BSO premieres Harbison’s elusive Sixth
A composer never knows how many symphonies he will have the opportunity to write over the course of his lifetime. John Harbison has wisely made a point of never repeating himself. Each symphony sounds like none of its siblings, and yet all six of them have Harbison’s own signature voice: capacious, lean, searching. Consider for a moment how difficult it is to accomplish such a feat.
January 13, 2012 | By Jeremy Eichler
Boston Symphony Orchestra audiences have had the chance to reflect on the contours of Harbison’s symphonic arc over the last two seasons, thanks to the BSO’s complete survey of his work in this daunting genre. That two-year project comes to completion this week with the first performances of his new Sixth Symphony, commissioned by the orchestra and premiered last night in Symphony Hall. MORE…
Harbison’s “Pastoral” symphony is captivating and refreshingly original
By Bogdan Fedeles, January 18, 2012
Boston Symphony Orchestra Conducted by David Zinman. Featuring mezzo-soprano Paula Murrihy (Harbison) and pianist Leif Ove Andsnes (Beethoven)
January 14, 2012
Two years ago, the Boston community eagerly welcomed James Levine’s vision to survey the symphonic music of the world-renowned local composer and MIT faculty John H. Harbison. Indeed, over the last season and a half, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, directed by Levine, performed in chronological order all of Harbison’s five symphonies to date. Last week, this symphonic cycle reached its zenith, as BSO premiered Harbison’s newest Symphony, his Sixth, specifically commissioned by (and dedicated to) Levine. While precarious health kept Levine away from the podium for the premiere, David Zinman, a long time friend and champion of Harbison’s music filled in. He enthusiastically conducted the concert series, which in addition to the new symphony, featured music by Weber, Beethoven and R. Strauss. Given the eclectic blend of music featured, this program was sure to be a crowd-pleaser; indeed, the Saturday performance that I attended was top-notch throughout and enthusiastically received. MORE…
THE CLASSICAL REVIEW
Zinman leads Boston Symphony in powerful Harbison premiere
January 13, 2012
By David Wright
In 1809, Ludwig van Beethoven’s patron and pupil, Archduke Rudolph, had to leave Vienna suddenly because of an approaching French army. Beethoven composed a piano sonata about it, which became known as the “Les Adieux” Sonata.
In 2011, John Harbison’s friend and supporter, James Levine, had to leave the music directorship of the Boston Symphony Orchestra suddenly because of poor health. Harbison composed a symphony about it—or rather, the symphony he was already working on for Levine suddenly found him contemplating some “adieux” of his own.
On Thursday, the BSO presented the world premiere of that work, Harbison’s Symphony No. 6, in Symphony Hall, led not by the work’s muse and dedicatee but by another conductor long associated with Harbison’s music, David Zinman. MORE…