Monday, November 28, 2005

Estonia...Who Knew?!



Yes, Paavo travels back to his homeland of Estonia this week for a concert in Tallinn. (This concert was originally scheduled to take place in February 2006.)

Surprisingly, my daily blog-searching took me to the Where Is Jennifer travel blog and her fun post about visiting Tallinn, Estonia...Who Knew?!. It features some very cool pictures of the local sites, too.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

CONCERT REVIEW: Um grande concerto e Amílcar Gameiro

I am grateful to journalist Henrique Silveira for providing me with this review of Paavo's Lisbon concert as published in the blog, Crítico. As he wrote in a comment post to the earlier review, "I write in the Portuguese magazine FOCUS (as a critic) and I have a radio show [on] Portuguese national classic radio. I am also a musician. [T]he next day I was [at] the concert too, and I made another [review] about the concert.

"In my opinion the conducter is very professional, serious and musical. He transformed an average orchestra under the direction of the regular conductor, Foster, in[to] a very good, I must say top quality, ensemble."
Depois das tremendas laudas de Rui Lagartinho fui ontem ouvir o Sergei Khachatrian à Fundação Gulbenkian tocar o concerto nº1 de Chostakovitch em lá menor opus 77. A direcção foi de Paavo Järvi,
A primeira, e maior, surpresa foi a orquestra em Searching for Roots de Erkki-Svrn Tüür. Habituado a uma orquestra de 12 a um máximo de 14 valores sob a batuta de Foster encontrei ontem uma orquestra coesa, tecnicamente elevada, sem pontos fracos, sem desafinações, respondendo como uma mola às solicitações de Järvi e aqui tenho de concordar com o que disse Rui Lagartinho neste blogue.

Não acredito que Järvi trabalhe mais do que Foster, o que penso é que trabalhou muito melhor. Em música tempo de qualidade é melhor do que mais tempo, Péskó no S. Carlos com ensaios e mais ensaios nunca passou da cepa torta até que surgiu naturalmente a magnífica notícia de que não dirige no S. Carlos esta temporada, ao contrário do anunciado, e que a história do maestro "honorário" não passou de uma forma de o passar ao quociente mas adiante. Penso que Foster está a cair numa banalidade e rotina que estão a tornar insuportáveis quaisquer concertos dirigidos por si. Järvi provou ontem que a Gulbenkian é uma orquestra sólida que responde bem sob batutas de qualidade.

Veio depois o concerto de Chostakovich para violino e orquestra, uma obra complexa e difícil, muito introspectiva e melancólica nos andamentos lentos (sobretudo na Passacaglia), idiomática nos rápidos:

1. Nocturne: Moderato
2. Scherzo: Allegro
3. Passacaglia: Andante
4. Burlesque: Allegro con brio

Devo dizer que prefiro os andamentos lentos, nos rápidos o compositor russo acaba por repetir algumas fómulas e tornar-se obsessivo no ritmo cortado e muito incisivo que se repete em concertos e sinfonias em muitos dos seus scherzos. O violinista comportou-se de uma forma extraordinária, notei apenas uma quebra da nota final do primeiro andamento e talvez um quase imperceptível toque de stress no scherzo que o fez adiantar ligeiramente algumas entradas, mas sem afectar a coerência da interpretação.

O mais evidente foi a consistência e a sonoridade do violino em todo o concerto. Amadurecido e pensado o concerto foi abordado com uma enorme convicção e uma certeza interpretativa notável. Foi lido como um todo, a separação entre os pontos em que usou vibrato e os pontos em que dispensou o mesmo, sobretudo no primeiro andamento em que a sonoridade surge descarnada quase sempre em piano e pianíssimo mas sempre espessa, foi notável; o violinista conseguiu manter a tensão e o domínio da obra dispensando o vibrato quase totalmente. No entanto, a passacaglia foi, para mim, o momento sublime da interpretação, quer do violino, quer da orquestra. Neste ponto tenho de salientar o tuba Amílcar Gameiro, que tocou de forma maravilhosa em diálogo com o violino, com confiança e serenidade, em passagens de uma beleza admiráveis e inusitadas. Onde se viu um compositor fazer um concerto de violino em que este dialoga com a tuba no andamento mais sereno e introspectivo? Teria de ser Chostakovich a imaginar algures num ponto de equilíbrio fugaz este diálogo impossível. Simplesmente genial pelas frases, pela beleza irreal da melodia. Espantou também Sergei Khachatrian pela produção sonora de uma qualidade absoluta, harmónicos e acordes realizados de forma perfeita e uma afinação perfeita.

Uma interpretação soberba de todos os intervenientes em que o último andamento se tornou quase redundante depois da magistral passacaglia.

Depois deste concerto qualquer extra seria extemporâneo mas foi exigido... pena.

Friday, November 25, 2005

CONCERT REVIEW: maduro...aos vinte!

From the Portuguese blog Crítico comes this review of Paavo's first concert in Lisbon (and according to my somewhat peculiar Babelfished version, it seems to be a real rave!):
Viveu mais um quarto de vida e está de novo em Lisboa.

Sergei Khachatrian, 20 anos, vale a pena perder dois a minutos a soletrar e aprender a dizer o nome do jovem arménio, voltou ao Grande auditório da Gulbenkian para interpretar o concerto nº 1 para Violino de Chostakovitch.

Foi inesquecível. E o público soube distinguir e apaparicar uma interpretação absolutamente excepcional no entendimento do que verdadeiramente está em causa com este concerto escrito a seguir à II Guerra e prudentemente guardado na gaveta até à morte de Estaline, alguns anos depois.

Raramente múica e vida se misturam de uma forma tão assombrosa numa biografia como no caso de Chostakovitch. Só pela postura em palco, tensa, emotiva, se percebe que o jovem violinista percebeu tudo isso.

Rigoroso e inventivo absolutamente certeiro do princípio ao fim.

Parece ter estudado este concerto ao longo de vinte e cinco anos. Ou seja em bom rigor parece ter começado a ler esta partitura cinco anos antes de nascer.

Nada de excessos, rodriguinhos, tiques, piscadelas de olho, inclinações de tronco.

Sólido como o mais sólido dos carvalhos centenários.

Nota-se quando a Orquestra Gulbenkian trabalha com gosto. Nota-se que o maestro Paavo jarvi é um verdadeiro líder.

Uma lufada de ar fresco para quem assiste às escorregadelas semanais do titular Foster cada vez mais a dirigir à "La Scimone". Ou seja, a deixar correr o marfim, numa época em que ainda por cima rareia o tráfico de tal material. Pode tirar todas as teimas esta tarde. Provavelmente o "meu" concerto do ano.

Rui Lagartinho, jornalista da RTP

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

2005 Corbett Awards Announced

Best of the arts; 2005 Post-Corbett Awards honor excellence
By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Cincinnati Post, November 22, 2005

Excerpt:
Special awards shared the spotlight with the winners of the 2005 Post-Corbett Awards Monday evening in the ballroom of the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington....

Nearly 500 guests attended. the ceremony, held since 1975 (now biennially). Cincinnati jazz singer/arts educator Kathy Wade, winner of a 1993 Post-Corbett Award, was mistress of ceremonies. Host was Mike Philipps, editor of The Cincinnati Post and The Kentucky Post, who announced the special awards with Corbett Foundation executive director Karen McKim.

In accepting his Lifetime Achievement award, Johns, assistant principal cellist of the Cincinnati Symphony and its only African-American for most of his 30 years with the orchestra, spoke of the "good old days when all of the schools had the arts" and of their relevance to the modern world.

"There are 100 musicians onstage at Music Hall and it's always amazing to me how one man can give a downbeat and it's there. There's an empathy we have with the spirit of music, and that's how our society needs to start thinking, to find a way to experience that togetherness."


"I am so grateful for this city and its opportunities," said Lifetime Achievement winner Petersen, who moved here from Utah 40 years ago and found rich soil for her efforts on behalf of the arts. Her work has benefited the CSO and Pops, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Society for the Preservation of Music Hall and the proposed Greater Cincinnati Arts and Education Center....

Conductor Paul Stanbery of the Hamilton-Fairfield Symphony and Chorale took the Performing Artist award for his grass roots and educational activities, including fostering contemporary works and directing the Greater Miami Youth Orchestra. "It's a great honor to even be mentioned in the same breath with Paavo Järvi, successor to Stokowski, Reiner and Max Rudolf," said the visibly moved Stanbery (CSO music director Järvi was co-finalist)....

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Richard A. Boehne, executive vice president of E. W. Scripps, The Post's parent company, invited the crowd back to the next awards in 2007. Named in honor of arts patron Patricia Corbett and her late husband J. Ralph Corbett, the Post-Corbett Awards recognize those who contribute to the culture of our area.

Paavo's in Portugal



Oh, yes, he is and for the first time, too! This week Paavo will lead the orchestra of the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon in two concerts, Thursday, November 24, and Friday, November 25.

On the program this week: Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1 with guest artist Sergei Khachatrian and Bruckner's Symphony No. 3. "The violinist, who is a prize-winner and laureate of many international competitions, currently resides in Germany. Recently, Sergei Khachatrian was awarded with the first prize of the Queen Elizabeth prestigious competition in Brussels, and obtained the right for four years to perform on Stradivarius Hagins violin."

And, oh, dear me -- here's a page I just discovered which seems to indicate that an unknown Erkki-Sven Tuur piece has now been added to the program! I'll try to find out what it is between now and the concerts...

TELEFONE
217823700
LOCAL
Lisboa, Fundação e Museu Calouste Gulbenkian - Av. Berna, 45A
HORARIOS
De 24-11-2005 a 25-11-2005
Quinta às 21h00
Sexta às 19h00
PREÇO
20€ (1ª plateia); 17,5€ (2ª plateia); 10€ (balcão).


UPDATE: The Erkki-Sven Tuur piece is Searching for Roots. I wonder if this is the first time his work has been performed in Portugal.

Click here for more information about Paavo's recording of Searching for Roots.

Monday, November 21, 2005

CSO names Coleman composer-in-residence


Paavo with Charles Coleman after the World Premiere of "Streetscape", September 2001

By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Cincinnati Post, November 21, 2005

The last time composer Charles Coleman came to Cincinnati was the day after 9-11.

The staff of the Cincinnati Symphony had been unable to contact him and was uncertain of his fate, since he lived in the shadow of the World Trade Center.

With all flights grounded, the 32-year-old New Yorker headed west by car, arriving safely for the world premiere of his "Streetscape" by music director Paavo Järvi and the CSO on Jarvi's inaugural concert on Sept. 14, 2001, at Music Hall.

