Friday, September 30, 2005

Wagners "Wunderharfe"

Gastspiel: Paavo Järvi dirigiert die Staatskapelle Dresden
Von Günter Bérard
Hamburger Abendblatt, 30. September 2005

Paavo Järvi dirigiert Werke von Liszt, Schumann und Wagner. Solist ist der Chinese Yundi Li.

Hamburg - Mit mehr als 450 Jahren gehört die Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden zu den ältesten Orchestern der Welt. Wagners Lob als "Wunderharfe" ist hinlänglich bekannt, aber auch schon Heinrich Schütz, Jean-Jacques Rousseau oder Beethoven rühmten sie als das beste Ensemble Europas und damit - wie es später Richard Strauss als Höchstlob formulierte - der Welt. Der Bayer mußte es wissen, schließlich hat er dem Orchester nicht nur seine "Alpensinfonie" gewidmet, sondern die Dresdner brachten von ihm "Salome", "Elektra", den "Rosenkavalier" und sechs weitere Opern zur Uraufführung.

Jetzt kommt die Staatskapelle im Rahmen seiner Europa-Tournee wieder einmal zum Gastspiel nach Hamburg; auf dem Programm stehen Liszts Erstes Klavierkonzert, Schumanns Zweite und Wagners "Parsifal"-Vorspiel. Solist ist der 25jährige Chinese Yundi Li, einer dieser jungen Alleskönner, der vor fünf Jahren den legendären Chopin-Wettbewerb in Warschau gewann und damit der erste Sieger seit 1985 war. Bis dahin waren wegen mangelnder Qualifikation keine ersten Preise mehr vergeben worden. Immerhin nannte die "Süddeutsche" nach einem Konzert vor Jahresfrist sein Spiel "fast erschreckend: Da blieb den Hörern der Atem weg".

Am Pult steht Paavo Järvi aus der berühmten estischen Dirigentenfamilie. Seit vier Jahren Chef des Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, wird er im kommenden Jahr auch die Leitung des Radiosymphonieorchesters Frankfurt übernehmen. Besonderen Wert legt Järvi, der seit seiner Emigration vor 25 Jahren Amerikaner ist, auf die Erziehung junger Orchestermusiker. Er ging nicht nur mit der Deutschen Kammerphilharmonie auf Japan-Tournee, sondern arbeitet regelmäßig mit dem European Youth Orchestra, dem New World Symphony Orchestra und dem Mahler Chamber Orchestra zusammen.

# 20. Oktober , Laeiszhalle/Musikhalle, 19.30 Uhr. Kartentelefon 35 44 14.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

CD REVIEW: Dvořák/Martinů

ANTONIN DVORAK: Symphonie n° 9
BOHUSLAV MARTINU: Symphonie n° 2
Orchestre symphonique de Cincinnati, Paavo Järvi
Telarc- SACD 60616(SACD)
Référence: Bernstein (Sony)

Par Christophe Huss
ClassicsTodayFrance.com, 27 septembre 2005

rating: Artistique 8/7 Technique

L'idée de Paavo Järvi avait fonctionné avec Sibelius; elle refait ses preuves avec Dvořák: coupler un cheval de bataille du répertoire d'une école national avec une grande symphonie méconnue du répertoire du XXe siècle de la même sphère. À la 2e Symphonie de Sibelius, Paavo Järvi avait adjoint la 5e Symphonie de Tubin; à la Symphonie du Nouveau Monde il associe la 2e Symphonie de Martinů, qui devient le centre d'intérêt principal du disque, tant le chef estonien trouve la parfaite pulsation du 1er mouvement et mène le discours avec une droiture quasi "française", qui colle bien avec la nature de l'œuvre. On aurait à ce titre apprécié une prise de son encore plus transparente. Or, ce n'est pas, là, la captation la plus claire réalisée à Cincinnati, salle qui, pourtant, se prête bien aux prises en multicanal. On ne peut que rêver de ce qu'aurait donné l'incisivité musicale de ce Poco Allegro (3e mouvement) avec un son plus tranchant. Car interprétativement les deux derniers volets notamment, sont proches de l'idéal, sans la moindre esbroufe. Quelle belle symphonie d'ailleurs, qui mérite un retour au répertoire des orchestres, si frileux dans leurs programmations.

La Symphonie du Nouveau Monde va crescendo. Le 1er mouvement laisse l'auditeur un peu sur sa faim: on entend bien le travail réalisé sur l'imbrication des phrases et des sons (y compris pour les timbales), mais il manque l'influx des grandes versions telles que Bernstein (Sony) ou Kertesz-Vienne (Decca), sans parler de Paul Paray, un chef auquel Järvi fait souvent penser. Par contre, à partir du Largo, et même si le 3e mouvement est évidemment moins spectaculaire que celui de Bernstein, le disque capte l'attention.

Il reste néanmoins, dans l'ivresse musicale, une marge très évidente entre les concerts de Paavo Järvi et les disques de Paavo Järvi. N'est-il vraiment pas possible de l'enregistrer cet artiste en concert? Et si non, ne lui est-il vraiment pas possible de se déboutonner en studio? On attend aussi, pour parfaire les choses que Telarc retrouve à Cincinnati sa clarté d'antan.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

CD REVIEW: Dvořák/Martinů

CSO's 'New World' radiates warmth
by Mary Ellyn Hutton
Cincinnati Post, September 27, 2005

Dvořák, Symphony No. 9 in E Minor ("From the New World"). Martinů, Symphony No. 2.
Paavo Järvi, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
Telarc A.

With this radiant new CD, Järvi continues a strand of earlier CSO recordings, which pair seemingly disparate but, on closer inspection, related works.

He began with Finnish composer Jean Sibelius' Symphony No. 2 and the Symphony No. 5 by Sibelius' Baltic neighbor, Estonian Eduard Tubin.

Another was Stravinsky's elemental The Rite of Spring, paired with Danish composer Carl Nielsen's near-contemporaneous Symphony No. 5 (1922).

Jarvi's latest venture with the CSO and Telarc unites Czech countrymen Antonin Dvořák and Bohuslav Martinů.

(His next with the CSO, the Concertos for Orchestra by Bela Bartok and Witold Lutoslawski, will be released by Telarc later this season.)

Dvořák and Martinů have more in common than their Czech heritage.

Both spent time in the U.S., Dvořák from 1892-95 when he was director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York, Martinů from 1941-53 as a refugee from his homeland.

Dvořák's New World Symphony and Martinů's Symphony No. 2 were both composed in America.

Jarvi's traversal of the much-recorded New World Symphony is exceptional for both its transparency and feeling.

There is no detail of the score that he has not brought to light and made a part of his sound canvas, which glows with an old-new world warmth.


The first movement is fresh as a morning breeze, the gentle flute theme (recalling "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot") taken at a relaxed tempo for a sweetly nostalgic effect.

The famous Largo, with its plangent English horn solo, exudes homesickness but without pain, the reality of separation underlined by the emphatic final statement of the brass chorale.

The third movement is light-footed and mirthful, with frothy trills in the woodwinds, and Järvi really pulls it off in the finale, where he follows the serious opening with three-against-two rhythms in the contrasting theme that fairly rock.

Martinů's Second Symphony (1942) is drenched with color, from the mystical, faraway harmonies of opening movement to the more here-and-now finale, whose jazzy rhythms evoke Broadway.

Järvi and his players, complete with piano and harp, revel in it, creating showers of sparkles as well as more gauzy textures, keeping its optimistic tone always to the fore.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Der Kulturkanon 1955-2005

from www.welt.de Welt am Sonntag, 25.09.05

Teil 2: Musik Von Glenn Gould über die Beatles bis zu Snoop Doggy Dogg: Sieben ausgewiesene Experten haben für Sie die wichtigsten und einflußreichsten Aufnahmen der letzten 50 Jahre gewählt

Sinfonische Aufnahmen der Extraklasse

Paavo Järvi, aus Estland stammender Dirigent, gehört zu den größten Hoffnungen des Klassik-Betriebes. Er leitet die Kammerphilharmonie Bremen und wird bald Chef des Sinfonieorchesters des Hessischen Rundfunks.

1
Sibelius: "Sinfonien 5 und 7" Sibelius ist mir nahe, weil ich aus der gleichen Gegend komme wie er. Am besten ist er, wenn Bernstein ihn dirigiert - einer der kraftvollsten Dirigenten. Er war mein Lehrer.

2
Erkki-Sven Tüür: "Exodus" Tüür ist ein Freund von mir, wir sind gemeinsam in Estonien aufgewachsen und haben mit Rock-Musik experimentiert. "Exodus" ist die Musik einer Reise.


3
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra: "Antonin Dvorak: Aus der Neuen Welt" Diese Sinfonie habe ich selbst mit dem Cincinnati Orchestra eingespielt - ich bin sehr stolz auf die Spannung, die entsteht mit Martinus 2. Sinfonie.


4
Oscar Peterson: "Live at the Blue Note" Ich weiß, es geht hier eigentlich um Sinfonien - aber dieser Jazz hat sinfonische Anlagen. Ich liebe ihn. Da wird eine Grenzüberschreitung ja wohl möglich sein.

5
Kammerphilharmonie Bremen: "R. Strauss: Bürger als Edelmann" Ich liebe die Aufnahme mit der Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, da sie besonders die leisen Seiten dieser großen und großartigen Musik hören läßt.

6
Carlos Kleiber: "Wiener Neujahrskonzert" Carlos Kleiber hat bewiesen, daß Strauss ein großer Musiker war. Außerdem gibt er am Pult eine unvergeßliche Lehrstunde im Dirigieren.

7
Otto Klemperer: "Beethoven: Fidelio-Ouvertüren" Wieder geschummelt, zugegeben - aber die Ouvertüren sind fast Sinfonien, und bei keinem klingen sie so perfekt wie bei Otto Klemperer!

8
Neeme Järvi: "Peter Tschaikowsky: Pathétique" Mein Vater, Neeme Järvi, war ein großartiger Tschaikowsky-Dirigent. Und in der sechsten Sinfonie hat er eine seiner besten CDs aufgenommen.

9
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra: "Strawinsky: The Rite of Spring" Ich mag Komplexität dieser Musik - am archaischsten klingt sie mit dem Cincinnati-Orchester. Auf der CD ist auch Nielsens 5. Sinfonie.


10
Dave Brubeck: "Private" Erlauben Sie mir noch einen kleinen Ausrutscher: Aber auch für Dave Brubek gilt: Sein Jazz ist die neue und aufregende Form der guten alten Sinfonie.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

CD REVIEW: Dvořák/Martinů

Symphony and Pops enter brave new worlds
By Janelle Gelfand
Cincinnati Enquirer, 9/25/05

It's rare when both the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Pops release albums on the same day. Here's an ideal chance to hear two outstanding albums performed by the same musicians (but wearing red jackets for the Pops), under their two different maestros. Both are in stores Tuesday.

Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 in E Minor (From the New World); Martinů: Symphony No. 2
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Paavo Järvi, conductor
Telarc; CD: $14.99; Super Audio CD: $19.99

One might ask why make another recording of Dvorák's New World Symphony, already ubiquitous in record racks? The answer is simply this: The Cincinnati Symphony is playing at the height of its powers and Paavo Järvi's interpretations are thrilling.

Dvorák composed his Symphony No. 9 in New York and found his inspiration in spirituals. Yet the New World harks mainly to his Bohemian roots. Järvi's introduction is spacious and quite slow, illuminating a view that is more warmly nostalgic for the Old Country than most. This is a performance that is glowing and wonderfully paced.

The conductor expertly balances Dvorák's poignant, songlike themes with his most blockbuster brass moments. Järvi's pace in the Largo, with its famous English horn solo exquisitely played by Christopher Philpotts, is exceedingly slow, yet it never loses momentum.


Bohuslav Martinu (1890-1959) was commissioned by a group of Czech refugees living in Cleveland to write his Symphony No. 2, which was premiered by the Cleveland Orchestra in 1943. This piece is a wonderful find - rich with lyrical Bohemian themes and sweeping strings that are often cinematic in scope.

For the scherzo, Martinu took his inspiration from 1920s Paris - jazzy and syncopated, reminding one of Stravinsky. The orchestra plays it all brilliantly.

Listen to audio clips and purchase this CD through Amazon.com.

Meditative destiny


Supporters of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt say critics have wrongly trivialized his work because of his commercial success
BY Stacey Kors
New York Newsday, September 25, 2005

Arvo Pärt is an anomaly in the world of contemporary classical music: a successful living composer. His deeply emotive and spiritual music - which some call "holy minimalism" - has moved beyond the classical niche market and counts among its fans popular musicians such as Bjork and Michael Stipe of R.E.M., who describes it as "a house on fire and an infinite calm ... a rare voice, much needed in an upside-down world."

Pärt recently turned 70, and his birthday is being celebrated with the release of two new CDs and a DVD documentary. Arvo Pärt: A Tribute, is a Harmonia Mundi compilation of vocal works from 1964 to the present. Lamentate, on ECM, features one of the Estonian composer's most expansive works to date: a 40-minute piano concerto inspired by an Anish Kapoor sculpture.

The film 24 Preludes for a Fugue reveals a man who mirrors the quiet intensity and spiritual essence of his music - not only in character, but also countenance: pale and somewhat gaunt, with a balding pate, full beard and soulful, penetrating dark eyes under a furrowed brow.

Little interest in fame

Despite his popularity, fame holds little interest for Pärt (pronounced PAIRT), who remains a reclusive and enigmatic individual. While he seldom grants interviews, Pärt does contribute liner notes to his recordings, from which journalists often cull quotes. The most frequently cited comes from the 1984 release of Tabula Rasa: "I have discovered that it is enough when a single note is beautifully played."

That was not always the case. Pärt began his compositional studies in 1957 at the national conservatory in Tallinn. Living in a Soviet-bloc country, he had little access to contemporary Western music, though some avant-garde techniques filtered in. Pärt became fascinated by serialism; his first orchestral piece, Nekrolog (1960), was the first 12-tone work written in Estonia. It prompted criticism from Soviet authorities, who regarded serialism as further evidence of Western decadence.

Such attacks dogged Pärt's music for years. In 1968, when the Estonian conductor Neeme Järvi premiered Pärt's Credo, it was officially censured for its overtly religious content. A prayer-like choral arrangement of Bach's Prelude in C Major, set to Latin text, which eventually distorts and fragments into dissonance and chaos, it was Pärt's final serialist work.

Creative silence

"The thing that the Soviet authorities were afraid of more than anything else," recalls conductor Paavo Järvi, Neeme Järvi's son, "was anything that had to do with religion and religious texts. It was a paranoia that threatened their own existence, because that kind of Soviet-style Communism was meant to replace religion."

Both because of his disagreement with authorities and his desire to rethink his musical approach, Pärt entered into a creative silence, composing nothing for two years. He broke that silence in 1971 with his Symphony No. 3 and then did virtually no composition for another five years. He immersed himself in the study of medieval and Renaissance music and joined the Russian Orthodox Church.

When he returned to composition in 1976, his musical transformation was radical: 12-tone dissonance was replaced by single notes, triads and simple harmonies; chaos supplanted by serenity and extended silence. Pärt found a way to distill music to its essence while still retaining its intellectual interest and emotional impact. He called his new style "tintinnabuli," from the Latin for little bells.

He brought out a host of new works in 1977, and three of them - Fratres, Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten and Tabula Rasa - remain among his most highly regarded compositions. Interest in Pärt's music quickly began to develop outside of Estonia, but he was still under Soviet censure and was unable to travel freely abroad.

Pärt, whose wife is Jewish, obtained an exit visa to Israel. Then in 1980, the Russian Jewish composer Alfred Schnittke arranged for Pärt and his family to stay in Vienna, which they did before finally settling in Berlin.

Pärt's "tintinnabuli" style, to which he remains dedicated, was introduced to Western audiences in 1984 with Tabula Rasa. At a time when the mainstream was embracing musical spirituality - from Gregorian chant to the new-age offerings of Windham Hill - Pärt's spare, meditative work soon found an audience and paved the way for other composers influenced by the mysticism of the Eastern Orthodox Church, including Henryk Górecki, Giya Kancheli and John Tavener.

Classical critics, however, were confounded by this new sound, and equally confused by its Eastern religious content. The press dubbed them, somewhat dismissively, as "holy minimalists," taking a cue from the repetitive compositions of Steve Reich and Philip Glass, despite obvious stylistic differences. It is a label that still sticks, although fans of Pärt's music detest it.

"It's a stupid term," says the celebrated choral conductor Paul Hillier, who has led most of Pärt's vocal works, "particularly the 'holy' bit. Any music that's any good is spiritual; it doesn't have to be about religion. If you like [Arnold] Schoenberg and [Anton] Webern, you can call that spiritual music. The press has made such a big deal of the religious aspect of his music, and it can get in the way of people's appreciation of what else is going on in the music."

Sept. 11's meaning

Paavo Järvi agrees and derides critics for trivializing Pärt's music because of its commercial success. "We've been so conditioned in contemporary classical music to think that music that connects to human beings cannot possibly be good," says Järvi, music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. "And that's nonsense. From the beginning of time, music has connected with people. I've conducted Pärt's music all over the world, and all of a sudden there will be a sort of unexplainable silence, and a concentration, and you feel like there is nobody breathing. It's so incredibly deep and transcendent."

Filmmaker Michael Moore, in his documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11," paired images of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with Pärt's Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten. In this poignant, funereal work, a string orchestra plays a slowly descending A-minor scale, interrupted only by the intermittent tolling of a church bell. It seems natural that Pärt's music would be featured in a film about 9/11; it is uncanny that the composer's birthday falls on that infamous date.

"There is something so awkward about this," says Järvi, whose performance of Cantus was used in the film, "but actually kind of nice. Because that is such a tragic day in American history, and there is this really spiritual man who is born at the same time. I think in a way it is so great.

"Nobody who has experienced Pärt's music can ever say it's a gimmick," Järvi adds. "He is the real thing."

Saturday, September 24, 2005

CONCERT REVIEW: Orchestra creates a dark, icy spell

By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Cincinnati Post, September 24, 2005

A couple of surprises greeted listeners at the Cincinnati Symphony's second concert of the season Friday morning at Music Hall.

One was the second "half," which consisted of Sibelius' single-movement Symphony No. 7.

Sibelius' Seventh is only twenty minutes long, compared to an hour-and-a-half for the Brahms' Violin Concerto and Arthur Honegger's Symphony No. 2, both heard before intermission. When music director Paavo Jarvi dropped his hands after the strings' final upward surge in the Sibelius, the audience wasn't sure it was over. However, signaled by his sideways glance, the smattering who had begun to clap were joined by the rest.

Another surprise was Honegger's symphony. Not heard at the CSO in 30 years, it is nominally for strings and trumpet, though the trumpet only plays for 49 bars at the end.

It was a sophisticated and consummately played program that rewarded and intrigued the matinee crowd.

Guest artist Leonidas Kavakos gave a commanding performance of the Brahms. Jarvi set it up for him with an elegantly crafted exposition in the first movement. It was like lifting the cover of an intricately inlaid jewel box, with qualities of intimacy and transparency not often achieved in large symphonic works. Kavakos answered with muscle as well as nuance, drawing an opulent sound from his 1692 Stradivarius.

The spell continued in the Adagio, with a gorgeous opening effusion by the woodwinds and soulful playing by Kavakos. The gypsy rondo finale was filled with zest, Kavakos and Jarvi giving a pointed "lift" to the kicky theme, which was sprayed with woodwind trills.

The two symphonies framed the concert. Honegger's 1941 score is dark and doleful, reflecting the circumstances of its composition (during the Nazi occupation of Paris). Principal violist Marna Street introduced the mournful ostinato theme, a soft, halting alternation of two notes, taken up by the rest of the orchestra in contrast with angry, upward volleys.

The second movement plunged into even deeper despair. Jarvi gave the strings a painful, cutting edge here, but light dawned in the finale, where principal trumpeter Philip Collins doubled the violins in a triumphant chorale amid scurrying figures as of people emerging from the shadows.

Sibelius' Seventh Symphony (1924) - the last the composer was to write before remaining virtually silent for the last 30 years of his life - is an enigma. Autumnal in mood, it features a thrice-recurring trombone solo that breaks through the texture like a shaft of light. Principal trombonist Cristian Ganicenco soared here, as did the brasses in general in this brass-filled work.

The work is structurally complex, with many interwoven motifs that convey color-soaked images: winds blowing in the trees, "icy" strings, dance-like passages. Jarvi treated it organically, favoring brisk tempos and letting all of its strands emerge. The strings, divided into as many as nine different parts, were sumptuous and full, while the brass glowed like a radiant sunset.

Repeat is 8 p.m. tonight at Music Hall.

Friday, September 23, 2005

CONCERT REVIEW: CSO concert pure poetry and a dash of fireworks

By Janelle Gelfand
Cincinnati Enquirer, September 23, 2005

With Paavo Järvi, you can expect the unexpected. That happened Friday morning, when his Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra program matched up two rarely heard, but extraordinary, pieces with Brahms’ familiar Violin Concerto.

Together, it was a revelation. The concert, which opened with Arthur Honegger’s Symphony No. 2 and closed with Sibelius’ Seventh, was inspiring from beginning to end.


Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos, 37, soloist in the Brahms, is a former teen star who has matured into an artist of utmost caliber. Not terribly demonstrative by today’s standards, he projected a huge, effortless sound on his 1692 Stradivarius, and tackled the finale’s fireworks with gutsy ardor.

Yet, fireworks aside, he’s mostly a thoughtful musician, who took the time to let Brahms’ exquisite phrases breathe. The first movement balanced sweetness and intensity, and the cadenza (by Joseph Joachim) was all about effortless, gleaming sound.

The orchestra’s new principal oboist, Liang Wang, took the slow movement’s opening theme warmly, and it was beautifully answered by Kavakos’ violin. The violinist drew sparks in the dance-like Hungarian theme in the finale, leaping to punctuate a musical idea, yet never in a display of ego.

In a seamless collaboration, Järvi matched the spacious, noble feeling in the orchestra, and the smallish crowd was on its feet at the cutoff.

Sibelius’ final symphony of 1924 is unusual for being an expansive piece in one connected movement. Almost a symphonic poem, it has that unmistakable aura of Scandinavian moroseness, with broad brushes of color in the strings, sparkling winds and majestic, craggy peaks in the brass.

This kind of music is ideal for Music Hall’s magnificent acoustics, and Järvi knows how to project its drama and power. He created a glowing canvas, bringing out inner themes and other details while capturing the immense sweep of the music.

The mournful quality of Honegger’s Second, not played here since 1957, evokes the pall that hung over Paris during the Nazi occupation. Yet following the somber mood of the first two movements (for strings only), the finale brought a glorious summation in the form of a soaring trumpet call (Philip Collins). That, of course, represented the American liberators.

The concert repeats at 8 p.m. today Saturday in Music Hall. Tickets: (513) 381-3300 or www.cincinnatisymphony.org.

E-mail jgelfand@enquirer.com

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Catch PJ and the CSO This Weekend


Just two more opportunities to hear Paavo conduct the Cincinnati Symphony before he's off to conduct the Munich Philharmonic and the Staatskapelle Dresden!

From the CSO website: "Brahms completed only one Violin Concerto, and Leonidas Kavakos, a major talent on the international scene, will perform this extraordinary and virtuosic work. (Mr. Kavakos plays the 1692 “Falmouth” Stradivarius.) The Honegger, whose restless contrasts stem from the dark days of World War II, and Sibelius’s final symphony, whose expansive musical landscape evokes the Nordic countryside, complete the program."

Concerts are Friday, September 23, at 11 am and Saturday, September 24, at 8 pm. On the program: Honegger's Symphony No. 2; Brahms' Violin Concerto in D Major; and Sibelius' Symphony No. 7 in C Major.

Read the Program Notes before you go.

This program will air via streaming audio on WGUC, 90.9 FM, Sunday, December 18 at 7:30 pm ET.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

CONCERT REVIEW: DKAM/Beethovenfest Bonn (in English)

Starting Gun for a Formula 1 Symphony

At the moment Beethoven rates high with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen – they impressively demonstrated their competence in Bonn as well with Music Director Paavo Järvi at the podium

By Bernhard Hartmann
General-Anzeiger Bonn, 13 September 2005

Bonn - A few weeks ago the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen appeared at New York's Mostly Mozart Festival and played only Beethoven. At the moment the composer rates high with the Bremen ensemble. Not only in the Big Apple were they acclaimed for their performance; at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago they also generated storms of enthusiasm from the audience.

Next year they will present the complete Beethoven symphonies in Yokohama, Japan; in addition, they are industriously working on a recording of the complete cycle. Naturally Bonn's Beethoven Festival will benefit from these activities – by 2007 the orchestra will have performed all nine symphonies in Bonn as well.

In the regrettably not-sold-out Beethovenhalle, Beethoven's Coriolan Overture provided an indication of the direction that Music Director Paavo Järvi points his musicians when it comes to Beethoven. Rich string tones surge forward with relentless momentum, presenting a thrilling musical drama with its tragic fall.

The orchestra plays with rhythmic excitement, and its dynamic range is astonishing despite the small string section.
Such power would also have been desirable at times in the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra's performance of the "Eroica" on Friday.

The fact that the Kammerphilharmonie's sound quality is not confined only to the higher end of the dynamic range was demonstrated later, particularly in the second encore, Jean Sibelius's Valse triste. Here Paavo Järvi reduced the string sound down to nearly the threshold of perception, thus creating a tension that took the audience's breath away.

In the main part of the program, the Third Symphony by the French composer Albert Roussel, a work full of neoclassical wit, followed as an entrée to the Beethoven main course. The archetype of Viennese classicism is perceptible in this four-movement work, brushed the wrong way very intelligently and with a great deal of mischievous humor, however – in that respect, entirely comparable to Prokofiev's "Classical" Symphony.

Richness of Instrumental Color

Under Paavo Järvi's masterful conducting, the music was extremely eloquent. The breathless triple rhythm of the first movement was electrifying; the richness of instrumental color in the second movement, whose fugal section left nothing to be desired in precision, was marvelous. This symphony is also a splendid showpiece for the Kammerphilharmonie's first-rate winds, who mastered their virtuoso passages with nearly French elegance.

Paavo Järvi cut short the applause after the intermission almost brusquely with the fate motive from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, virtually hurled at the audience. It was, so to speak, the starting gun of a Formula 1 version of the work. And, thanks to the technical level of the ensemble's playing, the breathtaking pace never seemed rushed. At all times, Paavo Järvi ensured that the details of the score were not only audible but were also meticulously worked out down to the secondary voices.

The entrance of the double basses in the fugal middle section of the Presto movement was something marvelous. In the transition to the fourth movement, the musicians created an almost impressionistic atmosphere that ended in the brilliant C major of the winds
(which for some time has been hurrying Beethovenhalle concertgoers to their seats as an intermission signal).

The sonic capabilities that the orchestra has at its command were also displayed in the first encore – Brahms's Hungarian Dance No. 6, whose dynamic and tempo parameters, exploited and savored to the full, were a bit too much like a demonstration.

Monday, September 19, 2005

CONCERT REVIEW: DKAM/Beethovenfest Bonn


Startschuss für eine Formel-1-Sinfonie

Bei der Deutschen Kammerphilharmonie Bremen steht Beethoven derzeit hoch im Kurs - Mit ihrem Chefdirigenten Paavo Järvi am Pult zeigt sie auch in Bonn eindrucksvoll ihre Kompetenz

Von Bernhard Hartmann
Bonner General-Anzeiger, (13.09.2005)

Bonn. Vor wenigen Wochen gastierte die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen zum New Yorker "Mostly Mozart"-Festival und spielte "Only Beethoven". Der Komponist steht bei den Bremern derzeit hoch im Kurs. Nicht nur im Big Apple wurden sie für ihre Leistung gefeiert, auch beim Ravinia Festival in Chicago erzeugten sie beim Publikum Begeisterungsstürme.

Im nächsten Jahr will man sämtliche Beethoven-Sinfonien im japanischen Yokohama aufführen, daneben arbeiten die Bremer fleißig an einer Gesamteinspielung des Zyklus. Klar, dass auch das Bonner Beethovenfest von diesen Aktivitäten profitiert: Bis 2007 werden die Bremer in Bonn ebenfalls alle Neune geliefert haben.

In der bedauerlicherweise nicht ausverkauften Beethovenhalle gab schon Beethovens "Coriolan"-Ouvertüre die Richtung vor, die Chefdirigent Paavo Järvi seinen Musikern in Sachen Beethoven weist. Satte Streicherklänge drängen mit unerbittlicher Wucht vorwärts, bieten eine packendes musikalisches Drama mit tragischer Fallhöhe.

Es wird rhythmisch spannungsreich musiziert, wobei die dynamische Weite des Orchesters trotz der sparsamen Streicherbesetzung erstaunlich ist: Solche Wucht hätte man sich auch am Freitag bei der Eroica-Aufführung durch das Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France mitunter gewünscht.

Dass die Klangqualität der Kammerphilharmonie sich aber nicht nur auf den oberen Teil der Lautstärkeskala beschränkt, zeigte sie später vor allem bei der zweiten Zugabe, dem "Valse triste" von Jean Sibelius. Hier dimmte Paavo Järvi den Streicherklang bis ganz nahe an die Wahrnehmungsgrenze und erzeugte so eine Spannung, die dem Publikum den Atem verschlug.

Im Hauptprogramm folgte als Zwischengang zum Beethoven-Hauptmenü die dritte Sinfonie des französischen Komponisten Albert Roussel, ein Stück voll neoklassizistischen Esprits. Man spürt in dem viersätzigen Werk das Vorbild der Wiener Klassik, die aber - darin durchaus vergleichbar mit Prokofjews "Symphonie classique" - auf sehr intelligente Art und mit viel durchtriebenem Witz gegen den Strich gebürstet wird.

Fülle der Klangfarben

Unter Paavo Järvis souveräner Leitung wirkte die Musik äußerst eloquent, mitreißend der atemlose Dreierrhythmus des ersten Satzes, wunderbar in der Fülle der Klangfarben des zweiten Satzes, dessen fugierter Abschnitt nichts an Präzision vermissen ließ. Diese Sinfonie ist auch ein dankbares Schaustück für die erstklassigen Bläser der Kammerphilharmonie, die ihre virtuosen Partien mit geradezu französischer Eleganz meisterten.

Den Auftrittsapplaus nach der Pause unterbrach Paavo Järvi fast unwirsch mit einem gleichsam ins Publikum geschleuderten Schicksals-Motiv der fünften Sinfonie Beethovens. Es war sozusagen der Startschuss zu einer Formel-1-Version des Werks. Und es ist dem spieltechnischen Niveau dieses Ensembles zu danken, dass die atemberaubende Geschwindigkeit nie gehetzt wirkte. Paavo Järvi sorgte immer dafür, dass die Details der Partitur nicht nur hörbar blieben, sondern bis in die Nebenstimmen hinein sorgfältig herausgearbeitet wurden.

Große Klasse etwas der Einsatz der Kontrabässe beim fugierten Mittelteil des Presto-Satzes. Beim Übergang zum vierten Satz erzeugten die Bremer eine fast schon impressionistisch anmutende Atmosphäre, die in das strahlende C-Dur der Bläser mündete (das die Konzertbesucher der Beethovenhalle seit einiger Zeit als lärmendes Pausensignal zur Eile treibt).

Welche klanglichen Möglichkeiten dem Orchester zu Gebote stehen, zeigte es auch in der ersten Zugabe: Brahms` Ungarischer Tanz Nr. 6., dessen extrem ausgekosteten dynamischen und agogischen Vorgaben fast schon schon ein bisschen zu viel Demonstrations-Charakter besaßen.

