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Cellist Yo-Yo Ma has the entire Tanglewood Shed stage to himself for a complete performance of Bach’s six immortal Suites for Unaccompanied Cello on Sunday, Aug. 11.

Tanglewood, Sevenars Showcase Great Music

By Stephen DanknerGuest Column
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Tanglewood this week will be very rewarding and diverse, with spectacular musical riches across the centuries, representing the progressive continuum of styles: music that’s both time-honored and new, and everything in-between.

Tanglewood continues its classical programming with an all-Beethoven piano recital on Aug. 7 by the fabulous soloist Yefim Bronfman; more Beethoven awaits with the beloved "Pastoral" Symphony No. 6 and the lyrical Fourth Piano Concerto, featuring the magnificent pianist Inon Barnaton on Aug. 11 – the BSO led by composer/pianist/conductor Thomas Adès; also, a program of three of the Viennese master’s violin/piano sonatas, performed by the brilliant violinist Leonidas Kavakos and inspiring pianist Emanuel Ax on Aug. 13.

Festival of Contemporary Music: Aug. 8-12

A festival within a festival, contemporary music aficionados will have five days to delight within alternative musical worlds, and experience the varied sounds of newly composed works emanating from Ozawa Hall, as the annual Festival of Contemporary Music showcases a representative sampling of new works (including several premieres) by both young and established composers. For complete FCM listings, go to Tanglewood's website and also read Grace Lichtenstein’s music column here on


• Wednesday, Aug. 7, 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall: The esteemed pianist Yefim Bronfman will perform a solo recital devoted to four of the composer’s piano sonatas: No. 5 in C minor, Op. 10, No. 1; No. 6 in F, Op. 10, No. 2; and No. 7 in D, Op. 10, No. 3. Written between late 1795 and 1798, the three brilliant and already masterful Op. 10 sonatas closely followed his earliest group of works in the genre. The program concludes with the Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 ("Appassionata") - a magnificent tour-de-force from the master’s "heroic" middle period.

• Friday, Aug. 9, 8 p.m. in the Shed: The renowned Greek violinist and conductor Leonidas Kavakos returns to the BSO to lead the orchestra in both capacities. The program begins with Mr. Kavakos as soloist in Beethoven’s supremely lyrical Violin Concerto, which, as in the composer's symphonies, expanded and transformed its genre. Following intermission, Mr. Kavakos takes up the baton to conduct the orchestra in Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7. Reflecting inner turmoil at the recent loss of his mother and the outer conflict of Bohemia’s rising nationalism, the Seventh Symphony is both the composer’s darkest works and one of his greatest.

• Saturday, Aug. 10, 8 p.m. in the Shed: The young Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare, who became music director of the San Diego Symphony this year, makes his BSO and Tanglewood debuts, leading a program that begins with a work by a fellow Venezuelan: “Margaritena” by Inocente Carreño. Russian virtuoso Nikolai Lugansky then joins Mr. Payare and the orchestra as soloist in Sergey Rachmaninoff’s impetuous Piano Concerto No. 1. The concert concludes with Brahms’ monumental Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, the composer’s towering breakthrough, after decades of struggle to escape Beethoven’s symphonic shadow.

• Sunday, Aug. 11, 2:30 p.m. in the Shed: BSO Artistic Partner Thomas Adès, who directs Tanglewood's 2019 Festival of Contemporary Music, takes the podium to lead the BSO in a program that begins with Ives' evocative "Three Places in New England," which includes the Berkshires-inspired third movement “The Housatonic at Stockbridge.” American-Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan then appears as soloist in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, the most lyrical and poetic of the composer’s five works in the genre. Bringing the concert to a close is Beethoven’s beloved Symphony No. 6, (“Pastoral,”) one of the great musical tributes to the beauty and power of nature.

• Sunday, Aug. 11, 7:30 p.m. in the Shed, special concert: In what is certain to be a highlight of the summer, the iconic cellist Yo-Yo Ma has the entire Shed stage to himself for a complete performance of Bach’s six immortal Suites for Unaccompanied Cello. The indisputable centerpiece of the solo cello repertoire, these unique Suites epitomizes Bach’s unparalleled combination of musical intellect and soulful emotion, technical compositional mastery and intensive power, displaying the full measure of the performer’s ability. Mr. Ma is closely identified with these pieces, having released two different interpretations on recordings of these works.

• Tuesday, Aug. 13, 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall: Two world-class soloists on their respective instruments come together for a joint recital as violinist Leonidas Kavakos and pianist Emanuel Ax take center stage in Ozawa Hall. The program focuses on three violin sonatas by Beethoven: Sonata No. 4 in A minor, Op. 23; Sonata No. 6 in A Major, Op. 30, No. 1; and Sonata No. 10 in G Major, Op. 96. The first two are excellent examples of the young Beethoven’s innovative approach to traditional classical style, while the final work dates from the end of his transformative, almost radical middle period.