Coleman will return to Cincinnati next season as composer-in-residence with the CSO. He will spend five weeks here as a participant in the "Music Alive" residency program sponsored by the American Symphony Orchestra League and Meet the Composer (national service organization for composers).

During that time, he will compose a work for Järvi and the CSO, to be premiered during the 2006-07 season, work with the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra, visit area schools and serve as an advocate for new music in the community.

"We knew we wanted to work together again in the near future. We just didn't know how we were going to do it," said Coleman, by phone from New York where he still lives "five blocks above where the Trade Center used to be."

The impetus to apply for the residency came from the CSO.

"Julie Eugenio (CSO manager of artistic planning) gave me a ring and said, 'What about this Music Alive thing? Do you have any scores and recordings you can lend me?' We decided to pursue it and it paid off. I am very excited about it," he said.

Coleman, 36, is one of seven composers selected by the ASOL and Meet the Composer for two to five-week residencies with American orchestras next season.

Although the precise timing of his visit is to be determined, it will have three phases spread through the season:

Theme and variations project with the CSYO.

CSO Young People's Concert and in-school visits.

CSO premiere.

The theme and variations project recalls CSO music director Eugene Goossens' 1945 "Jubilee" Variations. To celebrate the CSO's golden jubilee season, Goossens wrote a theme and submitted it to 10 composers, each of whom wrote variations (you can hear Aaron Copland's contribution performed by Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops on their 1987 all-Copland disc for Telarc).

The Youth Orchestra led by CSO assistant conductor Eric Dudley will play and study "Jubilee" Variations. Orchestra members will be given a theme by Coleman and asked to write variations on it, after which the work will be performed.

During the second phase of his residency, Coleman will visit four of the CSO's "Sound Discoveries" partner schools, where he will speak to classes from grades 1-6 on composing music. He will participate in an onstage presentation as part of a CSO Young People's Concert for grades 4-6 at Music Hall, to include the U.S. premiere of Coleman's "The Lime Factory" (2003).

The third phase will consist of the world premiere and a demonstration to the CSO board of trustees, with participation by Järvi and members of the CSO, of a living composer's approach to creating musical textures.

During his visits, Coleman also will present master classes and be the guest speaker for "Classical Conversations" preceding CSO concerts.

The world premiere is still in the planning stages, he said, but will be "generally, a 15-minute work to be the opening piece on a concert."

"The Lime Factory" is "very percussive and energetic," a musical interpretation of a steel-making factory, inspired by a photograph of an abandoned lime factory at dusk.

Born in 1968 in New York City, Charles Farmer Coleman (civil rights leader James Farmer was his godfather) got his start singing in the Metropolitan Opera children's chorus. A kind of operatic child star, he sang Feodor (son of the czar) in Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov" at the Met in 1982. He earned his master's degree in composition at the Manhattan School of Music, where he met Kristjan Järvi (Paavo Järvi's younger brother).

In 1997, he became composer-in-residence of the Absolute Ensemble, a jazz/rock/classical music ensemble founded by Kristjan Järvi in 1993.

Coleman's works have been performed on the ensemble's recordings, including "Absolution," nominated for a Grammy for "Best Small Ensemble Classical Recording" in 2001.

He also does orchestrations for Absolute. "Over the past year, we did a series of concerts called 'Absolute Zappa' in which we did about 20 songs, nearly half of which I orchestrated."

A continual frustration for composers is getting performances after the world premiere, he said, though "Streetscape" has been a happy exception.

"Paavo did it with the San Francisco Symphony (2002) and again in Cincinnati and in Japan (2003). But the big, definitive thing for me was that it got performed about a year ago in Latvia (by the Riga Festival Orchestra). That came out of nowhere.

"The great thing about that was it was not only a different orchestra, but a different conductor than the one who commissioned it. That the piece has a life beyond its initial world premiere - for a living composer to witness this is quite astonishing."

Chicago Symphony Repertoire Now Confirmed

Paavo returns to conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall April 11, 13, 14, and 15, 2006. The "Chicago's Choice: A Theodore Thomas Tradition" program will consist of: Sibelius's Finlandia; Brahms's Variations on a Theme by Haydn; Smetana's The Moldau from My Country; and Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 (From the New World).

Sunday, November 20, 2005

It Pays to Blog Around!



Oh, my goodness! Look what I just turned up: one of the most gorgeous pictures I've ever seen of the young maestro from the Portuguese BLOG OÁSIS: Este é o seu Espaço de Arte! Musica, Pintura, Escultura,etc...

Sábado, Novembro 19, 2005
Paavo Jarvi Maestro

Vencedor de um Grammy, Paavo Järvi é um dos maestros da actualidade mais solicitados internacionalmente. Nascido em Tallinn, na Estónia, estudou percussão e direcção de orquestra na Escola de Música da sua cidade natal. Em 1980 viajou para os Estados Unidos da América, onde continuou os seus estudos no Curtis Institute of Music de Filadélfia e no Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute, com Leonard Bernstein.
Paavo Järvi foi nomeado Director Musical da Orquestra Sinfónica de Cincinnati em Setembro de 2001, tendo recentemente renovado o seu vínculo contratual até à temporada 2008-2009. Durante os últimos quatro anos, realizou com esta orquestra extensas digressões na América do Norte, na Europa e no Japão.A partir da temporada 2006-2007, Paavo Järvi será Director Musical da Orquestra Sinfónica da Rádio de Frankfurt. Desempenha também a liderança artística da Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Dresden e é consultor artístico da Orquestra Sinfónica Nacional da Estónia. É também conhecido por apresentar com regularidade muitas obras de compositores estónios, incluindo Arvo Pärt, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Lepo Sumera e Eduard Tubin. Anteriormente, foi Maestro Convidado Principal da Filarmónica Real de Estocolmo e da City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Muito solicitado como maestro convidado, Paavo Järvi apresenta-se com regularidade à frente das mais importantes orquestras, como a Philharmonia Orchestra, a Filarmónica da Radio France, a Filarmónica de Munique, a Sinfónica da Rádio da Baviera, a Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, a Orquestra de Paris, a Orquestra do Real Concertgebouw e as Sinfónicas de Boston, Chicago, Nova Iorque, Los Angeles e Filadélfia. Na presente temporada, estreia-se com a Sinfónica de Londres, dirige um concerto no Festival de Saint-Denis, com a Orquestra Nacional de França, e realiza digressões na Alemanha, com a Staatskapelle Dresden, e no Japão, com a Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Dresden, incluindo a interpretação de um ciclo dedicado às sinfonias de Beethoven.

O trabalho com orquestras juvenis constituiu uma das prioridades de Paavo Järvi, tendo no verão de 2004 dirigido a Orquestra Juvenil da União Europeia numa digressão aos Estados Bálticos, a qual marcou a entrada destes países na União Europeia. Dirigiu a Orquestra Juvenil de Verbier, em digressão e no Festival de Verbier. Trabalhou também com a Orquestra Juvenil Russa e Americana, em Moscovo, a Orquestra de Câmara Gustav Mahler, em Ferrara, e a Sinfónica do Novo Mundo, em Miami.A discografia de Paavo Järvi para a EMI/Virgin Classics inclui um disco das Cantatas de Sibelius, vencedor de um Grammy, e as suites para orquestra Peer Gynt, de Grieg, ambas as gravações com a Orquestra Sinfónica Nacional da Estónia. Com a Sinfónica de Cincinnati, gravou vários CDs para a Telarc, incluindo obras de Ravel, Berlioz, Sibelius, Prokofiev, Tubin, Stravinsky, Debussy, Dvorák e Martinú. Após o lançamento do CD dedicado a Richard Strauss e Stravinsky, com a Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Dresden, encontra-se em preparação uma integral das sinfonias de Beethoven, com esta mesma orquestra.

07 Novembro 2005

Friday, November 18, 2005

CONCERT REVIEW: Jarvi, Symphony excel with Grieg, Bartok

By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Cincinnati Post, November 18, 2005

There was a stealth premiere by Paavo Järvi and the Cincinnati Symphony on Thursday night at Music Hall - Incidental Music from Grieg's "Peer Gynt."

"In the Hall of the Mountain King" and "Morning Song," two of the best known excerpts in classical music, CSO premieres?

Not per se, granted, but the compilation by Järvi - 10 of the 26 numbers Grieg wrote for Ibsen's play, plus "Bridal Procession," a Grieg piano piece orchestrated by Johan Halvorsen - was.

Making it even fresher was CSO violinist Paul Patterson, who performed the violin solos on a genuine, mother-of-pearl-inlaid "hardanger" fiddle.


It made for a delightful second half to the program, which also included a real CSO premiere, Zoltan Kodaly's Concerto for Orchestra (1941), and Bartok's 1936 Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta - a premiere, perhaps, for younger members of the audience, since it hasn't been performed by the CSO since 1984 (and only once before that, in 1959).

One of the composer's greatest works, the Bartok teemed with color and drama in Järvi's hands.

The opening Andante tranquillo was a masterpiece of timing and dynamics, a sinuous fugue snaking softly through divided strings to a fortissimo peak, then unwinding in contrary motion into muted fragments, which coalesced in a soft unison at the end.

The second movement (Allegro) was like music for a rumble, with buoyant rhythms, swarming runs and forceful timpani (Richard Jensen).

Following was a ghostly Adagio, a passing parade of eerie sounds, from Bill Platt's calibrated xylophone and icy glissandos (strings, piano, harp and celesta) to concertmaster Timothy Lees' high, wandering solo.

The kick-up-your-heels finale was earthy and good-humored, pianist Michael Chertock playing chase with the violins at one point.

The work's opening theme gushed up in full harmonic dress near the end to bell-like accompaniment in the celesta (Heather MacPhail), then ended with a bang.

"Peer Gynt" is a kind of Nordic "Rake's Progress" about a self-indulgent young man who wreaks havoc on those around him, learns his lessons on the road, then returns home, sadder and wiser, to the woman (Solveig) who has loved him all along. Järvi's version included all eight numbers from the two well-known "Peer Gynt" Suites arranged in roughly chronological order.

He saved the saddest and most telling number, "Ase's Death," for last, though Ase (Peer's mother) dies earlier in the play.

Järvi is an absolute master of this repertoire so it was an occasion to drink in pure sonic pleasure. The characters bowed in "At the Wedding," a bright, bustling number with shy Solveig's theme enclosed and Peer himself in the guise of the fiddle.

Patterson took a position next to the percussion rather than offstage (as Grieg directed) where the smaller sound of the folk fiddle might not have projected in Music Hall. He played with a convincing swagger, coaxing the distinctive ring from the resonating strings beneath the instrument's fingerboard and giving a real "kick" to the music.

"Ingrid's Lament" throbbed with pain, but of the acute kind - Järvi saved the true threnody for Ase - while "The Dance of the Mountain King's Daughter" had a real rustic beat.

