Concert Review: Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra

The Smith Center, Nov. 17

Boston Pops

Photo by Glenn Brogan

Now in its 128th year and probably the most recognized orchestra in the United States, the Boston Pops brought their chautauqua to the masses in a buffet of pieces that ranged from the sublime to the sentimental. Their Whitman’s Sampler approach is designed for broad appeal, and it succeeds, but at a cost.

The orchestra’s virtuosity is not in question; their execution is brilliant. And really, this formula for blending a little culture with a little crass has worked for more than a century. But all the jostling themes—a pinch of Ellington, a dash of Copeland, a scoop of Gershwin, some Queen and a slurry of movie music—while enjoyable by themselves, just didn’t make for a completely satisfying whole.

Conductor Keith Lockhart pointed out the repertoire’s incongruity when he asked the audience, “Where else will you hear Dvorak’s movement ‘Largo’ from the New World Symphony juxtaposed with ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’?” ★★★✩✩