“(…) Saturday’s program wandered off the beaten track to include the first Tanglewood performance of the 1933 Violin Concerto No. 2 by Karol Szymanowski. Violinist Leonidas Kavakos, a deeply thoughtful musician, and conductor Stephane Deneve teamed in exploring the Polish composer’s modernist raptures, which extend to a fiendish cadenza. (…) Where Szymanowski’s music is passionate and heaving, Debussy’s is languid and diaphanous — qualities enhanced in this performance. It wasn’t only Rowe’s elegant playing, plus the BSO’s support of one of its own, that made the difference. Removing the haze that usually cloaks the orchestral part, Deneve allowed the piquant harmonies and sonorities to come through in all their modern yet timeless intricacy. Deneve, who is French, insists he isn’t just a conductor of French music. He proved it with a blazing performance of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony as the finale.
He was a steady hand at the controls, allowing the drama — and there is a lot of it here — to emerge from the music rather than a conductor’s add-ons. The BSO’s fiercely committed playing led to an all-out Cossack charge at the end. The sounds echoed off the hills. The brass section was in its glory.”