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Leonore Overture

collects the music and arts criticism of Keith Powers

Blaise Déjardin makes debut as Boston Symphony Orchestra’s principal cellist.

Blaise Déjardin makes debut as Boston Symphony Orchestra’s principal cellist.

 Blaise Déjardin performs during Brahms Second Symphony, in his debut as the Boston Symphony Orchestra's principal cello, 1 May 2018. Robert Torres photograph

Blaise Déjardin performs during Brahms Second Symphony, in his debut as the Boston Symphony Orchestra's principal cello, 1 May 2018. Robert Torres photograph

Won’t ever listen to Blaise Déjardin without thinking of Bernard Haitink. 

The new Boston Symphony Orchestra's principal cellist made a surprise debut last evening with the orchestra, under Haitink, in the final subscription series program of the season. 

The occasion proved memorable, for multiple reasons. Not the least of which was the all-Brahms program, with Emanuel Ax delighting in the second piano concerto, and Haitink leading the orchestra smoothly in the second symphony. 

Those performances were observed and enjoyed; we will avoid comment, only because it seemed a bit above our likes or dislikes. These were brilliant interpreters, and the orchestra rose to the occasion to perform at their level. Haitink and Ax are among the greatest musicians of this generation.

Déjardin took the opportunity to move up his principal seat debut. It was originally announced that he won the audition to replace the late Jules Eskin in April, but he was not scheduled to take the chair until the Tanglewood opener. But the presence of Haitink, who was Déjardin’s conductor as a young man in the European Union Youth Orchestra, and the gorgeous cello part in the third movement of Brahms second symphony, somehow lured Déjardin into moving up his start date. 

He played so remarkably, with such tone control, and was warmly received by his stage-mates. Jules Eskin joined the BSO in 1964; it is with that long relationship in mind, and many evenings listening to Eskin explore ensemble works, cello solos and chamber pieces, that we wish Blaise Déjardin a long and happy career in that chair.

The evening also offered non-musical amusements. Seated just in front of me, to the simultaneously bemusement, disdain and concert-hall shock of everyone close by, was an amorous couple unable to control themselves. In any way. 

They kissed. They constantly and playfully molested each other. Amazingly—given their physical activities—they fell sound asleep as well, snoring through the magnificence that Emanuel Ax and Blaise Déjardin had to offer. 

After intermission they returned, which may have been the biggest surprise of all. They had drinks in hand, and a bag of candies that was noisily eaten during the symphony. When the candies were gone, they fell asleep again. Thunderous applause startled them awake, and they blinkingly looked around, surprised to find themselves in public, by the looks of it.

That this was a couple of older gay men makes no difference at all. Graceless is graceless.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra repeats this program Thursday and Saturday evening, the end of the BSO season. There is also a one-off program Friday afternoon, with Moritz Gnann conducting works by Gabrielli, Rossini and Mozart, along with Alessandro Marcello’s oboe concerto, featuring BSO principal John Ferrillo. bso.org; 866-266-1200.

 

An appreciation of José Mateo’s New Classicism

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Tugan Sokhiev makes his Boston Symphony Orchestra debut in two programs.

Tugan Sokhiev makes his Boston Symphony Orchestra debut in two programs.