“Keeping Score” kicks off new season Sunday

Fri Oct 16, 2009 at 10:08 am

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Set your DVRs for 1 p.m. Sunday on WTTW-Ch. 11 for the first season installment of Keeping Score, the superb PBS series hosted by Michael Tilson Thomas with the San Francisco Symphony.

 Leading off this year is a look at Berlioz and the Symphonie fantastique. The series strikes a deft balance, being approachable for classical novices yet historically textured and musically rigorous. As before, Tilson Thomas is an affable, communicative host in the Leonard Bernstein tradition, breezily deconstructing Berlioz’s phantasmagorical symphony with several musical excerpts. The conductor takes us to France for a visit to Berlioz’s birthplace and several sites prominent in the composer’s life and career.

Unfortunately, WTTW is not airing the Symphonie fantastique performance by Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony after the first part, which is sort of the point of the whole exercise. Let’s hope that this policy is revised and that future broadcasts include both the complete performances as well as the historical overview.

 Future programs on following Sundays at the same time include a look at Charles Ives’ Holidays Symphony (Oct. 25), and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 (Nov. 1). Also check out the project’s interactive website at www.keepingscore.org.

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