By Dave Read (August 2, 2022 concert) – While the Festival of Fancy Picnics, which accompanies Tanglewood on Parade, had to scramble for shelter, the gala evening concert was a sparkling, scintillating success. Tanglewood’s founding maestro, Serge Koussevitsky, staged the first one in 1940, to raise money in support of beleaguered Europe, before we joined the war.
Today, besides serving as a principle fund-raiser for the BSO, Tanglwood on Parade is a showcase for the accomplishments of the Tanglewood Music Center fellows, and the students of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, with and without the established master craftsmen and women of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops.
Although we have been to twenty or so of these tuneful extravaganzas, we paid extra-close attention to the opening piece on today’s program, played by the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, because we participated in their opening exercises last month. The natural bias resulting from that bonding experiecne notwithstnding, these kids knocked the Hindemith out of the ballpark – they blew the roof off the joint!
Kudos due also to the programmer, because Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes by Carl Maria von Weber not only showcases a full gamut of instrumentation, but also has plenty of quiet “white space” which heightens the importance and satisfaction of the myriad small sounds that comprise a symphonic work. Joann Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, and resident artist here, led the orchestra, and then handed the baton to John Williams, who led the BSO in his Bernstein tribute, Just down West Street, which he dedicated to retiring TMC boss Ellen Highsteen. Thomas Wilkins, Stefan Asbury, and Thomas Ades rounded out the roster of conductors on the program.
We missed the antique artillery pieces that usually punctuate the annual finale, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, and found the performance of the Ukrainian national anthem a jingoistic reflex rather than a meaningful gesture. Sure, we sympathize with those beleaguered people, but no less so than the Palestinians, Uyghurs, and all oppressed peoples.