The 2014 Tanglewood season from June 28 to August 30 has something for everyone—summer enjoyment above all, with plenty of variety to choose from, classical or popular, in the Shed or in the smaller Ozawa Hall, from Renaissance to standard Romantic to modern to film music, from solo recital to chamber to opera to avant-garde to “Prairie Home Companion” (on June 28). There are the usual warhorses—Tanglewood and summertime mean enjoyment above all—but there are quite a few challenging items as well for those who look for more than just relaxed listening on the lawn.
Andris Nelsons conducts his first Tanglewood program on July 11—all-Dvořák, including the Violin Concerto, the Eighth Symphony, and, I’m especially happy to say, The Noon Witch, op. 108, which the Boston Symphony has never performed and which I urged in this space two years ago. Off to a great start for the young conductor whose “New World” Symphony recording is one of the best I’ve heard.
I can’t begin to mention everything happening this summer, but there’s plenty of Beethoven (final concert on August 30 including the Ninth and the Choral Fantasy), Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky (the 1812 of course, at Tanglewood on Parade on August 5), Respighi, some Prokofiev (Alexander Nevsky on August 15), Shostakovich (Piano Concerto no. 1 with Thibaudet on August 1), and one Mahler (Symphony no. 2 with Dohnányi, July 26), and one evening featuring Stravinsky (Scherzo fantastique and the complete Firebird with Dutoit on August 17, plus Rachmaninoff Concerto no. 3).
The Israeli conductor Asher Fisch is unknown to me but he will lead the BSO on July 6, including a Brahms Piano Concerto no. 2 with the superb Garrick Ohlsson. Brahms gets plenty of attention later on, with the Third Symphony on July 19 (Nelsons), a full program with the Deutsche Kammersymphonie Bremen on August 6 (Academic Festival, Piano Concerto no. 1 with Lars Vogt, and Symphony no. 2, Paavo Järvi conducting) and a chamber music program (see next ¶ ) on August 7. Wagner is represented only by Meistersinger excerpts on the Fisch program; we surely had plenty of him during his bicentennial year. But there’s a dose of Verdi, too, on July 27, with Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos conducting excerpts from Nabucco and the Act II finale of Aïda— imagine sharing that program with Rachmaninoff’s Second Concerto (Gabriela Montero, soloist).
The midweek concerts include some nice surprises, with visiting groups. The Boston Symphony Chamber Players, celebrating their 50th season on July 1, will have a new work not yet announced, plus the Debussy Sonata for flute, viola, and harp and the Schubert Octet – two of the most graceful works of music ever written. We will have James Taylor and his band on July 3, Chanticleer and a special “She Said / He Said” group on July 9, the Emerson Quartet (five quartets by Shostakovich! Who can stand that many?) on July 10, Sequentia Ensemble on July 15, Thomas Hampson on July 16, The Knights and soloists on July 23, National Youth Orchestra on July 24 with David Robertson conducting, including a new work by Samuel Adams, Jack Beeson’s Lizzie Borden with the Boston Lyric Opera (you can see it in Boston this weekend) on July 31, Brahms chamber music with Emanuel Ax, Yo-yo Ma, and Leonidas Kavakos) on August 7, an explosive piano program by Jeremy Denk on August 13 (Ives’s Concord plus the Goldberg Variations – the only Bach offering listed during the entire summer), the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and soloists with Handel’s Teseo (listed as an “extended concert” beginning at 7:30, on August 14), and winding up with “Wait, Wait – Don’t Tell Me!” on August 28. Most of these are in Ozawa Hall. There’s opera in the Shed, too: Bernstein’s Candide on August 16 with Bramwell Tovey conducting, and a “re-mastered” Wizard of Oz movie with the Boston Pops live on August 22.
Some recently-composed works that will be featured on various programs are Maria Schneider’s Winter Morning Walks with Dawn Upshaw, Rolf Martinsson’s Bridge, Trumpet Concerto no. 1, and Christopher Rouse’s Rapture (Nelsons conducts these last two). William Bolcom’s Circus Overture, a BSO commission, is scheduled for a premiere on August 8 at a concert celebrating Leonard Slatkin’s 70th birthday. Nothing else of recent vintage is listed, but the annual Festival of Contemporary Music, quarterbacked this year by John Harbison and Michael Gandolfi, will be on July 17-21.
The Boston Symphony will host a team of good recent conductors, including Stéphane Denève, Marcelo Lehninger, and David Zinman, in addition to those I’ve mentioned. Andris Nelsons is down for July 11, 12, 19, and 20. Possibly he would have been scheduled for more, but I’m sure he has been book solidly elsewhere for a while at least.
All of these, and several smaller events I haven’t mentioned, are bound to be excellent performances and interesting events, and there are several I know I’d be happy to attend. But full disclosure: I know things have changed at Tanglewood—like the construction of Ozawa Hall, which replaces what I knew as the “theater”— since I was last there over 30 years ago.
The complete schedule is on the BSO website here.