He built the CSO to a frenzy in "In the Hall of the Mountain King," though I missed the troll chorus (hear that on Järvi's Virgin Classics CD with the Estonian National Orchestra). And "Morning Song" brought smiles of recognition to the audience.

The gentle, sylph-like "Anitra's Dance" signaled Peer's undoing, followed by a heartfelt, tugging "Solveig's Song."

The CSO brass shone in the storm-tossed "Peer's Homecoming" which was followed almost without a break by "Ase's Death," where Järvi took a long moment at the end before dropping his hands.


The opening Kodaly, an easily accessible work with dance-like vitality and lush melody, showed off the CSO in all its colors.

Paavo Järvi leitet das hr-Sinfonieorchester in der Alten Oper Frankfurt

Bach/Webern, Nielsen und ein Beethoven-Klavierkonzert mit Olli Mustonen, 16.11.2005

Es ist das erste Konzert des hr-Sinfonieorchesters unter Leitung von Paavo Järvi als designiertem Chefdirigenten von der kommenden Saison an. Die Konzerte am Donnerstag, 8. Dezember (Jugendkonzert – 19.30 Uhr), und Freitag, 9. Dezember, 20 Uhr, stehen unter dem Motto „Über allen zeitbestimmten Geschmack erhaben“. Denn die Werke sind ebenso „klassisch“ wie einzigartig: Weberns Orchestrierung von Bachs Ricercare a 6, Beethovens 3. Klavierkonzert mit dem herausragenden finnischen Pianisten Olli Mustonen und Carl Nielsens 6. Sinfonie. Das Jugendkonzert wird moderiert. Freitags gibt es um 19 Uhr im Großen Saal wieder die Konzerteinführung „Musik im Gespräch", diesmal mit Paavo Järvi. hr2 sendet das Freitagskonzert live.

Mit Paavo Järvi, der die nächsten Spielzeiten des hr-Sinfonieorchesters künstlerisch prägen wird, verbindet das Orchester bereits eine langjährige hervorragende Zusammenarbeit. Konzertbesucher und hr2-Hörer mit weniger bekannten Komponisten aus dem nördlichen Europa, wie beispielsweise Carl Nielsen, bekannt zu machen, ist eines der erklärten Ziele des gebürtigen Esten aus legendärer Musikerfamilie. Olli Mustonen stand schon häufig als Solist an seiner Seite, wie zum Beispiel im letzten Jahr bei den Salzburger Festspielen. „Jede Aufführung muss eine Premiere sein“, ist das Credo des gefragten Pianisten, der zudem auch Dirigent, Komponist und Festivalgründer ist. Mustonen war zuletzt im Frühjahr 2002 zu Gast beim hr-Sinfonieorchester.

Weberns Orchesterfassung von Bachs Ricercare a 6 (aus dem „Musikalischen Opfer“ BWV 1079) gilt als eines seiner genialsten Werke. Die Melodien wan-dern von einem Instrument zum anderen und erzeugen einen faszinierenden Klangwechsel. Es ist eine „erhabene“ Musik, die Jahrhunderte zwischen Bach und Webern überbrückt. Weit über seine Zeit hinaus wirkte Beethovens 3. Klavierkonzert. Es war der Prototyp des sinfonischen Konzerts mit neuen Formideen, und es atmete bereits die Welt der „Eroica“. Dem Dänen Nielsen dagegen gelang in seiner 6. Sinfonie ein Werk von neuer Einfachheit, getragen von dem Ziel einer unkomplizierter Freude am reinen Klang.

Karten zwischen 12,50 und 44 Euro (Jugendkonzertkarten: 12,50 Euro) sind unter anderem erhältlich beim hr-Ticketcenter (Telefon 069/155-2000).

Hessischer Rundfunk / Kommunikation
Postfach
60222 Frankfurt am Main
Bertramstraße 8
60320 Frankfurt am Main
Telefon (069) 1 55-4549
Fax (069) 1 55-2126
bschulz@hr-online.de
www.presse.hr-online.de

CONCERT REVIEW: Järvi's approach to 'Peer Gynt' glows

By Janelle Gelfand
Cincinnati Enquirer, November 18, 2005

Grieg's music to "Peer Gynt," including the famous "In the Hall of the Mountain King," is familiar to most - if only from Warner Bros. cartoons. But you've never heard it performed as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra did Thursday night under Paavo Järvi.

Järvi's own compilation of Grieg's incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's play, "Peer Gynt," formed half of Thursday's all-orchestral program in Music Hall. The captivating performance included the authentic touch of a "Hardanger fiddle," a folk violin from the region of the Hardanger Fjord.

With a Hungarian first half - Kodaly's Concerto for Orchestra and Bartok's spectacular Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta - it was an evening of nationalistic music that showed off the virtuosity of the orchestra.


Peer Gynt was a mythical Norwegian figure, a drunken womanizer whose adventures included kidnapping a bride, sleeping with the Troll-King's daughter and taking a harem. All of this, of course, broke the hearts of sweet Solveig, who loved him regardless, and his poor mother.

Järvi succeeded in pulling together a stunning suite from 26 numbers - 90 minutes - of music. (Incidentally, Järvi's Virgin Classics recording of "Peer Gynt" with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and singers is ravishing.)

The opening scene, "At the Wedding," was a vivid canvas of songful melodies and lusty folk rhythms. Violinist Paul Patterson's flamboyant solos on the Hardanger fiddle added flourish, including some impressive left-hand pizzicatos.

The music was full of drama and imagery. "In the Hall of the Mountain King" was cloaked in mystery, as Järvi stretched the beginning and gradually accelerated to a spectacular climax of brass and timpani. The sunrise music that followed had a sumptuous, glowing sound.

The musicians responded with precision and wonderfully emotional playing. Some of the most revelatory numbers were the lesser known ones: a sensuous "Arabian Dance" and a buoyant, slightly nostalgic "Anitra's Dance."


The evening opened with the orchestra's first performance of Kodaly's Concerto for Orchestra, premiered by the Chicago Symphony in 1941. Both folkloric and urbane, it pitted celebratory brass flourishes and busy themes against poignant, romantic moods, including a soulful clarinet solo (Jonathan Gunn).

Bartok's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta is one of the great orchestral canvases of the 20th century. Järvi's seating arrangement split the string sections on either side of the podium, putting the cellos in back, for full antiphonal effect.

The sonic effect was interesting - but the performance was electrifying. The winding, chromatic fugue that opened the work had a haunting color; the second movement, a scherzo, was energized, and included a tour de force of cascades of scales.

Go to this one.


The concert repeats at 11 am today and 8 pm Saturday. (513) 381-3300.

E-mail jgelfand@enquirer.com

Thursday, November 17, 2005

CSO visits land of the fjords

By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Cincinnati Post, November 17, 2005

The trolls will be out at Music Hall tonight and it isn't even Halloween.

Cincinnati Symphony music director Paavo Järvi takes his listeners on a custom visit to the land of fjords at 7:30 p.m. tonight, 11 a.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday at Music Hall.

Järvi has prepared his own version (a CSO premiere) of Grieg's Incidental Music for "Peer Gynt." Featured artist is CSO violinist Paul Patterson, who will perform the fiddle solos in the opening numbers on a genuine Norwegian hardanger fiddle.

Also on the program are one of Bartok's greatest works, Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, and fellow Hungarian Zoltan Kodaly's Concerto for Orchestra.

Tickets are $17.75-$73.75, $10 for students, at (513) 381-3300. Admission for tonight's concert includes complimentary pre-concert buffet at 6:15. Also tonight, CSO Encore, the orchestra's young adult support group, hosts its first "Meet the Artists" event of the season. For $30, you get the buffet, the concert and a post-concert party. Call (513) 744-3590.

All Orchestral Weekend!

Alright, Cincinnati, here's your last chance to hear Paavo conduct the Cincinnati Symphony until the new year! And this week, there are no special guest artists visiting -- just our magnificent CSO playing their hearts out for us. What more could we ask?

Also, this week's schedule is a little different. Thursday night brings back the popular complimentary pre-concert buffet dinner in the beautiful Music Hall Ballroom (doors open at 6:15 pm), preceding the early 7:30 pm curtain time. Friday is one of the orchestra's rare morning concerts, beginning at 11 am. And Saturday, we're back to basics with the traditional 8 pm concert.

This week's program features KODÁLY's Concerto for Orchestra; BARTÓK's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta; and GRIEG's Incidental Music from Peer Gynt. Get your Program Notes here!
Listen to Paavo's Notes about these concerts. This concert will air via streaming audio on classical radio WGUC-FM (90.9) on Sunday, February 5, 2006 at 7:30 pm ET.

OOPS! We almost forgot! If you'd like to check out Paavo's recent recording of the Peer Gynt Suite with the Estonian National Symphony and soloists Peter Matthei (what a *hot* Don Giovanni he made several years ago when he appeared at the Cincinnati Opera!) and Charlotte Hellekant, click here to visit Amazon.com!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Symphony veteran takes on folk fiddle


Violinist Paul Patterson

By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Cincinnati Post, November 15, 2005

Violinist Paul Patterson has been a soloist with the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras many times.

But usually not on the violin.

A member of the CSO second violin section, the Clifton resident has played mandolin with the CSO and five-string banjo, bouzouki and guitar for the Pops. He is heard on more than 30 CSO and Pops recordings.

This week he will step out on his primary instrument.

Literally. As fiddle soloist in Incidental Music from Grieg's "Peer Gynt," he will begin offstage, then walk on and play from a position next to the percussion section.


The concerts, to be led by CSO music director Paavo Järvi, are at 7:30 pm Thursday, 11 am Friday and 8 pm Saturday at Music Hall.

Järvi's version of "Peer Gynt" (a CSO premiere) uses 11 of the 26 numbers Grieg wrote for the Ibsen play, arranged in roughly chronological order. The two oft-heard suites comprise only four numbers each, without regard to chronology.

Also on the program are Bartok's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta and the Concerto for Orchestra by Zoltan Kodaly.

Patterson will play an authentic hardanger fiddle owned by composer/folk musician Grey Larsen.

Named for the region around Hardanger fjord, the hardanger fiddle is the national instrument of Norway. Slightly smaller than a violin and intricately decorated, it has two sets of strings, the ones upon which the violinist plays and a row of "sympathetic" strings beneath the fingerboard.

Larsen's fiddle, made in 1979 by Janne Danielssonn in Sweden, has four sympathetic and four principal strings. The body of the instrument (spruce and maple) is ornamented with leafy pen and ink drawings. The ebony fingerboard and tailpiece are inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and the scroll is a carved dragon like those on the prows of Viking ships.

