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On 19 July at the Florence Gould Auditorium of Seiji Ozawa Hall, Fruhbeck de Burgos conducted the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, a student ensemble. Richard Strauss's 1899 tone poem Ein Heldenleben, Op 40 is a massive orchestral work which demands the utmost in instrumental virtuosity. One could hardly believe the members of this orchestra were Tanglewood Fellows! The lush, transparent strings, sweet toned winds, sonorous brass, and bracing percussion congealed into a first rate ensemble. The lengthy, demanding violin solos were played brilliantly (with both ravishing tone and agility) by Carrie Kennedy, a student at City University of New York from Houston, Texas. From the striking opening bars to the concluding solemn brass chords, Fruhbeck de Burgos brought sweeping radiance to Strauss's sprawling canvas. (The attractive brown wood surfaces of Ozawa Hall contributed to the warm, resonant acoustical ambience.) His Haydn was no less distinguished. The incisive, vigorous string playing made that master's Symphony No 1 in D (the first of 104 symphonies) a delightful classical bon-bon. Haydn's Symphony No 6 in D (Le Matin) unfolded in a series of dramatic contrasts and rapid fire changes of tempo. The Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra gave a bold, wonderfully colorful performance. The clarity and bright, pin point accuracy of Mercedes Smith's flute solos were scintillating. At age 71, Fruhbeck de Burgos is at the height of his powers -- an outstanding interpreter and superb orchestral technician!

Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos conducts the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Photo © 2004 Stu Rosner
Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos conducts the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Photo © 2004 Stu Rosner

On 16 July Kurt Masur led the BSO in a performance of Dvorák's Symphony No 9 in E minor, Op 95 (From the New World) that made familiar music sound new and freshly minted. The gentle lyricism (abetted by darkly polished string playing) that Masur brought to the opening Allegro molto was a musical revelation! John Ferrillo's plaintive, vibrant oboe solo in the familiar Largo caressed the ear. Masur's soft dynamics and proto Toscanini tempo brought musical surprise to this slow movement. His broad delineation of the Trio section of the Scherzo: Molto vivace never lacked for soaring musical line. The fiery conclusion of the Allegro con fuoco capped a stellar performance. Masur drew dazzling playing from the Boston musicians in a sparkling transversal of Mikhail Glinka's Overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla. (The BSO is clearly in great form and ready for its new music director James Levine who takes charge this fall.) Midori was soloist in a sizzling rendition of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D, Op 35. Once a gifted teenager, Midori is now a mature artist and an arresting musician. (She has recently been appointed to the Jascha Heifetz Professorship Chair at UCLA.) Her expansive view of the opening Allegro moderato had Russian soul and pathos to burn. Her blazing performance of the Finale: Allegro vivacisimo may have been the fastest and most exciting on record. Perhaps this was what Paganini's playing was like -- great violinistic artistry! Masur, long a Tchaikovsky specialist, led a supple, eloquent accompaniment.

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Copyright © 30 July 2004 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA


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