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Richard Strauss's Don Quixote tone poem was an eloquent companion piece. The Boston Symphony's sensuous strings, glittering harps, and stirring brass had a field day in this showpiece. Frühbeck de Burgos (a protean Strauss conductor) led an exciting performance of Strauss's sprawling score. Substituting for Trulus Mork who cancelled due to illness, cellist Jian Wang displayed a light tone but brought innate musicality and poetic phrasing to Strauss's final tragic pages. Violist Steven Ansell's richly textured, aristocratic viola sound lent luster to Strauss's musical depiction of Sancho Panza. Violinist Malcolm Lowe's sweet tone was Vienesse indeed. A stimulating program!

The Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra held center stage on 15 August at Ozawa Hall. Frühbeck de Burgos lent surging momentum to Beethoven's Symphony No 6 in F, Op 68 (Pastoral). The conductor's transparent, invigorating approach astutely balanced the bucolic high spirits of the peasants' dance with the flowing lyricism and serenity of the hymn of thanksgiving. The splendid orchestra (which included two horn players -- Ryan Gruber and Maria Harrold -- who are incoming Fellows of Miami's New World Symphony and harpist Yumiko Endo Schlaffer, a former NWS member) shone gloriously in Strauss's Don Juan. The stentorian horns sounded full and clear. Frühbeck de Burgos led a characterful, intensely romantic performance. His interpretation of the Suite from Strauss's opera Der Rosenkavalier was vivacious and bracing. The waltz rhythms had real verve. Violinist Heather Wittels played her solos with warmth, grace, and honeyed Viennese lilt.

A 13 August matinée at Ozawa Hall brought the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Young Artist's Orchestra. Composed of gifted high school students from across the United States, this ensemble proved superior to many university and professional orchestras. Indeed there was remarkable playing from all sections of the orchestra. David Hoose, conductor of the Boston University Symphony Orchestra, led these young musicians in an exhilarating traversal of the Symphonic Suite from the film On the Waterfront by Leonard Bernstein. Hoose perfectly captured the jazzy, snappy impetus of the score. Yet his reading was also moving, haunting, and romantic. The perfect sound portrait of Bernstein! Mitchell H Dvoracek played the sonorous opening horn solo superbly. Sibelius's Symphony No 2 in D major, Op 43 received a stirring, intense, emotional performance. Hoose's taut, fiercely unsentimental approach was exciting. The entire concert was a real sleeper!

Peter Serkin performs Mozart's Piano Concerto No 24 with Peter Oundjian and the Orchestra of St Luke's at Tanglewood. Photo © 2005 Walter H Scott
Peter Serkin performs Mozart's Piano Concerto No 24 with Peter Oundjian and the Orchestra of St Luke's at Tanglewood. Photo © 2005 Walter H Scott

The New York based Orchestra of St Luke's made a guest appearance on 21 August at the Koussevitzky Shed. This excellent chamber orchestra boasts first rate section leaders -- especially concertmaster Krista Bennion Feeney. Conductor Peter Oundjian proved to be a less than stellar musical presence. Formerly first violin of the Tokyo Quartet, Oundjian is Music Director of the Toronto Symphony. (Last season he directed a lackluster program of Janácek, Stravinsky, and Brahms with the New World Symphony in Miami.)

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Copyright © 4 September 2005 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA

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