Järvi, CSO show remarkable chemistry
By John von Rhein
Chicago Tribune, October 6, 2006
We owe it to Shostakovich's music, especially in this anniversary year, to focus on the inherent qualities of the music itself without being distracted by the subversive allegories it is alleged to contain.
Paavo Järvi, in his blistering account of the Shostakovich Tenth Symphony with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Thursday night at Orchestra Hall, took this masterpiece score at face value, neither inflating its life-and-death drama nor diminishing it. It showed what a powerful chemistry the Estonian-born guest conductor can achieve with the CSO.
The result was a Tenth that conveyed all the sorrows and ironies, tragedy and triumph the Soviet composer poured into it. Järvi's farsighted vision and firm structural command were matched by an uncanny ability to build momentum in telling degrees. Moments of tremendous intensity leapt off the printed page, as they must.
Shostakovich drew much of his inspiration from Mahler's music. Matthias Goerne's compelling interpretations of a dozen songs from Mahler's "Des Knaben Wunderhorn" took us inside the fatalistic, macabre sources of that inspiration.
The German baritone, who was making his CSO debut, is a master lieder singer. His dark, somewhat husky (could he have been suffering from a cold?), middleweight voice was allied to a superb expressive understanding, deep intelligence and impeccable musical manners.
That said, Goerne proved more successful in such grim and ironic "military" songs as "Revelge," "Der Tambourg'sell" and "Das irdische Leben" than in songs requiring a brighter timbre, simple charm and humor.
The program will be repeated at 8 p.m. Saturday; phone 312-294-3000.