Back at Carnegie Hall today, for the fifth time, and the first since 2015, to perform Dmitri Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. This will be the second time I’ve sung Russian here. Previous visits:
Each of those performances brought something different. The first two, conducted by James Levine, showed how the BSO had transformed under his conducting. The “Missa” was about frailty in the middle of the strength of that monumental score; after Kurt Masur withdrew due to progressing complications of Parkinson’s, the performance was conducted by TFC musical director John Oliver, who would step down from the chorus he founded three years later and be dead in six. The Nevsky happened the fall after JO’s retirement and at the beginning of Andris Nelson’s tenure.
Between a week-long vacation in Asheville and a residency at Tanglewood, plus the usual work and family stuff, posting on this blog has ground to a halt. But it’s not as if I haven’t been busy.
Take the Tanglewood residency, for instance. This was my third performance of Mahler’s Second Symphony with the Boston Symphony Orchestra; my first Mahler 2 was with Seiji in 2006, my second with Christoph von Dóhnanyi in Symphony Hall. This was my first performance of the work under the baton of Andris Nelsons, and my first time through the piece with James Burton, the new conductor of the TFC.
It was a pretty magnificent experience, all told. Besides the improvements to tuning, diction, and affect that I’ve come to expect with Jamie, the chorus also found its way deeper into the work than we’ve done in the past. We talked about the difference in vocal tone required in the “Bereite dich” to ensure that we were strong and assertive but not aggressive. We were more attentive to the maestro than I remember being before.