Weitere Informationen über das Beethovenfest finden Sie in unserem Special sowie im Internet unter www.beethovenfest.de.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Record Deal

Can the CSO's Paavo Järvi charm the music industry and the public into accepting his mission?

By Kathleen Doane
Cincinnati Magazine, April 2004, Vol. 37, Issue 7

One doesn't encounter many people who love their jobs as much as Paavo Järvi. It is evident in the smiles he flashes and the energy he exudes minutes after a rehearsal ends. In fact, his enthusiasm for making music with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra nearly tongue-ties the maestro as he grabs a Diet Coke and sits down to chat in his office just off the Green Room backstage at Music Hall. "I can't tell you exactly how it makes me feel, but [my] expectations are very high," Järvi says. And judging from the buzz that has surrounded Järvi since he arrived two and a half years ago, patrons generally agree that he is the best thing that has happened to the CSO in nearly 30 years. The comment heard most often is, "They've never sounded better," meaning that, as individuals and as an ensemble, the musicians are playing with a new precision and passion.

It is difficult to articulate the chemistry between a conductor and musicians that enables that kind of magic to happen. It usually involves few words, often none at all. "It is gestures and looks," Järvi says. "Sometimes during a rehearsal I can see a look on a musician's face and know that the person is feeling the same thing I am about the music. It's very intimate and personal." And powerful, because the result is that "sound" that rolls over the audience like a giant wave of emotion.

Any thought that perhaps that connection was just a local phenomenon disappeared after the November tour to Japan. "The audience was just screaming," he says of the concert in Suntory Hall in Tokyo. "It was such an amazing moment for us, [I felt] so incredibly proud." Indeed, it was a defining moment for Järvi, who was able to check off two of the goals he set for himself upon arriving here: take the orchestra to a higher level of excellence and tour so the rest of the world could hear just how good they are. Not that anyone will be coasting on past praise. "There are no limits to how well we can play," Järvi says. He isn't being arrogant when he talks like that, although it is said with total conviction. It is just his nature to push himself and those around him. "I constantly go home and think that a rehearsal or a performance was good, but that I can do it better."

There also are few limits to Järvi's ambitions for the CSO, which involve building on past success by continuing to introduce local audiences to new music and to young artists on the verge of greatness.

Järvi's success in presenting the new has put to bed the myth that CSO patrons either a) hate contemporary classical music or b) aren't sophisticated enough to appreciate it. "Who am I to say it's too difficult for our audience?" asks Järvi, adding that the only consistent complaint he's heard is, "Why don't you play more unknown music?" Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor elect and Cincinnati native son James Levine applauds Järvi's penchant for musically mixing things up. He recently told Järvi, "I like that you don't do ordinary things." The opening concert this season was a prime example: works by two 20th-century Russian icons, Prokofiev and Shostakovich, and the world premiere of a piece by the dean of the College-Conservatory of Music, Douglas Lowry.

Another primary goal of Järvi's long-term agenda is his dedication to the next generation of classical stars. "We need to set the trends, and I've told the staff, 'Don't call Chicago and New York to ask how so-and-so performed.' I don't want to make my decisions based on someone else's long-distance approval."

The bottom line is that Järvi is looking for the same connection with guest artists that he has with orchestra members. "Playing with someone you haven't had that close musical relationship with is a little like a blind date. You've heard good things and there might be something there, but you never know." Which means if there isn't "something there," you probably won't see that soloist back onstage at Music Hall, at least during Järvi's tenure. Still, the buzz is out there: Young artists and their agents have heard that a gig with the CSO can be an important step in launching a solo career and are increasingly approaching Järvi.

He embraces new composers as well, especially young American composers. Järvi's very first concert with the CSO featured the world premiere of "Streetscape" by then-32-year-old Charles Coleman. The piece, commissioned by the orchestra, was inspired by the sounds of the composer's New York neighborhood. It was an instant hit.

Since Paavo Järvi's arrival the CSO has commissioned four works. This month the orchestra presents another by 30-year-old Michigan-born composer Jonathan Holland, titled "Halcyon Sun." And there are more in the works. "We already have a CD's worth of new music by new American composers," Järvi says. "And it's very important to commit them to disc." And that's where the maestro, who has generally gotten everything he asked for since arriving, runs into resistance. For even Telarc International, which has been recording the CSO and the Pops for more than 25 years, is unwilling to oblige.

The fact that the orchestra records regularly at all (five new CSO CD releases since Järvi's arrival with a sixth recorded in January) makes it the envy of most other American and European orchestras. Such long-term arrangements between orchestras and recording companies are a thing of the past, swept aside when the large recording companies began to merge. "Classical music is such an insignificant part of their business," Järvi says. A classical recording might be lucky to peak at 5,000 total sales; compare that to singer Norah Jones's latest CD, which sold a million in its first week.

Still, Telarc, run by Robert Woods, is committed to recording classical music. Why? "He's a musician and runs it like a musician," Järvi says. In fact, it was the CSO's exceptional and long relationship with Telarc that helped entice Järvi to the CSO. Although new CDs of classical standards and contemporary works will keep coming, convincing the folks at Telarc to embrace Järvi's mission of preserving the new works of young composers will be a hard sell. Recouping even the cost of producing such a recording is nearly impossible. "Telarc finds it financially unfeasible," Järvi says, adding, "but there are some things we just need to do. You can stumble upon some unbelievable things that will make a mark in history."

And, in fact, the CSO did just that in the early 1940s, when under Eugene Goosens it commissioned Aaron Copland to write a piece. The result was "Fanfare for the Common Man," an American classical standard. Perhaps the Coleman piece will enjoy the same fame someday.

"We need to be missionaries for music of our time," Järvi says, infusing his words with passion. Right now, the CSO stands alone among major orchestras in its dedication to taking on that mission. "We can leave a legacy of new American music that we have not only commissioned but recorded," he says. "It is the way the orchestra can make its mark in the world of classical music."

Given the orchestra's current million dollar — plus deficit, it's clear financial help for such a project will have to come from the outside. What is needed is a benefactor or two also looking to make a mark on the world of classical music by financing that first CD. Surely there are deep pockets willing to lead this crusade. Given the Paavo touch for winning friends and influencing patrons, he'll no doubt find them.

"WE NEED TO BE MISSIONARIES FOR MUSIC OF our time — to leave a legacy of new American music that we have not only commissioned but recorded, to make our mark in the world," says Paavo Järvi.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

CONCERT REVIEW: Beethoven thrills big CSO crowd

By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Cincinnati Post, September 17, 2005

Beethoven got it on for the Cincinnati Symphony Friday night as the orchestra registered a near full house at Music Hall.

That's saying something for the nation's largest concert hall (3,516 seats) and with ticket sales bulging for tonight's 8 p.m. repeat, the orchestra is positioned to set an opening weekend attendance record.

Impeccably led by music director Paavo Jarvi, the program was matched to the occasion, with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, a quartet of splendid soloists and the magnificent May Festival Chorus.

There was a celebratory - and an unstuffy - air about the whole thing as patrons lined up for complimentary "Get Your Beethoven On!" tattoos (the temporary kind) and snatched up Beethoven bobblehead dolls at the Bravo Shop in the lobby. All a prelude, however, to the business of Beethoven, classical music's proven heavy hitter.

Curtain-raiser was his Overture to "The Creatures of Prometheus," a nimbly executed bit of bubbly, followed by "Ah! perfido," an early concert aria that introduced the soprano of the evening, Camilla Tilling.

Swedish born Tilling demonstrated a keen dramatic presence in the work, which expresses the conflicting emotions of a woman abandoned by her lover. Laser bright in her anger, she clothed it in gentler tones as she implored the gods to spare him vengeance and let her die instead. The volume of Music Hall swallowed up her softer moments but the effect was genuinely affecting.

The Ninth Symphony opens in darkness and works its way toward the bright light of the "Ode to Joy" finale. Jarvi clothed the beginning in mystery, allowing the timpani a big thwack on the recapitulation, lots of detail in the woodwinds and a big, emphatic close.

Principal timpanist Richard Jensen was a standout in the scherzo, making sharp reports with his sticks, which he wielded with the tautness of a spring. The Trio showed off two of the CSO's newest members, principal French hornist John Zirbel and principal oboist Liang Wang.

The slow movement was tender, almost like a love song now and then. Jarvi opened it up on the trumpet fanfares near the end, presaging the excitement of the final movement.

The finale's opening dissonance moved quickly into the cello recitative, then the first statement (by the strings) of the "Ode to Joy" melody, given a delightfully transparent effect by allowing the winds to bleed through the texture.

Baritone Stephen Powell made his exhortation to joy with warmth and congeniality, joined by the exultant chorus. Jarvi played up the earthy humor of the contra-bassoon belches leading into the "Turkish March," which he sped along, joined by tenor Stanford Olsen's exhilarating solo.

The chorus railed the heavens brilliantly after a brisk, muscular fugato. The quartet, including mezzo-soprano Jane Gilbert, gave the work a nimble, operatic spin, then Jarvi led a pulse-quickening rush to the end, Joan Voorhees' piccolo pealing away on top.

For tickets to tonight's repeat, call (513) 381-3300.

CONCERT REVIEW: 'Ode' explosively shakes off flab

By Ray Cooklis
Cincinnati Enquirer, September 17, 2005

Possibly no piece of music is more universally recognizable than Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 - specifically the great choral finale on Schiller's "Ode to Joy" that has morphed into everything from a hymn to a pop tune to a commercial jingle to the official European anthem.

We think we know this work. But as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's challenging performance - opening its Music Hall season Friday night under Music Director Paavo Järvi - should remind us, there is much more to know.

In Järvi's hands, this was not the flabby, ceremonial warhorse we often hear. This Ninth had a relentless, headlong urgency, often with explosive accents. Even the Ode, with its hearty folk-like melodies and bright sense of affirmation, had an edge, almost a hunger to it.

So this was a thought-provoking Ninth. Beethoven deeply believed in the moral power of music to redeem humankind. In this 1824 symphony, he proclaimed universal brotherhood - the key line "all men become brothers" was his, not Schiller's - long before the concept was common.

But his demand that listeners confront that brotherhood is as in-your-face and relevant as today's debate on race and class in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. There's little safe or comfortable about Beethoven's Ninth. It is a radical work that still has a capacity to shock with the utter originality not only of its musical form - opera, oratorio, concerto and symphony-within-a-symphony - but its message.

This may not have been the tidiest performance the CSO will present this season, but it was honest. That's not to say it was unpolished by any means. Järvi has a fine watercolorist's way with light and tone, and he brought out subtle orchestral colors many listeners may not have heard in this symphony before.

