Two Great 8ths!!

Have you been to a concert somewhere in the world recently? Share your thoughts with us about the performance, the more details the better!

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Heck148
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Two Great 8ths!!

Post by Heck148 » Sun Apr 26, 2015 9:12 am

I just returned from Chicago, where I was treated to 2 really superb concerts by the Chicago Symphony -
they finished one series on Tuesday - featuring Shostakovich's Sym #8, then on Thursday, a new series begins, this one featuring Bruckner Sym #8, both conducted by Semyon Bychkov...the Thursday program was "Afterworks Masterworks" program, starting at 6:30 - aiming to attract people right after work - before they go home....the Bruckner was the only work on the program...these usually run an hour or so, give or take.

In a word - COSMIC....both concerts-really great, my head is still reeling. Fine conducting overall, wonderful playing, and of course, the music is overwhelming when played well. the CSO went far and above in its efforts..what a great orchestra..I had great seats - lower balcony near center - 4th and 5th row

Bychkov had a good grasp of the Shostakovich, overall - he knew where to hit the climaxes, where to relax the tension....great job on the long build-up in mvt 1 - the first violins were esp pianissimo/dolce in their opening entrance - this simply emphasized the shattering climax reached at the great explosion of sound...
wonderful English horn solo following the Krakatoan eruption...
wildly sardonic second movement, featured splendid woodwind work, each section acquitting itself with rapid, on top of the beat dexterity and energy...
the last three movements are connected, and Bychkov did a fine job of piecing them together, and achieving a fine flow - the vicious "march" of mvt 3 was pounded home with a vengeance, the eerie passacaglia provided a dynamic relief, and featured great work from the strings, then piccolo and clarinet...the enigmatic final mvt was introduced by the solo bassoon [Wm Buchman] who skillfully negotiated this, and the recap solo with great aplomb...this movement switches between a sort of wistful playfulness, and dark foreboding...with the darkness prevailing in a tremendous climax, with resonating gong shots, and great brass fanfares - with the low brass delivering a crushing final blow - however, the playfulness is not to be quelled....the symphony ends quietly, leaving the listener to arrive at his/her own conclusion..this is a dark and deeply moving work.
the solo work was tremendous throughout - each section was absolutely solid...the brass was amazing as always, as were the woodwinds and strings - Bychkov used the same string set-up for both concerts: 15-14-11-9-8..
What is truly remarkable is that there were several substitutes, associate principals performing in both concerts - Mark Sparks Flute I [St LouisSO], Bill Buchman, assoc BnI [David McGill's position as yet unfilled] guest horn principals Nicole Cash [SFSO assoc], for Shost, a white-blond-haired guy on Bruckner [looked like Dale Clevenger [it wasn't], or Gus Sebring from BSO, [doubtful]. that the orchestra can play so superbly with different principals in place shows the depth and the excellence of this great ensemble...

The Bruckner 8 was the only work on Thursday's program - it was awesome...Bychkov again had a good overall grasp of the structure. if I have a criticism, it would be that he allowed it to become a little "stop-and-go" in the slow mvt and finale....not bad, but it verged on the edge of becoming disjointed in certain brief parts..one thing that was outstanding was Bychkov's featuring of all the neat little woodwind, string, brass inner parts in Bruckner's thick texture. He highlighted these to great effect - little oboe, clarinet, flute "noodles" popped right out, quiet little brass fanfare figures were pronounced as well--not loud - but certainly audible..
tempi were moderate, certainly not slow, but he wasn't rushing things either..overall the sound was amazing - the climaxes were shattering - the brass choir esp was magnificent. the trumpets were using rotary valve instruments, which I don't generally like - but the CSO guys got plenty of sound from them- and they had sufficient brilliance....special kudos to the Wagner tuba section [4 horn players] - incl Daniel Gingrich and Susanna Drake Gaunt - who negotiated all of their exposed parts without mishap - one can almost depend upon these finicky instruments for a clam or clobber somewhere in a live performance - but not this one...again, special praise to all principals - and a special citation to the low brass - there is nothing like it in the world...

audience reaction to both concerts was wildly enthusiastic - in the case of Shostakovich - which ends very quietly - Bychkov held the silence for a good 15-20 seconds at least - applause started slowly, built up, and when Bychkov returned to the stage and began giving solo bows to individuals, the crowd went wild, on and on it went....
for the Bruckner, the response was immediate, of course - people bursting with applause, popping up out of their seats to express their enthusiastic appreciation.
Two great works, performed superbly by fine conductor and great orchestra...

Ricordanza
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Re: Two Great 8ths!!

Post by Ricordanza » Mon Apr 27, 2015 7:15 am

Heck148 wrote:... then on Thursday, a new series begins, this one featuring Bruckner Sym #8, both conducted by Semyon Bychkov...the Thursday program was "Afterworks Masterworks" program, starting at 6:30 - aiming to attract people right after work - before they go home....the Bruckner was the only work on the program...these usually run an hour or so, give or take.
Thanks for your very comprehensive review.

How was the attendance on Thursday? Did this experiment produce more audience members than the traditional starting time on Tuesday night?

Heck148
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Re: Two Great 8ths!!

Post by Heck148 » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:14 am

Ricordanza wrote:
Heck148 wrote:... then on Thursday, a new series begins, this one featuring Bruckner Sym #8, both conducted by Semyon Bychkov...the Thursday program was "Afterworks Masterworks" program, starting at 6:30 - aiming to attract people right after work - before they go home....the Bruckner was the only work on the program...these usually run an hour or so, give or take.
Thanks for your very comprehensive review.

