It was excellent to read Kenneth Cooper’s words recently on how he loved the sound of Bach with great players playing great instruments in a large hall. So do I, and this is what we got and have gotten for years now on New Year’s Day in the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in the annual performances by the Berkshire Bach Ensemble. We seem to have arrived at a place between the modern instrument folks (usually using old instruments altered to achieve a stronger sound) and the early music crowd (which tries to emulate the sounds of the 18th century orchestra). Each has its own political correctness, and each works. The fact that there is some middle ground pleases me. Neither side represents a rigidity. Finally it would seem, we have realized that we have more in these two approaches, not less.
We were treated this year to music by composers other than J. S. Bach. My favorite moment came early on, in a duet between oboist Gerard Reuter and bassoonist Stephen Walt, a classic demonstration of passion and precision. Anyone who thinks music is not a physical thing needed to hear these players. Exquisite in its poise, it remained free. I can still hear it. Just as rare was the playing of Joseph Silverstein throughout the afternoon. I can only say once more what everyone says—Maestro Silverstein has a tone that is made of sweetness. Immediately recognizable, it soothes the soul, never forcing, always singing.
Everyone knows how exquisitely these artists play Bach. Mr. Cooper’s reconstructions and music of other composers add to the fun. The Viennese have Strauss in the Musikverein; we have Bach in the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall — pretty damn good!!!
Tanglewood 75 Files
I have received from the Boston Symphony, links to downloadable recordings of 75 concerts at Tanglewood which have been excellently remastered, and run the gamut from “Carousel” to Elliott Carter. There is much excellent material here, and I highly recommend that you purchase them. Look for some words about them shortly.