One of the most moving and beautiful concerts of 2010 came at the year's end: the Concert for the Cure, a benefit for breast-cancer research and care, organized by flutist (and cancer survivor) Julia Scolnik and conducted, in a rare Boston appearance, by Sir Simon Rattle, who with just a single rehearsal got the extraordinary (and unpaid) musicians from the BSO and an impressive array of freelancers to play with remarkable intensity, subtlety of phrasing, and long-range vision. Marc-André Hamelin was the inspired soloist in Mozart's G-major Piano Concerto. Mahler's famous Adagietto has rarely sounded so complex, gripping, and inevitable. And the Brahms Second Symphony had an equally rare freshness, nuance, and radiance.

The classical music world lost too many beloved figures: Marylou Speaker Churchill, the retired principal second violinist of the BSO; eloquent writer and scholar Michael Steinberg — former Boston Globe critic, program annotator for the BSO and San Francisco Symphony, translator, and occasional wickedly gifted narrator; Charles Anspacher, founder and conductor of the Boston Landmarks Orchestra; and Reinhold Brinckmann, wise scholar (editor of the definitive edition of Schoenberg's Pierrot lunaire) and former chair of the Harvard Music Department. Some visitors were especially dear to Boston: soprano Helen Boatwright (America's greatest interpreter of Charles Ives songs) and two internationally admired divas who were regular guests with Sarah Caldwell's Opera Company of Boston, Joan Sutherland and Shirley Verrett. Speaking of Caldwell: this year we also lost two great Russian poets, Andrei Voznesensky and Bella Akhmadulina, both of whom Caldwell brought to Boston in 1988 as part of her Making Music Together Festival.

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