Classical Concerts

Celebrating Bartók

Friday, March 11, 2011
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During this 130th anniversary year of the birth of Béla Bartók (born March 25, 1881), 99.5 All Classical celebrates the groundbreaking Hungarian composer with a series of on demand performances and features.

New England Conservatory Philharmonia
The Concerto for Orchestra, one of Béla Bartók's most enduring and popular masterpieces, was commissioned by conductor Serge Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  Performed for the first time in December 1944, it remains a regular fixture on orchestra programs around the world, and on March 9, 2011, Benjamin Zander conducted a performance at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall, with the NEC Philharmonia.
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Discovery Ensemble
Courtney Lewis conducts one of Boston's most exciting orchestras, Discovery Ensemble, in Bartók's kaleidoscopic Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta. 99.5 All Classical host Brian McCreath talks with Lewis about the piece, with a walk-through of each of the movements, all recorded in 99.5 All Classical's Fraser Performance Studio.

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Duke Bluebeard's Castle
In 1911, Bartók completed a one-act opera based on Charle Perrault's French fairy tale "Bluebeard," further revising it before its first performance in Budapest in 1918. A dark, pyschologically rich piece, Brian Bell offers a guided tour.
(image:  Gustave Doré's Barbe Bleue, courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Hear a guided tour at Backstage with Brian Bell


Takács Quartet, Muzsikás, and Márta Sebestyén
One of the premiere string quartets on today's concert stages joins forces with a legendary Hungarian folk ensemble and equally legendary Hungarian folk singer to explore the roots of Bartók's music.

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Pianist Hung-Kuan Chen
Recorded in 2008 in 99.5 All Classical's Fraser Performance Studio, Hung-Kuan Chen performs a piece that combines Bartók's fascination with folk music and his evolving perspective of the piano as a percussion instrument, the Out of Doors Suite, in a program that also includes music by Brahms and Ravel.

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Violinist Augustin Hadelich
Recorded in 2008 in 99.5 All Classical's Fraser Performance Studio, Augustin Hadelich performs Bartók's Sonata for solo violin, Sz. 117.

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Violinist Lara St. John and Pianist Anton Kuerti at the Montreal Chamber Music Festival
Recorded on May 14, 2009, at St. James Church during the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, Lara St. John and Anton Kuerti perform Bartók's Rhapsody No. 2, Sz. 89, BB 96, written in 1928, part of a program that also includes music by Beethoven, Franck, Hindson, Ravel, and Liszt.

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The Bartók Experience

By Brian McCreath   |   Thursday, March 10, 2011
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The Takács Quartet, folk string band Muzsikás, and Hungarian folk singer Márta Sebestyén join forces for a concert that digs into the roots of Bartók's musical personality.  Listen below.

When I was in high school, I joined a youth orchestra at just the right time:  in the year of a European tour! It was my first time to play with anything like a real orchestra, and the fact that our year would culminate in a trip to Romania and Hungary, with a few days in Vienna to cap it off, only sweetened what already seemed like a pretty exciting prospect.

And among the pieces of music we took with us was the Viola Concerto by Béla Bartók (left). In comparison to the other music on our programs - Howard Hanson's Symphony No. 2, Aaron Copland's Billy the Kid, Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 - it positively crackled with other-world-ness in my 17-year-old ears.

But what is that other world? It's not Bartók's alone;  he would tell you that himself, I imagine. There are those composers who invent sound worlds out of thin air, but the music Bartók wrote has, at its core, the music of the countryside, painstakingly collected by visiting the villages of Hungary and Romania with unbelievably cumbersome and primitive recording equipment. 

That monumental effort paid off. Ultimately, his musical creations take that DNA to places only he could have constructed.

In November 2008, thanks to the Celebrity Series of Boston, we had the chance here in Boston to experience the connections between Bartók's work and its spiritual (and sometimes actual) source material in a fiery, colorful, visceral way. The Takács Quartet, originally from Hungary, now based in Colorado, collaborated with the Hungarian folk band Muzsikás and folk singer Márta Sebestyén for a fascinating concert that placed Bartók's concert music side by side with examples of the music he collected in the villages of Hungary and Romania.

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Simon Rattle Conducts Boston's Concert for the Cure

By Cathy Fuller   |   Thursday, March 3, 2011
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It was on Dec. 5, 2010, at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall in Boston, that, as the final, triumphant chord of Brahms’s Second Symphony rang out, the audience leapt from their seats with a fabulous, unanimous holler. Brahms had galvanized the people in an overwhelming way. It was sheer joy.

It was the Concert for the Cure, organized by flutist Julie Scolnik to benefit breast cancer research. Sir Simon Rattle, the Berlin Philharmonic’s Artistic Director, had given an immediate “yes” to Scolnik two years earlier, when she asked if he would volunteer his time for the cause.

His schedule, though, was only going to allow for this one evening in December, 2010. Having played under his baton, and having survived breast cancer, Julie knew how worth the wait this would be. She gathered together a brilliant orchestra of players in the meantime, all eager to offer their time for the cause.

