Looking Back at the Boston Winter and Spring Music Season, 2010-11

The winter music season in Boston made a strong beginning with James Levine leading the Boston Symphony Orchestra in what turned out to be his last set of concerts with the orchestra for the year—and perhaps forever. Levine’s spring BSO concerts were cancelled for health reasons, and, of course he has resigned as Music Director. […] The notion is creeping up on one that Boston has become a remarkably good place for opera. —How about some Wagner?

Cantata Singers & Ensemble, David Hoose, Conductor: Vaughan Williams, Imbrie, Fine, and the Premiere of Wyner’s Give Thanks for All Things

For my part I could not be more pleased that the Cantata Singers, following their usual custom, have devoted this season preponderantly to the music of Ralph Vaughn Williams. Sir Colin Davis’ powerful rendition of his Sixth Symphony with the BSO in 2007 was memorable, but not nearly enough to counterbalance the neglect Vaughn Williams’ music currently suffers in the United States. In Boston, there is bound to be the odd choral work cropping up in one church or another or on the programs of the many secular choral groups in the area, but the Cantata Singer’s focus on Vaughn Williams in their 2010-11 season is none the less welcome.

Yehudi Wyner in his Workspace. Photo Michael Miller 2010.

An Interview with Yehudi Wyner

Yehudi Wyner, whose career as a composer and a performing musician goes back some sixty years, finds himself entirely focused on the present at the moment, and very positively so. For one thing Bridge Records, who have issued the most substantial body of his work on CD, have released his collected sacred music, and Mr. Wyner is very pleased to have it all together in one place. Secondly, he is anticipating the premiere of a new work, a secular cantata called Give Thanks for All Things.

Thoughts on Schumann and the 2nd Symphony

I yearn for the day when a thoroughly sympathetic view of Schumann emerges, one supplanting the lingering idea, passed on from biographer to musician to music-lover and back, insinuating that his music, while selectively inspired, was hampered by enough contrapuntal inexperience, unevenness in motivic invention, formal insecurity, and outright incompetence in orchestration that it should not be considered in the same sphere with Chopin’s, Liszt’s, or even Brahms’s.

The Cantata Singers’ Schütz Season Opens with Schütz, Distler, Bach, and Schoenberg

For the past few years the Cantata Singers have organized their seasons around a single composer, for example Kurt Weill and Benjamin Britten. This focus and the deep musical knowledge of David Hoose and his colleagues have resulted in marvels of “curated” programming, as some have called it. This season the principal composer, Heinrich Schütz, points the way to the Cantata Singers’ original focus, Johann Sebastian Bach and lays out in rich array of Schütz’s context and legacy throughout western music, from his great contemporary, Claudio Monteverdi, to Boston’s own John Harbison. As in previous years, the programs for all four concerts are contained in one elegant book, which amounts to a convenient introduction to the principle composer, his cultural milieu, and his influence. The premise is basically forward-looking, and the programs are planned to bring out threads which lead up to our present musical environment: hence it is entirely appropriate that historical performance practice is not on the Cantata Singers’ agenda. Chorus and soloists sing with vibrato, and not a single gut string or original instrument is in evidence.

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