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On this evening, 33-year-old Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons made his Tanglewood debut; within the classical music business, many are talking about Nelsons as a prime contender to succeed James Levine as the BSO's music director. (courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra)

Yo-Yo Ma Headlines Tanglewood's 75th Anniversary Concert

Aug 13, 2012 (WGBH Radio)

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Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter gave a vigorous reading of one of the showiest works in the repertoire: Sarasate's Carmen Fantasy, which she played with the student artists of the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. Nelsons led a sharp and colorful performance of Ravel's La Valse, the composer's pungent commentary on the Viennese waltz and the society from which it came. Emanuel Ax, a longtime friend of Tanglewood, teamed up with the young musicians of the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra and conductor Stefan Asbury in two movements from Haydn's Piano Concerto No. 11 in D Major. James Taylor, who has made summertime performances at Tanglewood one of his staples in recent years, sang three standards with the Boston Pops and conductor John Williams. Yo-Yo Ma offered a gracious and warm performance of Tchaikovsky's Andante Cantabile for cello and strings with the Tanglewood fellows. Yo-Yo Ma offered a graciously warm performance of Tchaikovsky's Andante Cantabile for cello and strings with student musicians.

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PROGRAM:

  • Copland, Fanfare for the Common Man
  • Bernstein, Three Dances from On the Town
  • "Over the Rainbow," "Shall We Dance" and "Old Man River" (with James Taylor)
  • Tchaikovsky, Andante cantabile for cello and strings (with Yo-Yo Ma)
  • Sarasate, Carmen Fantasy (with Anne-Sophie Mutter)
  • Two movements from Haydn's Piano Concerto No. 11 in D Major (with Emanuel Ax)
  • Ravel, La valse
  • Beethoven, Choral Fantasy (with Peter Serkin)

A gentle summer evening, excellent company and great music — sounds like a recipe for perfection. That's exactly the lineup for this superstar-spangled party marking the 75th anniversary of Tanglewood, the verdant summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

And what a celebration it was. On a gorgeous night in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, the Boston Symphony, Boston Pops and the student musicians of the festival's summer training program, the Tanglewood Music Center, gathered to play a wide-ranging program with conductors David Zinman, Andris Nelsons, John Williams and Keith Lockhart. The concert also featured four marquee-named guest stars: cellist Yo-Yo Ma, singer James Taylor and pianists Emanuel Ax and Peter Serkin.

And this celebration could also have offered a hint about the orchestra's next move. Nelsons, a 33-year-old Latvian conductor, may well be on the short list to become the BSO music director in the wake of James Levine's resignation last year. Is it possible that this concert was a chance to glimpse the orchestra's future while casting a fond look back to its history? Only time will tell. In the meantime, this concert was one treat of a party.

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