in: Reviews

August 11, 2012

Intriguing Premieres, Piquant Charmers


The Tanglewood Music Center Fellows presented a remarkable concert on Sunday morning, August 5th, in Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood. The musical offerings ranged from intriguing premieres and piquant charmers to a masterpiece of the chamber music literature. Opening the program was Werkstatt for violin, cello, and piano, plus other materials. … Composer Benjamin Scheuer explained that in his piece, “noises of sandpaper, wine glasses, bells, claves, and more are matched with similar effects on instruments.”  This did not necessarily make for easy listening, but one admired the musicians’ commitment.

Franz Tischhauser’s Octet is a delightful romp for strings plus clarinet, horn, and bassoon. In particular, the concluding fugue was dispatched with panache and exemplary teamwork between strings and winds. Debussy’s Les chansons de Bilitis, scored for two flutes, two harps, celesta, and reciter, was luscious. Soprano Ilana Zarankin, with a lovely command of Pierre Louÿs’s sensual poetry, blended her recitation seamlessly with the instrumentalists. Among so much talent onstage, the two flute players were notably superb. Rounding out the first half of the program, Bartók’s Divertimento for Strings was given a fine performance by a chamber orchestra of 23 musicians.

After intermission, another new work, To Keep It, for string quartet, was described by composer Jenny Beck as “my attempt to create an internal soundtrack for a woman whose rigorous anger has removed her from humanity.” Again, the Fellows played with sincerity and dedication.

The final course of this feast was Schubert’s great String Quintet in C Major, performed with heartfelt affection and sterling musicianship. There was a full audience inside Ozawa Hall, but it was even nicer to be just outside the hall. To recline on the cool green Tanglewood lawn on a breezy summer day, listening to music that must have been divinely inspired, is a rare privilege indeed.

Alessandra Kingsford is a bank teller and musician who has played for Lowell House Opera and Mercury Orchestra.

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