For classical music lovers in the Berkshires, concerts in Lenox and Williamstown during the next two weeks and into August at Tanglewood and at The Clark Art Institute are the places to be. At Tanglewood, expect great orchestral music performed by the Boston Symphony in the Shed with stellar soloists, and forays into the chamber repertoire and thrilling performances by the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra in Ozawa Hall.
The Clark will host a special cello/piano recital on July 14, featuring Close Encounters With Music Artistic Director/cellist Yehuda Hanani and pianist Vassily Primakov. Later in the summer, chamber music aficionados can look forward to the annual Summer Chamber Music series of four Tuesday-evening concerts in August; more on this series in two weeks.
Here are my picks at Tanglewood, and the details to the upcoming Clark concert.
* Friday, July 5, 8:30 p.m. in the Shed: Opening night at Tanglewood. This all-Tchaikovsky program features maestro Rafael Frübeck de Burgos leading the Boston Symphony in two of the Russian master's greatest scores: the Fifth Symphony in E Minor, Op. 64, and the Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35. Why go? An evening of passionate music, brimming with luxuriant melodies can hardly be resisted, and to
* Saturday, July 6, 8:30 p.m. in the Shed: Maestro de Burgos conducts the BSO in a performance of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 3. Featured are the women of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and the PALS Children's Chorus. Why go? For lovers of Mahler's music, the Second, Third and Eighth symphonies are always special events. These are the grand statements - really, they're confessions of faith and spiritual awakening from the Viennese master, and are not to be missed. It's a summa of late-19th century German Romanticism. If you can't get your fill, don't miss the dress rehearsal in the Shed on Saturday, July 6, 10:30 a.m.
* Monday, July 8, 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall: The first of four Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra (TMCO) concerts, performing Kodaly's "Dances of Galanta," John Harbison's "Closer to My Own Life" and Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Why go? The Kodaly work is a boisterous and melodic musical journey, exploring the rhythmic and melodic folk styles the composer discovered in rural Hungary. The Beethoven? Well, you don't need me to tell you that this symphony is worth hearing often. The main reason to attend is to hear (and see) this extraordinary orchestra comprised of Tanglewood Fellows - each one a journeyman instrumental virtuoso. Put 80 of them together on the same stage and you have an orchestra like no other.
* Thursday, July 11, 7:30 p.m., Ozawa Hall: A concert version of contemporary composer John Harbision's operatic masterpiece "The Great Gatsby." Why go? "Gatsby " is certainly in the news these days, and this Metropolitan Opera-commissioned score does the classic American novel proud. Adventurous, thrilling and immediately gratifying, the music will enchant you and linger in your memory. Don't miss it.
Tickets for these and all Tanglewood events can be purchased online at tanglewood.org, through SymphonyCharge at 888-266-1200, and at the Symphony Hall box office, located at 301 Massachusetts Ave., Boston. Tickets are also available at the Tanglewood box office at the main gate, on West Street in Lenox.
Chamber Music at The Clark Art Institute:
* Sunday, July 14, 3 p.m.: Close Encounters With Music Artistic Director/cellist Yehuda Hanani and pianist Vassily Primakov will perform two great Russian 20th century cello/piano sonatas by Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff, as well as "The Seasons," Op. 37a by Tchaikovsky - a 12- movement suite for solo piano, based upon the months of the year. Why go? According to Yehuda Hanani's program note (I can't express it better) "The epic cello/piano sonatas of Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev reflect the same aspects of the Russian character as seen in the great literature - melancholy, mysticism, whimsy, biting humor and torrential Romanticism - as well as the added richness of Western influence from the composers' sojourns in Paris and New York. Tchaikovsky's "Seasons" for solo piano offers the signature charm, power and grandeur, and also the inexhaustible reservoir of melody that produced his ‘Nutcracker' and ‘Sleeping Beauty' ballets."
Tickets are $40 ($30 for Clark members). Visit: www.clarkart.edu or call (413) 458-0524.