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On Friday, July 28, the Boston Symphony Orchestra is joined by Charles Dutoit and pianist Yefim Bronfman for Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 2, one of the composer's most barnstorming, free-spirited works.

Classical 'High Season' Approaches Its Zenith

By Stephen DanknerSpecial to iBerkshires
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Boston Pops Laureate Conductor John Williams returns for the popular Tanglewood on Parade on Aug. 1.

During late July, the classical music festival "high season," anchored by concerts and special events at Tanglewood, approaches its zenith, with sure-fire programming. Offerings this week include great chamber music featuring the renowned Takács String Quartet with pianist Garrick Ohlsson, a unique and highly engaging piano recital celebrating birdsong, Beethoven's Violin Concerto, with soloist Pinchas Zuckerman and much, much more, including the all-encompassing Tanglewood On Parade festivities. Read below for the details.

Not to be outdone, concerts at Tannery Pond and the Sevenars Festival also present unsurpassed and diverse chamber music.

As always, the place to be for great classical and stimulating new music is right here in our own centrally located, intimate corner of the world - the Berkshires - a so-designated "cultural capital," where artistic boundaries are nonexistent.


• Wednesday, July 26, 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall: The celebrated Takács String Quartet is joined by the superlative pianist Garrick Ohlsson in a stirring program of quartets by Haydn (D Major, Op. 20, No. 4) and Beethoven (B flat Major, Op. 130). The program concludes with Edward Elgar's Piano Quintet in A Minor, Op. 84.

• Thursday, July 27-Sunday, July 30: Special events. Please note the details of these multiple, specific events over four days: Tanglewood will launch its first-ever collaboration with Mass Audubon — "Tanglewood Takes Flight: A Celebration of Birds and Music with Mass Audubon" — from Thursday, July 27, to Sunday, July 30, creating a new, multi-faceted and immersive program for concertgoers that explores the intimate relationship between birdsong and music. The series, which pairs guided bird walks with performances of music based upon birdsong, will be highlighted in concerts by world-renowned French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, lectures and bird walks by Mass Audubon ornithologist Wayne Peterson, and performances by Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center.

• Thursday, July 27, at 5:30 a.m.: "Tanglewood Takes Flight" begins bright and early with the first of five guided bird walks at Mass Audubon’s Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, set amidst more than 1,000 lush acres in the Berkshires, with trails that wind through forests, meadows, wetlands, and along the slopes of Lenox Mountain. Renowned pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard then provides the mini-festivals first music, with a recital at the Pleasant Valley Barn featuring selections from Olivier Messiaen's "Catalogue of the Birds." (Seating in the Barn is first-come, first served.) Messiaen (1908-1992), one of the 20th century's most innovative and revered composers, was fascinated — obsessed, even — with birdsong, recording and musically notating the unique calls of birds that he encountered throughout the world and integrating them into his compositions for solo piano and orchestra. "Catalogue of the Birds," completed in 1958, incorporates the songs of 77 different bird species over the course of 13 movements. Each movement is named after a particular type of bird, and it is cued to the region of France where it is a resident species. Another guided bird walk follows the recital at 8:30 a.m.

Thursday's events continue at 1 p.m. with "Music and the Language of Birds," a discussion at the Tanglewood Tent Club with Mr. Aimard and Mass Audubon ornithologist Wayne Petersen. Another guided bird walk, this time on the Tanglewood property, is included as part of this event and begins at 2 p.m.

• Thursday, July 27, 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall: Pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, in a fascinating centuries-spanning program that will explore the many recreations of birdsong in music, presents a program by a diverse range of composers, from the 18th century Baroque era to the present day, including music of Daquin, Schumann, Ravel, Bartók, and Julian Anderson. The heart of the concert will be additional selections of movements from Messiaen's "Catalogue of the Birds," interspersed with electronic works by French composer Bernard Fort incorporating the same bird calls. The program will be preceded at 6 p.m. by “Birds at Dusk,” an illustrated lecture session on the Tanglewood grounds with Mr. Petersen.

