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Tanglewood and Beyond

The sounds of summer in the Berkshires,


The mountains and hills of the Berkshires in northwestern Massachusetts are truly alive with the sound of music each summer. Music lovers and arts patrons follow the road to Tanglewood. Located just outside the picturesque town of Lenox, Tanglewood is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The Tanglewood Music Center is a major educational institution that attracts gifted students from around the globe.

Amongst this veritable feast of music making, the première of Osvaldo Golijov's Azul (Blue), a New Age meditation for cello and orchestra, on 4 August 2006, took pride of place. The Argentinean-Israeli composer combines Judaic, gypsy, and modernist elements to create a sound world all his own. Azul is a work of genius. The remarkable Yo-Yo Ma gave an extraordinary performance of the high, piercing cello line. Leading an ensemble that included accordion and a large percussion battery that imitated the sounds of indigenous South American folk instruments, conductor Donald Runnicles (well known for his work with the San Francisco Opera, the Orchestra of St Luke's, and the BBC orchestras) led a bracing performance. Ma also offered a radiant, finely sculpted account of Haydn's C major Cello Concerto.

Runnicles conducted the Boston Symphony (BSO) in a luminous performance of Leos Janácek's Dvorák inflected Idyll and a spirited, characterful version of Elgar's Enigma Variations which turned eloquent in the Nimrod adagio. On 6 August Runnicles also offered scintillating Mozart (the Symphony No 38) and a delightful traversal of Richard Strauss's Suite from Der Rosenkavalier that was dipped in finely etched Viennese schmaltz. He also offered stalwart support to pianist Lars Vogt's exuberant reading of Beethoven's Emperor Concerto.

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Copyright © 28 August 2006 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA


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