Regular-season ticket prices for the 2019 Tanglewood season range from $12-$130, and are available online, through Symphony Charge at 888-266-1200, and at the Symphony Hall Box Office at 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. Tickets will also be available for purchase in person at the Tanglewood box office, located at Tanglewood's Main Gate on West Street in Lenox, Mass.

Sevenars Music Festival

Sevenars is delighted to present  David James, one of New Zealand’s most prominent concert pianists, on Sunday, Aug. 11, at 4 p.m. Mr. James will perform a piano recital including works of Schubert, Chopin, and Brahms, and, after intermission, Spanish-inspired works by Maurice Ravel, Issac Albeniz, Manuel de Falla and Ernesto Lecuona. 

For Sevenars tickets, and general contact information, call 413-238-5854 (please leave a message for return call), or visit the website. Admission is by donation at the door; suggested donation is $20. Refreshments are included. Sevenars Concerts is located at the Academy in South Worthington, Mass., located at 15 Ireland St., just off Route 112.

Upcoming: South Mountain Concerts

South Mountain Concerts, this year celebrating its 101th anniversary (!), is a leading institution/presenter of chamber music in our region. Over several decades, it has amended its original mission from presenting many of the classics of early-to-mid-20th century contemporary music, to primarily showcasing the purist art of canonical chamber music composed for string quartet and strings with piano, presenting acknowledged masterpieces by the major European composers of the 18th and 19th centuries, performed by a select mix of both established and up-and-coming ensembles.

Founded in 1919 by the chamber music patron and new music enthusiast Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, concerts are performed in its historic purpose-built hall. South Mountain has, over the years, presented many of the world’s leading chamber music ensembles and soloists, and continues in this tradition, with performances this fall by long-time favorite ensembles the Wu Han/David Finckel piano-cello duo (Sept. 8); the Calidore String Quartet (Sept. 15); the Brentano String Quartet with violist Hsin-Yun Huang (Sept. 22); St. Martin in the Fields chamber ensemble (Oct. 6) and the Emerson String Quartet (Oct. 3). All five concerts are Sundays at 3 p.m.

Why go? The hall, dating from the series' inception, accommodates 440 and possesses outstanding acoustics. Equal in performance artistry to Marlboro Music and chamber music heard in Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall, South Mountain presents the finest ensembles performing signature works of the classical canon.

South Mountain’s concert hall is located on Routes 7 and 20 (South Street) in Pittsfield, approximately two miles south of Park Square at the center of the downtown area. Tickets are $40; $15 for students with IDs at the door. Call 413-442-2106 or go online for information of specific concert repertory. Tickets are also available by mail; send check and return envelope to: South Mountain Concerts, Box 23, Pittsfield, MA 01201.

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A Profusion of Music at Tanglewood, Sevenars

By Stephen DanknerGuest Column

Come mid-August, classical aficionados are grateful for the cornucopia of extraordinary musical riches the Boston Symphony bestows to rapt audiences within the incomparably bucolic setting that is Tanglewood.

During this penultimate week of the Tanglewood Festival's classical programming, the spotlight will focus on a range of music in varied genres: from orchestral music by Brahms, Zoltan Kodály, György Ligeti and György Kurtág performed by The Knights chamber orchestra and featuring the superb violinist Gil Shaham, to more Brahms and some rare Schumann performed by the Boston Symphony, to favorite symphonic masterworks by Sibelius, Hindemith and Mahler performed by the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, the musical putti will be hovering over Tanglewood's arcadian fields.

For extra, out-of-this-world thrills, reserve your seats now in the Shed on Friday, Aug. 16, at 8 p.m. for the cinema spectacular, "Star Wars: A New Hope" – the classic film with live orchestral accompaniment performed by the Boston Pops Orchestra under the direction of Keith Lockhart. Composer/conductor John Williams' exhilarating score will provide an unforgettable sonic experience – one of the highlights of this magical musical summer at Tanglewood.

For a cool, refreshing stylistic change of pace, with a tincture of jazz to buoy the spirits, be sure to check out the final season's program at the storied Sevenars Festival, in South Worthington, Mass.


