Friday, May 11, 2007

CONCERT REVIEW: Players soar in Jarvi's capable hands

The Plain Dealer

May 11, 2007

Cleveland Orchestra May 10, Severance Hall

By Donald Rosenberg Plain Dealer Music Critic

The Cincinnati Symphony apparently knows a winner when it has one. Last week, the orchestra extended the contract of music director Paavo Jarvi to 2011, with an evergreen clause that establishes the potential to renew the relationship annually.
The wisdom of Cincinnati's move was evident Thursday at Severance Hall, where Jarvi led an Ohio colleague, the Cleveland Orchestra, in outstanding performances of music by Jean Sibelius, Richard Strauss and Sergei Prokofiev. The Estonian conductor was joined in Strauss' Horn Concerto No. 2 by Richard King, the Cleveland Orchestra's principal horn and an old classmate from Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music.
Jarvi made his debut with the Cleveland musicians in July 2004 at Blossom Music Festival, but this weekend's concerts mark his Severance Hall debut. Shouldn't he be signed quickly for a return engagement? His shaping of Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5 certainly indicated that he is a conductor keenly able to communicate bold ideas to orchestra and audience alike.
Many interpreters treat the Prokofiev Fifth as an emotional catharsis dripping with bombast and sentimentality. Jarvi avoided such a stereotypical view, instead allowing the narratives to unfold with utmost inevitability and inner strength.
Every tempo Jarvi chose, including several of patient expansiveness, focused attention on the big picture. This was an account of seamless progress, with details heightened and moods evoked to soaring, exuberant and sometimes chilling effect. The macabre moments in the slow movement have rarely sounded so unsettling.
Jarvi had the Cleveland Orchestra playing with a gorgeous blend of penetrating sonority and cohesive agility. When Prokofiev asked for moonlit lyricism, the shimmer was present. When it was needed, there was plenty of explosive power and energy.
If Cincinnati knows what to cherish, so should Cleveland. Hornist King treated Strauss' Second Horn Concerto, in its Cleveland Orchestra debut, to a performance of graceful assurance, lyrical warmth and acrobatic dexterity. The composer wrote the piece at 78, almost 60 years after his First Horn Concerto, but the later work retains youthful verve even as it basks in poignant poetry.
The horn can be a notoriously uncooperative instrument. Don't tell that to King, whose confidence and security allowed listeners to dwell on Strauss' songful phrases and limber lines. The hornist's tonal suppleness in all registers pointed out the composer's affection for the human voice. J rvi and the orchestra maintained light textures and rhythmic buoyancy.
The program began with a Sibelius curiosity, "Night Ride and Sunrise," which wanders aimlessly on repeated figures until arriving at a luminous depiction of dawn. Although the orchestra was a bit fuzzy in the early pages, Jarvi and company went on to unfold ample Sibelian majesty.
The program is repeated at 8 p.m. Saturday. It will be braodcast live on WCLV FM/104.9 on Saturday.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

But my dear Primavera, who ARE you? Just a hint, perhaps? Someone local?
Someone associated with the CSO?

Although this is about Mr. Jarvi, and can be managed successfully in a technical way by many these days, some of us had come to appreciate Sandye's entire presence and personality on the internet.

Good luck with your continued mission.