Sunday, March 05, 2006

CD REVIEW: Dvorak/Martinu

Edward Reichel of Salt Lake City's Deseret Morning News pays Paavo some lovely compliments in this review (3/5/06) of the Cincinnati Symphony's most recent CD:
Composers' works captured; Conductors pursue subtle and honest views of symphonies ***1/2

PAAVO JARVI has, in the years since becoming music director of the Cincinnati Symphony, developed quite an extensive discography of wide-ranging repertoire.

Artistically, they have been of mixed quality, but in the past two years or so, Jarvi has been proving himself to be an astute musician who has impressed his listeners with his technical and musical abilities.

In his early 40s now, Jarvi is still young as far as conductors go, and he certainly has the potential of becoming one of this country's more sought-after conductors. Under his leadership, the Cincinnati Symphony has steadily improved, playing with more depth and insight.

Jarvi's repertoire on CD has mainly been from the 19th and 20th centuries. His current album is no exception, with Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 and Bohuslav Martinu's Symphony No. 2, both of which receive commanding readings at Jarvi's hands.

In the Dvorak, Jarvi goes for nuances. It is wonderfully dynamic yet refreshingly understated. The performance captures the symphony's romantic earnestness and Slavic melodicism convincingly. Of particular note is the exquisitely played English horn solo in the Largo, and the movement as a whole is appealingly eloquent.

Melodicism and an engaging modernism characterize Martinu's music. A Czech by nationality like Dvorak, yet he doesn't exploit it the way Dvorak does. Martinu's musical language is more universal — a compelling blend of sweeping lyricism and modernity that is sophisticated and erudite.

The Second Symphony, from 1943, receives a polished, vibrant reading with Jarvi, who brings out the intensity of the first two movements, the humor of the third and the lightheartedness of the finale.

No comments: