Review: Boston Symphony’s Tanglewood return, with Beethoven’s Fifth

Posted on: July 14, 2021

The lawn at Tanglewood on July 10, when the Boston Symphony Orchestra returned for its first performances in 2021. Photo by Jillian Freyer / New York Times

“Last summer [at] Tanglewood, the idyllic summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra … the loneliness was overwhelming,” writes David Allen in Monday’s (7/12) New York Times. “Music is coming home. The Boston Symphony opened its shortened, little-short-of-miraculous summer season here with a concert on Saturday night, the orchestra’s first in-person performance … with its music director, Andris Nelsons, since January [2020]…. There were standing ovations for the orchestra, standing ovations for the conductor, standing ovations for Mark Volpe, the orchestra’s just-retired president and chief executive. The players … stomped their feet when their leader, Tamara Smirnova, found the right key on the piano to invite them to tune…. There would be no revolutions here, and no memorials either…. Beethoven it would have to be, and the Fifth Symphony, too—the Beethoven of triumph over disaster, of the human spirit, indomitable…. The effect was … potent … for glimmers of the players set free: the clarinet of William R. Hudgins, so mellow, such a balm; the flute of Elizabeth Rowe, so unusual in its woodiness; the trumpet of Thomas Rolfs, so rousing at full stretch…. [On Sunday] Carlos Simon’s ‘Fate Now Conquers’ made its mark, throbbing with frantic energy.”