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Tanglewood at 75

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Schoenberg / Liszt, Piano Concertos, E. Ax, Philharmonia Orchestra, E.-P. Salonen

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Ives, Three Places in New England (chamber orch. version), Boston Symphony Orchestra, M. Tilson Thomas

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Stravinsky, Petruchka (1911 version), New York Philharmonic, P. Boulez
Charles T. Downey, Tanglewood continues its traditions with student musicians tackling Ives (The Classical Review, July 24)
In 1936, members of the Tappan family donated their estate in the Berkshires to the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Under the guidance of music director Serge Koussevitzky, the Tanglewood summer festival was born, officially 75 years ago this August. The organization is celebrating the anniversary with a new digital streaming audio project, offering 75 historic performances from Tanglewood for online listening and purchase.

While the festival remembers its past, the tradition continues, with an orchestra full of talented young musicians in residence at the Tanglewood Music Center, where they study with members of the BSO. On Monday night, the students played the third of four weekly concerts, this time under guest conductor Stefan Asbury in Seiji Ozawa Hall.

Not one to let the kids down easy, Asbury led a daunting program by any professional standard. They responded with sparkling energy and vitality, and more than their share of poise in the face of pressure. If the evening had an air of the carnival about it, it was because two of the most famous orchestral evocations of the chaotic fair began and concluded the concert.

An almost imperceptible whoosh of sound began Charles Ives’s Three Places in New England, with blurred chords undulating under the soft quotations of tunes evoking the Civil War, an elegiac tribute to the soldiers commemorated in the portrait of Colonel Shaw’s regiment by Augustus St. Gaudens. The middle movement was as boisterous and multiphonic as the dream-memory of the Fourth of July picnic that inspired it, with its clash of quoted patriotic tunes and out-of-sync bands. The third movement, a tribute to a walk Ives enjoyed with his new bride along the Housatonic River — which has its source not far from Tanglewood — rolled tidally, a sort of American Rhine music of soft chords and burbling woodwinds. Although not all of the members of the vast orchestra performed fluently — and not only in the ways that Ives intended — there was plenty of gusto in the big crescendos. [Continue reading]
Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra
Ives, Three Places in New England
Schoenberg, Piano Concerto, op. 42 (with Emanuel Ax, piano)
Stravinsky, Petrushka (1911 version)
Stefan Asbury, conductor
Seiji Ozawa Hall, Tanglewood

James R. Oestreich, Tanglewood’s Archival Magic Still Casts a Spell (New York Times, June 28)

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