How was the attendance on Thursday? Did this experiment produce more audience members than the traditional starting time on Tuesday night?
Good question - I asked one of the ushers about it - the hall was not filled...I couldn't tell from where I was sitting - the lower balcony was probably 2/3 full - couldn't see the upper balcony, or the orchestra floor. I guess this is a new program, and so far the results are OK, if not overwhelming...[Orchestra Center holds 2500]
The orchestra does not present the entire subscription concert - usually 2 or 3 pieces, or in this case just the Bruckner symphony, which is c 80 ' or so.

John F
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Re: Two Great 8ths!!

Post by John F » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:33 am

The problem with a 6:30 start is that there isn't time to have an unhurried supper. By the end of Bruckner 8, say 8pm, which is actually a good starting time for a concert, you can get pretty hungry.
John Francis

Holden Fourth
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Re: Two Great 8ths!!

Post by Holden Fourth » Mon Apr 27, 2015 2:23 pm

The Shostakovich 8th is a great symphonic work. I've just struggled through a DVD of another 8th (Mahler's) Even with Bernstein at the helm of the VPO and assorted great choruses, I just couldn't get into this work.

Heck148
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Re: Two Great 8ths!!

Post by Heck148 » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:02 pm

John F wrote:The problem with a 6:30 start is that there isn't time to have an unhurried supper. By the end of Bruckner 8, say 8pm, which is actually a good starting time for a concert, you can get pretty hungry.
maybe they're guessing that alot of people get out of work c430-5....in that case you could grab something quick and head to the concert...

didn't the NYPO do this years ago, when Boulez was at the helm?? a 5 or 530 concert series??

Heck148
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Re: Two Great 8ths!!

Post by Heck148 » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:04 pm

Holden Fourth wrote:The Shostakovich 8th is a great symphonic work.
it really is - I've heard it twice live, and both times were most overwhelming -
Solti/CSO - Boston Sym Hall
the aforementioned Bychkov/CSO

it certainly is a dark piece of music....

John F
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Re: Two Great 8ths!!

Post by John F » Tue Apr 28, 2015 4:00 am

Heck148 wrote:
John F wrote:The problem with a 6:30 start is that there isn't time to have an unhurried supper. By the end of Bruckner 8, say 8pm, which is actually a good starting time for a concert, you can get pretty hungry.
maybe they're guessing that alot of people get out of work c430-5....in that case you could grab something quick and head to the concert...
I don't know who gets off work at 4:30. When I was on a 9-5 job, 5pm was the earliest I left work. And what kind of an evening is it when you have to "grab something quick and head to the concert"? If orchestras want to attract people to their concerts, they shouldn't do this to them.
Heck148 wrote:didn't the NYPO do this years ago, when Boulez was at the helm?? a 5 or 530 concert series??
Not that I remember. He started a series of "Rug Concerts," informal events in which people sat on the floor. But these started at 8pm, just like the regular subscription concerts. Since then, most of the regular concerts have been bumped up to 7:30pm.

The Philharmonic had a series of "Rush Hour Concerts" beginning at 6:45pm and lasting an hour with no intermission. The program was the same as the week's subscription concerts minus one piece of 1/2 hour or more. There were just a few of these per season, and now I believe they've been abandoned; can't find them in in the offerings for 2015-16, though a complete concert calendar isn't online yet.
John Francis

lennygoran
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Re: Two Great 8ths!!

Post by lennygoran » Tue Apr 28, 2015 7:31 am

Heck148 wrote: didn't the NYPO do this years ago, when Boulez was at the helm?? a 5 or 530 concert series??
The Met HD encore performances begin at 6:30 on Wednesdays-fortunately we're retired and can adjust our dining experience for earlier-I wouldn't want to grab just a bite and then rush to a 3 or 4 hour opera experience. OTOH I can understand those who don't want to be up so late if they have work the next day. The key is to be retired! Regards, Len :lol:

Heck148
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Re: Two Great 8ths!!

Post by Heck148 » Tue Apr 28, 2015 9:24 am

John F wrote:
The Philharmonic had a series of "Rush Hour Concerts" beginning at 6:45pm and lasting an hour with no intermission. The program was the same as the week's subscription concerts minus one piece of 1/2 hour or more. There were just a few of these per season,
yes, those are the ones I was remembering...The CSO follows that format - shorter programs, no intermission.

josé echenique
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Re: Two Great 8ths!!

Post by josé echenique » Tue Apr 28, 2015 8:19 pm

Last time Bychkov visited us he brought the Orchestre de Paris, one concert featuring Shostakovich awesome Symphony 10, and in the second program Dutilleux´s Second. Both concerts were marvelous of course, but I can only wonder what they might have been with the CSO.

Heck148
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Location: New England

Re: Two Great 8ths!!

Post by Heck148 » Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:52 pm

josé echenique wrote:Last time Bychkov visited us he brought the Orchestre de Paris, one concert featuring Shostakovich awesome Symphony 10, and in the second program Dutilleux´s Second. Both concerts were marvelous of course, but I can only wonder what they might have been with the CSO.
Bychkov was very good in this pair of concerts -
that's 5 concerts I've heard recently [within a year] in which the conducting was excellent overall:

2 by Jaap van Zweden/CSO - Prokoieff Sym #5, Shost Sym #5; Britten Sinfonia di Requiem
1 by Andris Nelsons/'BSO - Mahler Sym #6
2 by Bychkov/CSO - Shost #8, Bruckner #8

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