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Classical Beat: Tanglewood Offers Some Don't-Miss Concerts

By Stephen Dankner
iBerkshires Correspondent
10:20AM / Wednesday, July 09, 2014
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The Jasper String Quartet will perform Saturday, July 12, at 8 p.m. in New Lebanon, N.Y., as part of the Concerts at Tannery Pond series.

Musical diversity rules, as Tanglewood, entering its second week, kicks into high gear with choral, chamber, symphony and concerto, opera in concert, the Boston Pops and early music. Six programs in as many days across the musical spectrum offer something for everyone.

Here’s a capsule description of each.

• Wednesday, July 9, 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall: Chanticleer, the astonishing 12-voice a cappella (unaccompanied) male choir, presents a program dubbed "She Said/He Said." This unusual program takes women's songs and classical compositions — creators from Hildegard of Bingen (a 12th century Abbess) to Fanny Mendelssohn (Felix's sister) and Joni Mitchell — and also incorporates pop and jazz repertoire in stunning arrangements. 

Why go? This is an ensemble that can do no wrong in any style or genre. If you love choral music and want to hear it sung to perfection, don't miss this concert.

• Thursday, July 10, 7:30 p.m. (note the early time) in Ozawa Hall: The redoubtable Emerson String Quartet, in an extended program with two intermissions, presents the last five quartets of Dmitry Shostakovich (nos. 11-15.) Why go? This is a program for lovers of great chamber music. IMHO, the string quartet as a medium, and especially the Emerson Quartet, is the rare, peak experience classical music lovers cherish, and in this repertoire, they are incomparable. The last five quartets of Shostakovich are a summa of the great Russian composer’s life work. This is sure to be a unique and unforgettable concert.

• Friday, July 11, 8:30 p.m. in the Shed: The Boston Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of BSO Music Director-designate Andris Nelsons, presents an all-Dvorak program: "The Noonday Witch" (a brief symphonic poem composed in 1896,) the Violin Concerto, and Symphony No. 8. Why go?  Both "The Noonday Witch" and the Violin Concerto are rarely heard works by the Czech master, while the opulent and ebullient Eighth Symphony is a charmer – full of folk-inspired melodies for which the composer is beloved by concertgoers. Add to this the brilliance of violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and you have a program of rarities and abounding melody. Who can resist such an enticing variety of musical pleasures?

• Saturday, July 12, 8:30 pm in the Shed: The BSO, again led by Andris Nelsons, in a sumptuous program dubbed "Tanglewood Gala," of Richard Strauss (the Suite and Final Trio from "Der Rosenkavalier," with sopranos Sophie Bevan and Angela Denoke, and mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard,) Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Symphonic Dances," and Maurice Ravel's "Bolero." Why go? Well, if you're immune to perhaps the most glorious final six minutes in all of opera, or don't care for the Russian folkloristic music and the doom-and-gloom gravitas of Rachmaninoff’s heartfelt post-Romanticism, I’d understand your missing this one. But "Bolero?" True, some hate the piece, but lighten up, and get with the program; it’s all about the orchestration and the latent, just below the boiling point sexuality. Am I kidding? No. Indulge yourself. The music will leave you reeling as you head for the parking lot for the drive home.

• Sunday, July 13, 2:30 p.m. in the Shed: The Boston Pops, conducted by Keith Lockhart and featuring special guest singer/dancer/comic and Tony-Award winner Jason Alexander (of TV's "Seinfeld" fame) performs a selection of Broadway show tunes from the musicals "The Music Man," "Pippin" and "Merrily We Roll Along." Why go?  No excuses or apologies necessary – this will be a fun romp, and for “Seinfeld” addicts, will provide a re-connection to the golden age of this classic 1990s sitcom; it’ll be a laugh riot.

• Tuesday, July 15, 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall: The Sequentia Ensemble for Medieval Music, directed by Benjamin Bagby, presents a program titled "Frankish Phantoms: Echoes from Carolingian Palaces." Why go? This is a miraculous ensemble that endeavors to recreate the sounds – both vocal and instrumental – from the days of Roman Emperor Charlemagne (800-814,) 1,200 years ago, via religious songs, storytelling, and laments, and through a recounting of epic poetry of this immemorial age. Go, and experience a lost world of music and legend, brought into the present from the vanished mists of time, long ago and far away.

Tickets for all Tanglewood events can be purchased online at tanglewood.org, via SymphonyCharge, 888-266-1200 or 888-266-1200, and at the Tanglewood box office located at the main gate, on West Street in Lenox. For further information call 413-637-1600.

 

Manchester Music Festival

The Manchester (Vt.) Music Festival offers a series of six consecutive Thursday evening chamber music concerts from this Thursday, July 10, through Aug. 14.

This week's concert, presented July 10 at 8 p.m., is subtitled "Inner Fire/Outward Flame."  The program features star performers pianist Vassily Primikov, violinists Joana Genova and Austin Hartman, violists Ariel Rudiakov and Calvin Weirsma and cellists Benjamin Capps, Yehuda Hanani and Caroline Stinson. Rudiakov will perform solo piano works by Chopin; the other works on the program are by Chopin and Brahms.

Why go? The MMF, celebrating its 40th year, is a major venue for chamber music in our region, always featuring outstanding performers in classical masterpieces alongside new and less well known but worthy repertoire and even jazz. The MMF also presents a Young Artist Series from July 7 to Aug. 12 as well as a family pops concert on Saturday, Aug. 2, at 3 pm, performed by the Manchester Festival Orchestra.

The performance venue for "Inner Fire/Outward Flame" is located at the Arkell Pavilion, Southern Vermont Arts Center, Manchester. To purchase tickets and for complete information about the Manchester Music Festival, go to mmfvt.org, or call 802-362-1956.

 

Concerts at Tannery Pond

For those devoted lovers of chamber music, the Concerts at Tannery Pond series are a precious gem.

Tucked away on the grounds of the Darrow School, in New Lebanon, N.Y., off Route 20, the series, under the leadership of Artistic Director/photographer/pianist Christian Steiner, presents concerts in the Shaker tannery barn on the Darrow School campus. The performers are personally chosen by Steiner, and are always outstanding. The series attracts a loyal following, and the pristine beauty of its location in a stunningly situated valley adds to the joy and sumptuous playing that the performers (mostly young virtuosi) bring to the music — be it the canonical works of the masters, or new and engaging music by up and coming composers. Certainly, it's one of the best series for classical chamber music in the region, and you will always be guaranteed a memorable evening of brilliantly performed music.

The program this week:

• Saturday, July 12, at 8 p.m: The Jasper String Quartet will perform Franz Joseph Haydn's Quartet in C Major, Op. 33, No. 3 (subtitled "The Bird"), the String Quartet No. 3 in F Major, Op. 73, by Dmitry Shostakovich, and Antonin Dvorak's String Quartet No. 13 in G Major, Op. 106.

Why go? The Jasper Quartet is a fabulous young ensemble, and the music is alternately charming, thrilling and melodious. I cannot recommend this concert highly enough.

Tannery Pond is located on the grounds of Mount Lebanon Shaker Village and Darrow School, New Lebanon, New York, one and a half miles east of the town center on Route 20. Tickets are $30 and $39. Reservations are recommended. Call 888-820-1696 or for more information go online at tannerypondconcerts.org.

Stephen Dankner lives in Williamstown. Send your comments to him at sdankner@earthlink.net, or visit stephendankner.com.

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