The Boston Symphony played a few brilliant concerts in the shed in this anniversary year — not least Charles Dutoit’s two days of Berlioz, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky, but the real excitement came from Ozawa Hall, as the TMC Fellows played with the full excitement of youth in a series of demanding concerts, all weighted towards the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, in consistently stimulating and coherent programs, divided between the regular TMC schedule and the Festival of Contemporary Music. This was, in addition, the most satisfying FCM since the Elliott Carter Tribute, because the selection of composers not only had its own coherence in Oliver Knussen’s experience and taste
The conductor’s arms froze mid-air. The musicians stopped playing. Stefan Asbury, leader of the Tanglewood Music Center conducting program, had stopped the class.
“They’re not together,” Asbury told Jonathan Berman, the student conductor. Berman gave a small nod. It wasn’t the response Asbury wanted.
“Do you want them to be together?” Asbury pressed, invoking a bit of tough love. This time a bigger nod from Berman.
It takes some imagination to knit together the diverse strands of a program in which four conductors lead four works that have no obvious connections to each other. The obvious point is to show the playing abilities of extraordinary young musicians who have had only a few weeks to form themselves into an orchestra. The programmers apparently selected pieces that would challenge even the most seasoned group. It is no surprise, then, that the character of the playing altered radically from one work and conductor to the next.