• Thursday, Aug. 15, 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall: The innovative New York-based chamber orchestra The Knights performs in Ozawa Hall with a program of music by Hungarian composers, and also two works of Brahms with distinctive Hungarian influences. Violinist Gil Shaham joins the orchestra as soloist in Brahms' Violin Concerto, which was dedicated to his close friend and colleague, the prominent Hungarian violinist Joseph Joachim, and which includes a rondo-finale inspired by Hungarian gypsy music. The concert begins with the fourth movement of György Ligeti's "Concert Românesc," and the second half of the program interweaves selections from Brahms' immensely popular "Hungarian Dances," György Kurtág's "Signs, Games, and Messages," and Zoltan Kodály's folkloristic "Dances of Galánta."

• Friday, Aug. 16, 8 p.m. in the Shed: Pops conductor Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops present the classic film "Star Wars: A New Hope," with live orchestral accompaniment. Set 30 years after "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace," "Star Wars: A New Hope,” the fourth episode of the saga, returns to the desert planet of Tatooine. A young Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) begins to discover his destiny when, searching for a lost droid, he is saved by reclusive Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness). A civil war rages in the galaxy, and Rebel forces struggle against the evil Galactic Empire, Luke and Obi- Wan enlist the aid of daredevil pilot, Han Solo (Harrison Ford). Joined by the quirky droid duo R2-D2 and C-3PO, the unlikely team sets out to rescue Rebel leader Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and make use of the stolen plans to destroy the Empire's ultimate weapon. In a legendary confrontation, the rogue group mounts an attack against the Death Star for a climactic battle with the evil Sith Lord Darth Vader. This live orchestral accompaniment, composed by Tanglewood's own John Williams, will take your experience of this action-packed film to a new, thrilling level. Don't miss it!

• Saturday, Aug. 17, 8 p.m. in the Shed: French conductor François-Xavier Roth, general music director of the city of Cologne, leads the Boston Symphony Orchestra in a program of music by Brahms and Schumann. To open the concert, soloist Kirill Gerstein joins the orchestra for Johannes Brahms' magisterial Piano Concerto No. 2 – in effect, a symphony with piano solo that epitomizes the composer’s ability to imbue Romantic ardor within traditional, classical structures to create a work of transcendent beauty and power. Maestro Roth then leads the BSO in a performance of Robert Schumann’s inspired Symphony No. 2, with its supremely beautiful and passionate slow movement.

• Sunday, Aug. 18, 2:30 p.m. in the Shed: Maestro François-Xavier Roth returns to conduct the BSO in a program once again of music by Brahms and Schumann. The centerpiece of the performance is Schumann's late-period Cello Concerto, for which the luminary cellist Yo-Yo Ma joins Mr. Roth and the orchestra. The concert also features members of the BSO horn section in the opening work, Schumann's "Concert Piece for Four Horns and Orchestra," a fascinating and spirited work that provides ample opportunity for the hornists to display their instrumental virtuosity. The program concludes with another lesser-known masterpiece, Brahms' Serenade No. 1, an early orchestral work written at the same time as the composer’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 15, in D Minor.

• Sunday, Aug. 18, 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall: Maestro Giancarlo Guerrero, Music Director of the Nashville Symphony, leads the brilliant young Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center, and will be sharing the podium with two TMC Conducting Fellows. The program will include Mahler's mellifluous Symphony No. 4. Composed in 1899 and 1900, it is the last of Mahler's works in the genre to incorporate sung text from the folk poetry collection "Des Knaben Wunderhorn" (The Youth's Magic Horn). The "Wunderhorn" poem used in the Fourth is "Das Himmlische Leben," (The Heavenly Life,) which describes a child's vision of heaven.

Tanglewood Learning Institute (TLI)

• Monday, Aug. 19, 8 p.m. at The Linde Center, Studio E, "The Black Mozart," concert theater works: Director, composer and writer Bill Barclay returns to Tanglewood for a Concert Theatre Works development project in partnership with TLI. The object of his creative attention for the Full Tilt series of presentations is Joseph Bologne, the Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Bologne was a decorated military officer, champion swordsman, acclaimed violinist, composer, and conductor - a true Renaissance man of the classical era and an artist of color in 18th-century France.

Regular-season ticket prices for the 2019 Tanglewood season range from $12-$130, and are available online, through Symphony Charge at 888-266-1200, and at the Symphony Hall Box Office at 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. Tickets will also be available for purchase in person at the Tanglewood box office, located at Tanglewood's Main Gate on West Street in Lenox, Mass.

Sevenars Music Festival

Sevenars will present as its season finale one of its traditional favorites, the Bob Sparkman Trio, at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18. The duo of clarinetist Bob Sparkman and pianist Jerry Noble is already approaching two decades of magical Sevenars performances; with with the addition of bass guitarist Kara Noble (also Jerry's wife), it has increased its range as a magical trio.

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