Saturday, March 04, 2006

CONCERT REVIEW: Soloists give life to Brahms

Sounds like a "must-see" concert to me! The Cincinnati Enquirer says "violinist Christian Tetzlaff and his sister, cellist Tanja Tetzlaff, Friday gave one of the most inspiring performances of the CSO season." Janelle Gelfand describes the concert in this review (3/4/06):
Talent often runs in families. On Friday morning, violinist Christian Tetzlaff and his sister, cellist Tanja Tetzlaff, visited the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and turned in one of the most inspiring performances of the season in Brahms' Concerto in A Minor for Violin and Cello.

Brahms' "Double" sometimes comes off as a perfunctory display of two different egos. But the Tetzlaffs' performance was the most engaging in memory, with the two soloists in complete communication, breathing together seamlessly one minute, and setting off each other's sparks the next.

Brahms formed the heart of this German romantic program led by Paavo Järvi, which opened with a rewarding performance of Weber's Overture to "Euryanthe" and closed with Schumann's Symphony No. 3, "Rhenish."

Hamburg-born Christian Tetzlaff, 39, who studied violin in Cincinnati with Walter Levin of the LaSalle Quartet, was making his third visit to Music Hall; his sister, Tanja, 32, her first. Although he is rapidly becoming one of the world's most celebrated young violinists, the cellist's artistry was equally impressive. Tanja Tetzlaff's opening statement on her rare Guadagnini cello was exacting yet expressive, and she projected a big, throaty sound.

But it was the violinist who propelled the motion, and knew when to pull back romantically. It was fun to watch them, as she swayed to Brahms' lyrical themes, and he arched his back to execute a high note with a combination of sweetness and intensity.

The slow movement was unusually introspective and tender, and the soloists executed the famous unison theme warmly. They plunged into the finale with breathtaking lightness and bravura.

It was a performance of depth as well as elegance, with moments of drama weighed against those of sheer lyricism. Järvi and his orchestra were alert partners, and their collaboration had a fresh, spontaneous spirit.

Schumann's "Rhenish" Symphony was an ideal complement. From the first note, Järvi, who led with affection for this music, was masterful at bringing out its inner themes while keeping up the momentum over five movements. There was nothing mundane about the second movement, a charming, buoyant waltz.

The ceremonial fourth movement was spacious and solemn, with warm brass chorales that worked beautifully in Music Hall's acoustical space. The conductor brought the work to an animated finish, and the musicians responded with clean, exuberant playing.

The concert repeats at 8 p.m. today. Tickets: (513) 381-3300.


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