Time Out for Bard

by Sedgwick Clark

Last weekend I attended the opening concerts of the Bard Music Festival. This year’s subject is “Sibelius and His World.” There were the usual fascinating works being heard for the first time in perhaps a century (and possibly never again) and some thought-provoking panel discussions as befitting the academic environs. Musically, Sibelius’s early choral symphony, Kullervo, found conductor Leon Botstein and the American Symphony at their most impressive. But we’ll consider these and the second weekend’s treats next week.

We’ll see if Botstein dares to play the ending of Sibelius’s Fourth Symphony mezzo-forte, without ritarding, as written (only Colin Davis has the nerve to do that). To hear if he captures the rich, Romantic humanism of Nielsen’s Third Symphony (“Sinfonia espansiva”). Also to hear his brilliant combination of works for the festival’s final program: Sibelius: Tapiola. Barber: Symphony No 1. Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 5. Sibelius: Symphony No. 7. He’s set himself a mighty aspiration.

Tune in next week.

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