Springer vs. Nero!

By LLOYD SCHWARTZ  |  June 10, 2009

I was pretty excited about a Discovery Ensemble concert last January conducted by Belfast-born Zander Fellow Courtney Lewis, who just turned 25. Their May concert at Sanders Theatre impressed me — no, excited me — even more. A brilliant Ligeti Romanian Concerto was followed by Stravinsky's scintillating, witty, seductive ballet Pulcinella (complete — not the short Suite, which gets done much more often), in a scintillating, witty, and irresistibly seductive performance, with soprano Kendra Colton (at her most alluring), tenor Matthew Anderson, and baritone Sumner Thompson adding their own considerable charm to the already charming orchestra. Lewis kept me dangling like trout from his swinging line. He ended with a breathtaking Beethoven Eighth that embraced Haydn and Gilbert & Sullivan yet still sounded like Beethoven. The Minnesota Orchestra is about to confirm Boston's enthusiasm by appointing him assistant conductor. I hope that doesn't keep him too great a distance from Boston.

And the Pops season opened with 81-year-old Broadway legend Barbara Cook, her voice blossoming with each new song from the American Songbook, ranging from Brooklyn-born George Gershwin's early "Nashville Nightingale" ("Oh-oh-oh-oh, birdie how you thrill me!") and Siberian-born Irving Berlin's "Lost in His Arms" ("So many songwriters were immigrants," she remarked; "I don't know much about immigration, but if they wrote songs, we oughtta let 'em in!") to what for her was a rare Cole Porter number ("I've Got You Under My Skin" as a smoldering slow monologue), her beloved Stephen Sondheim, and smoking Ray Charles ("Hallelujah, I Just Love Him So!").

Hallelujah! I just love her so.

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