Sunday, January 21, 2007

CD REVIEW: Rachmaninov Symphony No. 2, Cincinnati Symphony


From Classics Today.com

SERGEI RACHMANINOV
Symphony No. 2; Scherzo; Dances from Aleko
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Järvi
Telarc- 80670(CD)
Reference Recording - Temirkanov (EMI); Svetlanov (Moscow Studio); Litton (Virgin)

ARTISTIC QUALITY 9 / SOUND QUALITY 9

This is a very impressive Rachmaninov 2nd. Paavo Järvi's lithe, athletic phrasing and generally brisk tempos keep the energy level high while generating much excitement in the outer movements. The first movement is brisk and dramatic thanks to Järvi's overall light approach, while the Finale skips along happily. The Adagio is the performance's high-point, as Järvi adopts a flowing pace that turns urgent in the central section leading to the big climax. He also reveals much interesting (usually unheard) inner detail (bassoons, stopped horns). The Finale is the same in this respect, and as the performance focuses your attention on Rachmaninov's brilliant orchestration you become aware of the sonic similarities between this work and the later Third Symphony.

Järvi's scherzo is fine too
, although here is where the recording's sonic limitations are most evident. The strings sound set back behind the rest of the orchestra in the very live acoustic of Cincinnati's Music Hall, and the resulting echo blurs the trio's staccato string passages. Elsewhere (except the Adagio) the strings are usually overpowered--especially unfortunate in the first movement where Rachmaninov's lustrous scoring should give them more prominence. I'd be curious to hear a multi-channel SACD version to see if it corrects this imbalance. Still, the recording does boast Telarc's trademark realism and dynamic impact, and with the Cincinnati Symphony playing so magnificently, few listeners are going to be disappointed with this disc. The filler pieces--Rachmaninov's early, Mendelssohnian Scherzo and two dances (Women's Dance and Men's Dance) from his opera Aleko--are icing on the cake.

--Victor Carr Jr.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Historiaa tulisi opettaa lapsille musiikin, ei sotien kautta

Here's a recent article (January 13, 2007) about Paavo from the Finnish newspaper, Turun Sanomat:
Virolaiskapellimestari Paavo Järvi:
Historiaa tulisi opettaa lapsille musiikin, ei sotien kautta


Sukupolvensa tunnetuimpiin kuuluva

kapellimestari rakastaa Sibeliusta ja tuo

Virolle ja Pohjoismaille mainetta maailmalla

ANNELI REIGAS

Virosta 17-vuotiaana, vuonna 1980, perheensä kanssa Yhdysvaltoihin muuttanut ja jo seuraavan vuoden joulukuussa New York Times

-lehden pitkässä henkilökuva-artikkelissa uuden sukupolven nousevaksi kapellimestariksi ylistetty virolainen Paavo Järvi on noussut yhdeksi sukupolvensa tunnetuimmista kapellimestareista.

Grammylla palkittu 44-vuotias Järvi toimii kolmen tunnetun orkesterin pääkapellimestarina Yhdysvalloissa ja Euroopassa. Hän esittää maailmalla rohkeasti Viron ja Pohjoismaiden säveltäjien teoksia.

- Juuri kaunis, ikuinen klassinen musiikki on se, joka nostaa meidän kaltaisemme pienet kansat maailmassa näkyvään asemaan, muutama päivä ennen joulua Viron sinfoniaorkesterin 80-vuotispäivän juhlakonserttia johtanut Järvi sanoi Tallinnassa antamassaan haastattelussa.

Vuonna 2002 äänitetystä Sibeliuksen kantaattien levystä Paavo Järvi sai vuonna 2003 arvostetun Grammy-palkinnon. Grammyn tuoneella (Virgin Classics) levyllä esiintyvät Järvin johdolla Viron sinfoniaorkesteri ERSO sekä suomeksi ja ruotsiksi upeasti laulavat virolainen tyttökuoro Ellerhein ja mieskuoro RAM. ERSO, RAM ja Ellerhein ovat Järvin johdolla äänittäneet myös muita Sibeliuksen teoksia.

Järvin mielestä on harmillista, että uudet sukupolvet koko maailmassa oppivat yhä ihmiskunnan historiaa "sodasta sotaan asti", että markkinataloudessa arvostetaan enemmän rahaa kuin tunteita ja että lasten tunnekasvatus unohtuu usein niin koulussa kuin kotonakin.

- Ihminen, joka ei rakasta musiikkia, on köyhä ihminen. Mielestäni koko ihmiskunnan historiaa tulisi opettaa lapsille musiikkihistorian eikä sotien kautta. Jos näin olisi, ihmiskunnan käsitys maailmastammekin olisi aivan toisenlainen, Paavo Järvi uskoo.

Sibeliusta ei voi ostaa

Järvin johtama Cincinnatin sinfoniaorkesteri aloittaa tänä viikonloppuna vuoden ensimmäiset konsertit Ohion osavaltiossa Yhdysvalloissa Sibeliuksen neljännellä sinfonialla. Lisäksi ohjelmassa ovat Berg ja Tshaikovski.

- Sibeliuksen perintö Suomelle on korvaamaton - yritykset kuten Nokia voidaan myydä muille, mutta Sibeliusta ei voi ostaa suomalaisilta kukaan, hän toteaa.

Sibeliuksen teoksista Järvin suosikki on Sinfonia numero 5. Järvin mielisäveltäjät ovat Mahler, Brahms ja Sibelius.

- On säveltäjiä, joiden kohdalla tuntuu siltä, että säveltäjän päämäärä musiikin kirjoittamisessa on ollut pelkästään kaunis musiikki.

- Minua lumoaa musiikki, joka ei ole ainoastaan kaunista, vaan josta heijastuvat ihmisen toiveet, pelot ja odotukset maailmastamme, ja siitä, mikä on ihmisen tehtävä tässä maailmassa. Brahms, Mahler ja Sibelius kirjoittivat juuri tämänkaltaista musiikkia - tämä musiikki on niin syvää, että voit johtaa tai kuunnella samaa teosta satoja kertoja, mutta löydät aina jotain uutta, Järvi sanoo.

Järvin mielestä klassisen musiikin ikuiset teokset elävät omaa elämäänsä myös vuosisatoja sävellyshetken jälkeen.

- Brahms sävelsi ensimmäistä sinfoniaansa 10 vuotta, mutta hänenkin teoksensa muuttuvat ajan kuluessa, aikakausi antaa niille oman sävynsä ja tämä prosessi on loputon, Järvi sanoo.

Kansan kouluttaja

Järvin mielestä hyvän kapellimestarin tehtäviin kuuluu myös vähemmän tai ei ollenkaan tunnettujen teosten löytäminen ja esittäminen sekä musiikinystävien kouluttaminen.

- En ymmärrä kapellimestareita, jotka johtavat vuosikymmeniä aina samoja kahtakymmentä teosta, itse satoja teoksia johtanut Järvi kertoo.

Järvin johtamien orkesterien ohjelmistoissa on usein pohjoismaisten säveltäjien maailmalla myös vähemmän tunnettuja ja virolaissäveltäjien Erkki-Sven Tüürin, Eduard Tubinin ja Arvo Pärtin teoksia.

Vuoden 2001 syyskuusta Järvi on toiminut Yhdysvalloissa Cincinnatin orkesterin ylikapellimestarina ja hän on myös Frankfurtin radion sinfoniaorkesterin ylikapellimestari. Lisäksi hän toimii Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen -orkesterin ylikapellimestarina. Järvi johtaa säännöllisesti myös useita muita orkestereja Yhdysvalloissa, Euroopassa ja Japanissa.

Cincinnatin sinfoniaorkesterin konsertteja kuuntelee paikallisessa konserttisalissa keskimäärin 1 700 ihmistä. Tämä vuonna 1895 perustettu orkesteri on Yhdysvaltain viidenneksi vanhin sinfoniaorkesteri, joka varhaisina vuosinaan esitti muun muassa Gustav Mahlerin ehkä tunnetuimman viidennen sinfonian ensimmäistä kertaa Amerikassa. Sattumoisin se on Mahlerin teoksista rakkain Järville.

Virolaissuosikkeja Tüür ja Tubin

Nykyajan virolaissäveltäjistä Järvi arvostaa erityisesti 47-vuotiasta Erkki-Sven Tüüria.

- Tüür on mielestäni kerta kaikkiaan nero ja aivan kansainvälisellä tasolla, Järvi korostaa.

Virolaissäveltäjistä Järvin suosikki on Eduard Tubin (1905-1982).

- Tubin on virolaisille tavallaan samaa kuin Jean Sibelius suomalaisille ja Carl Nielsen tanskalaisille, Viron sinfoniamusiikin isä, Järvi sanoo.

Vuonna 1944 ennen puna-armeijan Viroon paluuta Tukholmaan paennut Tubin sävelsi Ruotsissa erinomaista sinfoniamusiikkia, jota esitettiin muun muassa vuosina 2001-2005 Tubinin festivaalilla Tallinnassa. Viime vuonna festivaali lopetettiin, koska Viron kulttuuriministeri päätti yhtäkkiä luopua sen rahallisesta tukemisesta.

- Mielestäni Suomen kulttuuripolitiikka ja musiikkikoulutuksen tukeminen on edistänyt voimakkaasti suomalaista musiikkikulttuuria. Enkä puhu pelkästään nykyajasta, vaan vuosikymmeniä sitten tehdyistä päätöksistä, aikakaudesta, jolloin Esa-Pekka Salosen sukupolvi kävi vielä koulua, Järvi kiittää suomalaista kulttuuripolitiikkaa.

Hän toivoo, että Virossa päättäjät osaisivat arvostaa ja tukea klassisen musiikin esittäjiä ja että myös Viron sinfoniaorkesterin ERSOn muusikkojen palkkoja nostettaisiin niin ettei heidän enää tarvitsisi tehdä muuta työtä tullakseen toimeen arkielämässä.

Ikuisesti oma ERSO

Huolimatta siitä, että Järvin konserttiohjelma eri puolilla maailmaa on viikko viikolta lyöty lukkoon seuraavan neljän vuoden ajaksi, hän on toiminut vuodesta 2002 myös Viron sinfoniaorkesterin ERSOn taiteellisena neuvonantajana.

Paavo Järvi on johtanut Tallinnassa useita ERSOn konsertteja ja tehnyt virolaisorkesteria tunnetuksi maailmalla useiden teosten äänittämisellä.

- Olen ERSOlle suunnattoman paljon velkaa, sillä voin liioittelematta sanoa, että vartuin ERSOn harjoituksissa Estonia-konserttisalissa. Olin pikkupojasta asti aina isäni ( Neeme Järvin ) kanssa seuraamassa orkesterin työtä. Isän valtavan kiinnostava elämä ja hänen työnsä kannustivat minua niin paljon, että toivoin jo ennen koulua seisovani jonain päivänä orkesterin edessä, jo 18-vuotiaana Yhdysvalloissa New Jersey Mozart

-orkesteria johtanut ja silloin New York Times -lehden lumonnut Järvi kertoo.

Kesäkuussa 70 vuotta täyttävän, Yhdysvalloissa ja muualla satoja levyjä tehneen kapellimestarin Neeme Järvin kolmesta lapsesta myös Paavon veli ja sisko ovat muusikkoja.

Omasta pitkästä musiikkikoulutuksestaan Järvi arvostaa erityisesti opiskeluaikaa Leonard Bernsteinin johdolla Los Angelesin Philharmonic Institute -oppilaitoksessa.

Mahtavasta urastaan huolimatta hän sanoo itse olevansa edelleen opiskeluvaiheessa.