"It has a very distinctive sound," said Patterson, "much more hollow and resonant than Italian violins, which have a center to them like a voice. I would call it haunting. When you get this interaction with the resonating strings underneath, it rings more."


Grieg's score contains his most familiar and popular music, including "In the Hall of the Mountain King" and "Morning Song." The fiddle solos - usually played by the concertmaster and principal violist in lieu of a fiddle - symbolize the rakish Peer, whose adventures take him from the land of the trolls to Arabia and back.

A native of Clifton and a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Patterson is celebrating his 20th season with the CSO. He has been a versatile musician from youth.

"My mom was a very fine pianist. Everybody in my family (six kids) took piano, then switched to violin, viola or cello at about nine. My parents had an idea that music education was important to the general workings of the mind. I went to the symphony since I was 5."

Patterson's father, a UC geology professor, was the folk influence. "He was self taught (on accordion) and loved music. When I was 13, I bought a banjo, a mandolin, a guitar and we got a sitar. Also an electric violin. I've been playing all sorts of stuff and making recordings forever." (Patterson plays jazz violin with the Faux Frenchmen Monday evenings at Tink's restaurant in Clifton.)

Patterson and Larsen grew up in Clifton and were in a band called Melange at Walnut Hills High School. "We were certainly a mixture. We did folk, Renaissance, bluegrass, country, rock and roll. Grey went to Oberlin and got a composition degree."

After CCM, Patterson played jazz violin for about a year with bassist David Friesen and guitarist John Stowell. "We toured the West to the East Coast, hitting various jazz clubs."

At the end of the year, he and his wife Sylvia Mitchell, also a violinist, heard about openings at the CSO.

"She got a job (in the first violin section). Then a year later, I got one."

The couple met playing strolling violin.

"We were at CCM and were hired to play the same gig. It was the opening of 'Romeo and Juliet' at the Playhouse in the Park. We were hired separately by people who didn't know each one had hired somebody. We played together and that was it."

The two are a familiar duo locally. They will play banjo and fiddle in a piece by Raymond McLain (arranged by Mitchell) on a CSO Young People's Concert Nov. 29 at Music Hall.

The hardanger fiddle is designed for "fast response," said Patterson. "It's got a short string length so it's smaller and easier for your hand. My regular symphony violin has a big dynamic range so it has more resistance and you push more effort into it to make it louder."

However, hardanger fiddlers make much greater use of polyphony, i.e. playing more than one line simultaneously. The instrument has a flatter bridge and fingerboard to make this easier.

"I'm sure Paavo wants the guts of the folk fiddle feel and that's what I'm going for," said Patterson. "I like to play American fiddle music and it has to have some kick to it."

Playing hardanger fiddle is a tradition in Norway going back 300 years. "Along with it comes the whole of Norwegian culture," he said.


To view the "tip of the iceberg," visit the Hardanger Fiddle Association of America at www.hfaa.org.

Paul Patterson plays hardanger fiddle in Grieg's "Peer Gynt" with Paavo Järvi and the CSO at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday at Music Hall. For tickets, call (513) 381-3300, or order online at www.cincinnatisymphony.org.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Symphony attendance, Music Hall and the Banks

From Janelle Gelfand's Classical Music blog in the Cincinnati Enquirer (11/13/05):
How great it was to see nearly 400 kids for "College Nite" at the symphony Friday night. Clearly, the Cincinnati Symphony has struggled this season to fill the 3,400-seat Music Hall, week after week, night after night.

In particular, symphony attendance the past few weeks has looked especially dismal. The orchestra is considering, in fact, "downsizing" Music Hall to be smaller for symphony concerts, by closing off parts of the hall or pushing the stage out to the center of the hall – a "thrust" stage.

Sometime this season, the orchestra will likely hire theater and/or acoustical consultants to come up with a plan.

Music director Paavo Jarvi is concerned because of the perception that tickets are always available.

"There is no demand," he says.

Meanwhile, a few blocks away, another theater where the orchestra played in the '30s, which has exceptional acoustics and is a mid-sized hall, is crumbling in disrepair. That, of course, is the Emery. It's a jewel of a theater, with so much potential, yet support of its renovation has waxed and waned over the past two decades.

Jarvi is afraid that if the orchestra were to leave Music Hall even for a few concerts somewhere else, the Grande Dame of Elm Street would fall into a decline.


Then there's the Banks. In today’s A&E section, our arts staff proposed ways to make the Banks an arts destination – including a mid-sized theater that could present movies, or even chamber music or choirs, says Margaret McGurk. I would add to that, a theater suitable for an alternative symphony series or a permanent home for the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra.

What do YOU think?

Should Music Hall be redesigned to accommodate fewer seats for symphony concerts?

Should the Emery be revived? And if the orchestra played there -- even for a few concerts -- would that jeopardize Music Hall?

Should a new theater suitable for symphonic music be built as part of the Banks?

OR: Should Music Hall be left alone, and the symphony make more effort to beef up its attendance? Already, the board is considering things like mounting video screens on either side of the stage, or even mounting screens OUTSIDE of Music Hall – or on Fountain Square.

What about crime in the neighborhood? Should it be a priority of the new mayor and City Council to make the area around Music Hall safer?

Let me know your ideas!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

CONCERT REVIEW: Nielsen's 6th a riot

By Janelle Gelfand
Cincinnati Enquirer, November 12, 2005

Who knew that Carl Nielsen's Symphony No. 6 could be so much fun?

At the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Friday night, Paavo Järvi re-introduced Nielsen's Sixth, in just the second performance by the orchestra since Thor Johnson gave its American premiere in 1957. Järvi knew how to sell this quirky number, one that had even the musicians grinning as they played.

Nielsen's Sixth capped a mostly Nordic program that included the stunning United States debut of 27-year-old Dutch violinist Janine Jansen in Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto and Sibelius' "Tapiola."

Nielsen's "Sinfonia semplice" (simple symphony) might better be labeled "the eccentric." The Danish composer's last symphony of 1924, it looks ahead, while seeming to make fun of the direction music is going. Serious passages dissolve into music for triangle, side drum and glissando trombone, and brass fanfares come out of nowhere.

Yet, despite its surprises, Järvi managed to make it all hang together, and the orchestra's playing was full of character. No recording could ever reveal the inside jokes of the second movement "Humoreske" so clearly as this performance. In the third movement, an intense fugue for strings, the ensemble has never seemed so refined.

Orchestral soloists shone, from a noble theme in the horns in the first movement, to the witty bassoon solo (William Winstead) that opened the fourth. It was all a wonderful discovery.

For the centerpiece, Jansen delivered an electrifying account of the Tchaikovsky. Not just another flavor of the week, it was clear from the first note that this is an artist with something to say. She's a risk-taker, who could stretch a slow passage and then dive into a diabolically difficult one like a rocket.

The sound she projected on her priceless 1727 "Barrere" Strad wasn't large, but it could be sweet or throaty, with each chameleon-like turn of a phrase. Although her first movement was not especially Russian-sounding, it was so spontaneous you had to hold your breath through the adrenalin-charged virtuosities.

She beautifully captured the pathos of the "Canzonetta," where her sound was almost vocal. The finale was mesmerizing and passionate, delivered with her bow and long hair flying.

Järvi gave her free rein and kept an ideal balance, and the good-sized crowd was on its feet.

"Tapiola" evokes the woods outside of Helsinki in the same way that "La mer" evokes the sea. Järvi cultivated a dark, rich sound in the strings and horns, and the orchestra responded with beautiful playing.

The concert repeats at 3 pm Sunday in Music Hall. Tickets: (513) 381-3300.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

CONCERT REVIEW: Orchestra shines in pair of works from Scandinavia

by Mary Ellyn Hutton
Cincinnati Post, November 12,2005

What was the duck from Prokofiev's "Peter in the Wolf" doing in Carl Nielsen's Symphony No. 6 at Friday night's Cincinnati Symphony concert at Music Hall?

And that flip little waltz? And the quick time a la Gilbert and Sullivan?

Nielsen's 1926 symphony has been called prescient, since it looked ahead to the stylistic diversity of today's post-modern composers. And music director Paavo Jarvi had a great time with it, as did the CSO.

It was one of two works by great Scandinavian masters on the program. The other was Sibelius' tone poem "Tapiola."

Guest artist in Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto was Janine Jansen in her CSO and U.S. debut. Jansen, 27, not only revitalized the old war horse. She gave it a completely distinctive interpretation, one marked by animated tempos, shapely phrasing and a wide dynamic range.

The young Dutch artist commanded attention with her very first entrance, which was soft but intense, opening up later in big bravura passages. She found a sympathetic ally in Jarvi, who matched her musicality bar for bar. She literally made chamber music with the CSO at times, turning towards principal flutist Randolph Bowman and meshing her sound with his at the end of her first movement cadenza.

She was dramatic in the finale, where she gave gleeful emphasis to the big pizzicato chord that caps the introduction, and she played like a house afire at the end, which she took at an almost unbelievable clip. Though she received prolonged applause and a standing ovation, she declined an encore.

Nielsen's Sixth is a challenging work, a sometime roller-coaster ride with lots of technical hurdles. The orchestra pulled it off admirably despite its half-century absence from the CSO repertoire.

Subtitled "Sinfonia semplice" ("Simple symphony"), it is anything but, and Nielsen's appellation was probably not meant to be taken seriously. It begins congenially enough with the sweet sound of the glockenspiel and a pastoral sounding theme. Clouds gather quickly, however, and the movement climaxes on a big, screaming dissonance that subsides into a forlorn repetition of the opening theme.

The second movement Humoresque is scored for an odd ensemble of percussion and winds, including triangle, snare drum and glockenspiel, ably wielded by Marc Wolfley, David Fishlock and Bill Platt, respectively. This is where Prokofiev's duck (not composed until 1938) is heard in a passage for clarinet, and principal trombonist Cristian Ganicenco gave his rude glissandos real attitude.

The third movement, "Preposta Seria," gave the lie to all the humor surrounding it, with intense outpourings by the strings. Principal bassoonist William Winstead sounded the jolly theme of the finale, a variations movement where Nielsen pulls out the stops. Two orchestras seemed to battle it out at one point, and the waltz broke into the barrage like an errant butterfly

A sudden fanfare signaled the approaching end which was punctuated by a thumb-nosing low B-flat in the bassoon.

"Tapiola" (1926) was the last work Sibelius was to write before falling silent for the last 30 years of his life. Jarvi gave it a masterful interpretation. Named for the god of the forest in Finnish mythology, the 20-minute work casts a spell like none other. Winds slice through the trees (flute and piccolo), the earth moans (four-part violas) and there are plenty of creepy-crawly things about. The strings blew up a formidable gale toward the end, which lengthened into three long major chords, majestic and still.

