BSO soars at Tan­gle­wood

Albany Times Union - Sunday - - AROUND THE REGION - By Priscilla Mclean ▶

Lenox, Mass. Some­times a re­viewer’s job is dif­fi­cult: so-so per­for­mance, rushed tempi, out-of-tune play­ing, etc. But on Fri­day night in the Berk­shires, it was a mir­a­cle of joy. Un­der An­dris Nel­sons’ ba­ton and lead­er­ship, the Boston Sym­phony Orches­tra has reached its finest point. Pre­ci­sion, great power, nu­anced play­ing — all are now sig­na­tures of the BSO.

Two com­posers were fea­tured: W.A. Mozart and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The BSO gave a tight ren­di­tion of Mozart’s Over­ture to “The Magic Flute,” which led to the much longer Pi­ano Con­certo No. 24 in C mi­nor. To the ec­stasy of the au­di­ence, the soloist was Lang Lang, the in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned pi­anist whose suc­cess­ful ca­reer has ri­valed Mozart’s in many ways. Lang’s de­meanor is one of en­thralled joy, and his play­ing al­ter­nated be­tween del­i­cacy and strong melodic line. Orches­tra and soloist of­ten sounded as one in­stru­ment, the pi­ano blend­ing so well it seemed to melt into the or­ches­tral tex­ture.

Lang played a Chopin pre­lude for an encore to rap­tur­ous ap­plause.

At in­ter­mis­sion, he was seen at the back­stage door thank­ing the grow­ing throng of young peo­ple who were run­ning to see him with an en­thu­si­asm that sug­gested the Bea­tles were in the house. Lang Lang — the clas­si­cal rock star.

The Tchaikovsky Sym­phony No. 5 is one of the most pop­u­lar or­ches­tral works, though it might be in­ter­est­ing to read the re­sponse of a Boston critic back in 1892 who, af­ter hear­ing its de­but in that city, com­pared one pas­sage to “a horde of demons strug­gling in a tor­rent of brandy, the mu­sic grow­ing drunker and drunker. Pan­de­mo­nium, delir­ium tremens, rav­ing, and above all, noise worse con­founded!”

Hear­ing the BSO per­form it was like hear­ing it for the first time, though the ef­fect was any­thing but con­found­ing. The strength of the brass was amaz­ing, and the horn solo by prin­ci­pal player James Som­merville was sub­lime. Ev­ery phrase of this volatile sym­phony was per­fectly per­formed, as the mu­sic rose to great power and faded into black depths in the first move­ment and in the third danced along cheer­fully in waltz time.

Nel­sons has such to­tal con­trol over his en­sem­ble, and it in turn pos­sesses such sen­si­tiv­ity, that at times he barely has to con­duct.

Priscilla Mclean is a free­lance writer and com­poser/per­former from Peters­burgh.

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