Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 22, 2018

REVIEW: Tanglewood, All Bernstein Program

Tanglewood, Lenox, MA
August 18, 2018
by Shera Cohen

“Fancy Free” was one of composer Leonard Bernstein’s contributions to the war effort. Written in 1944, the piece expresses the sweet short story of three sailors on a one-day pass in New York City. Needless to say, they soon meet three ladies and pair up. This was the fairytale at Tanglewood’s Shed. Dance and music told the story.

It’s not often that dance is performed at Tanglewood; even dance with music – in this case, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, of course, making Saturday night a double-barrel treat of two art genres joining forces. Oftentimes, in pieces like “Fancy Free,” the orchestra simply accompanies or is background music to the dance. In the case of “Fancy Free,” the two art forms were symbiotic in purpose and execution.

BSO Conductor Andris Nelsons lead the full orchestra as and Mikko Nissinen choreographed the Boston Ballet troupe. The latter danced in a large section to the left of the stage, with cartoon-like freestanding scenery crafting a joyful atmosphere. “Fancy Free” was the perfect choice to begin the evening’s program and was obviously enjoyed by the audience, which gave an instant standing ovation.

Photo by Hilary Scott
To continue the All Bernstein Program after intermission was “Divertimento for Orchestra.” Eight vignettes, each a different music form with no obvious connection or order between them may seem a bit disjointed. However, the work was a series of one delight followed by another; i.e. waltz, mazurka, samba, blues, march, and even the turkey trot. The BSO members might have had as much fun performing as those listening.

Next, violinist Baiba Skride, who has been a featured soloist literally throughout the world, together with Nelsons and the BSO created “Serenade for Violin, String Orchestra, Harp, and Percussion.” Skride’s looked the part of a serious young woman tackling an equally thoughtful work. Set in five movements, Skride took center stage, never faltering or tiring in what was an extremely long work.

Spitting rain subsided about an hour before the concert’s start. Surely, Leonard Bernstein would have been thrilled by the Tanglewood turnout, and the expert talents of the BSO and Boston Ballet.