On the dreary Thursday night of Oct. 2 a glowing Symphony Hall was booming with the chant of trombones and the crash of cymbals in the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s performance of “The Miraculous Mandarin,” a suite by Béla Bartók.
Leading this exciting clamor of brass was the BSO’s new conductor, Andris Nelsons. The 36-year-old Latvian conductor has recently become highly sought after in the world of classical music. Nelsons has a unique style of conducting which entranced the audience throughout this concert.
The first piece played was Beethoven’s Fifth and the audience could not take its eyes off of the conductor as he jumped, stomped, and flailed. His every movement, from a lunge across the podium to a slight flick of his wrist, manifested itself in the orchestra’s virtuosic playing. Nelsons had complete control over his orchestra and operated it like a marionette.
After intermission was Tchaikovsky’s Sixth, which he named “Pathétique,” meaning “passionate” and “emotional,” because of the sorrow it portrays. It was written to reflect Tchaikovsky’s inner emotional struggle in the time leading up to his death.
However, the piece has moments of joviality and strength, especially in the third movement, which is a fast-paced 8 1/2 minutes during which a simple melody is passed through the orchestra starting with a single oboe and grows and develops until it ends in the brass section in a wave of triumph.
Tom Rolfs (principal trumpet) and Toby Oft (principal trombone) led the section with the incredible precision and purity of sound, which is part of the reason that the BSO is one of the best orchestras in the country. However, this high-energy ending of the movement, was sharply contrasted with the solemn final movement, giving the symphony a quiet, somber ending.
After the final notes, Nelsons kept his baton raised for almost 30 seconds to let the sound completely dissipate from the hall, and give way to thunderous applause.
For those students who are interested the BSO sells “High School Cards” for $10 to high school students. The card gets students one free ticket to most of the concerts in the season. It pays for itself within half of one concert, and is more than worth it. The cards can be bought at the Symphony Hall box office, or at the BSO’s website.
–Nov. 14, 2014–