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Tanglewood, Sevenars Showcase Great Music
By Stephen Dankner, Guest Column
09:02PM / Wednesday, August 07, 2019
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Cellist Yo-Yo Ma has the entire Tanglewood Shed stage to himself for a complete performance of Bach’s six immortal Suites for Unaccompanied Cello on Sunday, Aug. 11.

Tanglewood this week will be very rewarding and diverse, with spectacular musical riches across the centuries, representing the progressive continuum of styles: music that’s both time-honored and new, and everything in-between.

Tanglewood continues its classical programming with an all-Beethoven piano recital on Aug. 7 by the fabulous soloist Yefim Bronfman; more Beethoven awaits with the beloved "Pastoral" Symphony No. 6 and the lyrical Fourth Piano Concerto, featuring the magnificent pianist Inon Barnaton on Aug. 11 – the BSO led by composer/pianist/conductor Thomas Adès; also, a program of three of the Viennese master’s violin/piano sonatas, performed by the brilliant violinist Leonidas Kavakos and inspiring pianist Emanuel Ax on Aug. 13.

Festival of Contemporary Music: Aug. 8-12

A festival within a festival, contemporary music aficionados will have five days to delight within alternative musical worlds, and experience the varied sounds of newly composed works emanating from Ozawa Hall, as the annual Festival of Contemporary Music showcases a representative sampling of new works (including several premieres) by both young and established composers. For complete FCM listings, go to Tanglewood's website and also read Grace Lichtenstein’s music column here on


• Wednesday, Aug. 7, 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall: The esteemed pianist Yefim Bronfman will perform a solo recital devoted to four of the composer’s piano sonatas: No. 5 in C minor, Op. 10, No. 1; No. 6 in F, Op. 10, No. 2; and No. 7 in D, Op. 10, No. 3. Written between late 1795 and 1798, the three brilliant and already masterful Op. 10 sonatas closely followed his earliest group of works in the genre. The program concludes with the Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 ("Appassionata") - a magnificent tour-de-force from the master’s "heroic" middle period.

• Friday, Aug. 9, 8 p.m. in the Shed: The renowned Greek violinist and conductor Leonidas Kavakos returns to the BSO to lead the orchestra in both capacities. The program begins with Mr. Kavakos as soloist in Beethoven’s supremely lyrical Violin Concerto, which, as in the composer's symphonies, expanded and transformed its genre. Following intermission, Mr. Kavakos takes up the baton to conduct the orchestra in Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7. Reflecting inner turmoil at the recent loss of his mother and the outer conflict of Bohemia’s rising nationalism, the Seventh Symphony is both the composer’s darkest works and one of his greatest.

• Saturday, Aug. 10, 8 p.m. in the Shed: The young Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare, who became music director of the San Diego Symphony this year, makes his BSO and Tanglewood debuts, leading a program that begins with a work by a fellow Venezuelan: “Margaritena” by Inocente Carreño. Russian virtuoso Nikolai Lugansky then joins Mr. Payare and the orchestra as soloist in Sergey Rachmaninoff’s impetuous Piano Concerto No. 1. The concert concludes with Brahms’ monumental Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, the composer’s towering breakthrough, after decades of struggle to escape Beethoven’s symphonic shadow.

• Sunday, Aug. 11, 2:30 p.m. in the Shed: BSO Artistic Partner Thomas Adès, who directs Tanglewood's 2019 Festival of Contemporary Music, takes the podium to lead the BSO in a program that begins with Ives' evocative "Three Places in New England," which includes the Berkshires-inspired third movement “The Housatonic at Stockbridge.” American-Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan then appears as soloist in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, the most lyrical and poetic of the composer’s five works in the genre. Bringing the concert to a close is Beethoven’s beloved Symphony No. 6, (“Pastoral,”) one of the great musical tributes to the beauty and power of nature.

• Sunday, Aug. 11, 7:30 p.m. in the Shed, special concert: In what is certain to be a highlight of the summer, the iconic cellist Yo-Yo Ma has the entire Shed stage to himself for a complete performance of Bach’s six immortal Suites for Unaccompanied Cello. The indisputable centerpiece of the solo cello repertoire, these unique Suites epitomizes Bach’s unparalleled combination of musical intellect and soulful emotion, technical compositional mastery and intensive power, displaying the full measure of the performer’s ability. Mr. Ma is closely identified with these pieces, having released two different interpretations on recordings of these works.

• Tuesday, Aug. 13, 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall: Two world-class soloists on their respective instruments come together for a joint recital as violinist Leonidas Kavakos and pianist Emanuel Ax take center stage in Ozawa Hall. The program focuses on three violin sonatas by Beethoven: Sonata No. 4 in A minor, Op. 23; Sonata No. 6 in A Major, Op. 30, No. 1; and Sonata No. 10 in G Major, Op. 96. The first two are excellent examples of the young Beethoven’s innovative approach to traditional classical style, while the final work dates from the end of his transformative, almost radical middle period.

Regular-season ticket prices for the 2019 Tanglewood season range from $12-$130, and are available online, through Symphony Charge at 888-266-1200, and at the Symphony Hall Box Office at 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. Tickets will also be available for purchase in person at the Tanglewood box office, located at Tanglewood's Main Gate on West Street in Lenox, Mass.

Sevenars Music Festival

Sevenars is delighted to present  David James, one of New Zealand’s most prominent concert pianists, on Sunday, Aug. 11, at 4 p.m. Mr. James will perform a piano recital including works of Schubert, Chopin, and Brahms, and, after intermission, Spanish-inspired works by Maurice Ravel, Issac Albeniz, Manuel de Falla and Ernesto Lecuona. 

For Sevenars tickets, and general contact information, call 413-238-5854 (please leave a message for return call), or visit the website. Admission is by donation at the door; suggested donation is $20. Refreshments are included. Sevenars Concerts is located at the Academy in South Worthington, Mass., located at 15 Ireland St., just off Route 112.

Upcoming: South Mountain Concerts

South Mountain Concerts, this year celebrating its 101th anniversary (!), is a leading institution/presenter of chamber music in our region. Over several decades, it has amended its original mission from presenting many of the classics of early-to-mid-20th century contemporary music, to primarily showcasing the purist art of canonical chamber music composed for string quartet and strings with piano, presenting acknowledged masterpieces by the major European composers of the 18th and 19th centuries, performed by a select mix of both established and up-and-coming ensembles.

Founded in 1919 by the chamber music patron and new music enthusiast Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, concerts are performed in its historic purpose-built hall. South Mountain has, over the years, presented many of the world’s leading chamber music ensembles and soloists, and continues in this tradition, with performances this fall by long-time favorite ensembles the Wu Han/David Finckel piano-cello duo (Sept. 8); the Calidore String Quartet (Sept. 15); the Brentano String Quartet with violist Hsin-Yun Huang (Sept. 22); St. Martin in the Fields chamber ensemble (Oct. 6) and the Emerson String Quartet (Oct. 3). All five concerts are Sundays at 3 p.m.

Why go? The hall, dating from the series' inception, accommodates 440 and possesses outstanding acoustics. Equal in performance artistry to Marlboro Music and chamber music heard in Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall, South Mountain presents the finest ensembles performing signature works of the classical canon.

South Mountain’s concert hall is located on Routes 7 and 20 (South Street) in Pittsfield, approximately two miles south of Park Square at the center of the downtown area. Tickets are $40; $15 for students with IDs at the door. Call 413-442-2106 or go online for information of specific concert repertory. Tickets are also available by mail; send check and return envelope to: South Mountain Concerts, Box 23, Pittsfield, MA 01201.

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