BSO opens Tanglewood season with 1937 all-Beethoven program
July 6, 2012 performance review by Dave Conlin Read
Despite all the attendant publicity – and publicity’s essential theme tempus fugit, I got a sense of timelessness at the opening concert of the Boston Symphony Orchestra‘s 75th anniversary Tanglewood season. Conducted by Christoph von Dohnanyi, the program was a replication of the first concert Serge Koussevitzky led in the Berkshires on Aug. 5, 1937, Beethoven’s Leonore Overture, his Symphony No. 6 and then Symphony No. 5 after intermission.
It is the genius of Beethoven and his ilk to compose scores that can be brought to life by an orchestra. Once animated, the symphony occupies a gap in time where a listener can repose, affording him a respite in eternity, without the inconvenience of dying.
Alternate metaphor: We live, if not precisely minute to minute, then moment by fleeting moment. Listening to the work of such a composer as Beethoven, I get a sense that, because these scores of musicians are so keyed into time, exquisitly so, that time itself loses its grip on me.
Watching Maestro von Dohnanyi go about his business, his gestures looking so casual (so not arty) that I imagined an overnight custodian somewhere air conducting to the radio. But he clearly was keyed in and with such a masterful grasp of timing that the smallest, quietest passages were beautifully apparent tonight. Good choice for the BSO to have the former Tanglewood Music Center conducting fellow to lead the first of several anniversary-themed programs this summer.
Since ending his 20 year tenure as Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra in 2002, Maestro von Dohnányi has kept busy. This season, he leads subscription concerts at the Boston and Chicago symphony orchestras, and at the New York Philharmonic. Last season he became Honorary Conductor for life of the Philharmonia Orchestra; this season he leads the Philharmonia in Madrid, Cardiff, in a Brahms symphony cycle at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, and at London’s Royal Festival Hall.