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Sander's Theatre Harvard University
45 Quincy St,, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
The second program of the year brings the return of one of the most beloved and admired of all the soloists who have appeared with the BPO in the past, paired with one of the most beloved of all symphonies.
Kim Kashkashian has been numbered among the four or five leading violists in the world since the time of her debut. No one has championed new music more tirelessly than she has, and no one has explored the standard repertory with greater freshness of perspective. Every year students come from all over the world to study with her at New England Conservatory, eager to learn from both her mastery of the instrument and from her deep and personal interpretive insights. When we decided to perform Berlioz’s beloved Harold in Italy (a first for the orchestra), it was a foregone conclusion that we would invite Ms. Kashkashian before even thinking of anyone else.
Berlioz’s great work is, like virtually everything by that composer, sui generis, merging elements of symphony, concerto and tone poem (and this before the notion of a tone poem as musical genre had even been invented). Throughout the work the viola intertwines with the orchestra like a solitary wanderer moving from one unfamiliar landscape to another, ever observant but always alone. Berlioz’s conception was unique when he wrote it and has engendered uncountable imitators ever since. This is the real thing.
Sibelius’s Second Symphony is the Finnish symphony par excellence. Right from the time of its first performance Finns have understood it as a statement about Finnish nationalism, and although it has never been clear if that was really Sibelius’s intention, the Finnish people, and everyone else, continue to be deeply moved by its apparent message and indomitable spirit. Mr. Zander and the orchestra have performed it several times in the past, and each has been an uplifting and memorable occasion.
photo credit — Stu Rosner