• More talks, walks and performances: On Friday, July 28, and Saturday, July 29, bird and music lovers will be treated to more early-morning activities, as TMC piano Fellows continue the presentation of selections from Messiaen's "Catalogue of the Birds" in 7 a.m. recitals at the Pleasant Valley Barn; each recital is followed by an 8 a.m. guided bird walk. "Tanglewood Takes Flight" concludes on Sunday, July 30, at 10 a.m., in Ozawa Hall with a chamber music performance by TMC Fellows. The program includes Olivier Messiaen's "Oiseaux exotiques" (Exotic Birds), completed in 1956, for woodwinds, brass, percussion, and piano, which effervesce with the songs of 18 bird species from India, China, Malaysia, and the Americas.             

• Friday, July 28, 8 p.m. in the Shed: Maestro Charles Dutoit leads the BSO in the first of two programs. Piano soloist Yefim Bronfman joins Mr. Dutoit and the orchestra for Brahms' magisterial Piano Concerto No. 2, in B flat - a work that is unique for its symphonic breadth and heartfelt expression. The BSO opens the program with the overture to Beethoven's "The Creatures of Prometheus;" Mr. Dutoit also leads the orchestra in Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony No. 9, a landmark work that is imbued with both the profound yet restless spirit of the music Dvořák encountered during his several years living in the United States.

• Saturday, July 29, 8 p.m. in the Shed: For the second of his BSO programs, Mr. Dutoit welcomes pianist/conductor/composer Pierre-Laurent Aimard for Ravel's Piano Concerto for the Left Hand, a work written in 1930 for Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who tragically lost his right arm during World War I. Mr. Dutoit also leads the BSO in Stravinsky's "Chant funèbre" — an early work that was lost after its premiere in 1909 and that only resurfaced in 2015 — and Berlioz's monumental Te Deum, one of the composer's several great compositions for large orchestra and chorus, featuring tenor Paul Groves and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus.

• Sunday, July 30, 2:30 p.m. in the Shed: The much-loved violinist Pinchas Zukerman returns to Tanglewood for a performance of Beethoven's emotive Violin Concerto with the BSO and English maestro Bramwell Tovey. Mr. Tovey and the BSO are also joined by bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green — who recently received widespread acclaim for performances at the Metropolitan Opera — and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus for a performance of William Walton's "Belshazzar's Feast," an ambitious oratorio for a large-scale orchestra, including two brass bands along with baritone soloist and chorus. Walton's 1931 work is one of the composer's most celebrated compositions.

• Monday, July 31, 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall: Tanglewood Music Center Fellows present a recital of prodigious chamber music, with two works by Beethoven (Piano Trio No. 1, Op.1, No. 1, and String Quartet No. 15 in A Minor, Op. 132) and Mendelssohn (String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor, Op. 13).

• Tuesday, Aug. 1, all day: The perennially-popular Tanglewood on Parade, one of the Festival's most beloved traditions, offers audiences a full day of musical activities for the entire family, culminating in an 8 p.m. concert in the Shed featuring all of the Festival’s orchestras performing in a single concert. Boston Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart and Boston Pops Laureate Conductor John Williams, along with conductors Charles Dutoit, Bramwell Tovey, and BSO Assistant Conductor Moritz Gnann lead the BSO, Boston Pops, and Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra in a program of works, including two pieces by Aaron Copland: the stentorian "Fanfare for the Common Man," and the 1920’s jazz-imbued Piano Concerto, featuring 2017 Koussevitzky Artist Garrick Ohlsson; the Suite from Kodály's "Háry János"; Mendelssohn's "Hebrides" ("Fingal's Cave") Oveture; Rodgers and Hart's "Blue Moon" and “Manhattan,” featuring TMC faculty soprano Dawn Upshaw; John Williams' "Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra" (from the film "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"), as well as music from the composer's scores to "Minority Report" and "Star Wars." The traditional "Tanglewood on Parade" finale, Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" closes the concert, followed by the traditional spectacular fireworks display over the Stockbridge bowl.

