A brand new concerto for cello by French composer/organist Thierry Escaich, Ravel’s Alborada del gracioso, and Rachmaninoff’s wealthy, melancholic, and in the end triumphant Symphony No. 2 made for a bracingly various live performance at Symphony Corridor final evening. Music Director Andris Nelsons was on the helm, sculpting each twist and switch with readability and fantastic flexibility.
Gautier Capuçon, a French cellist of mind, extraordinary approach and opulent tone, performed the U.S. premiere of Escaich’s Les Chants de l’aube, Concerto for Cello and Orchestra with panache and keenness, charting its each problem with seemingly easy elan. The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra had premiered this joint fee with the BSO in March with the identical protagonists, so Nelsons and Capuçon introduced a well-established simpatico realization to Boston
Escaich got here on-stage with transient descriptions of what was about to be supplied: the primary motion, he stated, may depict the person colours of stained-glass home windows, which then evolve into a combination of these colours. The second would show music of an African bent, Gregorian modality, and jazz sonorities and rhythm. Lastly, motion three would supply a dialogue between a illustration of the transparency of daybreak, adopted by a dance with an explosion of colours depicting a battle between darkness and light-weight.
This rationalization would show to be an correct information. This new concerto engaged and fascinated from starting to finish. As one may think from the composer’s descriptions above, it conveys ever-changing textures and colours. The primary motion “Des Rayons et des Ombres” (Of rays and shadows) opened with nice ambiance because the soloist and orchestra strings batted speedy pianissimo swirling figures forwards and backwards between them. This “trading-off” of music between soloist and orchestra would show to be a recurring component. Capuçon saved busy all through, and on the motion’s finish he launched into a prolonged cadenza spiked with many a left-hand pizzicato.
This led to the Concerto’s variegated second motion subtitled “Le Rivage des chants” (Riverbank of Songs) with its North African tang coloured with a number of percussion devices — crotales, vibraphone, and marimba – the latter expertly essayed by mallet-maestro J. William Hudgins. All through, Capuçon once more dominated the proceedings with vibrant and atmospheric commentary, his utter mastery of this Escaich’s many challenges very evident.
One other demanding cadenza ensued, which Escaich writes “…leads the piece into an unreal, clear second, like a dawn the place time appears stopped.” The third motion “Danse de l’aube” (Daybreak Dance) begins serenely with a protracted and languid melody intoned by the solo cello, however that’s quickly interrupted by “..a ritual and obstinate dance” which grows in depth and rhythm because it programs its path to the Concerto’s sensible ultimate pages which culminate in a blaze of shade and rhythmic drive, to which, when achieved, each viewers and orchestra reacted with audible and enthusiastic acclaim.
Composer, soloist, and conductor appeared very proud of the end result, and far smiling and embracing of one another happened in the course of the prolonged ovation. The BSO cello part appeared warmly to admire Capuçon achievements, with a lot bow tapping and waving. And really, I might gladly hear this top-tier cellist once more in any repertoire. And having stated that, this specific concerto deserves a large listening to, because it gives virtuosity, nice shade, and pleasingly various texture all through, by no means as soon as uninteresting or boring in its span. Kudos are as a result of all — this was a splendid premiere.
Nelsons had opened the night with Ravel’s Alborada del gracioso, a superb orchestral transcription from 1918 of a motion from his 1905 Miroirs for solo piano. Stephen Ledbetter’s entertaining and informative program notice means that the title may point out a morning music of a buffoon/jester/clown, and whereas which will certainly be so, there is no such thing as a clowning with the appreciable calls for Ravel locations upon the orchestra, with fiendishly speedy triple-tonguing within the horns and trumpets and beguiling rubato required within the slower moments of this extremely colourful rating. Whereas Nelsons had clearly mastered the duty of indicating the entire nuances to his expenses, there was a little bit of unsettled ensemble evident at occasions that can probably evaporate into perfection by Saturday’s efficiency. Fast suggestion: for an additional “take” on this Ravel, I’d advocate a hearken to Fritz Reiner’s excellent studying with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra — a efficiency of supreme virtuosity overlaid with telling Iberian ambiance.
After intermission, Nelsons and the BSO embarked upon a voyage by means of Rachmaninoff’s monumental Symphony No. 2, supplied in these concert events fortunately uncut. Whereas I can recognize why sure conductors really feel this symphony wants trimming, Rachmaninoff was not joyful when others curtailed his efforts. Harlow Robinson wrote about how the composer “…made clear (to his good friend, conductor Eugene Ormandy) how strongly he objected to any tampering with what many take into account his biggest symphonic masterpiece. ‘You don’t know what cuts do to me,’ he stated. ‘It’s like chopping a bit out of my coronary heart.’”
This was a rare efficiency from many views, particularly Nelson’s many intriguing and convincing interpretive choices. Not as soon as did this efficiency stray into “purple” manipulations of shade and quantity. Nelsons’s steerage revealed many treasures with out extremes of quantity and extreme rubato. Nearly each interpretive system utterly satisfied me, particularly when Nelsons held again the place others may need plunged ahead. He beautifully marshalled every long-arching crescendo , permitting a topping out of sound that made extra affect due to its fastidiously deliberate ascent. Scrumptious, too, was Nelson’s shaping of phrases. He exhibited thrilling management of those all through, demonstrating every with very exact but minimal indications. My in-concert notes recall how Nelsons many times subtly formed this symphony’s sinuous and sumptuously melodic musical strains.
After all, listening to the BSO in Symphony Corridor play this rhapsodic rating is in itself an actual privilege. I’ve remarked earlier than that there’s actually nothing equal to listening to the BSO strings mixing along with such unity of goal and wealthy sonority. Add to this the present excellent state of the orchestra’s woodwinds, and the magisterial sound of the orchestra’s brass, plus the affect of its percussion, and the result’s a sound by which one might be utterly immersed and mesmerized. All of this excellence supplied in realizing Rachmaninoff’s many calls for resulted in a really particular hour of finely balanced and richly rewarding music. Particular discover needs to be given to Robert Sheena’s always-mindful, musical and magnificence on the English Horn, Principal Bassonist Richard Svoboda’s many solo and ensemble contributions, Principal Clarinet William R. Hudgins’s outstanding and meltingly lovely solos, terribly delicate and characterful tuba underpinning from Mike Roylance, the whole 11-member cello part, Concertmaster Alexander Velinzon’s solos and suave main of the violins…effectively, one may go on and on.
So, in sum, a gratifying and memorable night from Andris Nelsons, cellist Andre Capuçon, composers Escaich and Rachmaninoff, and the BSO in toto, all in prime type. I’d make a degree of attending.
John W. Ehrlich is music director of Spectrum Singers, which he based 40 years in the past. He has been a singer and conductor within the Boston space for greater than 47 years.