The vocal quartet of soprano Camilla Tilling, mezzo Jane Gilbert, tenor Stanford Olsen and baritone Stephen Powell was first-rate. Beethoven's choral writing often lends itself to near-shouting, but Robert Porco's May Festival Chorus sang with an unforced, sonorous power.

The evening's real "find" was Swedish soprano Tilling, singing Beethoven's aria "Ah! Perfido" with agility and grace in her CSO debut. She knows how to float and spin a note with Mozartean charm, and has remarkable tonal control. Järvi opened the program with Beethoven's "Creatures of Prometheus" ballet overture, in which the violins' fleet precision proved a joy in itself.

The program repeats at 8 p.m. today. Tickets are still available at (513) 381-3300.

Assistant Editorial Page Editor Ray Cooklis is a former Enquirer classical music critic; rcooklis@enquirer.com.

What an Opening!


Full house, fourth curtain call (Photo: Mary Connolly)

Well, boys and girls, I can officially report that Friday night's season-opening concert was a certified smash hit with the almost capacity audience -- and what a tremendous compliment that was to Paavo and his players (and their special guest vocalists), here in the largest concert hall in North America! Beethoven bobbleheads, in a limited edition of 1,500, sold out tonight before the concert even began. The "temporary tattoo" parlor was kept busy with a steady stream of adventurous Beethoven freaks -- and the "Get Your Beethoven On" t-shirts were sold out of extra-larges by the end of opening night!

I had never heard Beethoven's Ninth performed live before this evening. I was in thrall to the magic of the music and thrilled by the beauty and passion that PJ and the CSO brought to it tonight, along with the fabulous guest soloists and our own May Festival Chorus. The rest of the audience must have agreed with me because there were FOUR (count them!) curtain calls at the end of the night!

As I commented to PJ as he was signing CDs in the lobby: "Bebe, that was "off the hook"!" (off the hook: adj 1. very good, excellent; COOL.)

Järvis beat the Partridges, hands down!

By Michael Markowitz
Playbillarts.com, 16 Sep 2005

When it comes to musical families, the Järvis beat the Partridges, hands down. This summer, the entire musical Järvi clan — conductor/father Neeme, conductor/sons Paavo and Kristjan and flutist/daughter Maarika — performed together in a gala benefit for St. Petersburg’s White Nights Festival. Paavo also stopped by his father’s Summer Academy, a 10-day series of master classes held in the family’s native Estonia, to work with young conductors. Paavo also would have conducted the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in several June concerts honoring his father, who ended a 15-year tenure as the DSO’s music director, but he injured his hand in Tokyo and remained in Japan for treatment. The conductor who substituted for Paavo was, of course, Neeme Järvi. Unfortunately, none of the younger Järvis were available to fill in when Neeme, a notorious workoholic, canceled all of his August appearances after a doctor ordered him to slow down.

With the start of the 2005-06 season this month, the Järvis are headed in separate directions once more. A well-rested Neeme served as a member of the jury at the Third International Sibelius Conducting Competition in Helsinki and is preparing to take over as music director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Paavo is getting set to begin a new season as music director of the Cincinnati Symphony while Kristjan will again lead the New York-based Absolute Ensemble. Maarika is scheduled to perform Nielsen’s Flute Concerto this fall with regional orchestras in Serbia and Canada.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Finnish music lovers discover Tallinn

Helsingin Sanomat (International Edition - Culture), September 9, 2005
By Vesa Sirén

The Estonian National Symphony Orchestra is playing its "end of summer" concert to a full house in Tallinn’s Methodist Church.

Olari Elts, who won the Sibelius Conductors’ Competition five years ago, brandishes the baton. He has again found the time to pop into his home town in the midst of all of his busy travel schedule, which increasingly takes him to Germany, the Nordic Countries, Australia, and more recently, to the United States.

The 34-year-old Elts is not the only Estonian music professional making an international career for himself. Famous conductors include Neeme Järvi, who is rapidly approaching retirement age, his rising son Paavo Järvi, as well as Eri Klas, who has also worked a good deal in Finland.

As it happens, Klas, and the international mezzo star Annely Peebo are scheduled to perform at the opening concert of another important Tallinn orchestra, the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, on September 24th.

"Tallinn’s concert life is quite lively", Elts sighs. "In the summer it actually seems a bit too lively."

Tallinn could prove to be a viable alternative for Finnish music lovers as well. Weather permitting, the fast catamarans and hydrofoils bring Helsinki residents to Tallinn as fast as they could get to Turku, Lahti, or Tampere by train.

When they get there, they can expect more than just a state-financed national symphony orchestra, or the Tallinn Chamber Music Orchestra; there are also the extensive offerings of the Estonian National Opera, for instance.

"In addition to that, we have a large state-run concert office, which brings foreign ensembles to Estonian cities, and which runs extensive concert activities", Elts points out.

This month alone, the Eestikontsert office has arranged a series of concerts around Estonia to mark the 70th birthday of composer Arvo Pärt.

So what is the financial basis for all of this musical activity?

The Estonian National Symphony Orchestra operates on a budget of just EUR 1.6 million, whereas the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra is spending EUR 7.5 million this year.

"The musicians get EUR 450 after taxes, while in Helsinki they would get much more", admits Andres Siitan. He is right. Musicians playing with the Helsinki Philharmonic earn an average EUR 2,700 a month in gross income. "But wages here are rising 12-15 percent a year", Siitan observes.

The situation in Tallinn is much better than it was soon after independence, in the early 1990s.

"At that time the borders were opened, and 40 of the best musicians joined foreign orchestras - many of them went to Finland", Siitan recalls.


The National Symphony Orchestra hired about 40 young musicians, and Arvo Volmer, the head conductor at the time, trained them intensively.

"Now we have an orchestra with potential for development, which won a Grammy last year! Admittedly it was for choral music, but anyway..."

The Grammy was for a recording of the cantatas of Jean Sibelius, conducted by Paavo Järvi.

"Paavo is our artistic advisor, and he has the time to conduct us every year, and even with these salaries, it is possible to live so well with the price level that prevails in Tallinn, that some musicians have started to return from abroad", Siitan says.


What about the quality? The concert that I heard comprised some Haydn, which showed the intonation of the orchestra was quite clean. However, the instrumental culture was not particularly united.

"Haydn is the most revealing of music", Olari Elts concedes. "We have made the best progress with the woodwinds. And the Brahms went better."

The Haydn Variations of Brahms sounded full and clean indeed, and the choral works of Haydn and Brahms, which were part of the programme, showed why Estonia has a reputation as a nation of choral music.

The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Music Choir appears to be young, but the voice range is fuller and the tone rounder than one might imagine on the basis of Finnish experience.

"Much also depends on acoustics", Siitan says. "Generally we perform in the Estonia Hall, whose acoustics are more of a help for us than that of the Finlandia Hall is for orchestras and choirs in Helsinki."

Last year Risto Nieminen, the executive director of the Helsinki Festival, dropped Estonian orchestras from the Baltic Sea theme programme, because he felt that "with respect to orchestras, the Estonians are not yet at the same level" as those of Stockholm and St. Petersburg, which were last year’s guests.

Would Siitan and Elts, for their part, like to make comparisons between Finnish and Estonian orchestras?

"Which Finnish orchestras?" Elts asks. "There are great differences in quality among Finnish orchestras, but I will not make comparisons between countries, especially as it is important for Estonian orchestras to become more international, and to get more foreign players to join them."

"Estonian orchestras are at a level comparable to that of Finnish ones", Siitan says.
"Some Finnish orchestras can be further along in some areas, but we are at the same comparative level."

Read more here.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

CSO opening new season this weekend

By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Cincinnati Post, September 14, 2005

An orchestra, said Cincinnati Symphony music director Paavo Järvi, is "not a football team."

"It's not about winning or losing. It's about having something very fragile that needs to be nurtured and protected, not turned into a mass event."

Järvi, who is back in Cincinnati to lead the opening concerts of the CSO's 111th season, nevertheless knows how to play the game.

"For me, one of the most difficult things to find is the balance between art and show business.

"I am not one of those conductors who stands completely on one side and thinks that show business has no place onstage or somebody who always worries about being popular. Quite the opposite."


This week's opening night concert, an all-Beethoven program including the Ninth Symphony ("Ode to Joy"), is a little bit of both. One of the world's best known classical works, it is also one of its greatest masterpieces.

Concerts are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Music Hall and there'll be plenty of celebration to go with it. Joining Järvi and the CSO are soprano Camilla Tilling, mezzo-soprano Jane Gilbert, tenor Stanford Olsen, bass Stephen Powell and the May Festival Chorus.

The upcoming CSO season is a finely calibrated mix of traditional and less familiar works. There is an all-Rachmaninoff program, including the Second Symphony and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (to be recorded by Telarc), as well as Danish composer Carl Nielsen's quirky, "post-modern" Symphony No. 6.

CSO audiences will hear Beethoven's Symphonies No. 1 and 7, Grieg's Incidental Music to Peer Gynt, Elgar's "Enigma" Variations (to be recorded by Telarc with works by Benjamin Britten), Mahler's First and Second Symphonies, Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and the Third Symphonies of Mendelssohn and Schumann, all standard orchestral fare.

Making rare appearances will be Bartok's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta and Paul Hindemith's Mathis der Mahler symphony (from his opera about Matthias Grunewald, painter of the famous Isenheim altarpiece).

More adventurous still are Estonian Erkki-Sven Tüür's Insula deserta, George Antheil's Symphony No. 4 and works by Toru Takemitsu, Astor Piazzolla, Thomas Ades, Michael Hersch and Aaron Jay Kernis.

"To me," said Järvi, who has relationships with three orchestras in addition to the CSO - the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Frankfurt Radio Symphony and Estonian National Orchestra - "you can't give up the fight to make music relevant as an art form. It IS an art form, not a form of entertainment."

Järvi, 42, who is entering his fifth season as CSO music director, is extremely gratified not only by the excellence of the orchestra, but also by its attitude.

"I've been to so many orchestras where they say, 'Oh, why do we have to play this kind of stuff? It's not Brahms, it's not Beethoven.' We're doing that as well, but it is nice to see this incredibly open attitude towards new things. It puts everybody under a lot of pressure because these things need to be learned, but it is also something that keeps you alive."

Järvi wages the battle of the box office constantly, he said.

"I spend my life talking about will it sell or not. I try to educate the people around me and say, 'Look, I know how difficult it is to sell a Bruckner project, for example, but that doesn't mean we're not going to do it. We have to do it and find ways to bring people in. Not to do it would be giving up.' "

Music Hall is a reality of literally larger proportions, he said.

"It's difficult, because I love the hall. When you look at it from the stage, you think what a magnificent hall. It's just the size is too big. One of the things that I find most detrimental to us is constantly living with the perception that somehow the quality of the orchestra is not good enough to fill the hall.

