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September 14, 2010

Levine Scheduled to Return to BSO Podium in October

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The Maestro on February 10, 2010 (Michael J. Lutch photo)

According to management, BSO Music Director James Levine is scheduled to return to the podium on Oct. 7 with Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony — No. 2. It will feature the same performers as the performance conducted in Levine’s absence this summer by Michael Tilson Thomas, which was reviewed here.

Returning for this performance are soprano Layla Claire, mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, John Oliver, conductor.  The BSO office tells us that this massive 85-minute-long symphony, which calls for an oversized orchestra in addition to the numerous vocal forces, will be presented without intermission.

The press release quotes Mahler on the cathartic final section of the symphony: “Rise again, yes, rise again thou wilt … Lo and behold: There is no judgment, no sinners, no just men, no great and no small; there is no punishment and no reward. A feeling of overwhelming love fills us with blissful knowledge and illuminates our existence.”

This will be a fitting concert to welcome back Maestro Levine.

7 Comments

  1. The BSO opens on October 2nd, not the 7th. From the BSO website:

    Bryn Terfel joins Music Director James Levine to open the 2010-11 season with a powerful all-Wagner program.

    Will Levine “return to the podium” for Wagner at Symphony Hall ?

    Interestingly, the two are scheduled to present Wagner at the Met the following Saturday. Quite a daunting week for the recovering Levine.

    Comment by Daniel Doucette — September 15, 2010 at 8:41 am

  2. The reader is correct that Opening Night is October 2, but BMInt is correct that the first regular subscription concert is October 7. We will ask management whether maestro Levine is still on for the October 2nd.

    Comment by Lee Eiseman — September 15, 2010 at 9:37 am

  3. BSO management has told BMInt that Maestro Levine is planning to conduct the Opening Night concert on October2.

    Comment by Lee Eiseman — September 17, 2010 at 9:11 am

  4. Here we go again!

    Today’s Boston Globe contains a review by Jeremy Eichler of the “Rheingold” performance which Maestro Levine conducted on Monday evening. http://www.boston.com/ae/music/articles/2010/09/29/levine_returns_to_action_conducting_the_mets_high_tech_new_ring/

    First I noticed the photograph. Maestro Levine is dressed quite informally, and I wondered if he is unable to get into his normal formal attire, or too uncomfortable in it.

    Next, I saw this sentence, “In his bows at the end of the night, he looked trimmer than when last seen in Boston and walked gingerly with support from one of the opera’s stars.” Being trimmer is good, but it’s not good that he can only walk gingerly and with support.

    Later, Mr. Eichler writes, “But at least on Monday night, while his physical recovery seemed a work in progress, his musical intensity appeared at full force, …” I said to myself, “Oh no! He’s repeating the mistake he made last season: returning to the podium before he is fully recovered.

    I’m not a doctor. I don’t even play one on TV. And maybe the doctors believe that going back to work at this point will be physically therapeutic for him. But would they have pinpointed this week as the time for such a strenuous workout under game conditions if it hadn’t been opening week? I’m afraid that we are in for a repeat of what has happened on earlier occasions when he returned to the podium before he had fully healed. So, while I’m hoping for the best, I fear the worst.

    Comment by Joe Whipple — September 29, 2010 at 11:53 am

  5. Regarding Levine’s frailties, I do remember von Karajan’s appearance over many years. He walked with great effort, sometimes sat, and conducted with very minimal gestures. Yet orchestras, especially his own Berlin Phil really played for him

    Comment by Lee Eiseman — September 29, 2010 at 12:21 pm

  6. The concert on October 7 did not allay my fears. If Maestro Levine can continue conducting as he did last night, all is okay.

    But judging from a brief video of Opening Night on the Globe website, there has been a bit of deterioration. On Opening Night he was in white tie and walked without a cane. On the 7th, he was in a casual black shirt (untucked) and walked with a cane.

    At the end, for the second curtain call, he did not even walk all the way to the podium, but stopped at the third desk of second violins and bowed from behind the violinists. During the symphony, although he seemed to have a full range of arm motion, he often grasped his upper right arm with his left hand, as he had done during his brief return last winter. Also, several times he leaned on the podium, as if for support. His batons had bulbous ends — larger than I have ever seen, as if he had some difficulty grasping a normal baton, and the presence on the podium of a second baton suggested a fear that even with the bulbous end, he might not be able to hold it.

    So if he is at a plateau which he can maintain indefinitely (or better still, improve on), that’s fine, but given the differences between Oct. 2 and 7, and between last winter and now, I’m still worried.

    Comment by Joe Whipple — October 8, 2010 at 9:39 pm

  7. This just in from BSO Customer Service.

    “BSO Music Director James Levine has had to withdraw from his remaining scheduled concerts of the BSO’s 2010-11 season, March 3-19, including Symphony Hall, Carnegie Hall, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and Kennedy Center appearances, though all concerts will take place as scheduled.

    Maestro Levine is forced to cancel appearances due to ill effects from a recent procedure addressing his ongoing back issues, further complicated by a viral infection.

    Updated program information will be released at some point on Wednesday, March 2.”

    This is truly sad news. My heart goes out to Maestro Levine in what must be a truly distressing moment.

    Comment by Joe Whipple — March 1, 2011 at 6:18 pm

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