- Kapellimestarin oikea työikä alkaa vastaa 50-vuotiaana, ennen sitä olet pelkästään oppilas. Minullakin on vielä hyvin paljon opittavaa, Järvi sanoo.

Friday, January 19, 2007

CONCERT REVIEW: Prepare for weeping as tearjerkers lead bill

Prepare for weeping as tearjerkers lead bill
By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Cincinnati Post, January 19, 2007

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's fall 2007 Telarc CD conducted by music director Paavo Järvi may need a warning label.

Not to beware blowing out your speakers - although with Tchaikovsky that can be a risk - but for musically induced hyperactivity of the lacrimal glands (uncontrollable weeping).

Previewed on CSO concerts Thursday night and last weekend at Music Hall, the projected CD will pair Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 ("Pathetique") and his "Romeo and Juliet" Overture-Fantasy.

"Romeo and Juliet" is one of the great tearjerkers of all time, and last week's Tchaikovsky filled the bill potently.

The same excitement permeated his valedictory symphony Thursday. There was a long moment of silence as the cellos and basses faded to near inaudibility at the end. Järvi did not move until the clapping began.

The entire concert was romantic repertoire. Also heard were Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1 with French pianist Helene Grimaud and, to open, the Overture to Verdi's "I Vespri Siciliani."

The Verdi showed off the virtuosity of the Järvi-CSO collaboration, with its soft, quick-as-a-blink rhythms at the beginning, swift changes of mood and blitz of violins at the end.

Grimaud, one of the stars of the piano today, demonstrated considerable power in the Brahms. She crafted a big sound, making liberal use of pedal, and swept her listeners along when the currents were strong. The work's real definition lay in the orchestra, however, which Järvi cast in high relief, from huge and passionate, to soft and serene, as in the beautifully shaped first movement exposition.


The Adagio was the emotional core of the work, with its long-breathed melody, lush piano solos and warm orchestral underpinning. Grimaud dug into the gypsy rondo finale with zest, bringing the lengthy work to an exciting conclusion.

Principal bassoonist William Winstead gave the "Pathetique" Symphony its signature with his dark, expressive solo in the introduction. Järvi enhanced it with emphatic phrasing in the lower strings, making the change of color to soft-tinged violas at the beginning of the Allegro almost magical.

The entire movement was shot through with color. The Andante "love theme" was slow, tender and tapered, and Järvi caught no one dozing with the sudden fortissimo that began the development. The music built to fire-alarm intensity before yielding to the soft, weary, final statement by winds, brass and pizzicato strings.

The famous 5/4 waltz was smooth and graceful, shaped with sweeping gestures by Järvi. The third movement march was persuasive to its last noisy iteration and swirl of violins, earning a smattering of irresistible applause. Järvi plunged immediately into the lamentoso finale, where the music sobbed, quivered and picked itself up again and again, bassoons and then horns hanging on painfully at the top. The final plaint by muted strings stole softly into the night as Järvi relished the silence in the hall.

CONCERT REVIEW: Classical standards played with passion

Classical standards played with passion,/strong>
By Janelle Gelfand
Cincinnati Enquirer, January 19, 2007

For his second concert of the New Year Thursday night, Paavo Järvi brought an evening of warhorses. Even though these were guaranteed crowd-pleasers, one would be hard pressed to find a more visceral and tragic reading of Tchaikovsky's great Symphony No. 6, "Pathetique."

Järvi opened his Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra program before a good-sized Music Hall crowd with Verdi's Overture to "I vespri Siciliani" and closed with the "Pathetique." For the centerpiece, the evening's soloist was French pianist Helene Grimaud in Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor.

But it was Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony that will remain as one of the most hauntingly beautiful performances of the season. The composer's final work is also his most emotional, ending with a mournful, drawn-out finale. He died a week after its premiere.

From the outset, Järvi's reading was broad, powerful and intensely personal. It was a study in contrasts. The introduction was exceedingly slow, with long pauses before the famously beautiful second theme. Attacks and climaxes were electrifying, once causing the audience to visibly jump in their seats.

He drew memorable sonorities from the orchestra, such as the warmth of the cellos in the second movement, an asymmetrical waltz. The third movement, a march, was taut and crisp, with a relentless buildup that seemed to stretch the players to the limit. Nothing was glossed over; every note had character. It ended in an explosive show of force, with great crashes in the bass drum and timpani, as Järvi plunged ahead with little pause to the finale, foiling the audience's urge to clap.

What followed took you to another place. It was perhaps the most shattering reading of this movement you'll ever hear, and delivered with complete spontaneity. With the conductor galvanizing them, the musicians performed with considerable passion, and nothing about their music making was predictable.


Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1 was less satisfying. It, too, is a work of passion, but the concerto emerged as more of a mechanical exercise. Grimaud, 37, a media darling because of her penchant for raising wolves, may look petite but she has fingers of steel. Possessing spectacular technique, she tackled immense double-octave passages and other difficulties unflinchingly. Her percussive style of articulation made for some fireworks, but resulted in little nuance or depth, and soon became wearisome. The slow movement especially was a disappointment. Pedaling muddied the soft passages, and more could have been made of the play between light and dark, major and minor.

So, it was the orchestra that provided the work's majestic, sometimes brooding quality. The horn calls in the chamber music-like moments were stunning.

For the curtain-raiser, it was a treat to hear the Overture to "The Sicilian Vespers," not played at the symphony since 1980. Cleanly executed, Järvi's view had not a little melodrama.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

CD REVIEW: Rachmaninoff Symphony no. 2, Cincinnati Symphony

Jarvi, CSO serve up lush Rachmaninoff 2nd
By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Cincinnati Post, January 18, 2006

Paavo Järvi: Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Rachmaninoff, Symphony No. 2. Dances from "Aleko." Scherzo. Telarc A+

Go on. Indulge yourself.

Paavo Järvi's 11th CD with the CSO is like a hot fudge sundae with a ginger cookie and a dash of vodka.

