LENOX -- Debut artists appear at Tanglewood along with the established box-office favorites; this is one way the festival renews itself. The weekend brought two new guests: German pianist Lars Vogt and Russian conductor Andrey Boryeko.
Vogt, now in his mid-30s, made quite an impression with Beethoven's First Concerto Friday night. The piece bridges the classical and the romantic, and Vogt came to it teeming with ideas and energy, playing with considerable fantasy and discipline and a robust sense of humor. He draws wonderful sounds out of the instrument, clear and ringing, but also full of character.
Boryeko kept his seat on this bucking bronco of a performance. He also managed well Saturday night on the Brahms Double Concerto, which is a tricky business; his soloists were violinist Christian Tetzlaff, playing from memory and helpfully turning the pages for cellist Claudio Bohorquez.
The two were spirited, eloquent, and well paired. The piece is a marvel of craftsmanship, ingenuity, and expression, but too often it seems a snooze; the interplay of Tetzlaff and Bohorquez made it enthralling.
Boryeko, now in his 40s, is music director of the Winnipeg Symphony. He was recently in the news when he took over the Munich Philharmonic tour concerts after James Levine canceled; Boryeko took over the Tanglewood concerts when Emmanuel Krivine bowed out.
Trim and bearded, Boryeko is not a flamboyant figure. His movements are precise, suggestive, and on a relatively small scale; he seems interested in refinement of detail.
That was not invariably what he got from the BSO.
He is not the first conductor to find a Waterloo in Schumann's Fourth Symphony, which simply didn't hold together or add up on Friday night. Saturday's all-Brahms program opened with a disheveled account of the Haydn Variations, but when the strings and woodwinds came to the fore in the Second Symphony all was well, and Richard Sebring intoned the horn solos nobly. But the other BSO brass players were far from being at their best, possibly because the night was so chilly.
On Sunday afternoon the BSO took a break, and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra played the annual Leonard Bernstein Memorial Concert, led by a conductor whom Bernstein encouraged, James DePreist.
DePreist's talents are incontestable; his career never became what he deserved because of racism and his health. Today, after a kidney transplant, the conductor has a new lease on life.
Garrick Ohlsson opened the concert with Beethoven's Fourth Concerto, which he played with a magnificently pliant tone, sensitivity, poetry, and energy. The quiet, unaccompanied opening -- difficult to bring off in the Shed -- brought everyone completely into Beethoven's world; the chords were ravishingly voiced, the little upward scale like a benevolent, spontaneous smile.
Ohlsson's Rachmaninoff Third last March stood uncontested as the best concerto performance of the season until Sunday afternoon; now it has acquired a rival, a contrasting performance by Ohlsson himself, working with conductor and orchestra like a chamber musician.
DePreist's approach to Mahler's First Symphony was leisurely and alert to the balances of the music's inner discourse.
The heart-easing melody from a Mahler song that appears in the third movement floated in from heaven on a cloud of pianissimo. The conductor never pushed anything for volume or for speed; he never pummeled; he saved loudness for the end, where it belongs. Thomas van Dyck's playing of the string-bass solo was uncanny. The whole remarkable orchestra, made up of young musicians studying at Tanglewood, has performed splendidly for several major conductors this season, and in its last concert played its heart out for DePreist, and for Mahler.