Beethoven’s Ninth closes BSO’s 2013 Tanglewood season
August 25, 2013 performance; by Dave Read
There is an appealing symmetry in the scheduling of Beethoven’s Ninth at Tanglewood; it is the composition chosen 76 years ago by founding maestro Serge Koussevitsky to open the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer sojourn in the Berkshires and now it is almost always* played on the closing program. (*Former music director James Levine opened the 2006 Tanglewood season with Beethoven’s Ninth.)
For today’s concert, with BSO Conductor Emeritus Bernard Haitink leading the BSO, Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and soprano Erin Wall, mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford, tenor Joseph Kaiser, and bass-baritone John Relyea, a capacity audience filled the Koussevitsky Music Shed and seven or eight thousand more convened on the Lawn, all on a day when the weather was the sort that makes even the most sullen among us see the sunny side of things.
The performance of Maestro Haitink seemed flawless, as if he were at the pre-emeritus peak of his long career. He commanded the 200+ musicians arrayed before him with an economy of action that nonetheless elicited a banquet of beautiful music. He showed that fury can be conveyed without frenzy.
Today’s performance thwarted my most determined attempt at entering a thought-less state, so that I might simply go with what flows from the stage. The first idea that trotted along was that a setting such as this, the bucolic Berkshires on a splendid summer afternoon, must’ve been put before us so that we could access a tangible, visual analog to these sounds that are rustling our souls. And that was enough to make me quit jotting mental notes. For the balance of today’s 71 minute celebration, I was delighted merely to be marked present. The ovations that followed were joyous and prolonged and included the musicians’ foot stomping salute to Maestro Haitnik.