Listening Week 3: BSO plays masterworks from the Classical period

BSO at home: Listening Week 3
BSO plays masterworks from the Classical period

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Great Performances from the BSO Archives, selected by BSO Artistic Administrator Anthony Fogg.

Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, and Beethoven. This week, you’ll hear the BSO playing a diverse selection of works from the Classical period, in performances dating back to 1947 and as recent as 1992. And to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first concert given by the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, we have one of the most popular choral works of any period – Mozart’s Requiem.

Listening Week 3 Playlist Preview Week 4

For continuous playback of each day's music at the highest fidelity, choose the SoundCloud player. For the ability to listen to individual movements separately, choose the "Listen" button on each day's section.

The BSO sincerely thanks our generous donors whose gifts supported concerts, guest artist appearances, and pieces for performances that were scheduled to take place this week:
Thursday, April 9: The Catherine and Paul Buttenwieser Concert
    Thursday evening's guest artist appearances are supported by a gift from Alan J. and Suzanne W. Dworsky
Saturday, April 11: The Martin C. Mihm, Jr., M.D. Concert
     Saturday evening's performance by Jonas Kauffman is supported by a gift from the Traynor Family

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The big offering this week is Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio. The plot revolves around the plight of Florestan, a Spanish gentleman who had incurred the hatred of Don Pizarro. Florestan has been torn from the arms of his devoted wife Leonore and secretly incarcerated in a dungeon in the State Prison of which Don Pizarro is Overseer. The wife's suspicions having been directed to the prison, Leonore disguises herself in male attire and, under the name of Fidelio, secures employment of the jailer, Rocco. Love and fidelity triumph and, at the end of the opera, Leonore frees her husband.


Beethoven struggled for several years to find a final form and convincing dramatic shape for Fidelio, revising the work several times. Interestingly for this performance in 1967 at Tanglewood, Erich Leinsdorf chose the original 1805 version of the work, making this a rare chance for us to hear Beethoven’s first thoughts. It’s in two acts and sung in German, but for this occasion a special English-language narration was devised by Andrew Raeburn to help clarify the story. The role of Florestan is sung by the great American tenor George Shirley, the German soprano Hanna-Lore Kuse (making her American debut in this concert) is Leonore, and Tom Krause is Don Pizzaro


A certain highlight of this week’s listening will be a wonderful performance of Mozart’s Requiem, conducted by Sir Colin Davis, and featuring an outstanding quartet of American soloists. Sir Colin was one of the BSO’s most admired collaborators. He first conducted the orchestra in 1967 and his final performance with the ensemble was in 2010, having been Principal Guest Conductor for several years in that period and making an outstanding series of recordings for Philips. He enjoyed a special relationship with John Oliver, the founder and conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, which gave its first performance 50 years ago this week, on April 11, 1970. We celebrate the outstanding contribution of hundreds of singers over those 50 years and thank them for their artistry and generosity.


We also have two concerted works by Mozart: the piano concerto No. 9, K.271, elegantly played by Emanuel Ax with Bernard Haitink conducting, and the great Sinfonia concertante for violin, viola, and orchestra, K.364. The latter features the American violinist, Ruth Posselt (wife of the BSO’s legendary concertmaster, Richard Burgin), and the orchestra’s long-time principal violist Joseph De Pasquale. The slow movement is surely among Mozart’s most supremely beautiful creations.


Bernard Haitink also conducts a sparkling performance of Schubert’s 3rd Symphony from a concert in Symphony Hall in May, 1992, and, to round out this week’s selection, two symphonies by Franz Joseph Haydn. Bruno Walter was one of the most important conductors of the twentieth century and appeared on only three occasions with the BSO. Here he leads a performance of tremendous authority of Haydn’s Symphony No. 92, known as the Oxford, from 1947. And Michael Tilson Thomas starts off the listening week with one of Haydn’s wittiest works, the Symphony No. 98. This is from a concert at Tanglewood on July 19, 1970. Listen out for the surprise harpsichord solo at the end of the final movement.


Anthony Fogg

Michael Tilson Thomas, 1970

April 6
HAYDN Symphony No. 98
     1. Adagio-allegro
     2. Adagio
     3. Menuet: Allegro
     4. Finale: Presto – Piú moderato
Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor
(Tanglewood, July 19, 1970)



Continuous Play:


Bernard Haitink, 1996

April 7
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-flat, K.271
   1. Allegro
   2. Andantino
   3. Rondo Presto- Menuetto Cantibile - Presto
Bernard Haitink, conductor
Emanuel Ax, piano
(Tanglewood, August 25, 1996)

Continuous Play:



Bruno Walter

April 8

HAYDN Symphony No. 92, Oxford
     1. Adagio – Allegro spiritoso
     2. Adagio
     3. Minuet
     4. Presto
Bruno Walter, conductor
(Symphony Hall, January 21, 1947)

Continuous Play:



Bernard Haitink, 1993

April 9

SCHUBERT Symphony No. 3
     1. Adagio maestoso -  Allegro con brio
     2. Allegretto
     3. Menuetto : Vivace
     4. Presto Vivace
Bernard Haitink, conductor
(Symphony Hall, May 2, 1992)

Continuous Play:


Charles Munch conducting, 1958April 10

MOZART Sinfonia concertante in E-flat, K.364
     1. Allegro maestoso
     2. Andante
     3. Presto
Charles Munch, conductor
Ruth Posselt, violin
Joseph de Pasquale, viola
(Tanglewood, July 11, 1958)

Continuous Play:



April 11Tanglewood Festival Chorus rehearsing, 1971

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus
     1. Introitus - Requiem
     2. Kyrie
     3. Sequentia 
     4. Offertorium
     5. Sanctus
     6. Benedictus
     7. Agnus Dei
     8. Communio - Lux aeterna
Sir Colin Davis, conductor
Benita Valente, soprano
Beverly Wolff, mezzo-soprano
Kenneth Riegel, tenor
Robert Hale, bass-baritone
Tanglewood Festival Chorus, John Oliver, conductor
(Tanglewood, August 8, 1971)

Continuous Play:



Erich Leinsdorf conducting, 1967April 12

     1. Act I, The prison courtyard
     2. Act II,scene i: The dungeon
     3. Act II, scene ii: The prison courtyard
Erich Leinsdorf, conductor
Hanne-Lore Kuhse and Mary Ellen Pracht, sopranos
George Shirley, William Brown, and Nico Castel, tenors
Tom Krause, baritone
Ara Berberian and Harold Enns, basses
Alfred Ryder, actor
(Tanglewood, August 5, 1967)

Continuous Play:



Archival images courtesy BSO Archives


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