One-a-Days from Tanglewood

Posted: June 26, 2012

Obsession isn't required to enjoy the latest opening of the Boston Symphony Orchestra's sound archives, but it helps fuel the vigilance needed to access sound files in the designated windows of availability. To celebrate the 75th anniversary of its first Tanglewood season, the orchestra is posting 75 free, near-daily streams on the website www.tanglewood.org, each file available for one 24-hour period starting at 8 a.m. After that the files can be purchased on the website. Prices are similar to those at Amazon.com, starting at 89 cents for files of less than seven minutes.

Not all will stop everything to hear Lukas Foss' Time Cycle on Aug. 18 (as good as it is), but one should mark July 27 on the calendar for the Elgar Cello Concerto with Jacqueline du Pré: Among the live recordings of her signature concerto, this 1969 outing may be her most scintillating.

Beyond that, the recordings encompass nearly every major Tanglewood figure and corner of activity, starting in 1938 with Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 led by Serge Koussevitzky (posted Aug. 4), whose live recordings are rare and treasured, even if this one has challenging sound quality

The performances have rough edges alongside on-the-fly brilliance. After an uncertain start, the 2008 James Levine-led Dvorak Symphony No. 8 (posted July 10) with Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra achieves swaggering spontaneity.

Even Seiji Ozawa's detractors have to admit his opera performances were memorable; his sparkling 1984 outing with Berlioz' Beatrice and Benedict is an example, with a starry (and occasionally boisterous) cast featuring Frederica von Stade (posted Wednesday). Charles Munch makes a rare though thoroughly convincing foray into Wagner's Die Walkure Act I with soprano Margaret Harshaw (July 18).

Tanglewood also brings together composers who normally aren't found in the same room. What fun, then, to hear a 2006 L'Histoire du Soldat (July 25) with three composers narrating — John Harbison, Milton Babbitt and, as the soldier, Elliott Carter. In-jokes abound.

David Patrick Stearns

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