Symphony Hall hosts a Multi-Generational Week

Filed in Gather Entertainment News Channel by on November 5, 2007 0 Comments

It’s a packed week for Symphony Hall.  The exciting new conductor (who just can’t seem to get any bad press) and most recent appointment for music director of the L.A. Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel brings his incredible Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela to Boston on Wednesday, November 7th.  This inspirational ensemble will perform Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra, Symphonic Dances from Bernstein’s West Side Story, and a selection of works by South American composers.  Expect an energetic evening that will surely convince anyone that Dudamel deserves his reputation as master musician as well as steward of classical music, magnetic personality, and gifted educator.


Starting the following night, on the 8th, Levine returns to conduct an inspired program of Viennese masters.  Last week I asked members about their favorite violinists; this week the BSO hosts another one of mine.  After hearing Christian Tetzlaff’s recordings of Mozart concerti several years ago, I knew I had found another sensitive, intelligent, and inspired musician.  His playing in those recordings, and his cycle of unaccompanied Bach at Tanglewood a few years back, seems to be informed by the entire history of the violin.  One minute he plays with the light open stroke of the baroque period, the next with the intensity, power, and warmth of Oistrakh, the next like a bluegrass fiddler, and the next as though he were in a gypsy caravan.  He will surely bring a plethora of styles to Berg’s Violin Concerto.  Mourning the untimely passing of Manon Gropius, daughter of Alma Mahler and Walter Gropius, Berg wrote this concerto using a triadic tone-row, arch-like, palindromic formal structures, tonal allusions, and a dramatic chorale in the end to create of work of great depth and sensitivity.


Alban Berg described the first movement of Mahler’s monumental Ninth Symphony as “the expression of an unheard-of love for this earth, the longing to live in peace upon her… before Death comes… This entire movement is based upon a presentiment of death.”  Thus the BSO continues featuring masterpieces that grapple with the tragedy of mortality.  Mahler’s Ninth is one of the largest, most celebrated, and most probing of these works, and unlike his earlier symphonies, the Ninth doesn’t end in a raucous apotheosis.  However, even as the tonal center of the piece recedes from D to Db, hope is not entirely lost, as Shostakovich would have it.  What are your thoughts on this piece?  Musical meaning is very subjective, but does anyone have any personal reactions and connections to this masterpiece?


Also, what does everybody think about Dudamel?  It seems like American media can’t get enough of him.  What do you all think?  Will he lead the LA Philharmonic in the right direction?


(Sources: The Music of Alban Berg by Douglas Jorman and an essay from The Mahler Companion, ed. By Donald Mitchell and Andrew Nicholson, entitled The Ninth Symphony by Stephen E. Hefling.)

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I am a classical music enthusiast and employee of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

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