “The Rite of Spring” I wasn’t quite sure if his podium mannerisms (which culminated in jumping jacks during the concluding “Dance of the Earth”) were helpful or distracting.