Music of the Berkshires
For all the tour’s modern art (and I mustn’t forget to mention we hiked into the late summer fragrant western Mass. woods to reach the Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio and see the famous artist couple’s abstract paintings and Bauhausian design, including a bar no larger than the interior of a lunar module which fits snugly beneath the spiral staircase with the help of a sunken floor, and gosh-almighty original paintings by Picasso, Braque, Matisse, Leger, Gris, plus many of Suzy F. and George M.’s paintings, and Morris’ studio, where their son, also an artist, greeted us to discuss his parents’ art and their work on behalf of countless artists, and demonstrate an eye-exercise that proves color is not just color, it’s physical – you kinda had to be there), and for all the tour’s well-chosen eateries – with special kudos to the good folks at Hops & Vines who were much accommodating and brought forth a fine brasserie’s finest, with a sprightly Mesclun Salad and an-altogether-satisfying Mushroom Risotto Duxelle – for all of that on the tour, and more, what our happy band of culture gathers in the Berkshires really came 3,500 miles for, as many gladly proclaimed, was the music.
The first sit-down concert (there were some flamenco dancers & musicians on a hillside at Jacob’s Pillow but we couldn’t get close enough to see through the crowd and the blinding setting sun) was on our fourth day, in Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood. This 1200-seat barn-like brick structure, designed to give the feel of a Quaker meetinghouse, was the venue for a concert of austere chamber music by Andre Previn and John Harbison, both of whom were in the building. Boston Symphony clarinetist Thomas Martin and the Hawthorne Quartet played two recent works by Previn – Clarinet Sonata (2010) and Clarinet Quintet (2011), along with Harbison’s 1995 Trio Sonata, written for winds but here played on strings. Among our group the Previn works sounded sweeter, even quietly exhilarating. Of the Harbison, most were less impressed, but no less interested. And it was poignant to see the obviously frail 83-year-old Previn enjoying the concert, taking bows, surrounded by his entourage, which included (“Wouldn’t you know?” chortled one of ours) a comely 20-something woman.
photo by Erin Kyle
By now our traveling clan had bestowed upon one another so many kindnesses that the kindness had caught kinetic fire and spread throughout the group. That evening when we arrived at the Shed on the splendid grounds, to hear Zukerman play Bach with the BSO, we were Shangri-La. Two Brandenburgs, the Double & the A minor Concertos, plus the Concerto for oboe and violin, for which Mr. Zukerman shared solo spotlights with the BSO’s principal John Ferrillo. I’m here to tell you, and don’t let them tell you otherwise, Bach, Wine and Shangri-La beneath the summer moon in the Berkshires make for a resplendent, well-manned evening. We retired to ye ole resort Cranwell to restore ourselves for the next day’s excursions.
photo by Erin Kyle