Looking for a classy date? How’d you like to pregame your Friday night at Symphony Hall? New UnderScore Fridays at the Boston Symphony Orchestra offers a shortened program beginning at 7PM, three pieces played without the usual intermission. The series also features context and commentary from the program’s conductor.

The first UnderScore Friday kicked off on January 14 with pieces by Delius, Mozart and Strauss conducted by Sir Mark Elder, a charming Brit who introduced each piece with great theatricality. Elder set the stage for Frederick Delius’s “Paris: A Nocturne (The Song of a Great City) by lauding the composer as one of his most under-appreciated countryman, and by sketching Delius’ bohemian adventures in early 20th century Paris with friends like playwright August Strindberg and painters Paul Gauguin and Eduard Munch. The piece that followed was a moody narrative-feeling reverie with dramatic turns.

The evening second performance, Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 21 in C, K.4.67,” featured German pianist Lars Vogt, who filled the piece in with convincing cadenzas of his own devising. Elder asked Vogt to say a few words himself about this piece before commencing. He spoke with a buoyancy soon matched in his playing. Much of the Symphony Hall crowd leapt to its feet to applaud the moment Elder’s baton signaled the concerto’s conclusion.

After encouraging the crowd’s enthusiasm with an invitation to eschew formality and applaud during any interval we were moved to fill, Elder returned to the role of storyteller to set up Strauss’s ““Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks,” after the old rogue’s tale, set in rondo form for large orchestra, Opus 28.” This, he explained, is a narrative piece about a “quite devilish” trickster. It had lighthearted feel and served as a strong closer.

(Program notes and audio excerpts are available here.)

The next UnderScore Friday will take place on February 11 and will offer works by Haydn, Chin, Dvorák and Sibelius. The final edition on March 25 will feature Tchaikovsky, Adès and again, Sibelius. Ticket prices range from $31.00-$118.00.

About The Author

Jason Rabin is a Blast contributing editor

One Response

  1. Thomas McCarthy

    A total lack of intermission could prove awkward and inconvenient for a good percentage of the audience. Unless these concerts will be run like the Pops where no one cares when an audience member get up, leaves and come back to his seat, it may be a bit more difficult to enjoy the music without some kind of break. What are the rules?


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