Debussy, Birtwistle, Liadov, and Stravinsky at the BSO
An invigorating and youthful performance
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Venue: Symphony Hall
The Boston Symphony Orchestra is one of the country’s five major symphony orchestras, and because they feature a new lineup of pieces and performers weekly, there is always something new to see. Earlier this month, the concert conducted by Stefan Asbury and Ken David Masur consisted of four pieces arranged strategically to depict the show’s central theme: vitality.
The concert opened with Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun by Claude Debussy, a dreamlike and youthful piece marked by meandering flute-playing that expresses the gentleness, wonderment, and carefree nature of the young. Following Debussy, was a contemporary piece by Sir Harrison Birtwistle titled Responses: Of Sweet Disorder and the Carefully Careless, featuring pianist Pierre Laurent Aimard. This piece featured simultaneously rhythmic yet irregular phrases from the piano complemented by responses from the orchestra. The score is characterized by a series of gradually building tensions and the resulting sudden, powerful releases. Next came From the Apocalypse by Anatoly Liadov, a classical orchestral piece that uses the roaring and powerful sounds created from instruments rather than rhythm to achieve a similar effect. Through these patterns, both pieces captured the discomforting, yet invigorating and transcendent feeling we experience in the face of imbalance. The show concluded with Igor Stravinsky’s Suite from The Firebird, a score centered around the trills of a meandering, frantic flute, filled with energy, determination, and anticipation. This was a perfect ending that left the audience invigorated and inspired.
That night, the concert hall was devoted to a celebration of life in all of its unpredictable twists and turns. And in what better place to do it? Boston’s Symphony Hall is both visually and aurally breathtaking. As the orchestra plays, one cannot help but to look around. The interior’s Renaissance style décor is the perfect visual pairing to the music, reflecting the orchestra’s grace and exquisite attention to detail. Sixteen white marble statues loom above the audience, surrounding the viewer with artifacts of history and culture. The high, coffered ceilings are not only grandiose, but also improve the room’s acoustics. If you close your eyes, you can almost convince yourself that the orchestra is playing directly next to you. You can hear the nuances of each individual instrument, enabling an appreciation of the music on a deeper level.
And the best part? Every MIT student can take part in this incredible experience. Students can obtain a subsidized BSO College Card for $5, and with it, attend as many available concerts as one desires. It would be almost criminal to not take advantage of this opportunity.