Paired with Rachmaninoff's mega-hit Second Symphony is his 1888 Scherzo (his first work for orchestra, written at age 15), and two dances from "Aleko," an 1893 opera about gypsy life from his student days at the Moscow Conservatory.

R(achmaninoff) is for romance and it flows abundantly through his Second Symphony, even in its dark, brooding moments. The opening Largo sets a restless tone with its low-lying strings and stark, answering chords in the winds. Despite the often heavy scoring, shifting textures and turbulent dynamics, Järvi gives it remarkable clarity, carrying the listener through its peaks and valleys with a sure hand and careful attention to detail. The scherzo sparkles by contrast, yielding its shapely melody with grace and allure.

The famous Adagio carries lush to a new level, with tender nuances and affecting woodwind solos. The big theme (known to the pop world as Eric Carmen's "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again") builds gradually to a soaring climax, followed by a warm, lingering afterglow. The finale sets the seal on the work with its breathless excitement, recap of themes from earlier movements and bright, thumping conclusion.


Rachmaninoff's teenage Scherzo is a five-minute charmer, a "Midsummer Night's Dream" echo (Mendelssohn), with skittering flute and spiccato strings that should be on everyone's encore list.

Ditto for the "Aleko" Dances. The Women's Dance is dark and exotic, with little twirls of tambourine. The Men's Dance is brassy and boozy with a resemblance to Gliere's "Russian Sailor's Dance" (from his 1927 ballet "The Red Poppy") that suggests the latter lifted it from Rachmaninoff.

Available now at CSO Music Hall concerts and in retail stores Tuesday. CD and SACD formats.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Hélène Grimaud returns to Music Hall

French pianist Hélène Grimaud returns to Music Hall this weekend for three performances, Thursday, January 18 at 7:30pm (complimentary dinner at 6:15pm in Music Hall Ballroom); Friday, January 19 at 10am; and Saturday, January 20 at 8pm.

On the program for this week: Verdi's Overture to I vespri siciliani; Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor; and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Pathétique.

Listen to Paavo's Notes via MP3 here. And read this week's Program Notes before you go. This program will air via streaming audio for the rest of the world on 90.9 FM, Classical WGUC on Sunday, March 4, at 7:30 pm ET.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

CONCERT REVIEW: Drama, intensity open symphony's year

Drama, intensity open symphony's year
By Janelle Gelfand
Cincinnati Enquirer, January 13, 2007

Paavo Järvi was back on the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra podium to open 2007 with perhaps the most intense program of his six-year tenure.

Each of the three works on Friday's program in Music Hall could have stood alone as a monument to human emotion: Sibelius' Symphony No. 4, Alban Berg's Violin Concerto and Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet" Overture-fantasy. Together, each built upon the other, until the final, electrifying release of Tchaikovsky's Overture, in a reading that was both lush and darkly turbulent.


Sibelius' Fourth, which opened, is the Finnish composer's boldest symphony, and it may be his bleakest. There are signs of grandeur, but it is mainly interior. It is, Järvi says, like a still lake that hides a great depth underneath.

Despite its moodiness, Järvi's view had a warmth that pervaded its four movements. The first, with beautifully phrased horn calls and shimmering strings, was spacious and powerful; the second, a scherzo, was fleeting and lighthearted. If the slow movement seemed too halting and fragmented, it nevertheless made sense. The musicians performed cleanly through the colorful outbursts of the finale, despite its unsettling quality.

After intermission, Berg's Violin Concerto offered emotion of a different kind. Composed "to the memory of an angel" for Alma Mahler's daughter, Manon Gropius, it is also a requiem for Berg himself. Although atonal, it has great flights of lyricism, and beneath its surface are layers of hidden meaning.

Dutch violinist Isabelle van Keulen was the soloist, whose playing was refined, communicative and at times extraordinarily moving. She displayed enormous control, yet shunned cool intellectualism in favor of warmth and color. The first movement was by turns poignant and earthy, as she displayed both sweetness of tone and a throbbing lower register.

She began the second with a fierce intensity, but never lost her gift for lyrical line. Järvi and the orchestra were close partners, as the violin soared in and out of the texture. The chorale tune, "Es ist Genug" for four clarinets, was wonderfully played, and the violinist's final ascent into the stratosphere had an ethereal effect.

To conclude, Järvi's Tchaikovsky had the musicians on the edges of their seats, performed with such drama that the emotion of the famous love story was almost palpable. Attacks were pointed, the timpani hammered, and the strings in the famous "love theme" sounded incomparable in the Music Hall acoustic.

CONCERT REVIEW: CSO program is food for thought

CSO program is food for thought
By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Cincinnati Post, January 13, 2007

Lighten up, you might say.

Well, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's first concert of the new year Friday night at Music Hall was more mind-blowing and midwinter than merry, with lots of dark tone colors and food for thought.

Music director Paavo Jarvi has a flair for programming. Returning after two months guest conducting in Europe, he offered his listeners a program whose sum equaled more than its parts, with a performance that went over the top, too.


Sibelius' Symphony No. 4, Berg's Violin Concerto and Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet" might seem randomly chosen. On closer inspection, however, their inter-relationships are extraordinary. Sibelius' Fourth (1911), which was written on the cusp of the "modern" age, musically speaking, marked the farthest point he would go toward the harmonic revolution of the 20th-century, with lots of harmonic ambiguity and virtually no "melody," as such.

On top of that, it's a very serious, not to say gloomy, work, having been written during a dark period in Sibelius' life (he expected to die at any time, having just had surgery for throat cancer).

Berg's Concerto, radiantly performed by Dutch violinist Isabelle van Keulen, bends in the opposite direction. The Austrian composer, a chief exponent of the so-called "12-tone," freely "dissonant" system that shattered 300 years of key-centered harmony, was a master at making his music sound tonal. Berg's concerto, "To the Memory of An Angel," also dwells on death, having been dedicated to Manon Gropius, a friend's daughter, who died of polio at 18. His last completed work, it became, in fact, Berg's own requiem and contains cryptic references to the women he loved, including an illegitimate daughter whom he came to identify with Manon.

Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet," while securely situated among the all-time favorite classical works, is of course, based on a great tale of love and death. As such, it fit the death-related theme of the concert perfectly.

Sibelius' Fourth is the least popular of his symphonies and regularly challenges audiences. It did Friday, though not for lack of a splendid performance. The grave Adagio set the tone, with its chocolaty strings and gleaming, incisive brass. Jarvi gave emphasis to the tripping woodwinds in the scherzo, a lighter moment among the persistent tritones and snarly horns.

The symphony gave birth to a gorgeous, impassioned theme in the Largo, but only after five tortuous tries. The glints of glockenspiel in the finale were a bit of light in the darkness along with the "heroic" flourishes in winds and brass. The work ends mezzo-forte on a repeated major chord, as if Sibelius had run out of steam. The audience "got it," however, and applauded promptly.

Van Keulen brought Manon Gropius vividly to life in the concerto. The two movements are programmatic, the first a reminiscence of her beauty and character, the second a portrayal of her illness and death. Van Keulen matched her tone and expression to each episode, flighty and cheerful in the first, plucky and aggressive in the second, serenely resigned at the end, where Berg quotes a Bach chorale. The enigmatic folk song woven into both movements (hardly Bachian with its risque text) had a mysterious feel, and van Keulen tied it all up in a performance as narrative as it was nimble. Kudos to visiting tubist Christopher Olka for some wonderful solos.

Jarvi made sheer drama out of the Tchaikovsky. I have rarely heard a performance so full of contrast, painfully slow, almost morose at the beginning, an oasis of peace in the tender love scene. The strife of the Montagues and Capulets was savagely drawn, making the threnody at the end that much more effective.

Repeat is 8 p.m. tonight at Music Hall.
Mary ellyn hutton's website is Music in Cincinnati.

Friday, January 12, 2007

CONCERT REVIEW: L'Orchestre Philharmonique de Vienne

Photo: Sheila Rock
Here is a review from anaclase.com of Paavo's Paris concert from November, conducting the Vienna Philharmonic:
L'Orchestre Philharmonique de Vienne
Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris
29 novembre 2006

Ce soir, la salle affiche presque complet. Paavo Järvi y dirigeait pour la première fois le Wiener Philharmoniker, interprétant les symphonies Londres et La Grande et l'ouverture de Zauberflöte. Précis, étonnant et par-fois spectaculaire, l'orchestre fut parfaitement à la hauteur de ces grandes œuvres du répertoire classique et romantique.

Bel accueil que celui réservé par le public de l'Avenue Montaigne à la forma-tion viennoise. Dès les premières mesures de l'ouverture de Zauberflöte de Mozart, l'auditeur est saisi par sa qualité instrumentale, son ampleur et sa précision. C'est aussi spectaculaire à voir, avec tous ces archets disciplinés et ces attaques parfaitement en place. L'orchestre resplendit dans des œu-vres à sa mesure. Dans la Symphonie n° 104 de Haydn, les musiciens font entendre toutes les surprises que réserve la partition. En effet, chaque épi-sode possède une particularité qui surprend l'écoute: le brio des vents et de la percussion dans le premier mouvement, les déferlements des cordes dans l'Andante alors même qu'il commençait de façon assez fragile, la dissolution progressive du discours dans le Finale.

Dans la Symphonie en ut majeur D.944 de Schubert, c'est une vraie palette de couleurs qui se déploie, pour une interprétation ne manquant jamais d'expressivité. Le début, léger, contraste avec le climat grandiose et majestueux de la fin. Dans le second mouvement, on cerne la subtilité d'or-chestration et les ressources polyphoniques. Grâce à une lecture claire, on aborde aisément la richesse de cette partition, par exemple dans le conflit entre les bois doux et les cordes énergiques dans le Scherzo ou dans l'am-pleur étonnante du Finale. On peut saluer la belle prestation des bois et des cuivres, principalement des cors, instruments pivots dans cette symphonie, à travers leurs motifs d'appels dans les deux premiers mouvements et leurs pulsations dans le Trio.

Sous la direction ample et précise de Paavo Järvi, le résultat fut époustou-flant. Parfois désinvolte mais surtout calme, le chef estonien impressionne par la façon dont il tient l'orchestre, la baguette tendre dans les passages legato, énergique et incisive quand la musique se déchaîne, tremblante quand la tension est à son paroxysme. Maîtrise, clarté et précision : voilà ce que le public retiendra de cette belle soirée de laquelle il n'attendait pas moins en franchissant le seuil du théâtre.

Par Laure Dautriche

CD REVIEW: Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 2, Cincinnati Symphony

Record Reviews – 1/7/2007
Philadephia Sunday Inquirer
Ratings: **** Excellent *** Good ** Fair * Poor

Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Jarvi conducting
(Telarc ****)

The buzz around the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra under Paavo Jarvi is getting louder and stronger. Though you'd never want to draw conclusions about day-to-day music-making from a recording, this disc is one of the best available outings with this great symphony - and that's something all the recording-studio wizardry in the world can't conjure.

This performance's starting point is an attractive string sonority, of course, though few conductors give the piece such personal, meaningful phrase readings. With some fast tempos and wide dynamic ranges, the 1908 symphony becomes an explosive, anxious, even world-weary anticipation of the tumultuous century to come.


The disc also features some early, little-known orchestral works, most notably two dances from the 1893 opera Aleko that clearly look forward to the composer's final work, The Symphonic Dances. Few composers established their personalities so early but went on to encompass so many other musical worlds.

- David Patrick Stearns

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Violinist brings out beauty of Berg concerto

Violinist brings out beauty of Berg concerto
By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Cincinnati Post, January 11, 2007

When does 12-tone music (read atonal or "dissonant") not sound like 12-tone music?

