The first two concerts this summer season by the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra were among the best I have heard in several decades. The energy level was palpable. The intensity of the playing, particularly the strings, was a marvel. The two greatest challenges for the ensemble were Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben and the Leonore Overture No. 3 of Beethoven. Each of these great works needed different treatment. In the Strauss work, Maestro Nelsons led a heartfelt and superbly played tone poem with first-rate playing through all the episodes. Vincent Meklis played the way difficult violin solo with sweetness, different from the edginess one often hears in these bars. The last few pages of the piece with first-rate horn playing by David Gossett were profound. Every player on the stage was part of this great project.
On the second TMCO concert there was a first-rate performance of Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3, conducted by Yu An Chang. A terrific performance to begin with, became electric after the tremendous silence before the fast string playing, one of the most intense silences in all music. This young conductor understood that silence is music. His pace and red-hot energy brought the house down.
Conductor Gemma New gave us a splendid big orchestra performance of Mozart’s great Haffner Symphony. It may have been a little out of the way historically, but it was rich and sweet to listen to.
Herbert Blomstedt conducted, without a score, a gentle, rich Fourth Symphony of Brahms. Nothing was rushed, there was an intense lyricism, a camaraderie between the revered maestro and his young players. Let me end by saying, I heard a young orchestra in fantastic shape on these nights. Though the rehearsals were few, the skill of the playing bows to no-one. Two great nights.