Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 14, 2011

BSO & Joshua Bell

Tanglewood, Lenox, MA
July 10, 2011
by Debra Tinkham

A beautiful Berkshire Sunday afternoon began as all orchestra members clad in white awaited conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya's first down beat of "Loco," written by Jennifer Higdon, a contemporary composer and flutist. Imagining the finish of the word "Loco" one gets the idea of this short, quick moving, temperamental movement, which in Higdon's words, "…is about locomotion as crazy movement." This was the first Boston Symphony Orchestra's performance of the piece.

Max Bruch's "Fantasia on Scottish folk melodies for violin, with orchestra and harp" featured renowned Joshua Bell on violin, and Jessica Zhou who is the Boston Symphony Orchestra's very own harpist. Bell and his Stradivarius were eerily dramatic and beautiful throughout the four movements. Zhou and Bell were harmoniously drawn together at times and then sweetly drifted apart. The Allegro guerriero was very war-like in melody, dynamics and sound, especially involving the percussion section.

Pyotr Tchaikovsky's "Symphony No. 6 in B minor," also known as "Pathetique," in four movements began in typical dark, low, slow Tchaikovsky style. The composer seemed to get a thrill out of forcing his musicians to work hard - very hard. The string bass had some particularly enjoyable passages as did the trombones, bass trombone and tuba. There was plenty of action, power, persistence and fortitude in this easily recognized work. Unfortunately, the only distraction from this talented conductor and orchestra were the birds - a loud, large chorus of birds, just outside, singing a different song in a different key with dissonant harmony.   

This was a wonderful program and a beautiful day.