When it's by Alban Berg.

The Austrian composer and disciple of Arnold Schoenberg who helped eclipse tonality during the first half of the 20th-century never lost his feeling for harmonic beauty.

"Berg is always lyrical, always singing," said violinist Isabelle van Keulen of Holland, who will perform Berg's Violin Concerto with Paavo Järvi and the Cincinnati Symphony at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Music Hall.

"The beauty of the piece is that it doesn't sound like a 12-tone piece. That is the genius of it, really. It's beautifully, harmonically written."

Berg inscribed his concerto "To the Memory of an Angel" and dedicated it to Manon Gropius, daughter of composer Gustav Mahler's widow. Manon (Mutzi) died of polio in April 1935 at age 18. The Violin Concerto was Berg's last completed work. He died of a heart attack in December 1935, shortly before its premiere.

"It's a very touching piece," said van Keulen, almost "graphic" in its depiction of the young Gropius, whom Berg had known from childhood. "The first movement is about how lovely she was, her character. The second movement is the struggle. Finally, when she dies, there is a Bach chorale, 'I have enough.' The ending just goes up into heaven."

How Berg achieved his congenial harmonies using the 12-tone system is technical. Twelve-tone music is constructed of "tone rows," all 12 notes of the scale laid and combined in prescribed ways. By using rows with sequences of triads - what the ear is used to hearing in music of the past 300 years - Berg's combinations can sound a lot like other late romantic music.

Van Keulen (pronounced van KE-lin with the E as in kerchief) has much in common with Louis Krasner, the violinist who commissioned Berg's concerto. Like Krasner, who wanted a violin concerto written in the new-fangled 12-tone style, van Keulen is a champion of new music.

In November 2001, she made her debut with Järvi and the CSO at Music Hall in the U.S. premiere of Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür's 1999 Violin Concerto. Her repertoire also includes concertos by Alan Pettersson, Peteris Vasks, Oliver Knussen and Tüür's newly composed Double Concerto, "Noesis," for Violin and Clarinet with her husband, clarinetist Michael Collins.

"With modern music, you have a commissioned piece that you play two or three times and then it's sort of finished most of the time," she said. "The (Tüür) Violin Concerto I've played a great deal, like 15 or 20 times." She also recorded it to considerable acclaim with Järvi and England's City of Birmingham Orchestra.

Van Keulen, who grew up in the picturesque countryside between Utrecht and Amsterdam, won the Eurovision Young Musicians Competition in 1984. "I was 17 and had just finished my A levels at school. I was put on by the Dutch Radio Broadcasting Company. It was broadcast for the whole of Europe, 13 million people watching. It was the one and only competition I did and was a real breakthrough, because I had been on television - the X factor and all that sort of stuff."

She gets her love for contemporary music from her mother, who "was always listening to the radio, to the modern programs," she said. She asked to play the violin at 3 (her older sister played the flute). "Still, I had to wait three more years and finally got my violin." She studied at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam and with Sandor Vegh at the Mozarteum in Salzburg.

Being a new music exponent has its pluses and minuses, she said.

"It's unbelievably interesting to work with composers who are still alive. You can just talk through your problems and questions. Sometimes they even go as far as changing the piece for you if it makes the piece better. We don't have this with dead composers."

The risk is being "put in a drawer," she said. "You should at all times avoid being a specialist, whether it's baroque, jazz, crossover, or whatever. It's dangerous to be going down such a narrow path."

Van Keulen, who founded and led the Delft International Chamber Music Festival in Amsterdam from 1996-2006, doesn't see new music as a separate compartment of what she does. "It's part of playing classical, romantic and contemporary. It all belongs together in a line of tradition and development."

She is also very careful about the new music she performs. "I like to look at it first and see whether it is any good, whether it suits me and if I can perform it convincingly. Otherwise, it wouldn't make sense. Obviously, I don't want to play everything just once!"

Van Keulen plays one or two new concertos a year, "at a maximum," she said. "I play a lot of Mozart and a lot of Brahms, the whole repertoire."

She has just joined the Leopold Trio, a highly regarded, London-based string trio (violin, viola and cello). "I'm thrilled, because I've always dreamt of either founding a group myself or being invited to join a group like this."

She gave up the Delft Festival to spend more time with her children Simon and Rose (8, and 6).

"They need to see me in the summer. I need some summer holiday."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Isabelle van Keulen Returns to Cincinnati This Week


Cincinnati welcomes Paavo back to the Music Hall podium this week. Dutch violinist Isabelle van Keulen makes her first return appearance to Cincinnati this week since performing the U.S. premiere of Erkki-Sven Tüür's Violin Concerto in 2001. Partnering once again with Paavo and the Cincinnati Symphony, van Keulen will perform Anton Berg's "To the Memory of an Angel" Violin Concerto. Also on the program are Sibelius' Symphony No. 4 in A Minor, and Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Overture-fantasy.

Concerts are Friday, January 12 and Saturday, January 13 at 8 pm. Friday night is College Nite with $10 tickets for students with valid IDs, an after-party with Paavo and CSO musicians, and complimentary food and beverages. Hyde Park Outrage will perform.

Listen to Paavo's Notes via MP3 here. And read this week's Program Notes before you go. This program will air via streaming audio for the rest of the world on 90.9 FM, Classical WGUC on Sunday, February 25, at 7:30 pm ET.

BONJOUR L'ESTONIE: Järvi follows father to the podium


Believe me, I try to be everywhere, finding all the Paavo news in the world ;-), but sometimes I just miss something! In this case, here's a little piece from BONJOUR L'ESTONIE, circa June 2005, and Maestro Neeme's final Detroit Symphony concert of the 2005 season:
Like father; like son goes the saying. In the orchestra world, Paavo Järvi, music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and his dad, Neeme Järvi, outgoing music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, share a unique bond.