The CSO concert repeats at 8 tonight and 3 pm Sunday at Music Hall.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Mihaela Ursuleasa to Return to Cincinnati


Mihaela Ursuleasa and Ed Moss, March 2002 (photo: Sandye)

The spirited young Romanian pianist, Mihaela Ursuleasa, who appeared with Paavo and the Cincinnati Symphony during PJ's first season as CSO Music Director four years ago, will return to Cincinnati next spring to play as part of the Matinee Musicale series. Her appearance is scheduled for 11 am, Tuesday, March 14, 2006 at the Scottish Rite Auditorium on West Fifth Street. Single tickets are $15 at the door and information may be obtained by calling (513)821-2228.

Maybe this time she and Cincinnati jazzer Ed Moss will actually be able to get together to play those Mozart piano duets they were discussing at the Blue Wisp after her last concert here!

(And maybe Paavo will decide to bring her back to play with the Cincinnati Symphony again, too!)

Hey! Paavo Project's Been Blogged About!

Many thanks to Robert Gable and his mention of The Paavo Project on his blog,
aworks :: "new" american classical music (why listening to this music is interesting, important, and maybe even fun.)

It was our first time and he was kind! ;-)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Scandinavian Composers and a Promising Young Violinist at CSO This Weekend


Join Paavo and the CSO this week as they present the U.S. debut of Dutch violinist Janine Jansen, one of classical music's brightest young stars, playing the always thrilling Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto.

On the program: Sibelius's Tapiola; Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D Major; and Nielsen's Symphony No. 6 (Sinfonia semplice).

Performances are scheduled for Friday, November 11 at 8 pm (College Nite); Saturday, November 12 at 8 pm; and Sunday, November 13 at 3 pm (a CSO "Family Sundays" concert). For tickets, visit the www.cincinnatisymphony.org or contact the CSO Sales Office at (513) 381-3300.

Read the Program Notes before you go to keep the page-rattling down :-). Listen to Paavo's Notes about this concert. All concerts are preceded by Pre-Concert Classical Conversations at 7 pm Friday and Saturday, 2 pm Sunday. This program will air over classical WGUC-FM (90.9) on Sunday, Janaury 29, 2006 at 7:30 pm ET.

Special Note: In case you haven't noticed, the free cough drops which we've become spoiled to expect over the past many years at Music Hall are no longer available due to a change in the donor company's national policy. You may wish to bring your own, as I do, as a preventative measure. I'm sure the musicians and other listeners would appreciate it, especially now that the cold and flu season is at hand.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

CONCERT REVIEW: Music at the Cathedral

From Janelle Gelfand's Classical Music blog at the Cincinnati Enquirer:
On Sunday, one of the most beautiful fall days of the year, I headed down to Covington's Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption to hear a new violin-piano duo, performing on the Cathedral's music series. Ukrainian-born Anna Polusmiak, a prize-winning pianist and NKU grad, joined Moscow-born violinist Tatiana Berman for a recital of music by Debussy, Beethoven and Arvo Part.

Besides the fact that they looked like they could be sisters, this was a duo that clicked musically, too.

Berman, who is the significant other of Paavo Jarvi, may be partly responsible for the large number of Cincinnati Symphony players in the audience! She studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School and the Royal College of Music in London, and proved to be a communicative artist of the highest caliber, who projected a pure, sweet tone on her violin.

Polusmiak was a perceptive partner, who matched the violinist in mood and tackled difficult piano passages effortlessly -- and with the artistic maturity of one who is much older than 22.
(Incidentally, Anna makes her CSO subscription debut April 27-29 in Music Hall.)

Despite the difficult acoustics for such a recital, I was particularly captivated by their Debussy Sonata, which had wonderful color and spirit. Beethoven's "Kreutzer" Sonata was a joy, as it unfolded with genuine warmth, vigor and spontaneity.

A large crowd of more than 460 packed the church, and applauded their approval. More from this duo, please!

posted by Janelle Gelfand @ 3:58 PM, November 8, 2005

Valery Gergiev and Led Zeppelin share Polar Music Prize

OK. So it's a stretch. But Paavo and Gergiev are friends!
November 7, 2005, STOCKHOLM, Sweden (UPI) -- British rock icons Led Zeppelin and Russian conductor Valery Gergiev have won Sweden's prestigious Polar Music Prize.

The award dubbed the 'Nobel Prize for Music' will be presented by Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf during a ceremony in May, The Local reported Monday.

In announcing its decision, the Polar Music panel called Led Zeppelin 'one of the great pioneers of rock' and Gergiev was hailed for renewing 'our relationship with the grand tradition,' the newspaper said.

Led Zeppelin has sold more than 300 million albums worldwide and its 'Stairway to Heaven' frequently tops best song polls.

Although the Grammy Award-winning band split up after the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980, its members have been known to regroup for special occasions.

Gergiev, conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, is known for his love of melodrama and his tendency to grunt while conducting, the newspaper said.

Monday, November 07, 2005

CONCERT REVIEW: Musical duo entrancing

By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Cincinnati Post, November 7, 2005

If chemistry is what makes a musical collaboration work, then violinist Tatiana Berman and pianist Anna Polusmiak have it made.

The budding duo - in their inaugural performance together - entranced a capacity crowd Sunday afternoon at Covington's Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption with works by Arvo Pärt, Debussy and Beethoven.

They are so well-matched one wanted to cheer.

Both in their 20s, they share the Russian language and roots in the former Soviet Union. Berman, 25, a native of Moscow, grew up in St. Petersburg. Polusmiak, 22, was born in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

Polusmiak, star graduate (2005) and student of Sergei Polusmiak at Northern Kentucky University, has performed extensively in the tristate and beyond. For Berman, who earned degrees from London's Royal College of Music (2004), it was a North American debut.

Both women play with a poised, aristocratic bearing and - strong card for a potential duo - are strikingly beautiful.

Pärt's 1978 "Spiegel im Spiegel" ("Mirror in the Mirror") cast a spell at the outset. The composer's last work before leaving Soviet-occupied Estonia for self-imposed exile in Berlin, Pärt's soft-spoken valedictory sounded at home in the Cathedral.

Polusmiak's simple, triadic accompaniment, reminiscent of the piano in Pärt's "Credo," the controversial work that hastened his departure from Estonia, underscored Berman's touching, slow-moving solo.

Debussy's Violin Sonata (1917), the last work he wrote before dying of cancer the year after, showed off Berman's melting tone and warm, expressive vibrato. She and Polusmiak made the most of its shifting colors and moods, from the solemn beginning of the Allegro vivo to the flighty Finale, whose coda bubbled up from pianissimo depths to a radiant, assertive close.

Beethoven's great "Kreutzer" Sonata took up the second half. Balance between the instruments - not helped by the Cathedral's sheer volume and reverberant acoustics -- was enhanced by setting the piano lid at its lowest level. Polusmiak soared on the swaggering counter theme of the first movement, and she and Berman outlined the soft recapitulation with sharpness of focus. Violin and piano exchanged ideas with clarity and precision in the variations movement, Berman skittering nimbly to the high F's in variation II.

The pair's ensemble strengths shone in the Finale where they could execute quicksilver runs, then transition on a dime to more soulful passages.

In response to a standing ovation, they played Manuel Ponce's charming, schmaltzy "Estrelita" as transcribed by Jascha Heifetz.

CD REVIEW: Dvořák/Martinů

From Gramophone magazine comes this new CD review by Edward Greenfield:

Dvorák Symphony No 9, 'From the New World',B178 Op. 95.
Martinu Symphony No 2,H295.

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra/Paavo Järvi
Telarc New CD CD80616 (68 minutes : DDD)

Selected Comparisons
RSNO, Thomson (1/92) (CHAN) CHAN8916
Bamberg SO, N Järvi (9/87) (BIS) BIS-CD362
RSNO, N Järvi (5/87) (CHAN) CHAN8510
LSO, Kertész (4/92) (DECC) 430 046-2DC6

The unique coupling is just one of many points in this disc’s favour

Having the most popular of Dvorák’s symphonies coupled with one of the most approachable by a 20th-century Czech composer is a neat and original idea, particularly apt as both works were written in the United States. Paavo Järvi reveals his keen imagination and sharp concentration in both performances and under his guidance the Cincinnati SO is consistently excellent: ensemble more than matches that of the rival versions, including Järvi’s father Neeme in both works.

The quality of the playing is highlighted by the refinement and clarity of the brilliant Telarc recording, with cleaner separation than in any version listed. In the Martinu the Cincinnati performance easily outshines that of the Bamberg SO, which is not helped by a relatively distant recording, while the comparison with Bryden Thomson’s strong and positive reading shows how well Paavo Järvi brings out the Czech flavours in the writing: the first movement is open and fresh, with rhythms that echo Dvorák’s Slavonic Dances.

In the New World Symphony, too, Paavo Järvi is a degree warmer than his father, a shade readier to allow flexibility in tempo and phrasing but never sounding self-conscious or unspontaneous. Speeds are similar between father and son, with István Kertész’s classic LSO reading a little plainer at speeds a fraction faster and with rhythms less lilting in the Scherzo. Though there are many highly recommendable versions of this much-recorded work, this one is a strong candidate in every way; and, quite apart from the outstanding recording quality, has its unique coupling to commend it.

CD REVIEW: Dvořák/Martinů

From UltraAudio.comcomes this review by Rad Bennett

Dvorák: Symphony No.9, “From the New World”
Martinu: Symphony No.2
Cincinnati Symphony; Paavo Järvi, conductor.
Telarc SACD-60616, Hybrid Multichannel SACD.

Rarely, a recording of a standard-repertory work will come along that deserves to take its place near the top of a list of time-honored performances. This disc contains such a recording. I was sitting here trying to think of the number of recordings I have heard of Dvorák’s "New World" symphony, and finally concluded that it must be over 50, including good ones (such as those by Fritz Reiner, Bruno Walter, Erich Leinsdorf, Sir John Barbirolli, Karel Ancerl, and Artur Rodzinski) and great ones (István Kertész, Rafael Kubelik). This one, led by Paavo Järvi, joins that short latter group. Järvi has whipped the Cincinnati Symphony, already a good ensemble, into one of the best orchestras in the world. The woodwind playing is particularly wonderful, but no other section is very far behind. Järvi uses this magnificent instrument to create an interpretation of the music that is spot on from beginning to end: lyrical, heroic, poignant, forward -- in short, whatever the particular passage calls for.

Martinu’s witty, lyrical, neoclassical Symphony No.2 receives the same loving care and virtuoso execution. The work should be much better known, and this reading is sure to make it new friends.

