James Levine leads Boston Symphony at Tanglewood in Romantic Romp

James Levine will conduct a program of Berlioz and Mussorgsky in a wonderful romantic romp. The program opens with Berlioz' Roman Carnival Overture. Then Steven Ansell joins the Boston Symphony Orchestra for Harold en Italie, for viola and orchestra, a lovely but seldom performed Berlioz piece. The second half of the program is devoted to Mussorgsky with Prelude to Khovanshchina, closing with the immensely popular Pictures at an Exhibition - although originally written for solo piano, Ravel's orchestrated version is perhaps the more famous version.

Northern Italy is famous for its effect on visitors, and Berlioz was no exception. Berlioz was in Italy between 1831 and 1832 compliments of his success with the Prix de Rome. Although by this point Berlioz had already developed a distaste for Italian Opera, disgusted by the noise of the overly enthusiastic audiences, he did find the long trek from Naples to Rome to be very inspirational. During this trip he wrote of his experience, “young men serenading, going round the village all night singing beneath their mistresses’ windows, to the accompaniment of a guitar and a terrible squawking clarinet.” This would become the background in the final movements.

In the orchestral Prelude to Khovanshchina, Mussorgsky creates an excellent little tone poem, which he entitled "Dawn Over the Moskva River." Rather than the typical slow dawning of daylight or the explosive burst of sunlight, but instead is a series of variations of a folk tune. The way these variants are modified one verse to the next is done in the traditional style of Russian folk music.

Concert Details

BERLIOZ Roman Carnival Overture
BERLIOZ Harold in Italy, for viola and orchestra
MUSSORGSKY Prelude to Khovanshchina
MUSSORGSKY (orch. RAVEL) Pictures at an Exhibition

Fridays in the Shed
July 24, 2009 8:30 PM
Koussevitzky Music Shed, 7:15 - 7:45
Lenox, Massachusetts

Tickets are available on a first come first served basis.

This performance will stream live on WAMC Northeast Public Radio.


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