Tanglewood, August 1, 2004

Koussevitzky Music Shed, Lenox, MA
Sunday, August 1, 2004

The Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by JOHN WILLIAMS
Dawn Upshaw, soprano
James Sommerville, horn

“Less-familiar works still work for Williams”

By Richard Dyer, Globe Staff  |  August 6, 2004

LENOX — John Williams celebrated his 25th year as a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra family with a special concert Sunday afternoon featuring the first local performances of two of his recent concert works.

Williams has written 90 film scores, and probably most Americans can whistle a few of his themes. He has also composed a substantial amount of concert music that is less familiar but not less interesting, and in recent years it has come into the world under prestigious auspices. Soundings, for example, was written for the opening festivities of the new Disney Hall in Los Angeles, and the Horn Concerto was written for the Chicago Symphony and its principal horn, Dale Clevenger.

Soundings explores the full spectrum of sonorities, colors, and dynamics an orchestra can create, both by traditional and contemporary electronic means; it also explores the acoustical responsiveness of any environment in which it is played. It’s a kind of aural test pattern, but it is also ear-catching, ear-filling, and exciting music.

The Horn Concerto responds to the history and tradition of the instrument — we hear it in the hunt, invoking the pastoral, leading prayer. The solo part requires an awesome virtuoso, and it found o­ne in the BSO’s James Sommerville, who played with character, imagination, and poetry, especially in the pastoral movement, which also featured oboist John Ferrillo.

The afternoon’s other soloist was Dawn Upshaw, in Copland’s “Eight Poems of Emily Dickinson.” The piece requires a heavier and deeper voice than Upshaw has, but she used intelligence and meaningful diction to compensate. The program closed with three episodes from a millennium film collaboration with Steven Spielberg, American Journey. This was the John Williams most people know — but o­ne who can still spring surprises.

The original article can be found here.