Monday, April 10, 2006

Conducting is a family affair

The Chicago Sun-Times' Wynne Delacoma provides some insight on the Jarvi family business (4/10/06):
Conducting is the Jarvi family business, and father and sons don't hesitate to talk shop, according to Paavo Jarvi.

The Jarvi homes -- first in Estonia and since 1980 in the United States -- had a huge record collection. Paavo, his brother Kristjan and their father enjoyed playing compare-and-contrast with multiple recordings of the same Beethoven symphony or Mozart piano concerto.

"It was a game for me," said Paavo Jarvi of those hours spent sharpening his ear, "but it was an extremely efficient game."

As Paavo and Kristjan moved into the professional music world, the men have continued the conversation.

"We talk all the time," Jarvi said. "A few weeks ago, we were doing the Mahler Second Symphony, and my father flew in from New York to come to my rehearsals and the performances. He was very curious to see how I would do it. We had prolonged discussions, especially about the second movement, which is very complicated."

Neeme Jarvi, now 68, served as music director of the Detroit Symphony from 1991 to 2005. This season, he became music director of the New Jersey Symphony. He intimately understands the challenges music directors of American orchestras face.

"Even in the technical details of how to conduct, there are things you don't know as a young man," Paavo said. "And you usually learn them because you do them wrong. Right now, my brother is doing large pieces like [excerpts from Beethoven's] 'Fidelio' for the first time. [In addition to heading the Absolute Ensemble, Kristjan Jarvi became music director of Vienna's nearly 100-year-old Tonkunstler Orchestra in 2004.] He calls me, and we spend hours on the phone. I will sing something to him or say, 'Look, you will never hear the second oboe at this point unless you make the trumpets mezzo forte.'

"Cincinnati is my very first American orchestra," Jarvi said. "But having my father in Detroit for 15 years, I was so aware of the kind of work schedule and the fund-raising schedule and the community involvement that needs to happen. In a way, this job was not new for me."

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