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Exciting, Colorful, Varied – The Boston Musical Intelligencer – Lyric Say

Mark Elder (Michael J. Lutch picture)

Friday afternoon’s BSO subscription live performance, some of the attention-grabbing musical occasions I’ve attended in lots of months, centered on a commissioned work as a centerpiece and in addition contained a fantastic cohort of less-often-heard masterpieces, masterfully directed by a visiting professional, Sir Mark Elder, director of the Hallé Orchestra of Manchester.

Ravel’s Ma Mère l’Oye, Mom Goose, is acquainted to everybody in its unique piano-duet type (1908) or as a collection for smaller orchestra; the so-called full model rearranges the order of items, provides a Prelude and Spinning-wheel Dance, and inserts some temporary interludes. It’s fairy-tale music of surpassing tenderness and wit, set in a robust however delicate orchestral material for which Ravel was already well-known. In 1910 the 28-year-old Stravinsky got here to Paris to dazzle the French composers with Russian exoticism in Firebird, and important affect from the youthful composer is obvious within the forest noises in Ravel’s ballet.

Elena Langer, a local of Russia now resident in England, was current for the Boston premiere of what she known as “a cross between a cello concerto and a cantata,” her co-commission for the BSO and the London Symphony, which had premiered the work final yr.  The Dong with a Luminous Nostril, for refrain, solo cello, and orchestra, makes use of Edward Lear’s prolonged nonsense textual content of 1887 (this appeared in supertitle projection on a display screen above the stage because the refrain sang). The brand new work shows Langer’s fondness for her adopted language, and I instantly remembered that Stravinsky’s final composition, in 1966, had set Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat, a favourite poem of his spouse. It contained an abundance of bells and heat triadic sound, particularly within the verse-cadences sung blazingly by the refrain, from the opening growly darkness to open-air luminosity. A lot of the well-scanned textual content swayed forwards and backwards in 6/8, with waltzlike episodes and melodies in parallel thirds. Choral outbursts had been set off by cadenzas for the BSO principal Blaise Déjardin; he sat entrance and middle and started the piece with complete expressive consideration. The Tanglewood Pageant Refrain made a lot of the Lear’s textual content, sounding like a 20th-century Anglican choral-society, and veering often right into a parodistic model like Shostakovich’s. The atmosphere, typically shrill and high-register, projected loads of string harmonics and piccolo, although a lot of the marketed complicated percussion wasn’t audible. The Dong’s luminous nostril, one learns, “seeks in vain / To meet with his Jumbly Girl again,” like Diogenes and his lantern. However the search is profitable, bringing forth this 25-minute-long cantata of appreciable coloristic allure with a luminous pianissimo E-major ending.

In my posting in these pages for March 27th, 2011, I gave discover that the Boston Symphony had by no means as soon as carried out Dvořák’s symphonic poem Polednice, The Noonday Witch, op. 108.  Lastly, on this week’s live shows, the BSO made up for the absence, so I cheerfully take some credit score for this, particularly for the reason that orchestra’s handout made good use of my earlier notes.  The third work to attach with the depths of the kid’s world, this Czech people story in music, sounding nearly foolish on the floor, additionally reaches into additionally probably the most tragic realms. As a post- “New World” symphonic poem, it reveals how Dvořák superior in originality and technically inventiveness in his later years. The orchestra’s sensible efficiency clearly moved the viewers deeply. Elder’s excellent management of the dynamics, particularly within the heavy fff brass, developed an emotionally shattering fullness of orchestral sound.

The choral risers on the rear of the stage, assembled for Elena Langer’s premiere, proved completely helpful for elevating 16 further brass demanded for the fanfares that start and finish Leoš Janáček’s Sinfonietta (1926). What a tremendous total sound! It’s an orchestral spectacular of hanging Czech originality, as totally different as attainable from different live performance music of the time, owing nothing in any respect to influences from different central Europeans, German heavies, and even Bartók. The rating is replete with repeat indicators on nearly each web page, in patterns or in total irregular phrases, and is filled with registral extremes in each winds and strings, ostinati like nothing of Stravinsky’s, and favourite keys — particularly A-flat minor, which Janáček makes use of in different works however all the time, mystically, with the accidentals written out total, and by no means with the seven-flat key signature. But with all this anti-symphonic repetition and folk-tune inspiration, there’s by no means a boring second on this resplendent work of 5 very totally different actions (orchestra: 3+picc.-2+Eng.horn-2+ Eflatcl.+basscl.-2, 4-3-3-1, harp, 4 timpani, cymbals, bells, and strings, plus 9 trumpets. 2 bass trumpets, and a couple of Wagner tenor tubas).

The brass sounded gratifying loud however completely modulated and by no means edgy (I’ve complained earlier than about how Andris Nelsons typically coaxes the trumpets and trombones to play too loud; this by no means occurred with Elder yesterday, and but the sound positively thundered). The strings, with Violins II positioned on the proper, in entrance of the cellos, for this sequence of live shows solely, additionally outdid themselves in tonal power and colour; visiting concertmaster, Budapest-based Nathan Giem, Budapest, concertmaster for the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, appeared reassured and ready, and nicely supported by Alexander Velinzon in second chair). Throughout your entire afternoon I felt very a lot at house with Elder (in a black Nehru jacket). In full and assured management of the whole lot, omitting his baton within the Langer work for the good thing about the refrain, he gave the impression to be having fun with himself, as a lot because the orchestra. Everybody appeared completely dedicated to an unusually contemporary and ingenious program.

Mark DeVoto, musicologist and composer, is an professional on the music of Alban Berg, Debussy, and different early Twentieth-century composers. A graduate of Harvard Faculty (1961) and Princeton (Ph.D., 1967), he has revealed on many music topics, and edited the revised fourth (1978) and fifth (1987) editions of Concord by his trainer Walter Piston.
13 further brass above. Under: Blaise Déjardin and Elena Langer (Michael J. Lutch images)

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