The online journal The Arts Fuse called Benjamin Zander’s Boston Philharmonic Bruckner Symphony No. 8 the classical Performance of the Year. I watched it, rapt, on my computer. I wouldn’t argue with that choice, though the BPO’s Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2, with the astounding Stefan Jackiw, made me thoroughly reevaluate a piece that never got to me before. Zander’s heavenly Mahler Fourth (it literally ends up in Heaven), with the impressive Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and Russian soprano Sofia Fomina, which I attended in person, is another contender for that “best of” accolade. During the pandemic, Zander had all the players learn how to conduct this score, and every single one of them seemed to be aware of what everyone else was playing — quite rare among orchestral performances.
Zander’s winter BPO program includes Mussorgsky’s gorgeous Prelude to “Khovanshchina,” Shostakovich’s First Cello Concerto, with the young Romanian cellist Andrei Ioniță (new to me) and Beethoven’s heroic Symphony No. 3 (Feb. 6). The BPYO concert (Feb. 27) will begin with Ravel’s “La Valse,” then move on to the Elgar Cello Concerto, with the American cellist Zlatomir Fung (also new to me), and Shostakovich’s popular Symphony No. 5.
Click here to view Bruckner’s Symphony no. 8.
Click here to listen to Mahler’s Symphony no. 4.
Click here to listen to Beethoven’s Symphony no. 3.
Click here to listen to Elgar’s Cello Concerto.
Click here to listen to Shostakovich’s Symphony no. 5.