Growing up in Estonia, Paavo learned conducting at his dad's knee. Today, they have the unprecedented feat of conducting major American orchestras at the same time. (Neeme Järvi will begin a new tenure with the New Jersey Symphony this fall.)

This weekend, Neeme is stepping in for his son to conduct gala concerts in Detroit marking the end of his tenure there, while Paavo seeks medical treatment for an undisclosed hand ailment in Tokyo.

For Father's Day, we asked them :

How does your dad/son inspire you?

Paavo : I would say that his incredible love and curiosity for music is the only reason why I became a conductor.

Neeme : My children are my greatest inspiration. They are always very excited about their work. They ask me sometimes, "Have you heard this music ? This is so wonderful," (not knowing) they are listening to my recording ! But it is a beautiful feeling to know they are learning from me. I am not too old to learn and they give me inspiration.

Why are you proud of your dad/son?

Paavo : Because he is an exceptional musician and a person.

Neeme : Paavo is very strategic, always doing things properly, and he has a winning attitude. He knows what he wants to make happen, and how to get the best results.

What's the best advice your dad/son ever gave you?

Paavo : To follow my own intuition.

Neeme : "Father, don't work too much. You need to relax a bit." But Paavo has two orchestras and is very busy, so I give him back the same advice!

Monday, January 08, 2007

CSO's Online BRAVO SHOP Now Open!

Check it out -- now you have a convenient, secure online way to order those tempting Cincinnati Symphony and Pops recordings. Just visit The Bravo Shop and follow the easy to use instructions to set up your very own account.

I would highly recommend you consider making The First Concert: September 2001 DVD your first purchase. It's a tremendously moving souvenir of Paavo's first weekend of concerts as Music Director, poignantly coinciding with the week of September 11, 2001. The power of music as both a release for sorrow and a catalyst for producing joy are dramatically captured in this DVD, a first for the Cincinnati Symphony.
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Paavo Jarvi's first concert as CSO Music Director
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Paavo Jarvi conducting
September 2001

1. Intro
2. Charles Coleman: Streetscape (World Premiere performance)
3. Debussy: La mer, I. From Dawn to Noon on the Sea
4. Debussy: La mer, II. Games of the Waves
5. Debussy: La mer, III. Dialogue of the Wind and Sea
6. Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, I. Andante. Allegro con anima.
7. Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, II. Andante cantabile, con alcuna licenza. Moderato con anima. Tempo I. Allegro non troppo. Tempo I.
8. Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, III. Valse: Allegro Moderato.
9. Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, IV. Andante Maestoso. Allegro vivace. Molto vivace. Moderato assai e molto maestoso. Presto. Molto meno mosso.
10. Special tribute: Barber: Adagio for Strings

Price $20.00 ea.

CD REVIEW: Sturm&Drang

Sturm&Drang
Von Hans-Klaus Jungheinrich
Frankfurter Rundschau Online, 08. Januar 2007

Ehe der Symphoniker Beethoven zum Klassiker gerann und Vorzeigeobjekt von philharmonischem Perfektionismus wurde, war er ein Exponent von Sturm & Drang, ein gärend-unruhevoller Revolutionär. Wie sich solche Intention nach langer Zeit noch realisieren ließe, deutete eine Bemerkung des Philosophen Georg Picht an, der vor 50 Jahren meinte, er höre sich Beethovensymphonien am liebsten mit Provinzorchestern an, in deren Vortrag Mühe ums Gelingen, Druck und Spannung merklich seien. Heute sind allerdings auch solche Klangkörper schon gusseiserne Perfektionisten. Was tun? Opulenz philharmonisch elaboriert ausdörren wie Norrington?

Das venezolanische Simón Bolívar-Jugendorchester betritt eher den Picht-Pfad der unerfahrenen ersten Liebe, die sich am Material frenetisch abarbeitet, wodurch die Interpretation der Fünften und Siebten mit dem Dirigenten Gustavo Dudamel (Deutsche Grammophon 00289 477 6228) tatsächlich Schwung und Gespannheit und damit einen Anhauch von Bedeutsamkeit bekommt. Ein wenig auf Norringtons Spuren wandelt die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie mit Paavo Järvi (RCA 88697 00685-2), indem sie bei der Dritten und Achten das spieltechnisch scheinbar Unproblematische durch leichte, unpathetische Diktion beweglich hält. Damit werden zumal die ersten Sätze der Eroica zur Kammersinfonie umcodiert, bevor im Finale altgewohnte Gravität wieder Fuß fasst und die Achte sowieso in spritziger Bravour daherchampagnert. Beide Veröffentlichungen signalisieren, dass sich der beethovengesättigte Markt einiges einfallen lassen muss, um alten Wein in neue Schläuche zu füllen.

Die drei Wünsche
Hervorragend:
Schubert, 9. Symphonie C-Dur, Münchner Ph., Günter Wand; Hänssler PH 06014. Beredter Ausdruck, geformter Klang, konservative Auffassung.
Bemerkenswert: Schubert, 9. Symphonie C-Dur, Staatskap. Dresden, PH 06038. Ähnlich wie Wand, etwas unpersönlicher.
Extravagant: Pfitzner, C-Dur-Symph., Strauss, Don Juan, Till Eulenspiegel u.a.; Staatskap. Dresden, Karl Böhm; Hänssler PH 07010. Historisches von 1939.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

New Rachmaninoff CD Due This Month


Well, I have no inside information about this, but straight from Telarc's "mouth" we can report that Paavo's new Rachmaninoff CD with the Cincinnati will be released in the U.S. on January 23, 2007:
Telarc To Release All-Rachmaninoff Recording by Paavo Jarvi and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

Symphony No. 2 in E Minor, Scherzo and Dances from Aleko mark 11th Telarc/Järvi recording

The 11th Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Telarc recording with CSO Music Director Paavo Järvi is an all-Rachmaninoff disc, to be released January 24, 2007 in both CD and SACD formats. The repertoire includes Symphony No. 2 in E Minor, Opus 27, well known for its romantic slow-movement theme; Dances from Aleko; and a Scherzo dating from the composer’s early years at the Moscow Conservatory.

