July 13, 2015 Article by Dave Read
The Friday July 10, 2015 program in the Koussevitsky Music Shed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra gave the lie to the popular misconception that symphonic concerts are most suitable for blue hairs and codgers. They simply are not, under any circumstance, but especially tonight, when, funnily enough, performer’s hair styles were most evident. Guest conductor Stéphane Denève has such an energetic technique that his curly hair sometimes flies around like you’d see in a cartoon, and tonight’s soloist, Cameron Carpenter, sports a modified Mohawk, so that from the audience it looks like there’s a fat exclamation mark on his skull!
Maestro Denève introduced the program with an ease and aplomb that relaxed everybody and elicited laughs, especially each time he over-pronounced the ending ‘s’ in Saint-Saëns, “because that’s the way we French pronounce Saint-Saënsssssss!” Also, he made the most unusual request that the audience refrain from applauding at the end of the opening piece, Barber’s Adagio for Strings, because he wanted a seamless segue into Poulenc’s Concerto for Organ, Strings, and Timpani in recognition of the friendship between the composers and the fact that the pieces were completed within months of each other. “Then, you are free not to refrain from applauding,” he said.
Cameron Carpenter and the International Touring Organ
The audience honored Denève’s request, the pieces meshed beautifully, and Carpenter and the BSO gave such an exhilarating performance that the attendant ovation fairly blew the roof off the joint. The Julliard-educated organist has set upon a course of revolutionizing the instrument’s place in the classical repertoire, to the extent that he had a new one built – International Touring Organ, monumental cross-genre digital organ built by Marshall & Ogletree. Carpenter holds the 2012 Leonard Bernstein Award, and is the first solo organist ever nominated for a Grammy.
- Boston Symphony orchestra – July 10, 2015 program, Koussevitzky Music Shed
- Stéphane Denève conducts Barber, Poulenc and Saint-Saëns featuring organist Cameron Carpenter
- Tanglewood tickets:
- Box Office: 617-266-1200; 888-266-1200
- Website: tanglewood.org
Whereas the Poulenc presented a showcase particularly for the overwhelming power of the organ, in the evening’s concluding piece, Saint-Saëns demonstrates its versatility in playing a less dominant and supporting role with the orchestra.