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World music

The BSO goes traveling, and Berlin comes to Boston
By LLOYD SCHWARTZ  |  September 12, 2007
GUSTAVO DUDAMEL: conducts his Simón
Bolívar Youth Orchestra at Symphony Hall
November 7.

There’s more to Boston’s classical music scene than the BOSTON SYMPHONYORCHESTRA. But our richest and most visible musical organization has been riding a great wave since the arrival of its first American music director, James Levine, who opens the fall season with a composer frequently associated with the BSO: Ravel. Met mezzo-soprano Susan Graham sings the French master’s Shéhérazade at the gala opening (Symphony Hall, October 4; 617.266.1200), though not at the subscription follow-ups (October 5-6); but pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet will play Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G at every performance. Levine returns to town a month later for two German pieces of the most profound seriousness: the Berg Violin Concerto, with Christian Tetzlaff, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 (November 8-10). (If you don’t need to hear anything else with your Mahler Ninth, you get your wish November 13.) After his international tour with the BSO, Levine is evidently in border-crossing mode: along with more Mahler (Symphony No. 1) we get Haydn’s London Symphony and the premiere of 98-year-old all-American Elliott Carter’s new Horn Concerto, with the BSO’s James Sommerville (November 15, 17, 20). Then there’s a trip down the Vltava (or Moldau) with Smetana’s complete lyrical hymn to Bohemia, Má vlast (November 23, 24, 27).

BSO guest conductors include Robert Spano (October 11-13, 16), Christoph von Dohnányi (October 18-20), Marek Janowski (October 25-27, 30), and, making his BSO debut, Markus Stenz (November 1-3). Then Gustavo Dudamel, the phenomenal young Venezuelan conductor-designate of the LA Philharmonic, leads his own phenomenal Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra in Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from “West Side Story,” and a selection of pieces from South America (November 7). Levine returns to Symphony Hall and France with Renée Fleming in vocal works by Berlioz, Dutilleux (a world premiere), and Duparc plus Debussy’s La mer (November 29-30; December 1).

Fall preview 2007
“Happy endings: Bad news begets good tunes.” By Matt Ashare. 
“Busy busy: Something for everyone this fall.” By Debra Cash. 
“Stage worthies: Fall on the Boston boards.” By Carolyn Clay. 
“Basstown nights: The new scene emerges; Halloween preparations.” By David Day. 
“Bounty: The best of the season’s roots, world, folk, and blues.” By Ted Drozdowski.
“War, peace, and Robert Pinsky: The season’s fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.” By John Freeman. 
“Trane, Joyce Dee Dee, Sco, and more: A jam-packed season of jazz.” By Jon Garelick.
“Turn on the bright lights: Art, women, politics, and food.” By Randi Hopkins.
“War zones: Fall films face terror at home and abroad.” By Peter Keough. 
“Locked and loaded: The fall promises a double-barreled blast of gaming greatness.” By Mitch Krpata.
“BBC? America!: The networks put some English on the fall TV season.” By Joyce Millman. 
“Singles scene: Local bands dig in with digital.” By Will Spitz. 
The CELEBRITY SERIES OF BOSTON, which is co-sponsoring the Dudamel concert, features the single most exciting prospect of the entire season: the return of the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle. The irresistible program is György Kurtág’s gnomic Stele and Mahler’s sublime late masterpiece Das Lied von der Erde (“The Song of the Earth”). The dream vocal cast is tenor Ben Heppner and the great German baritone Thomas Quasthoff. There isn’t anything this year I want to hear more (Symphony Hall, November 19; 617.482.2595).

The Celebrity Series will also fill Symphony Hall with such superstars as soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, in a song recital on the Boston stop of her farewell tour (October 14), violinist Itzhak Perlman (October 28), and pianist Emanuel Ax (November 4). At Jordan Hall, Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman makes her Boston debut (November 10), and Heidi Grant Murphy sings with the St. Lawrence String Quartet (November 18).

And speaking of celebrity: superstar tenor PLÁCIDO DOMINGO gives his very first Boston concert as part of a world tour (TD Banknorth Garden, September 28; 617.931.2000).

A roster of distinguished international piano virtuosi also turns up in BOSTON CONSERVATORY’S PIANO MASTERS series (617.912.9222).

David Hoose leads the CANTATA SINGERS in an adventurous season focusing on the works of Kurt Weill that they’ll launch with a special benefit, the first local performance of the Weill/Brecht cantata The Lindbergh Flight, at the Collings Foundation Aviation Museum in Stow (September 23; 617.868.5885). Closer to home, but equally fresh to Boston, is Weill’s Legend of the Dead Soldier, on a bill with Dallapiccola’s Canti di prigionia and Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana (Jordan Hall, November 9).

This season, Craig Smith and EMMANUEL MUSIC are concentrating on Bach, focusing as always on the cantatas performed during the Sunday service, the setting they were intended for. The concert season kicks off with a special benefit devoted to Bach’s mysterious Der Kunst der Fuge (“The Art of the Fugue”), with 14 stellar pianists each performing a different fugue (Emmanuel Church, October 10; 617.536.3356).

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  •   OPENING PITCH  |  October 01, 2008
    James Levine’s gala and Brahms, Russell Sherman’s Liszt, the Bostonians’ Kurt Weill
  •   IT’S ABOUT TIME . . .  |  September 25, 2008
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  •   RUSSIAN, SPANISH, AMERICAN . . .  |  September 11, 2008
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    The foggy joys of Europe’s most international city
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    The Pops aces Sondheim

 See all articles by: LLOYD SCHWARTZ

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