Telarc’s producers and engineers have been trying to get perfect sound from Cincinnati for some time, getting very close to an ideal sound envelope for multichannel reproduction. On this disc they achieve their goal. It could not sound better -- the orchestra is nicely spread from left to right, the balances are perfect, the frequency range awesome. The surrounds give one just the right amount of hall ambience. The sound is alive, with great presence, although the recording is not as close-up as many others. The all-important timpani strokes scattered throughout the "New World" have incredible three-dimensional bite, and the piano and harp in the Martinu’s bustling rhythmic figuration are singularly palatable. This disc is Grammy material for 2005. Show that you recognize a potential winner by making sure you hear it.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Tatiana Berman makes her North American concert debut!


Tatiana Berman (photo by Yuri Komka)

Don't miss this special opportunity Sunday afternoon to hear the North American debut of this very special artist!

Tania plus Anna equals beautiful music
By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Cincinnati Post, November 3, 2005

Tania and Anna. A duo in the works?

Perhaps, said violinist Tatiana Berman and pianist Anna Polusmiak before rehearsing last week at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in Covington.

"We are talking about it," said Berman, exchanging laughter with Polusmiak over the chronic mismatch of their schedules.

"When I'm here, she's busy. When I'm not here, she's not busy," said Berman, who is often away from Cincinnati with her partner, Cincinnati Symphony music director Paavo Järvi, and their 20-month-old daughter Lea.

Berman and Polusmiak, twentysomethings who share the Russian language, abundant talent and drop dead good looks, make their debut together at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Cathedral.

On the program are Beethoven's "Kreutzer" Sonata, Arvo Pärt's ethereal "Spiegel im Spiegel" ("Mirror in the Mirror") and Debussy's Sonata for Violin and Piano.

Admission is free.

Born in Kharkiv, Ukraine - on the Russian border where Russian is customarily spoken - Polusmiak, 22, is known to area audiences for her performances with the Cincinnati Symphony at Riverbend, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Kentucky Symphony and ensembles and artists at Northern Kentucky University, where she studied with her father, Sergei Polusmiak.

She will make her CSO Music Hall debut April 27-29 in Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini," Järvi conducting.

Berman, 25, was born in Moscow and grew up in St. Petersburg. Her father, Yuri, is a pianist. Her mother, who died when she was 12, played the domra (a Russian folk instrument similar to the balalaika) and was a member of St. Petersburg's famous Andreyev Orchestra.

There are many parallels in the women's lives. Both grew up in the former Soviet Union and began studying music at an early age.

Tania (short for Tatiana) chose the violin at 4. "My father was playing a recital with a violinist. After that I was nagging him to give me a violin."

An uncle came up with the money, and she enrolled in the Specialized Music School in St. Petersburg."

Anna can't remember exactly how or when she began to play piano, but she was 6 when she entered Kharkiv Special Music School for Gifted Children.

At 11 she became a pupil of her father, a professor at Kharkiv Conservatory. She has been his student ever since.

Both women have competition victories to their credit. Berman won third prize in the International Violin Competition in Kloster-Schontal, Germany, at 12.

She got sick before her finals, but played anyway. "I had a big temperature and it was kind of a struggle, but it was an interesting experience, my first time."

After the competition, she toured Lithuania, and at 14, won a scholarship to the Yehudi Menuhin School near London.

She had master classes with the legendary Menuhin and was one of the soloists on the 1996 "Classic FM" CD issue "Yehudi Menuhin's Young Virtuosi."

"I went to his house once to have a lesson for the Bach Double Concerto. He was doing yoga upside down against the wall." Berman preferred soccer to yoga ("boring") and excelled in it at the Menuhin School.

At 18, she won a Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London, where she earned undergraduate and graduate degrees and performed extensively in Europe and the U.K.

Competition was a way of life for her in London. "I did quite a few of the scholarship type - they are like small competitions. You get concerts or sponsorship for your studies. I supported myself completely through all my studies."

Polusmiak, who came to the U.S. with her family in 1998, has performed on both sides of the Atlantic and taken prizes in numerous piano competitions. Last month, she won first prize in the inaugural Louisiana International Piano Competition (held in Alexandria, La., an area not devastated by the recent hurricanes). Her prize includes a trip to Russia in June, where she will perform Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 2 with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic and record a solo CD in Moscow.

Studying with her father is all "pluses" and no "minuses," she said. "It's so natural for us to work together. You can talk about your profession any time you want. He can give me still so many things."

Anna graduated from NKU last spring. She teaches in NKU's Prep Department and has private students, including her 9-year-old brother Sergei. She will continue on the competition route, she said, "but I'm very open to different possibilities. It's very hard to plan something in a music career."

Lea, born three months before Berman's master's recital in London, has brought "huge happiness to me," she said. "I am very blessed. Life just seems much fuller, everything.

"We have a fantastic babysitter (Anna's mother), so I get to do my things. Mornings are my practice time. Then afternoons are ours."

Berman calls Järvi "the most supportive person I have ever known. He is very generous in giving his advice, and I don't ever feel that I don't have time to do my own thing."

IF YOU GO

Violinist Tatiana Berman and pianist Anna Polusmiak make their debut together at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, 1140 Madison Ave.,

Covington. Admission is free. Information: (859) 431-2060.

CONCERT REVIEW: Baritone in fine debut with CSO

By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Cincinnati Post

The Cincinnati Symphony got its 22,000-mile checkup Friday night at Music Hall.

That's how far they've traveled since performing the symphonic classics, having just returned from a tour of China as the Cincinnati Pops and a heavy diet of movie music.

The program, led by music director Paavo Jarvi, comprised Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 and selections from Mahler's "eder aus des Knaben Wunderhorn (Songs from the Youth's Magic Horn).

It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, even more so for the CSO debut of German baritone Matthias Goerne.

Goerne is a splendid artist, with a smooth, dark voice, and he got a warm reception from the small audience - small, though, only by Music Hall standards (3,500 seats), kind of like not filling up the Great Hall of the People (10,000) in Beijing.

Goerne himself had a formidable task to engage his listeners, who were scattered throughout the hall. His facial expressions and body language were mostly lost and there were occasional balance problems, especially in "Der Schildwache Nachtlied" ("The Sentinel's Night Song"), which opened full bore with the voice pitted against the orchestra.

There were 11 songs in all and the order of performance was perfect. The first four (excluding the whimsical "Rhine Legend" about a ring tossed into the river) were edged with sorrow, from the doomed, forlorn sentinel and a soldier taking final leave of his lover to the terror of "Das irdische Leben" ("Life on Earth") about a starving child. There was virtually no break between the latter and the beginning of "Urlicht" ("Primordial Light"), a soft, still statement of faith in life after death. It was a transforming moment and the centerpiece of the set.

Goerne and the CSO had fun with the witty "Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt" ("St Anthony Preaches to the Fishes") and "Lob des hohen Verstands" ("In Praise of High Intellect") in which Mahler skewers critics as analogous to an empty-headed donkey. Halloween returned in "Revelge" ("Reveille"), a grotesque march with skeletal sounds in the strings. And Goerne drew every ounce of pathos from the closing "Der Tamboursg'sell" ("The Drummer Boy"), a quintessential Mahlerian funeral march capped by Goerne's painful "Gute Nacht's" ("Good Night").

Jarvi's Beethoven was exhilarating, though the swift, waltz-like tempo of the Andante took some of the edge off the Minuetto, which sounded almost slow by comparison. The introduction to the finale was a study in suspense, followed by a spirited Allegro where string ensemble was sometimes less than perfect.

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

Publication date: 11-05-2005

CONCERT REVIEW: Baritone sets the tone with melodious "Urlicht"

By Janelle Gelfand
Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/5/05

If there was a moment that stood still in Friday night's Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra concert, it was when baritone Matthias Goerne sang Mahler's "Urlicht," a deeply moving hymn that transported Mahler's "Wunderhorn Songs" into the realm of the magical.

Barely a week since the orchestra returned from its first tour of China -- as the Cincinnati Pops - the musicians were back in Music Hall for a stunning symphonic program under Paavo Järvi that included Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 and Mahler's radiant "Lieder aus Des Knaben Wunderhorn" (Songs from The Youth's Magic Horn).

Making his Cincinnati debut in Mahler's orchestral songs, 38-year-old German baritone Goerne proved a formidable talent, whose communicative power throughout 11 songs (plus an encore), sung without a score, was an extraordinary feat. It was an evening not only for those who love German song, but also for lovers of the symphonic Mahler, for Järvi's orchestra seamlessly captured all the drama, mystery and power of these songs alongside the soloist.

Mahler found much of his early inspiration in the collection of 19th-century German folk poetry known as "Des Knaben Wunderhorn," dealing with everyday rural life. Three of his symphonies have vocal movements on "Wunderhorn" texts; "Urlicht" is better known as the fourth movement of Symphony No. 2.

As in his symphonies, the songs are a universe of military fanfares and death marches, of humor and sweetness.

From the first note of "The Sentinel's Night Song" -- in which a soldier is killed while dreaming of his sweetheart - one was struck by the dark color of Goerne's voice, as well as by the depth of his expression. He was a masterful storyteller, who drew the listener in as he sang with lighthearted swagger in "Rhine Legend," a charming fairy tale. That was a stark contrast with the deep sense of tragedy in "The Drummer Boy," a chilling dirge of a boy on his way to the gallows.

The winds and brass helped create atmosphere in songs such as "Where the Fine Trumpets Sound," where muted trumpets tell of a dead soldier's ghost, or the equally haunting "Reveille." There was the beautiful oboe solo (Liang Wang) that enhanced "Urlicht" (Primordial Light), as Goerne communicated its text with warmth and beauty of line, seamless in every range.

Lighter moments included the flirtaceous "Wasted Effort" and "St. Anthony of Padua preaches to the fish," a futile sermon to fish with minds of their own. "In Praise of High Intelligence" was full of blustery humor.

As the audience rose to its feet, the baritone treated with an encore: a jaunty "Trost im Ungluck" (Consolation in Misfortune) from the "Wunderhorn" songs.

Järvi opened with a scintillating performance of Beethoven's First. If the orchestra took a few bars to warm up, they soon made up for it with a glowing sound, crisp articulation and rhythmic energy. Järvi's tempos were unhurried, and his slow introduction to the finale had a theatrical touch that launched the vivacious finale wonderfully.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Paavo's new page on Radio Bremen site!

The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this week and Paavo has been honored with his very own page on Radio Bremen's website! It contains audio and video interview clips as well as photographs of PJ with the orchestra. Have a look!

CD REVIEW: Dvořák/Martinů

And here's a new review from the German radio station NDR's culture webpage. Its author, Friederike Westerhaus, accompanied Paavo and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen on their tour of North America in July.