"That is completely misleading, because it is not the quality of the orchestra, or even the support in the community. It is just that the proportions are wrong. In the long term, this will kill the orchestra because we live in a society of supply and demand, and right now there is a perception of lack of demand."


Average attendance at CSO concerts last season was 1,707 (a drop of 12 percent from the year before, attributed largely to a 25 percent increase in ticket prices). With a capacity of 3,516, Music Hall is largest concert hall in the U.S. By contrast New York's Carnegie Hall seats 2,804, Boston's Symphony Hall 2,625, Cleveland's Severance Hall 2,100, Orchestra Hall in Chicago 2,310 and Los Angeles' new Disney Concert Hall 2,265.

Plans to re-configure Music Hall - to move the stage forward and/or remove some of the seats - are ongoing, Järvi said, though for financial reasons they have been put on the "back burner" for the moment.

"You have to choose your battles, because you have to put enough energy into every one. For me, the overall financial health of the orchestra is obviously more important at this point than rebuilding the hall."

The CSO will announce a capital campaign later this season to help replenish its endowment, which fell during the downturn of the stock market from over $90 million to about $65 million today.

Nothing will be done to Music Hall without careful consideration, Järvi emphasized. "Nobody would ever think of ruining or destroying or drilling anything unless everything is pre-tested. In New York's Avery Fisher Hall, they do a whole series of concerts ("Mostly Mozart" in the summer) where they have built the stage in the middle of the hall, and they have had incredible success."

Järvi said he could not pick favorites among this season's CSO programs (he will lead 14 of the 24 concerts).

"I look forward to every week because they (the CSO musicians) are so able and so good. I feel, having being together now for a while, that we are zeroing in in a very, very personal way. I think this is the key really - to find a certain personal identification."

Guest artists during the season include clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, pianists Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Garrick Ohlsson, Barry Douglas and Stewart Goodyear, violinists Christian Tetzlaff and Akiko Suwanai and cellist Tanja Tetzlaff.

Guest conducting will be rising star Xian Zhang in her CSO debut, William Eddins, Sir Roger Norrington and Jaime Laredo. Pops conductor Erich Kunzel will lead an all-Brahms program in honor of his 40th anniversary with the CSO and music director emeritus Jesus Lopez-Cobos will conduct Bruckner.

Beethoven, bobbleheads usher in new CSO season

By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Cincinnati Post, September 14, 2005

Tattoos? Bobbleheads? Beethoven?

Incongruous? Drop in on the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's first concert of the season featuring Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and find out.

Concerts are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Music Hall.

The theme is "Get Your Beethoven On" and the CSO means that in more than a musical sense. You can get a temporary tattoo ("Get Your Beethoven On," courtesy of symphony volunteers), a Beethoven bobblehead doll ($15 limited edition, sold only at the opening concerts) and a Beethoven T-shirt.

All are incidental to the music, which in the case of the Ninth Symphony with its familiar "Ode to Joy" finale, will not be the Beethoven that has been "standardized" and passed down to us, said CSO music director Paavo Järvi.

Expect the inspirational, but also brisker tempos and touches of humor, a Beethoven who celebrated the ideal of universal brotherhood as expressed in Schiller's stirring ode, while realizing that it did not yet exist, Järvi explained.

Performing with the CSO will be soprano Camilla Tilling, mezzo-soprano Jane Gilbert, tenor Stanford Olsen, bass Stephen Powell and the May Festival Chorus. Also on the program are Beethoven's concert aria "Ah! Perfido" with soprano Tilling (conflicting emotions over a lost love) and his Overture to "The Creatures of Prometheus."

Järvi will sign copies of the CSO's latest Telarc recording, Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 ("New World") and Martinu's Symphony No. 2, after the concert. The CD will not be released in stores until Sept. 27.

Tickets are $18.50-$76.75, $10 for students, half-price for seniors. Call (513) 381-3300 or order online at www.cincinnatisymphony.org. You can get half-price ZIPTIX from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. concert days at the CSO sales office in Memorial Hall, 1229 Elm St. next door to Music Hall, and for $10-$12 you can get "extreme seats" in the rows closest to the stage on the far right and left hand sides of the orchestra.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Some Words of Wisdom on Conducting from PJ

With thanks to Mary Ellyn Hutton for sending us this!
Here are some random comments made by Paavo to his students in Parnu:

"In Russia they would kill you for that kind of pizzicato (dull plucking). Give it character."

"If you want the trumpet to play less, don't just hold up your hand and quit. Hold it up until he responds."

"A conductor needs to look good. Find a comfortable position that isn't a distraction."

"To give the music an edge, give the impression of moving ahead."

"Sometimes looking 'maestoso' (majestic) will do the trick."

"Use small gestures, no more than you need. The bigger you are, the slower you're going to get."

"The winds are rushing because their part moves faster than the choir. Prepare, breathe and be with them earlier. Figure out how to accommodate both."

"Put your lederhosen on here."

"This is not a serious movement ("Dance of the clowns"). Have fun with it."

"This music is ridiculously well known ("Wedding March"). Just going one-two all the time won't do it."

"During the march, look ahead to the fairy music. Begin to feel the motion."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A New Season Begins!


What to wear, what to wear? The weather forecast sounds lovely for this weekend, with highs in the 70s.

I'm planning to read the Program Notes and listen to Paavo's thoughts (alas! they're not up yet!!) about the opening concerts today, so all I'll have to do Friday and Saturday nights is sit back and enjoy the exciting performances!

This concert will air via streaming audio on WGUC-FM Sunday, December 11, at 7:30 pm ET.

CSO OPENING WEEKEND EVENT, Sept. 17

Sorry to say, I didn't find this information before the reservation cut-off date--but maybe you are better informed than I am and will be there with bells on!

GET DRESSED TO THE NINES for CSOEncore's Opening Weekend event at Music Hall, Saturday, Sept. 17. It's a before-and-after Silent Auction paired with a fabulous all-Beethoven CSO program, including Beethoven's 9th Symphony, "Ode to Joy" — possibly the world's most favorite piece of music. Before the concert, munch on appetizers, enjoy entertainment and preview our silent auction items, including, as follows:

• Overnight stay, casino admission, and breakfast for two at Argosy Casino
• Sweet nothings and a gorgeous chemise from Knickers
• Hairstyling services at Phyllis at the Madison
• Back by popular demand, the Rock Star Starter Kit
• Lessons in reading Hebrew
• Gift gasket from Coffee Please in Madeira
• Much more!

After the concert, bid on your favorite auction items while enjoying desserts and coffee — and competing with your friends for our truly unique auction items.

TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW: $50 for the whole event (pre-concert activities, concert, and post-concert auction). CALL EARLY for the best seats; if you're among the first 40 ticket buyers, you'll receive an invitation to a kickoff party at Bonefish Grill in Hyde Park with free martinis and appetizers. Call 513.744.3590 for tickets; the reservation deadline is Monday, Sept. 12.

Monday, September 12, 2005

How Paavo spent his summer


Paavo works with students on conducting techniques in Estonia. (Photo by Mary Ellyn Hutton)
By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Cincinnati Post, September 12, 2005

"You can actually touch the sound. Feel it with your hands," says Paavo Järvi, standing barefoot before a class of young conductors at the Concert Hall in Pärnu, Estonia, in July.

To illustrate, he reaches out, draws his fingers together and pulls his hand back toward him.

The gesture demonstrates how palpable music is to the Estonian-born conductor, who returns to Cincinnati this week to begin his fifth season as music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

Järvi, 42, will lead the CSO in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Music Hall. Joining them will be soprano Camilla Tilling, mezzo-soprano Jane Gilbert, tenor Stanford Olsen, bass Stephen Powell and the May Festival Chorus.

Järvi has been away from the CSO for four months, but it has been anything but a vacation.

Since last season's final concert (May 7), he has conducted 25 concerts in eight countries on three continents.

They included St. Petersburg, Russia, where he, his father Neeme and brother Kristjan - all conductors - and sister, flutist Maarika Järvi, took part in a marathon "Järvi Gala" June 25 for St. Petersburg's annual "White Nights" Festival.

He was in Japan in May and June for concerts with Tokyo's NHK Symphony, and he would have added even more miles to his itinerary if he had not spent an extra week in Tokyo to be treated for a hand injury. As a result, he had to cancel four performances with the Detroit Symphony in mid-June concluding its "Järvi Fest" tribute to his father upon completion of 15 years as DSO music director.

The Neeme Järvi Summer Academy - a 10-day master course led by his father in Pärnu - was the closest Järvi came to a break in his relentless schedule. For four days in July, he coached 10 young conductors in rehearsals and video sessions and helped prepare them for a concert with the St. Petersburg Academic Philharmonic Orchestra.

Paavo himself conducted Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major, with violinist Tatiana Berman as the soloist.

A town of spas and Old World charm on the Baltic Sea, Pärnu is Estonia's summer capital and a vacation spot for Scandinavia. It is also where Järvi spent real vacations as a child. The Järvi family left Estonia in 1980, when Paavo was 17.

For two or three months each summer they lived in a cottage Neeme built near the shores of the Baltic. The Järvis still visit the spot where Paavo, Maarika and Kristjan romped through the woods, swam and enjoyed the company of a close, extended family.

On this trip, Järvi took his partner Berman and their daughter Lea (now 19 months old) to see where trees that were once saplings now tower over the landscape.

The conducting students, all professionals in their 20s and 30s, gave Järvi high marks as a teacher.

Mihhail Gerts, resident conductor of the Estonian National Male Choir, called him "the key to the whole thing for me," an "analyst" who can also inspire.

Rachael Young, a native New Zealander now working in London, also praised his analytical skills. "He's extremely articulate and very generous with his time. He clarified technical issues in a creative and imaginative way, not in a dry way. Everything was related to the music as opposed to artificial examples."

She and Spanish-born Roberto Veses, a student at Helsinki's famed Sibelius Academy, made some fundamental changes at Järvi's suggestion.

"I used to hold the baton in my left hand, but I changed it overnight," said Young.

Unlike a left-handed pitcher, whose goal is to defeat the opposing team, a conductor must score with the orchestra, and "right-handed is what they're used to," she said. "Also, if you're left-handed (the left hand conveys much of the expression in conducting) you have a more expressive left hand as well."

Veses was persuaded to lay down his baton entirely, at least for a while. In terms of expression, "he (Paavo) said it would be easier to do what I wanted to do."

Järvi himself seemed bemused by his teaching experience.

"I didn't think it (conducting) was that hard," he said.

At the video session after the concert, he critiqued each conductor's performance, apologized for his "brutal honesty" and urged them to "take it in the right spirit. Nothing is meant to be personal; it's my point of view."

(Gleaned from his comments are some quotes at the bottom of this page.)

