(LENOX, Mass.) – Music director Andris Nelsons leads the Boston Symphony Orchestra in its second weekend at Tanglewood in perhaps the most significant concert of the season: the festival’s first-ever complete concert performance of Wagner’s epic Das Rheingold, on Saturday, July 15, at 8pm. Nelsons opens the weekend on Friday, July 14, at 8pm in a concert of works by Ravel, Adès, Haydn, and Mozart; and is joined by German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter on Sunday, July 16, at 2:30pm,for the world premiere of John Williams’s Markings, for solo violin, strings, and harp. Mutter also joins the orchestra for Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, one of the repertoire’s most popular concertos for the instrument. The Emerson String Quartet is in residence at Ozawa Hall, performing works by Shostakovich and Schubert, on Wednesday, July 19, at 8pm, and Thursday, July 20, at 8pm.
Das Rheingold is the first of the four dramas from Wagner’s masterpiece, Der Ring des Nibelungen. The performance features a cast of all-star vocal soloists, among the most respected for these roles, including bass-baritone Thomas J. Mayer as Wotan (in his BSO and Tanglewood debuts); mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly as Fricka; tenor Kim Begley as Loge (BSO and Tanglewood debuts); and baritone Jochen Schmeckenbecher (BSO and Tanglewood debuts) as Alberich, along with other prestigious singers known for their expertise performing Wagner’s music. The performance of Das Rheingold — sung in German with English subtitles — will run without an intermission.
Friday night’s program includes two pieces written as an homage to French Baroque composer François Couperin, composed nearly 90 years apart: Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin and BSO Artist Partner Thomas Adès’s Three Studies from Couperin. Also on the program is Haydn’s Symphony No. 83, La Poule (“The Hen”), last performed by the BSO in 1990, and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C, K.467, featuring Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov.
To close out the weekend on Sunday, July 16, at 2:30 p.m., Andris Nelsons and the BSO are joined by outstanding German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter for the world premiere of Boston Pops Conductor Laureate John Williams’ Markings, for solo violin, strings, and harp. Mutter also joins the orchestra for Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, one of the repertoire’s most popular concertos for the instrument. Completing the program is Berlioz’s dazzling Symphonie fantastique, a five-part fever dream depicting the protagonist’s hopeless pursuit of a woman, his opium-induced murder of his beloved, his own execution, and his posthumous presence at a sorcerous witches’ Sabbath.
On Wednesday, July 19, at 8 p.m., the Emerson String Quartet visits Ozawa Hall for the first of two programs. Accompanied by an ensemble of seven actors, including David Strathairn and Jay O. Sanders, the quartet presents “Shostakovich, Stalin, and the Dream of a Second Chance — A Russian Fantasy.” The program, written and directed by James Glossman, weaves the tale of Dmitri Shostakovich’s obsessive 50-year quest to create an opera from The Black Monk, Chekhov’s theatrical chamber masterpiece on love, art, madness, and freedom. Through music — including a complete performance of Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 14 — supported by the actors and multimedia projections, we see Shostakovich himself trying over decades to retell Chekhov’s haunting and heroic story of a writer struggling for his sanity, only to be sidetracked again and again by the composer’s own struggle to survive as an artist amid the ever-changing imperatives of Stalin’s Soviet state.
For the second program in the Schubert’s Summer Journey concert series on Thursday, July 20, at 8 p.m., BSO Artistic Partner Thomas Adès and Italian baritone Andrè Schuen, in his U.S. debut, open the program with five night-inspired songs by Schubert — “Auf der Bruck,” D.853 (“At the Bruck”); “Der Wanderer an den Mond,” [Andre Schuen]D.870 (“The Wanderer Speaks to the Moon”); “Nachtstück,” D.672 (“Nocturne”); “Wandrers Nachtlied II,” D.768 (“Wanderer’s Nightsong”); and “Willkommen und Abschied,” D.767 (“Welcome and Farewell”). As the centerpiece of the program, the Emerson Quartet performs Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Shroud for string quartet, which memorializes two of the composer’s close friends. Closing the program, Adès and BSO principal bassist Edwin Barker join the Emerson Quartet for Schubert’s Trout Quintet for piano and strings, D.667, which the composer completed when he was just 22 years old and which remains one of the most familiar works in the chamber-music repertoire.