Vorgestellt von Friederike Westerhaus
Sendetermin: 24. Oktober 2005, 15.30 Uhr

Antonin Dvorak, Symphonie Nr. 9 in e-Moll, op. 95, "Aus der neuen Welt”
Bohuslav Martinu, Symphonie Nr. 2

Die Big-Five, die renommiertesten Orchester Amerikas, bekommen Konkurrenz: das Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra ist auf steilem Weg nach oben. Seit der estnische Dirigent Paavo Järvi im September 2001 das Orchester übernahm, hat es an technischer Qualität und künstlerischem Profil erheblich gewonnen und gehört inzwischen zu den besten Symphonieorchestern Amerikas. Nun liegt eine neue CD mit Werken von Dvorak und Martinu vor.

Beschwingt und tänzerisch
Ein halbes Jahrhundert liegt zwischen der Entstehung von Bohuslav Martinus 2. und Antonin Dvoraks berühmter 9. Symphonie, aber sie teilen ihre Geschichte: beide von tschechischen Komponisten, beide geschrieben und uraufgeführt in Amerika. Järvi arbeitet mit dem Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra besonders die rhythmischen Elemente hervorragend heraus - auch an Stellen, in denen sie in der Partitur eher versteckt sind.

Als Resultat werden in dieser direkten Gegenüberstellung die Ähnlichkeiten zwischen Martinus und Dvoraks Musik auf erstaunlich klare Weise hörbar. Auch Passagen, die in anderen Einspielungen von Dvoraks 9. eher statisch klingen, wirken in Järvis Interpretation beschwingt und tänzerisch.

Tiefe Intensität
Järvi gestaltet beide Symphonien mit der selben tiefen Intensität, dynamischen und agogischen Freiheit und rhythmischen Prägnanz. Beide gewinnen durch diese Interpretation und Gegenüberstellung neue klangliche Aspekte. Und Martinus 2. dürfte für viele Hörer sogar eine echte Neuentdeckung sein, hofft Järvi.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Arvo Pärt featured in Los Angeles Times

One of Paavo's favorite Estonian composers, the highly esteemed Arvo Pärt, was featured in an article titled A milestone for semplice's master; Arvo Pärt's 70th birthday spawns a flurry of releases that celebrate his strains in the October 30 issue of the Los Angeles Times. As Mark Swed writes:
Last month, the universe executed another of its capricious yin-yang maneuvers. Although now a black date on the calendar, 9/11 also happens to be the birthday of Arvo Pärt, that otherworldly composer and spiritually wholesome presence on the musical scene. This year he turned 70.

Too little, concert-wise, has been made of a happy milestone in music, the main celebration having been an Arvo Pärt festival in the small Estonian town of Rakvere, where the composer grew up. Fortunately, though, Pärt's birthday has not been neglected on CD and DVD.

Indeed, a remarkable collection of Pärt recordings and films has just come out that not only helps us keep up to date with a composer whose music has a way of reverberating with the world mood in uncanny fashion but also provides an unusually interesting portrait of a musician and man as enigmatic as he is brilliant.

Pärt has caught on because of the luminous beauty of his sound. It seems to come from somewhere beyond our normal experience and expectations. It haunts the ear. But just about every tribute to him I've read lately begins defensively, explaining that musical simplicity does not necessarily equal triviality. No, we are reminded, Arvo Pärt is not New Age. He isn't a Minimalist, as such. He's neither this nor that.

We need no such reminders. Maybe he's not to everyone's taste, but he's loved and admired by a following that is wide and that breaks through categories.

The reason for so strong a fan base is, no doubt, the outward simplicity of Pärt's music. He is religious, and he often sets Christian texts with mystical fervor. But he transcends dogma. What his music is really about is the religion of sound. He worships it, and he worships its surrounding silences. There is only one way to listen to Pärt, and that is in a state of awe.

Among the new CD releases are three compilations that offer good introductions to Pärt, who started out as a dissident 12-tone composer in Soviet-controlled Estonia but had a breakthrough in the mid-'70s when he converted to the Russian Orthodox faith and discovered a stunning consonant chord. He played the chord on the piano, and it rang like the carillon of a grand cathedral. He called the style "tintinnabuli," from the Latin word for "bells." He wrote a small piano piece, "For Alina," based upon it, and the act of composing served as a rite of absolution....

Ultimately, Pärt is not so much simple as deep. He revisits techniques of Gregorian chant and early polyphony, but he also displays an up-to-date Cagean sense of letting sounds be. He even has a fondness for Cage's prepared piano. Nor is he all that mellow. Look out for violent, jarring contrasts.

Part of the Pärt mystique is his monk-like persona. He is not known to be much of a public figure. But in the film "24 Preludes for a Fugue," we find, as with everything else about the composer, that nothing is quite as simple as it seems. A Russian filmmaker, Dorian Supin, followed him around with a camera for five years. In snippets broken up by a more formal interview, the film peeks into Pärt's life.

It offers little in the way of explanation of this shy, gentle man, with his bushy beard and saintly demeanor, who reveals a sly sense of humor and a very good fashion sense. His pleasures appear basic but just a little off. In one scene, he visits Estonia for the first time in many years (he moved to Germany in the early '80s) and munches contentedly on a tomato with sugar, much to his wife's disapproval. But watch him in action as a musician and you understand that he knows exactly what he wants and how to get it....

Hear Arvo Pärt's composition for violin and piano, Spiegel im Spiegel (Mirror in Mirror), performed by the gifted young Russian violinist Tatiana Berman and pianist Anna Polusmiak Sunday, November 6 at 3 pm at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, 1140 Madison Avenue, Covington, Kentucky; telephone: (859) 431-2060, ext. 204. Admission is free, but a Freewill Offering is appreciated to help support the Cathedral Music Series.

According to Wikipedia, Spiegel im Spiegel was written by Pärt in 1978, just prior to him leaving Estonia. The piece is in the tintinnabular style of composition, wherin a melodic voice (which operates over diatonic scales) and tintinnabular voice (which operate within a tonic triad) accompany each other. It was originally written for a single piano and violin - though the violin has often been replaced with either a cello or a viola. The piece is musically minimal - yet produces a serene tranquility.

Die Welt: A craftsman with genius (in English)

Orchestras have to be titillated
The Estonian conductor Paavo Järvi is a busy craftsman with genius

Children of great musicians are often to be regretted. Yehudi Menuhin criticized his own son Jeremy so that he would not follow in the leadership of Gstaad festival. Karlheinz Stockhausen is very strict with his children Markus and Majella. Paul and Rico Gulda had big problems trying to step out of the shadow of Friedrich.

An exception as a father is Neeme Järvi, the great old conductor of the musical Kleinmeister (less well known composers) from Estonia. With 357 CDs (from Hugo Alfven to Eduard Tubin), he is one of the most recorded conductors of all times. And with three self-confident children, one of the most successful workers for the younger generation in music. Daughter Maarika is a brilliant solo flutist, son Kristjan is conductor of the Austrian Tonkünstlerorchester and is said to be "at the moment the youngest conductor" of the Järvi clan. Which means on the one hand: Who knows who else will be coming? And on the other: Paavo Järvi is the older.

"He's my biggest fan," says Paavo Järvi (43) amazed about his own father. The Haydn lessons for four hands on the piano were the "initial" starting point, since 1985, of his highly regarded upcoming career. Today, Paavo - who was born in Tallinn - is chief conductor of three orchestras and about to take over a fourth one with the Symphonieorchester des Hessischen Rundfunks in 2006. Megalomania? No, rather something like pusillanimousness in duplicaton. "Conducting is the thing I like to do the most, when I am not making music", Järvi says self-critically. A great number of CDs show him as one of the most innovative, incalculable talents of his generation. Similar to his Baltic colleague Mariss Jansons, Järvi favors continuity instead of cash, slowness instead of wearout.

On the terrace of the Baltic Beach Hotel, an old spa in Jurmala, Latvia, Järvi is dreaming of Waltz-excesses in the role of an Estonian Willi Boskowsky and complains coolly about his own profession. A lot of young conductors were swallowed up early on by their own hubris and wanting-to-do-more-than-everything-attitude, says Järvi: "You can not live on adrenalin" and turns eagerly towards his Matjes herring. Paavo Järvi is no phlegmatic person out of passion - like the figures of the Finnish KaurismДki. Especially with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, with whom he is touring the Baltic states, he is eliciting the most nervous, most thin-skinned virile sounds to be heard in the musical scene at the moment.

Influenced by old music, Järvi convinces in restlessly titillating the orchestra. After a day of rehearsal you never know with him, whether things are going to stay like that - or whether he will surprisingly rush into an different direction the same evening. Guest conducting, the Grammy-winner rarely likes to do anymore. "You do the best work with your own orchestras," he quotes George Szell, "even, if they happen to be third class orchestras."

This trained percussionist started his career at the bottom. After listening to hundreds of his father's opera performances in Tallinn, the family emigrated to the Unites States. There, five years ago, Paavo took over the Cincinnati Symphony, the orchestra of his teacher Max Rudolf - and led it in a storm back onto the musical map. He even managed to outstrip the success of Cincinnati Pops.

For the Estonian National Orchestra, he got astonishing CD contracts. With the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, which he took over from Daniel Harding in 2004, he is recording a Beethoven cycle at present. The Kammerphilharmonie was founded exactly 25 years ago, and turned under Schiff, Hengelbrock and Harding into one of the most transparent and sensitive ensembles in existence today. Rhythmically sharp, with a cool sound, there is a Bremen Beethoven cycle arising that might be startling due to its liveliness, accuracy and freshness. Very obviously, this Beethoven comes from Stravinsky, not from Wagner. It crisscrosses all dark German heaviness - and from that brings an approach for an all-European Beethoven of the future. On the tour through USA and the new European Union countries Poland, Latvia and Estonia, no concert was similar to the others. The New York Times spoke about the "event of the summer". Järvi himself about "a dream, that's becoming reality".