After Pärnu, Järvi departed for six weeks of touring and recording with his German chamber orchestra, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, of which he is artistic director.

In August he and the DK toured the U.S. and Canada. They played Beethoven at New York's Mostly Mozart Festival, selling out Alice Tully Hall. "Beethoven Strikes Back," wrote the New York Times, calling it "one hot performance." They also made a literally sweltering debut at Chicago's Ravinia Festival.

Järvi comes to Cincinnati right off the podium in Bonn, Germany, where he led the DK Sunday in Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. He extended his contract with the DK through 2007 at a press conference in Bremen Aug. 24. He and the DK are recording the complete Beethoven symphonies for the Dutch label PentaTone and will tour Japan with the entire cycle in May 2006.

Järvi becomes music director of the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra in September 2006, giving him a major presence on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition to the CSO, DK and Frankfurt Radio Orchestras, he is artistic adviser of the Estonian National Orchestra, with which he won a Grammy in 2004 for "Sibelius Cantatas" (Virgin Classics). Their just-released CD of Grieg's "Peer Gynt" (also Virgin Classics) is garnering high praise.

Järvi's CSO contract extends through the 2008-09 season.

Coincident with his return to Cincinnati, Telarc is releasing Järvi's latest CSO CD, an all-Czech album pairing Dvorak's "New World" Symphony, and the Symphony No. 2 by Bohuslav Martinu. Järvi will sign copies at Music Hall opening weekend. It will be in record stores Sept. 27.

Scheduled for release later this season is a Telarc CD of the Concertos for Orchestra by Bartok and Witold Lutoslawski.

Artistically, the CSO is on a roll, with a highly successful tour of Europe last fall and consistent praise for its recordings. In what has been called a coup for the orchestra, the CSO has hired a new principal French hornist, John Zirbel, first horn of the Montreal Symphony. (Zirbel was guest principal with the CSO for two Music Hall concerts in January and its Jan. 24 Carnegie Hall concert in New York.) Also new is principal oboist Liang Wang, who comes to the CSO from the San Francisco Ballet and Santa Fe Opera Orchestras.

CSO patrons have a tasty season ahead of them, with Grieg's "Peer Gynt," Mahler's Symphony No. 2 ("Resurrection"), Elgar's "Enigma" Variations, Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2 and "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" and a Gershwin-Bernstein evening with "Rhapsody in Blue" and "West Side Story" Symphonic Dances.

Järvi conducts two CSO weekends this visit, including Sept. 23 and 24 with Sibelius' Symphony No. 7, Swiss composer Arthur Honegger's Symphony No. 2 and Brahms' Violin Concerto with guest artist Leonidas Kavakos. He returns for three weekends in November, beginning with Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 and Mahler's Songs from "Des Knaben Wunderhorn" ("The Youth's Magic Horn") with guest baritone Matthias Goerne Nov. 4 and 5.

Telarc will make two recordings with Järvi and the CSO this season, Elgar's "Enigma" Variations paired with Benjamin Britten's "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" and Four Sea Interludes from "Peter Grimes" and an all-Rachmaninoff CD with his "Rock Fantasy" and Symphony No. 2.

A classical Top 10

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's season begins with Beethoven and ends on a jazzy note

By Janelle Gelfand
Cincinnati Enquirer, September 12, 2005

Paavo Järvi is back for his fifth season with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. While it's not exactly "classical lite," this year's programs are definitely user-friendly. There's a generous dose of music you can hum (concerts of all-Beethoven, all-Mozart and all-Rachmaninoff). And for the more adventurous, there's the edgy Estonian Erkki-Sven Tuur.

Järvi says it's difficult to choose just one favorite program, but some highlights are Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, the CSO debut of the French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, and Bartók's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta. He is especially looking forward to the jazz-inspired program with Wayne Marshall, which promises to "be very fresh and fun."

If 24 different programs leave you clueless about what to sample, here are 10 picks for the coming season, which starts Friday.

A blast of Beethoven, Sept. 16-17 - Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, "Choral," is one of the most thrilling works ever written. Paavo Järvi conducts this all-Beethoven program. An excellent cast of opera stars - including hometown favorite Stanford Olsen - joins the May Festival Chorus in the famous "Ode to Joy."

A musical giant, Sept. 30-Oct. 1 - She may be petite, but Xian Zhang, 31, is making a name for herself as a dynamo on the podium. The former faculty member at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, now associate conductor at the New York Philharmonic, conducts music by her Chinese countrywoman Chen Yi and Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition."

A toast to Kunzel, Oct. 7-8 - You can bet there will be lots of fanfare when Pops conductor Erich Kunzel celebrates 40 years in Cincinnati. Opera diva Frederica von Stade performs Brahms' "Alto Rhapsody."

A long way from Woodward High, Dec. 2-3 - Grammy-winning Richard Stoltzman, one of the best clarinetists in the world (and a Woodward High grad) returns under the animated baton of Japanese conductor Junichi Hirokami.

Look ma, one hand, Jan. 13-14 - French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard is soloist in Ravel's difficult Piano Concerto for Left Hand. And Järvi conducts two beautiful works that aren't heard that often - Britten's "Four Sea Interludes" from his opera "Peter Grimes" and Hindemith's "Mathis der Maler" (Mathis the Painter).

It's an enigma, Jan. 19-21 - Don't know a trombone from a clarinet? Järvi leads "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra," by Benjamin Britten, and American pianist Garrick Ohlsson plays Schumann's Piano Concerto in A Minor. Oh, yeah, there's also Edward Elgar's famous "Enigma" Variations.

Bad boys and warhorses, Feb. 9, 11 - Maestro William Eddins returns with American music by Aaron Jay Kernis ("Musica celestis" is a beautiful piece) and "bad boy" George Antheil. You'll love Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 (the warhorse) with Jon Kimura Parker.

Brother-sister act, March 3-4 - Don't miss top-notch violinist Christian Tetzlaff and his sister, cellist Tanja Tetzlaff, when they play Brahms' "Double" Concerto. Järvi conducts Schumann's lyrical Symphony No. 3, "Rhenish."

Happy Birthday, Mozart, April 7-8 - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart would be 250 years old. Maestro Jaime Laredo, a local favorite, returns to conduct Mozart's first and last symphonies, and pianist Benjamin Hochman takes a turn with Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-flat Major, K. 271.

All that jazz, April 21-23 - Järvi's jazz concert includes Kurt Weill's Suite from "The Threepenny Opera"; Bernstein's "Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs" (original jazz version) and Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue." Jazz pianist Wayne Marshall and the symphony's principal clarinetist, Richie Hawley, add a few riffs of their own.

IF YOU GO

What: Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, "Choral," Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Järvi, conductor; Camilla Tilling, soprano; Jane Gilbert, mezzo-soprano; Stanford Olsen, tenor; Stephen Powell, bass; May Festival Chorus, Robert Porco, director
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine
Tickets: $18.50-$76.75; $10 students. (513) 381-3300; www.cincinnatisymphony.org

SYMPHONY BY THE NUMBERS

• 2 Number of albums the symphony will record for Telarc: A British disc with Britten's "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" and Elgar's "Enigma" Variations and a Rachmaninoff album.
• 5 Number of Thursday-night concerts with free buffet dinners
• 5 Price ($5) of a children's ticket (ages 6-18) for Sunday afternoon concerts
• 5 Number of seasons under Paavo Järvi
• 9 Piano soloists
• 10 Guest conductors
• 14 Concerts Järvi conducts
• 15 Guest artist debuts
• 17 Premieres, eight by living composers
• 0 Years since Erich Kunzel made his Cincinnati Symphony debut
• 111 Number of Cincinnati Symphony seasons so far
• 235 People onstage for Beethoven's Ninth (150 May Festival Chorus singers; 84 musicians; 1 Järvi)

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra season highlights

Janelle Gelfand writes of the upcoming season in today's Cincinnati Enquirer:

Best deal: Free buffet dinner served in the Music Hall Ballroom before Thursday night concerts. First one: Nov. 17. Paavo Järvi leads Kodaly's "Concerto for Orchestra"; Bartok's "Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta" and Grieg's Incidental Music from "Peer Gynt."

Järvi specialty: Discover Sibelius when Järvi conducts Symphony No. 7, a cool Nordic soundscape by the Finnish composer (Sept. 23-24). Greek violin virtuoso Leonidas Kavakos should add some heat in Brahms' Violin Concerto in D Major.

Magnificent Mahler: Järvi leads Mahler's massive Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, "Resurrection," March 10-11. Joining, of course, is the magnificent May Festival Chorus.

Most cutting edge: Erkki-Sven Tuur's "Insula deserta" starts lyrically and grows to screeching cries. To contrast, Bartok's Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Stewart Goodyear at the piano) is richly tuneful. Järvi wraps it up with Shostakovich's Symphony No. 6, a piece that is both desolate and exuberant, written as war clouds were gathering for World War II (March 16, 18).

Piece of the Rach: Rachminoff, that is. Northern Kentucky University star pianist Anna Polusmiak plays Rachmaninoff's ultra-romantic "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" on this all-Rachmaninoff program led by Järvi, April 27-29.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Dvorák: Symphony No. 9/Martinu: Symphony No. 2


Paavo's newest recording with the Cincinnati Symphony, Dvorák's Symphony No. 9 (From the New World) coupled with Martinu's Symphony No. 2, (Telarc CD-80616 and SACD-60616) is set for official release on September 27, 2005. If you can't wait that long, the CD/SACD will be available for sale at Music Hall during the season opening concert weekend and Paavo will be on hand in the lobby to sign a copy for you after the Friday and Saturday night performances.

You may also listen to audio clips or place an advance order through Amazon.com by clicking here.

CD REVIEW: Dvořák/Martinů

Here's the first review of PJ and the CSO's new CD (from ClassicsToday.com--and it's a rave!

ANTONIN DVORÁK
Symphony No. 9 "From the New World"
BOHUSLAV MARTINU
Symphony No. 2

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Paavo Järvi
Telarc- CD-80616(CD)

Reference Recording - Dvorák: Bernstein (Sony); Harnoncourt (Warner)

rating:
Artistic Quality 10/Sound Quality 10


This is a terrific disc, and as with this team's previous coupling of Sibelius and Tubin, the repertoire selection increases its value considerably. Paavo Järvi's New World Symphony isn't as physically exciting as Bernstein's (Sony) or Harnoncourt's, but it's supremely well played and conducted--not to mention recorded. Timpani are rock-solid, with the cannon-volleys in the scherzo thrilling in their impact. Järvi also (happily) pays an unusual amount of attention to the bottom of the orchestra. Trombones, rather than trumpets, dominate the coda of the first movement, as well they should since they have the tune. In the scherzo, this is one of the few performances after Klemperer's that lets you hear the principal theme in all of its various imitative entries, including the crucial one in the lower strings during the first big tutti. In short, this really is how the piece ought to sound, and it's amazing how often details such as these are overlooked or ignored.