Rattle works in otherworldly ways. He doesn’t ever beat time. “Why should I?” he asked me. Instead, he inspires his players with gestures that are loaded up with meaning and shape - it’s as if those gestures hold the DNA that every phrase needs to navigate its perfect path.

In rehearsal, this struck me as magical. He had harnessed everything that a conductor could need. Within the space of just a few hours, with an orchestra that had never before existed, he molded music of balance, clarity, intelligence and passion. His wisdom about the way that these pieces are constructed allowed him to pave the way to the climaxes with just the right pacing and atmosphere. I will never forget the quality of hushed love that he brought to the Adagietto from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony.

The concert began with Mozart’s joyous Piano Concerto in G, K. 453. It sparkled in the hands of Marc-André Hamelin, and it was astonishing to see how immediately Rattle caught on to Hamelin’s vision. After a rehearsal barely longer than the concerto itself, the spark was lit.

The Massachusetts Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure partnered with Julie on this event. I hope you'll visit them online to learn more about the race to end breast cancer, and the number of lives that can be saved by bringing education, testing and treatments to those who might otherwise never have learned to seek help.

Juile Scolnik and Sir Simon Rattle at the Concert for the Cure, Dec. 2010

Here is the complete concert, and below that, one part of the concert to enjoy in video form.

Boston's Concert for the Cure

(video produced by Cambridge Studios)

Concert for the Cure Orchestra:

Julliette Kang, concertmaster
Sheila Fiekowsky
Irina Muresanu
Peter Zazofsky
Tatiana Dimitriades
Eva Gruesser
Gabriela Diaz
Sharon Cohen
Jennifer Wey
Wanzhen Li
Keir Gogwilt
Liza Zurlinden
Sue Rabut

Catherine French
James Cooke
Miki-Sophie Cloud
Megumi Stohs
Ethan Wood
Tessa Frederick
Jesse Irons
Annie Rabbat
Paul Biss
Asuka Usui
Joshua Weilerstein
Jeff Dyrda
Hilary Ditmars

Roger Tapping
Edward Gazouleous
Beth Guterman
Emily Deans
Yura Lee
Mark Berger
Phillip Kramp
Susan Culpo
Jenny Stirling
Jason Fisher
Kathryn Sievers
Lucy Caplan

Owen Young
Alexandre Lecarme
Michael Katz
Blaise Dejardin
Joel Moerschel
Allison Eldredge
Jan Muller-Szeraws
Alexei Gonzales
Sasha Scolnik-Brower
Michael Unterman
Mark Simcox

Donald Palma
Todd Seeber
John Stovall
Thomas Van Dyck
Karl Doty
Charles Clements
David Goodchild
Nicholas Schwartz

Julie Scolnik
Sooyum Kim

John Ferillo
Robert Sheena
Amanda Harding

William Hudgins
Cathy Hudgins

Richard Svoboda
Suzanne Nelsen

James Somerville
Richard Sebring
Jason Snider
Eric Ruske

Michael Martin
Thomas Siders

Stephen Lange
Ross Holcombe
Gabriel Langfur

Kevin Bock

Robert Schulz

Jessica Zhou

(images:  Steven Isenberg)

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

Monday, December 20, 2010
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A Beautiful Symphony of Brotherhood

Tuesday, August 27, 2013
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POSTPONED: Boston Philharmonic Honors Bombing Victims

Thursday, April 18, 2013
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Benjamin Zander conducts Beethoven's Ninth Symphony as tribute to the bombing victims.
POSTPONED to October 4, 2013

Classical New England will broadcast the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra’s live performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The performance will recognize the tremendous strength of Bostonians and pay tribute to victims of Monday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon finish line. This will be the first live broadcast in the Boston Philharmonic’s storied history.
“Our region was shaken by the tragic events on Monday afternoon. During moments like these, people find comfort in music,” said CNE Managing Director Benjamin Roe. “Tomorrow, we look forward to celebrating Boston’s resilience with a live broadcast of one of the most recognized, inspiring and healing works ever written, and performed by one of the most talented and celebrated ensembles in the world.”
BPO Music Director Benjamin Zander has described the revered Ode to Joy conclusion of Beethoven’s Ninth as “the simplest, most direct expression of human beings’ ability to dream, to change themselves and the world, and also to heal.” Zander will conduct the BPO’s performance of the iconic Symphony No. 9 with soloists Sam McElroy (baritone), Sarah Heltzel (mezzo-soprano), Michelle Johnson (soprano) and Yeghishe Manucharyan (tenor). The performance will also feature the Chorus Pro Musica, directed by Betsy Burleigh. 
All six New England states will be able to hear the broadcast, carried on all Classical New England signals and the stations of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network. Vermont Public Radio, New Hampshire Public Radio and WMNR-Fine Arts Network in Monroe, Conn. will air the performance on a delayed basis over the weekend. Cathy Fuller and James David Jacobs will host the broadcast.

This special performance is made possible through cooperation of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO), the Boston Musicians’ Association, the American Federation of Musicians, Symphony Hall and others.

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Brian McCreath Brian McCreath


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