Review: Boston Symphony and Herbert Blomstedt, 94, in Beethoven 7 at Tanglewood

Posted on: August 26, 2021

“No nonagenarian has sustained a schedule anything like Herbert Blomstedt’s,” writes Alex Ross in the August 30 New Yorker. “Earlier this month, he spent nearly two weeks at Tanglewood, working with the Boston Symphony and with students from the Tanglewood Music Center. At the end of the summer, he will take the Vienna Philharmonic on an eight-city European tour. In the fall, he goes to Dresden, Berlin, Tokyo, Leipzig, Munich, Bamberg, Oslo, and Paris. More American dates are slated for next year, including a return to the San Francisco Symphony…. The esteem in which orchestras and audiences now hold Blomstedt is a belated reward for a resolutely unshowy musician who has gone about his business decade after decade…. No gesture feels out of place, no gesture feels routine. So it was with Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, which the Boston Symphony played under Blomstedt’s direction at Tanglewood … a performance that surged with vitality without boxing the ears.… Throughout the symphony, Blomstedt found an equilibrium between headlong force and melancholy lyricism…. The strategy of restraint achieved a glorious payoff in the last pages of the finale, when the orchestra let loose with a frothing energy that bordered on animal joy.”