Interpretively, Järvi proves himself supremely self-assured and convincing. Listen to how well he slows down for the first movement's second subject, then gets back to the allegro tempo. On the other hand, he very wisely refuses to slow down for the scherzo's secondary theme and trio section, sustaining the rhythmic energy throughout, and the same applies to the most dangerous spot in the symphony--the second subject of the finale, which almost always bogs down in less sensitive performances. In the Largo, after a gorgeous opening chorale the English horn solo is done about as well as it can be, and the big outburst toward the end is ample, but not exaggerated. There may be details of this or that performance that you prefer to this one, but the level of insight and the quality of the playing is such that it silences criticism.

And the Martinu is just as splendid, perhaps (along with Thomson on Chandos) the best version of this symphony yet committed to disc. In this sunny, lyrical work lasting slightly more than 20 minutes Järvi and his players not only project its perpetually syncopated rhythms without a trace of stiffness, but they always seem to know how to balance Martinu's singing melodies against his very busy accompaniments. This is no easy task in the first movement, with its rippling figuration for strings, harp, and piano that persists for pages at a time. The woodwind solos in the Andante are just marvelous, and the peppy, neo-classical qualities of the scherzo and finale have just the right freshness and verve, without forcing. Martinu's debt to his teacher, Albert Roussel, is particularly evident in these last two movements. Sensationally clean and clear sonics wrap up an irresistible package. Even if you already own 50 or 60 New World symphonies, this disc deserves a home in yours.

--David Hurwitz

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Roll over Beethoven - you're a symphony bobblehead


By Janelle Gelfand
Cincinnati Enquirer, September 7, 2005

For the first time in its 111-year history, the famed Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is selling a bobblehead - none other than Beethoven himself.

The limited edition, $15 model will be sold only to those who attend the season's opening weekend (Sept. 16-17) of Beethoven's Ninth at Music Hall.


And it's not just bobbleheads making news. The CSO is getting hip with temporary tattoos to be applied by volunteers in a Music Hall "tattoo parlor."

"We're trying to snap it up a bit and be edgier," says Carrie Krysanick, the symphony's director of public relations.

The Beethoven bobbleheads are for Beethoven's Ninth, the blockbuster choral symphony (with Cincinnati's May Festival Chorus) to be led by music director Paavo Järvi. It all ties into Krysanick's anything-but-staid opening night slogan: "Get Your Beethoven On!" - which is also the saying on said tattoos.

Just 50 Beethoven bobbleheads will be sold in the symphony's Music Hall gift shop during opening weekend.

Along with Beethoven bobbleheads, listeners will receive free "Get Your Beethoven On!" chocolates after the show. Also in the works: a "Get Your Beethoven On!" T-shirt.


The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra season opens 8 p.m. Sept. 16-17 in Music Hall. Tickets: $18.50-$76.75; $10 students. Information: (513) 381-3300 or www.cincinnatisymphony.org
.

Sandye's Note: I don't know--is it just me? I'd really rather have a PAAVO bobblehead!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Paavo and DKAM Play Bremen and Bonn's Beethoven Festival


Here's your last chance to see Paavo conduct the Deutsche Kammerhilharmonie Bremen until May 2006!

Tuesday, September 6 at 8 pm, Die Glocke, Bremen: on the program: Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor op.125 with the Deutscher Kammerchor, Choir.

Wednesday, September 7 at 8 pm, EWE-Arena, Oldenburg: Bremen Music Festival - on the program: Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor op.125 with the Deutscher Kammerchor, Choir. For tickets click here.

Sunday, September 11 at 8 pm: Beethoven Festival, Beethovenhalle, Bonn; on the program: Ludwig van Beethoven's Overture to Coriolan C minor op.62; Albert Roussel's Symphony No. 3 G minor op.42; Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 C minor op.67. For tickets, click here.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Mozarts früheste Oper erleuchtet Bremen

Thomas Albert, als Geiger und Musikpädagoge Experte für Alte Musik, hat für Bremen ein hochkarätiges Musikfest auf die Beine gestellt

von Tom R. Schulz
DieWelt.de

Am 20. Oktober 1770 schrieb Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart von seiner ersten italienischen Reise einen kleinen Beschwerdebrief an seine Mutter, aus dem klar hervorgeht, daß das Komponieren eben doch ein Handwerk ist: "Meine liebe Mama, ich kann nicht viell schreiben denn die finger thuen sehr weh von so viel Recitativ schreiben: Ich bitte bette die Mama für mich, daß die Oper gut geht, und daß wir dan glücklich wieder beysamm seyn können." Die Schmerzen in den Fingern des 14jährigen Geniemusikers, den der Papst kurz zuvor in Rom mit einem Orden ausgezeichnet hatte, verschwanden bald wieder, und was die Mutter mit ihren Gebeten bewirken sollte, traf ein: Mozarts Oper "Mitridate, Re di Ponto", am zweiten Weihnachtstag 1770 in Bologna uraufgeführt, versetzte das verwöhnte italienische Publikum in Entzücken. Den Weg ins Repertoire fand das Werk nicht, doch jetzt, knapp 235 Jahre später, löste es erneut Begeisterung aus - bei den Salzburger Festspielen in diesem Sommer. Um nachzuprüfen, ob der Salzburger Jubel über Günter Krämers Inszenierung der "Mitridate" gerechtfertigt war, brauchen norddeutsche Opernfans jetzt bloß an die Weser zu reisen, denn ab Sonntag steht das Stück an drei Abenden auf dem Programm des Bremer Musikfestes, das morgen beginnt.

Thomas Albert, als Geiger und Musikpädagoge Experte für Alte Musik, als Erfinder und Intendant des Musikfests Bremen Experte für cleveres Marketing, hatte die Kooperation mit der alten Tante Salzburg schon vor Jahren eingefädelt. Als er von dem Vorhaben erfuhr, man werde zur Feier von Mozarts 250. Geburtstag an der Salzach alle seine Opern aufführen, verabredete Albert mit dem Salzburger Intendanten Peter Ruzicka zwei Koproduktionen. Er ist sehr stolz darauf, daß es ihm nicht nur gelang, für "Mitridate" den in Bremen bestens eingeführten Franzosen Marc Minkowski als Dirigenten durchzusetzen, sondern auch dessen aus lauter Spezialisten für Alte Musik bestehendes Ensemble, Les Musiciens du Louvre. Mozarts "Re Pastore" steht für 2006 auf dem Programm.

In Salzburg gastierten die Künstler unter freiem Himmel; in Bremen hat Albert für sie eine unansehnliche, dafür akustisch aber nach seinen Worten sehr brauchbare Halle ausfindig gemacht, das BLG Forum Überseestadt. Dort wird auch Goran Bregovic seine Version von Georges Bizets "Carmen" dem Musikfest-Publikum vorstellen (16. September). Er hat dem Werk eine saftige Transfusion mit Zigeunerblut verpaßt, nennt es nun "Karmen with A Happy End" und bringt die mit balkanischem Furor aufgeladene Musik mit seiner Wedding & Funeral Band und der Sängerin Vaska Jankovska auf die Bühne. Der Hauptspielort des Musikfests bleibt freilich weiterhin die Glocke. Bis zum 25. September gastieren dort große Namen der Klassikszene wie Ricardo Muti, Barbara Hendricks, Mariao Joao Pires, Gidon Kremer oder die Musica Antiqua Köln. Auch die Lokalmatadore der Bremer Kammerphilharmonie sind dabei, die unter Paavo Järvi unbedingt Beethovens Neunte spielen müssen.

Mit großem Erfolg hat Thomas Albert Partner aus der lokalen Wirtschaft ins Boot geholt, wie überhaupt die Beschaffung von Sponsoren und ihren Geldern zu den Meisterleistungen des sinnenfroh wirkenden, überaus kommunikationsbegabten Intendanten gezählt werden muß. Weit über die Hälfte des Etats (rund 2,8 Millionen Euro) kommt von Gewerbetreibenden, die es sich nicht nehmen ließen, im Programmheft anstelle ordinärer Produkt-Anzeigen wohltönende Bekenntnisse zu ihrem kulturellen Engagement abdrucken zu lassen.

Eine wachsende Neigung zur Landnahme ist auch bei diesem ursprünglich so städtisch ausgerichteten Festival zu beobachten. So gibt es diesmal auch Konzerte in Bremerhaven und Wilhelmshaven, in Cloppenburg und Wildeshausen, in Scheeßel und in Oldenburg. Bahnt sich da etwa ein bremisch-niedersächsisches Musik-Festival an?

Artikel erschienen am Fre, 2. September 2005

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Paavo Interview to Air Today on German Radio's BALTISCHE STUNDE

The German newsletter BALTISCHE STUNDE had this information about a radio interview which Paavo taped a few days ago. It will air in Germany today -- and if you can read German (unlike me!) you may be able to listen to it on the web if you follow the links!

Donnerstag, 1.September 2005, 18.05 - 19.00 Uhr

BALTISCHE STUNDE - die Radiosendung mit baltischen Themen

Direkt aus Bremen - von uns für euch! Infos und Musik aus Estland, Lettland und Litauen. Gespräche und Interviews.

im Radio im Bremern Raum auf UKW 92.5 oder ÜBERALL ZU EMPFANGEN im Internet(auf dieser Seite kann die Audioübertragung oder Webcam angewählt werden).

Schauen Sie uns beim Radiomachen.

Gespräch mit dem estnischen Dirigent Paavo Järvi

Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen zählt heute zu den weltweit führenden Kammerorchestern. In der exklusiven Zusammenarbeit mit dem estnischen Stardirigent Paavo Järvi als Künstlerischem Leiter (seit 2004) will das Orchester in den nächsten Jahren den Beweis antreten, dass dieser Ruf begründet ist.

Gemeinsam mit Paavo Järvi waren im Studio der BALTISCHEN STUNDE zu Gast: Albert Schmitt, Geschäftsführer der Deutschen Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, und Enno Samp, Pressebeauftragter der Kammerphilharmonie.

Die Bremen Kammerphilharmonie hat kürzlich gemeinsam mit Paavo Järvi eine Konzerttournee durch die USA abgeschlossen, und mehrere Konzerte im Ostseeraum gegeben (Baltic Tour), unter anderem zwei Konzerte in Tallinn und Parnu gegeben. Paavo Järvi erzählt im Gespräch mit der BALTISCHEN STUNDE von diesen Konzerten, von seinem Verhältnis zu seinem Heimatland, der Dirigententraition der Familie Järvi, und neuen Projekten mit den Partnern in Bremen.