Tanglewood on Parade festivities start at 2 p.m., with performances throughout the day by the young musicians of the Tanglewood Music Center, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and members of the BSO. These performances include a cello ensemble performance by the TMC at 2:30 p.m.; a 3:15 p.m. Wind Ensemble program by TMC Fellows; a 3:30 p.m. solo piano program featuring the TMC piano Fellows; the Boston University Tanglewood Institute (BUTI) Young Artists Chorus and Orchestra at 4 p.m.; and a TMC vocal program, featuring songs from Spanish and Argentinean composers, at 5 p.m. Other activities include an Instrument Playground and free Tanglewood tours. The 8 p.m. concert will be heralded in by TMC brass fanfares in the Shed at 7:30 p.m.

For tickets, call 888 266-1200, or go to the website. Music lovers can follow Tanglewood via its new social media accounts on Facebook, on Twitter @TanglewoodMA, and on Instagram @TanglewoodMusicFestival. The Boston Symphony is on Facebook, on Twitter @bostonsymphony, and on Instagram @bostonsymphony. The Boston Pops is on Facebook, on Twitter@thebostonpops, and on Instagram @thebostonpops.


Tannery Pond

• Saturday, July 29, 8 p.m.: Concerts at Tannery Pond, the handsome, intimate and elegant series in New Lebanon, N.Y., and one of the premiere presenters of chamber music in the region, presents its next program featuring the Jasper String Quartet.

The Jasper's performances have been described as "exceptional" (The New Yorker); "displaying joie de vivre and athleticism" (The Strad); generating "an electricity that ... crackles through the crowd" (Naples Daily News); and having "polished their art to near perfection" (Palm Beach Daily News).

The Quartet's program includes works by Brahms (Quartet in A Minor, Op. 51, No. 2), Mendelssohn (Quartet in E Minor, Op. 44, No. 2), Donnacha Dennehy ("Pushpulling") and Ted Hearn ("Excerpts from the Middle of Something").

Tickets are $30 and $39. Call 888-820-1696 or order tickets online. Tannery Pond is located on the grounds of Mount Lebanon Shaker Village and Darrow School, New Lebanon, N.Y., one and a half miles east of the town center on Route 20.


Sevenars Music Festival

Internationally known pianist Robert Schrade and his composer/songwriter/pianist wife Rolande Young Schrade founded Sevenars Concerts in 1968. Concerts are held at the Academy, located at the junction of South Ireland Street and Route 112, in South Worthington, Mass.

• Sunday, July 30, 4 p.m.: Sevenars Music Festival will present the world-class musicians of the Greenwood Chamber Players, members of the faculty of the Greenwood Music Camp, located in Cummington, Mass. Their brilliant and eclectic program will include Beethoven's Serenade in D Major, Op. 25, Lutoslawski's "Bucolics," for violin and viola, Sibelius' String Trio, Cimarosa's Flute Quartet No. 1 in D Major, and Andrew Norman's "Light Screens." Performers include flutist Christina Jennings, violinist Jesse Holstein, violist Matthew Dane and cellist Marie-Volcy Pelletier.

The Greenwood Chamber Players first delighted audiences at Sevenars in 2015 as a tribute to beloved festival member Robelyn Schrade-James who reveled in her chamber experiences at the Greenwood Music Camp, Cummington’s nationally known musical gem. The musicians include leading players of the nation’s concert stages, led by dazzling young flutist Christina Jennings ("an extraordinary musician" (American Record Guide) and exceptionally gifted violist Matthew Dane. Returning with them this year, and well known to Mass. audiences, are brilliant New Bedford concertmaster Jesse Holstein and the amazing, versatile Smith College cellist Volcy Pelletier. These vibrant and energetic players will thrill you with an inspired program of trios and quartets, with the centerpiece being Beethoven’s incomparable Serenade, Op. 25 for flute and strings.

For Sevenars tickets, and general information, call 413-238-5854 (please leave a message for return call), visit the website or email them. Admission is by donation at the door (suggested $20). Refreshments are included.

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