“I love core repertoire, and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 is a sweeping example of the Russian symphonic tradition and perhaps the most popular of his orchestral works,” said Järvi. “It’s also exciting to become familiar with Rachmaninoff’s lesser-known gems such as the two gypsy dances from Aleko and the charming little Scherzo from 1888.”

After the unfortunate premiere of Rachmaninoff’s First Symphony in 1895 (when the conductor, Alexander Glazunov, reportedly took the podium while “under the influence”), the Second Symphony reaffirmed Rachmaninoff as a symphonist in 1908. It is a large-scale work with signature Rachmaninoff touches such as brooding shifts from dark to lyric and a meltingly beautiful love theme.

The opera Aleko, based on a story by Pushkin about social clashes, dates from 1892 and was a graduation project assigned to Rachmaninoff and two fellow students at the Moscow Conservatory. Rachmaninoff wrote two gypsy dances – The Women’s Dance and The Men’s Dance – which earned the highest honors from his conservatory panel. The Women’s Dance evokes a dusky, exotic mood while The Men’s Dance is folk-like and rhythmic in character.

The 1888 Scherzo was Rachmaninoff’s first orchestral effort. The composer “had just transferred to the Moscow Conservatory, and wrote it at the suggestion of Nicolay Zverev, his piano teacher, with whom he was living,” writes Kyle Gann in the album liner notes. “The manuscript was marked ‘Scherzo, Second Part’ but no evidence survives of what larger work the student might have considered this a movement of. The premiere waited until November 2, 1945.”

Telarc’s ten discs with Paavo Järvi and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra have garnered critical acclaim, including their September 2006 release of music by Britten and Elgar (CD-80660/SACD-60660), which was called “a spectacular recording” in a review on ClassicsToday.com. In May 2006 the CSO’s Bartók and Lutoslawski Concertos for Orchestra (CD-80618/SACD-60618) debuted on the Billboard classical chart at number 9, and The New York Times said of it, “Mr. Järvi’s interpretations are everywhere persuasive, and the performances almost uniformly virtuosic. Telarc’s typically expansive sound is especially gratifying…” The September 2005 release, Dvoøák: Symphony No. 9/Martinù: Symphony No. 2 (CD-80616/SACD-60616) was named Gramophone “Editor’s Choice.” Its reviewer wrote, “Paavo Järvi reveals his keen imagination and sharp concentration in both performances and under his guidance the Cincinnati SO is consistently excellent: the ensemble more than matches that of the rival versions.” Music of Ravel also was named Gramophone “Editor’s Choice” and was awarded a Diapason d’or.

Click here to listen to Real Audio Clips.

Friday, January 05, 2007

CD REVIEW: Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen/Beethoven Symphonies No. 3 and 8

This glowing review of Paavo's latest installment of the Beethoven Symphony Cycle with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen was published on January 4, 2006 in the Die Zeit, arguably the most prestigious newspaper in Germany:
Seize the Opportunity!

Classical: Paavo Järvi Conducts Two Beethoven Symphonies Splendidly

Once again a father vanishes from a biography. A few years ago, the Estonian conductor Paavo Järvi released a CD with Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, and in the liner notes you could still read that, as a 17-year-old, he had moved from Tallinn to the US with his father, conductor Neeme Järvi. Now Paavo Järvi is conducting his first Beethoven, and the result is an act of emancipation which is so brilliant that his vita in the CD booklet now completely obliterates his father's shadow. We are familiar with such breaking of parental ties from the Kleibers and the Sanderlings. Talent research will some day say that the genes run in the family.

"Järvi" means "lake" in English, but this lake never lies tranquil and still. On the contrary, it is a dangerous lake, with a current and shoals. It is a dynamic body of water with bubbling inlets; sometimes it is even high, yet you can always see the bottom. When Paavo Järvi and The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen play the Finale of the 'Eroica,' their music-making does not slap clear varnish on the score, hermetically sealing it. Järvi opens up the texture; he turns the symphonic variation structure into a choral study, from which he later even extracts a perfect string quartet, as though the Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, op. 55, were an as-yet unknown neighbor of the three 'Razumovsky' Quartets, op. 59.

These insights become even clearer when Järvi risks an almost vibratoless Beethoven; nevertheless, its vibrancy is not lost. The energy does not whirl out of individual notes but flows from their arching slurs, from biting articulation and insistent legato. At times the sound is so light, on the other hand, it is as though the notes to be played are as hot as a stove top. Beethoven's metronome markings are observed with almost irritating brilliance, but this obedience does not follow a dispassionate general plan. Instead, the playing is as animated as the wind that wafts across the lake. It has been a long time since an orchestra has played Beethoven's Symphony based on a delicate wind sound with this much refinement. The crescendos, which appear out of the blue and border on the utopian, are magnificent. The recording technique also achieves a miracle, with its reproduction of chamber music-like inlays and linear curves.

The ensemble, to which the conductor issues the order to seize the opportunity, lands like a riot squad on the Symphony No. 8 in F major, op. 93, a masterpiece which is often considered trivial. Here one is even more astonished at the speed with which an energetic tutti pulls back to an eloquent piano. Dryness and power never seem to be slavishly bound together; this is a performance with fascinating spatial reverberations, with a finely chiseled symphonic grain. Historically informed competency, transformed into modernity. A reference recording.

For the visionary Beethoven, the twenty-first century is off to an excellent start. For Paavo Järvi as well; he is currently Music Director in Cincinnati and, since recently, with the [Frankfurt] Radio Symphony Orchestra. Not long ago, he was welcomed in Frankfurt by an oversized Paavo statue. Papa Neeme can be proud.