For classical music I have a strong preference for chamber and contemporary music, so it’s not surprising that I don’t make it out to the BSO that often. But their $20 tix for people under 40 program, which is continuing through the rest of the current season, has definitely rekindled my interest.
Ended up at the concert featuring guest conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin in his BSO debut (he apparently just began his first season at the Rotterdam Philharmonic). The program consisted of Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales, Liszt’s Piano Concerto #2, and Dvořák’s Symphony #6. I’m not a fan of overly athletic conductors, so I found Nézet-Séguin’s style generally distracting, although Eichler didn’t, in his review for The Globe. I agreed with his review in general, although in the Dvořák, Eichler thought Nézet-Séguin “daringly pushed the tempo to the limits”, whereas I felt in those cases the tempo reached speeds that edged a bit too close to the boundary between an exciting performance and a train wreck just waiting to happen. I can certainly see how others would enjoy the by-the-seat-of-your-pants breathlessness, though, and his performance was very well received. But I did agree that Thibaudet successfully threw off any Gallic reserve in tackling the Liszt, giving a performance that, while not overly muscular, still felt sinewy and athletic. The orchestra, as always, sounded great, and it was nice to hear Dvořák’s Symphony #6, which according to Marc Mandel, Director of Program Publications, in his pre-concert talk was last performed by the BSO ten years ago.
It’s not often that anyone mentions the thankless job of doing the pre-concert talk, but my companion wanted to hear it and Mandel did a nice job of presenting the history of each piece in context, although without many specifcs about the construction of the music itself, no doubt due to his target audience. His love of the Dvořák #6 was clearly evident, and his talk was certainly successful in setting the stage.
Afterwards the BSO held a signing with Thibaudet, and actually also had a post-concert reception, part of their new Symphony+ series of events. According to their website, Symphony+ is “a series of pre- and Post-Concert events that enhance the overall concert experience. Symphony+ connects food, literature, and the performing and visual arts to the BSO concerts at Symphony Hall and adds an exciting new element to the concerts.” I’m all in favor of such efforts by arts organizations, and although the reception was well organized, it didn’t seem to have much point. The conductor and pianist were supposed to be present, but they weren’t, presumably because the latter was still signing CDs. I, and I’m sure many others, only waited around for a bit and left because it didn’t seem like anything was going to happen anytime soon. I like the idea of post-concert mingling, although I’m not sure how natural it is to include the performers anyway, but regardless you’d think that the people organizing these things would come up with a better plan to foster interaction between strangers than just “a pass for a free drink, coffee and tea, snacks, tables and chairs”. But maybe that wasn’t the intention at all; in any case, maybe they’ll come up with some better ideas in the future, and at the very least the reception provided a nice coda to an enjoyable evening. Hopefully I’ll be able to make it to at least another concert before the end of the season.