Eight years ago, the orchestra was on the edge of going bankrupt. By using a self-help concept, they gained more sponsors, a young boss and a little more financial support. With the musicians as self-responsible shareholders, the Kammerphilharmonie created and realized a sucessful model. "Children at heart" - Järvi does not call his musicians like that coincidentally. While Bremen's audience was skeptical in the beginning, now every concert is a sell-out. In the tour bus, the musicians themselves haggle over the last tickets, mostly without success. But instrumental exuberance is, in their case, not only paid off in notorious "darkly temperamental men" like Beethoven, Schumann or Stravinsky. Just in turbid waters like Sibelius "Valse triste" or Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 6, they reach their top form. If, at any point, the joy in Waltzes of the Wiener Philharmoniker have to face a German competitor, the wavering wit and knife-throwing melancholy of the Kammerphilharmonie would be the only candidate. Paavo Järvi is secretly dreaming about Strauss, Lanner and Lehar. If a passage in a concert works very well, he wittily throws a view over his shoulder to the audience. He does not like Wagner, but reveres the Wagnerian Humperdinck. He is complaining with a lot of words about people who are talking too much. And he managed to transport successfully the paradox of his own person into the orchestra. In Cincinnati, he plays Sibelius, in Tallinn Pärt. This is how the distribution of tasks of a top conductor looks nowadays. Paavo Järvi shines as a musical local politician and by this takes worldwide effects. As a craftsman with genius. "Think big" for him this works in a concentration on limitation. It's not possible to think in more modern terms in a time of crisis.

Die Welt: "...a craftsman with genius..."

Orchester muß man kitzeln; Der estnische Dirigent Paavo Järvi ist ein vielbeschäftigter Handwerker mit Genie

von Kai Luehrs-Kaiser
Die Welt, 2. November 2005

Kinder großer Musiker sind oft zu bedauern. Yehudi Menuhin krittelte seinen eigenen Sohn Jeremy aus der Leitungsnachfolge des Festivals in Gstaad heraus. Karlheinz Stockhausen klopft seinen Kindern Markus und Majella unerbittlicher auf die Musikerfinger. Paul und Rico Gulda lösen sich aus dem Schatten des großen Friedrich nur schwer.

Eine Vater-Ausnahme ist Neeme Järvi, der große alte Dirigent der musikalischen Kleinmeister aus Estland. Mit 357 CDs (von Hugo Alfven bis Eduard Tubin) ist er einer der bestdokumentierten Dirigenten aller Zeiten. Und mit drei selbstbewußten Kindern einer der erfolgreichsten Vorarbeiter für musikalischen Nachwuchs. Tochter Maarika brilliert als Solo-Flötistin, Sohn Kristjan ist Chef des österreichischen Tonkünstlerorchesters und gilt als "derzeit jüngster Dirigent" des Järvi-Clans. Was einerseits bedeutet: Wer weiß, wen die Familie noch alles bereithält? Und: Paavo Järvi ist älter.

"Mein größter Fan", staunt der heute 43jährige Paavo Järvi über den eigenen Vater. Die vierhändigen Haydn-Lektionen am Klavier waren die "Initialzündung" seiner seit 1985 aufheizenden Karriere. Heute ist der in Tallinn geborene Paavo Chef dreier Orchester - und im Begriffe, mit dem Sinfonieorchester des Hessischen Rundfunks 2006 ein viertes zu übernehmen. Ist das Größenwahn? Nein, eher Kleinmut in der Vervielfachung. "Dirigieren ist das, was ich am liebsten tue, wenn ich keine Musik mache", wiegelt Järvi selbstkritisch ab. Zahlreiche CDs zeigen ihn als eine der innovativsten, unberechenbarsten Begabungen seiner Generation. Ähnlich wie sein baltischer Kollege Mariss Jansons favorisiert Järvi Kontinuität statt Kasse, Langsamkeit statt Verschleiß.

Auf der Terrasse des "Baltic Beach Hotel" im lettischen Jurmula, einem alten Badeort, träumt Järvi von Walzer-Exzessen in der Rolle eines estnischen Willi Boskowsky und schimpft lässig über den eigenen Berufsstand. Viele junge Dirigenten verschluckten sich vorzeitig an Selbstüberschätzung und Allesmachertum. "Man kann nicht leben von Adrenalin", meint er und wendet sich eifrig einem Matjes-Hering zu. Paavo Järvi indes ist kein Phlegmatiker aus Passion wie die Figuren des Finnen Kaurismäki. Gerade der Deutschen Kammerphilharmonie, mit der er durchs Baltikum tourt, entlockt er die nervösesten, dünnhäutig-virilsten Töne, die derzeit in der Musikszene zu hören sind.

Beeinflußt von alter Musik überzeugt Järvi als ruheloser Orchester-Kitzler. Nach einem Probentag weiß man bei ihm nie, ob das Ganze so bleiben soll - oder ob er am Abend überraschend in eine andere Richtung hetzt. Gastieren mag der Grammy-Gewinner kaum noch. "Man arbeitet am Besten mit eigenen Orchestern", zitiert er George Szell, "selbst dann, wenn diese Orchester drittklassig sein sollten."

Der gelernte Schlagzeuger hat seine Karriere von unten aufgebaut. Nachdem er Hunderte Opern-Vorstellungen seines Vaters in Tallinn hörte, emigrierte die Familie in die USA. Hier übernahm Paavo mit dem Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra den Klangkörper seines Lehrers Max Rudolf - und führte es im Sturm auf die Musiklandkarte zurück. Den Erfolg der Cincinnati Pops hat er inzwischen überflügelt.

Dem Estnischen Nationalorchester bescherte er erstaunliche CD-Verträge. Mit der Deutschen Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, die er 2004 von Daniel Harding übernahm, riskiert er zur Zeit einen Beethoven-Zyklus. Seit genau 25 Jahren besteht die Kammerphilharmonie, ist unter Schiff, Hengelbrock und Harding zu einem der transparentesten und sensibelsten Klangkörper gewachsen, die es zur Zeit gibt. Rhythmisch scharf, im Klang kühlend, bahnt sich beim Bremer Beethoven ein durch Lebendigkeit, Feinschliff und Frische aufsehenerregender Zyklus an. Hörbar kommt dieser Beethoven von Strawinsky her, nicht mehr von Wagner. Er durchkreuzt alle deutsch-dunkelnde Schwere - und bietet damit Ansätze für einen gesamteuropäischen Beethoven der Zukunft. Bei Konzerten, die durch die USA und die osteuropäischen Beitrittsländer Polen, Lettland und Estland führte, glich kein Konzert dem anderen. Vom "event of the summer" sprach die "New York Times". Von einem "wahrgewordenen Traum" Järvi selbst.

Vor acht Jahren stand das Orchester unmittelbar vor dem Konkurs. Durch ein Selbsthilfe-Konzept gewann man mehr Sponsoren, einen jungen Chef und wenig mehr Subventionen. Mit Orchestermitgliedern als eigenverantwortlichen Gesellschaftern hat die Kammerphilharmonie inzwischen ein Erfolgsmodell umgesetzt. "Children at heart" nennt Järvi seine Musiker nicht zufällig. Das Bremer Publikum, anfangs skeptisch, rennt dem Orchester die Häuser ein.

Im Tourbus feilschen die Musiker selbst um Resttickets - meist vergebens. Doch instrumentaler Übermut zahlt sich bei ihnen nicht nur im Fall notorischer Temperamentsdunkelmänner wie Beethoven, Schumann oder Strawinsky aus. Gerade in trübwelligen Gewässern wie Sibelius' "Valse triste" oder in Brahms Ungarischem Tanz Nr. 6 läuft man zu Hochform auf. Sollte jemals den Walzerfreuden der Wiener Philharmoniker eine deutsche Konkurrenz erwachsen, so wäre der wankende Witz, die messerwerfende Melancholie der Kammerphilharmonie hierfür der wohl einzige Kandidat.

Paavo Järvi träumt denn auch insgeheim von Strauß, Lanner und Lehár. Scheint ihm im Konzert eine Stelle gelungen, blickt er sich launig zum Publikum um. Er mag keinen Wagner, aber verehrt den Wagnerianer Humperdinck. Beklagt sich wortreich darüber, daß zu viel geredet werde. Und hat das Paradoxe der eigenen Person animierend auf sein Orchester übertragen. In Cincinnati spielt er Sibelius, in Tallinn Pärt. So sieht die Arbeitsteilung eines Spitzendirigenten von heute aus.

Paavo Järvi glänzt als ein musikalischer Lokalpolitiker und wirkt gerade so weltweit viel. Als ein Handwerker mit Genie. "Think big" ergibt sich bei ihm aus der Konzentration aufs Beschränkte. Moderner kann man in Krisenzeiten nicht denken.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Paavo Named Finalist in 2005 Corbett Awards!

For the first time, Paavo has been named a finalist in the annual Cincinnati Post-Corbett Awards.
The highly prized Post-Corbett Awards honor contributions by arts organizations, performing artists, individual arts supporters, arts education and outreach programs and extraordinary events.

The awards, named in honor of arts supporters Patricia Corbett and her late husband, J. Ralph Corbett, have been presented since 1975.

Nominations are accepted from the public, while finalists and winners are chosen by a panel of carefully selected judges drawn from the community.

The honors, sponsored biennially by The Post, have become the most coveted awards given in the Cincinnati arts community.

Paavo was named a finalist in the Performing Artist category "for his leadership of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Jarvi was named music director in January 2000, with his inaugural concert in September 2001. He has given the CSO the promise of building its audience at home, increasing its stature in the world and achieving recognition as one of the nation's elite ensembles. Completely devoted to his music and his musicians, his goal is to move the CSO into the top tier of the world's orchestras. The connection between Jarvi and Cincinnati is becoming familiar and respected as he appeals to both younger and established audiences. Jarvi has taken the orchestra on tours of the U.S. East Coast, South Florida and New York's Carnegie Hall, as well as Japan and Europe. He has also made nine highly praised recordings with the CSO."

The 25th Post-Corbett Awards Ceremony, hosted by jazz singer and arts educator Kathy Wade, will take place Monday, November 21 at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center, 1 W. RiverCenter Blvd., in Covington. The reception begins at 6 pm with ceremonies starting at 7 pm. Black tie optional. Tickets are $15. Tables of eight are $100. Please make reservations by November 14 by calling John Vissman at (513) 352-2787.

Matthias Goerne guests with PJ and the CSO


After an absence of almost a month, conducting 13 concerts all over Germany with the Munich Philharmonic and the Staatskapelle Dresden, a rested and ready Paavo returns to his Music Hall podium with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra this week for a program featuring compositions by Beethoven and Mahler. Baritone Matthias Goerne, an exceptional singer of international prominence, makes a rare concert appearance at the personal invitation of Paavo and performs another rarity: the complete “Youth’s Magic Horn” song cycle.

This week's program features Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 in C Major and Mahler's Lieder aus Des Knaben Wunderhorn ("The Youth's Magic Horn").

Concert dates are Friday, November 4 at 8 pm and Saturday, November 5 at 8 pm.

Ticket information is available by calling (513) 381-3300 or by visiting cincinnatisymphony.org.

Read the Program Notes before you go. And listen to Paavo's Notes here.

This program will air via streaming audio on WGUC, 90.9 FM, Sunday, January 22, 2006 at 7:30 pm ET.