(LENOX, Mass.) – Among the highlights of this weekend’s programs at Tanglewood is the world premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Bolcom’s Circus Overture, commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra to celebrate conductor Leonard Slatkin’s 70th birthday, on Friday, August 8, 2014, in a program featuring violinist Gil Shaham and BSO principal oboe John Ferillo performing works by Barlow, Barber, and Elgar, in addition to the new Bolcom piece. Bolcom was the conductor’s own choice for the commission.
Wayne Barlow’s lyrical “The Winter’s Passed,” for oboe and strings, features BSO principal oboist John Ferrillo as soloist. American violinist Gil Shaham joins Slatkin and the orchestra for Barber’s Violin Concerto, and the concert concludes with Elgar’s kaleidoscopic “Enigma Variations,” a musical depiction of the composer’s friends and acquaintances that stands as one of the repertoire’s greatest examples of tone painting.
On Saturday, August 9, at 8:30 p.m., French maestro Stéphane Denève takes the podium for a BSO performance pairing music by Tchaikovsky with Debussy’s quietly revolutionary “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun,” which conductor/composer Pierre Boulez said “brought new breath to the art of music.” Denève and the orchestra are then joined by virtuoso Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos for early-20th-century Polish composer Karol Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No. 2. The drama and adrenaline of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 bring the concert to a close.
World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma once again takes the stage at Tanglewood on Sunday, August 10, at 2:30 p.m., this time in an all-Tchaikovsky program with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by American maestro David Zinman. Ma is featured in two works: the Andante cantabile, for cello and strings, and the Variation on a Rococo Theme, for cello and orchestra. The program also includes the Polonaise from Tchaikovsky’s operatic masterpiece Eugene Onegin and the perennial favorite Symphony No. 6, Pathétique.
On August 11, at 8 p.m., Stéphane Denève takes the the helm of the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra in Ozawa Hall for an all-Berlioz program, which also features Tanglewood Music Center conducting fellow Daniel Cohen as well as TMC Vocal Fellows, includes two works inspired by Shakespeare: the Overture to Béatrice et Bénédict, from Berlioz’s opera of the same name based on “Much Ado about Nothing,” and the song cycle Les Nuits d’été, inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Concluding the program is the dazzling, feverish Symphonie fantastique, one of music history’s most astonishing symphonies.