After a year’s absence, Boston Symphony Orchestra music director Andris Nelsons returned to Symphony Hall this week to lead the orchestra in a series of recorded concerts set to stream next month.
The performances, Nelsons’s first in Boston since before the pandemic brought in-person performances to a standstill, will feature four Beethoven symphonies alongside contemporary works as part of the orchestra’s streaming initiative, BSO NOW.
The Nelsons programs will follow three new concerts, set for release later this month, featuring maestros Stefan Asbury, who holds a faculty chair at the Tanglewood Music Center; youth and family concerts conductor Thomas Wilkins; and assistant conductor Anna Rakitina, who will be making her BSO debut.
Nelsons, who was originally scheduled to perform all nine Beethoven symphonies last year in honor of the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth, will instead lead the orchestra in symphonies, nos. 3, 5, 6, and 7.
“Our music community was looking forward to the BSO’s Beethoven symphony cycle that was to have taken place this past fall,” Nelsons said in a statement, adding he was “overjoyed” to be back in Boston. “So we are thrilled to present four of those symphonies,” which he said embody the composer’s varied approach to the form and play to the BSO’s strengths.
Nelsons’s first installment (available Feb. 11) will pair Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 with Hannah Kendall’s “Disillusioned Dreamer” and Caroline Shaw’s “Blueprint.” That will be followed (Feb. 18) by a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6; Iman Habibi’s “Jeder Baum spricht;” and Claude Debussy’s Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp. Beethoven symphonies nos. 5 and 7 will round out the series (Feb. 25), paired with Carlos Simon’s “Fate Now Conquers” and a chamber music performance of Arnold Schoenberg’s Phantasy for Violin and Piano.
But first, Asbury will lead a program inspired by nature’s rejuvenation (Jan. 14), featuring works by Thomas Adès, Debussy, Ralph Vaughan Williams, among others. Wilkins will present a concert the following week (Jan. 21) that focuses on the role of home, with works by Kareem Roustom, Astor Piazzolla, and Paul Hindemith, among others. Closing out the month (Jan. 28), newcomer Rakitina will lead a program focused on arrivals, featuring works by Sergei Prokofiev, Arvo Pärt, Igor Stravinsky, and others.
Nelsons said he hoped the streaming concerts would provide “beauty, inspiration, and connection to the lives of all who care deeply about the BSO.”
“We will continue this endeavor as a source of uplift and consolation to our community, while remaining immensely grateful to the orchestra, staff, trustees and advisors, patrons, donors, and sponsors,” he said, “all of whom have played a vital role in helping to sustain the BSO through this unprecedented time.”
For ticketing information and start times, visit www.bso.org/now.