Saturday, March 04, 2006

CONCERT REVIEW: Tetzlaffs put sparkle in Brahms

The Cincinnati Post's Mary Ellyn Hutton got a kick out of Friday's concert as you can see in this review from March 4:
The band in Over-the-Rhine paid tribute to the real thing Friday morning at Music Hall.

The OTR-based Cincinnati Symphony, led by music director Paavo Jarvi, took its cue from Robert Schumann, whose "Rhenish" Symphony (No. 3), like the neighborhood itself, is named for the Rhine River (a canal once flowed through Cincinnati where Central Parkway is located).

The concert, a triple-scoop of German romanticism, also featured Brahms' Concerto for Violin and Cello and Carl Maria von Weber's Overture to "Euryanthe." Soloists in the Brahms were Christian and Tanya Tetzlaff.

The Tetzlaffs, who are brother and sister, made an extraordinary impression. Grammy-nominated Christian, 39, has been before the public longer than Tanya, and has earned a reputation as one of the world's finest violinists. (His performance of the complete solo violin works of J.S. Bach was one of the top musical events of 2004 in Cincinnati.) He has been a CSO guest twice before, most recently in September 2002.

Tanya, who made her CSO debut Friday, is quickly establishing herself. At 32, she has performed and recorded with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen (with whom she also has recorded) and with numerous other orchestras and ensembles.

The siblings performed as equals Friday. (Was there a statement, perhaps, in Tanya's red slacks and Christian's red tie?) Brahms gave them the perfect opportunity in his Double Concerto, which makes equivalent demands on the violin and cello.

Tanya went first with a commanding opening statement following Jarvi's dramatic orchestral introduction. The duo cadenza that followed crackled with energy from both players.

She drew a smooth, satiny tone from her 1776 Guadagnini cello, which in combination with Christian's brighter, sweeter sound (he favors instruments by contemporary German violin maker Peter Greiner) made for utmost definition and clarity when the instruments were heard to- gether.

Brahms gives them ample opportunity, and the soloists played with intricate dovetailing and close rapport. (Tanya says that when they attend concerts together, they often get tears in their eyes at the same moments.) The Andante movement was lush and flowing, Christian preparing the return of the shapely first theme with momentarily stopped vibrato and a slight ritard. Sparks flew in the Vivace finale, which was steeped in fine detail by Jarvi and the CSO.

Jarvi plunged into the Schumann with zest (his "favorite Schumann symphony," he says).
The horn calls and cascading strings gave a heroic feeling to the opening movement, while the triple-meter Scherzo felt like a real boat ride, with lots of swing and stresses on the second beat. The viola refrain in the third movement had a heartfelt quality amid the general reflection.

The solemn fourth movement - inspired by Schumann's visit to the Cologne Cathedral - introduced the trombones, whose dark flavor in conjunction with its Bachian texture painted an awe-inspiring portrait. The finale (the symphony has five movements) bubbled with exuberance and bright, spirited detail.

Jarvi shaped "Euryanthe" with loving care: bracing at the outset, tender and lingering on the contrasting themes.

Repeat is 8 tonight at Music Hall.

Mary Ellyn Hutton's website is Music in Cincinnati.

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