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The Boston Symphony never sounded better than on 20 August 2005 (at the Koussevitzky Music Shed) when conductor Marin Alsop made her début with this stellar orchestra. Ms Alsop is a path breaker. A protégé of Leonard Bernstein (a Tanglewood legend), she will become the first female music director of a major American orchestra when she assumes the conductorship of the Baltimore Symphony in the 2007-2008 season. (She has already made history as Principal Conductor of England's Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.) Ms Alsop is a superb, charismatic conductor in every respect.

Marin Alsop makes her Boston Symphony Orchestra début at Tanglewood on 20 August 2005. Photo © 2005 Walter H Scott
Marin Alsop makes her Boston Symphony Orchestra début at Tanglewood on 20 August 2005. Photo © 2005 Walter H Scott

A specialist in contemporary music, she has championed the work of American composer Christopher Rouse. Rouse's Rapture was a stellar program opener. Impressionistic flute and misty strings form a sensuous prelude to an exciting display of brass and percussion fireworks. In Tchaikovsky's Symphony No 5 in E minor, Opus 64 (a Koussevitzky and Bernstein specialty) Ms Alsop made the familiar seem new and freshly minted. She produced excitement without vulgarity. Her Tchaikovsky had the grace and beauty of fine musical crystal. The vivid contrasts, balletic fluidity, and inner strength of this performance were a revelation. (In the famous Andante cantabile movement, BSO principal horn Joseph Sommerville played with glorious tonal hues, perfect articulation, and musical allure.) Marin Alsop is a conductor of the most extraordinary variety!

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Copyright © 31 August 2005 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA

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