Sunday, May 22, 2011

Gustav Mahler Symphonie n°2

Classics TodayFrance.com
by Christophe Hus

GUSTAV MAHLER
Symphonie n° 2

Natalie Dessay (soprano); Alice Coote (mezzo)
Orfeón Donostiarra, Orchestre symphonique de la Radio de Francfort
Paavo Järvi
Virgin Classics- 2 CD 694586 0(CD)
Référence: Mehta (Decca); Fischer (Channel)

Auriez vous imaginé un jour la rencontre, dans la 2e de Mahler, de la force primitive du premier enregistrement de Zubin Mehta (avec Vienne chez Decca) et de la mise en place méticuleuse de Tennstedt? Moi pas. Surtout pas sous forme de prestation aussi efficace.

Je le concède: la Résurrection de Paavo Järvi s'adresse a priori davantage aux neurones qu'aux récepteurs d'adrénaline. Mais son miracle (qui peut ne pas toucher certains auditeurs - et, apparemment les chroniqueurs anglais se font un devoir de ne pas être touchés... ce qui est généralement très bon signe!) est que de l'éblouissement intellectuel naît le frisson.

Contrairement aux Bruckner de Paavo Järvi, que je trouve assez génériques et lourds, Mahler bénéficie d'une vision très déterminée (ceux qui ont vu l'un des premiers concerts à Paris du chef - une 6e de Mahler - au Châtelet il y a plus de dix ans en ont eu un avant-goût). Le parti pris est de faire entendre le plus de choses possibles; de parvenir à une d'éloquence de la couleur.

Pour arriver à ces fins, Paavo Järvi bénéficie du concours des ingénieurs du son, qui nous donnent ici, techniquement, l'un des meilleurs disques EMI-Virgin de tous les temps dans le répertoire symphonique: on dirait du Decca des grandes années! L'optique sonore est clairement celle d'un disque (vs. l'image sonore de concert) et d'un univers sonore où est mis en relief ce qui doit l'être (la harpe à la fin du IV et au début du V), où les timbales frappent et où les graves sont bien découpés (ex. sous l'appel des cors avant l'entrée du chœur). EMI avait déjà fait très fort dans cette optique et esthétique avec certains enregistrements de l'intégrale Sibelius de John Barbirolli.

En général, les chefs adeptes de la radiographie polyphonique dans Mahler perdent le sens du mouvement, de la structure ou tendent à s'appesantir. Rien de cela ici. Järvi n'englue pas les thèmes féminins comme Tennstedt. Il trouve aussi la juste pondération des tempos des mouvements II et III, malgré une légère tendance à poser ses effets. Partout les trouvailles dans les alliages sonores font dresser l'oreille. Jamais ils ne sont coquetterie.

La partie vocale est excellente. Alice Coote, plus claire que les grandes contraltos, donne une tonalité très humaine à l'Urlicht, dont l'orchestre reste un protagoniste majeur. Natalie Dessay chante bien et juste, contrairement à nombre de ses consoeurs dans cet emploi ingrat et sa voix se marie bien à celle de Coote. Le chœur Orfeón Donostiarra peut compter sur les vraies basses 2 nécessaires et gère bien la justesse et les pianissimos.

On allait allègrement vers le 10/10, jusqu'aux 9 dernières minutes (partition: du chiffre 37 à la fin) où, en proie à je ne sais quelle excitation, l'esprit logique de Paavo Järvi commence à connaître quelques failles. Malgré mon admiration presque sans bornes pour les 75 minutes qui précèdent, je ne peux attribuer un 10/10 à une 2e de Mahler dont les derniers instants ne me satisfont pas.

Cela commence à dérailler dans le passage orchestral avant l'entrée "O Glaube" de la mezzo. Mahler demande des "a tempo" et "nicht schleppen" (ne pas traîner) que le chef gère mal et avec trop de retenue. Il y a ensuite le "Bereite dich" des hommes du chœur, où les ténors d'airain basques auraient vraiment eu besoin d'un polissage pour éviter la testostérone d'arènes qui n'a rien à faire ici. Le reste (à partir de "O Schmerz, chiffre 44) est une sorte de tournoiement étrange. Le duo "O Schmerz" (sans presser - Nicht eilen) va trop vite, le "Mit Flügeln" du choeur aussi (Langsam demande Mahler !!!) ce qui mine les gradations Etwas drängend (en pressant un peu) et les balances "piu mosso vs. Ritenuto" qui s'ensuivent. Indépendamment de toute "liberté d'interprète", je ne vois pas la logique de cet étrange agencement rythmique à contre-partition.

Quel dommage! Jusque là cette version était l'égale de Mehta-Vienne.

http://www.classicstodayfrance.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=3650

Saturday, May 21, 2011

L’empereur et le pape

ConcertoNet.com
by Simon Corley

Paris
Salle Pleyel
05/18/2011 - et 19* (Paris), 29 (Wien) mai 2011
Thierry Escaich :
La Barque solaire
Antonín Dvorák :
Concerto pour violoncelle n° 2, opus 104, B. 191
Camille Saint-Saëns :
Symphonie n° 3, opus 78
Gautier Capuçon (violoncelle), Thierry Escaich (orgue)
Orchestre de Paris, Paavo Järvi (direction)

T. Escaich (© Sébastien Erome)

C’est autour de Thierry Escaich que l’Orchestre de Paris a bâti ce programme, qui sera également celui du deuxième des trois concerts qu’il donnera au Musikverein de Vienne à la fin du mois – non seulement l’organiste mais aussi le compositeur, qui fait son entrée au répertoire de la formation parisienne avec La Barque solaire (2008). La partition associe l’orgue et l’orchestre, non pas à la manière d’un concerto – il en a d’ailleurs déjà écrit deux – mais dans l’objectif d’élargir les couleurs de la palette instrumentale. Le titre renvoie à la barque sur laquelle Râ accomplissait son voyage diurne dans le ciel, d’où, presque tout au long de ces quatorze minutes, une activité fiévreuse et spectaculaire, une mobilité rythmique, une énergie paroxystique qui pourraient évoquer certaines pages de Messiaen si le langage ne semblait si convenu et si l’acoustique ne rendait les tutti excessivement denses, quelquefois même saturés.

S’il est loin d’être privé de prestations avec orchestre dans la capitale, comme en témoigne sa venue en janvier dernier avec celui de Birmingham, voici toutefois plus de huit ans que Gautier Capuçon n’avait pas été à l’affiche de l’Orchestre de Paris – c’était en novembre 2002 avec son frère Renaud dans le Double Concerto de Brahms. Cette fois-ci, il est invité seul, pour le Second Concerto (1895) de Dvorák: dans cette salle où les solistes ne parviennent parfois pas à s’imposer, le son du Matteo Gofriller (1701) se projette amplement et l’aisance de l’interprète impressionne. Mais le violoncelliste français ne se contente pas de ces atouts techniques et si son archet ne fléchit jamais, très droit et tenu, il n’en mise pas moins sur l’engagement et la fougue romantique, sur l’épopée et la légende, sur la couleur, au risque d’en faire trop dans les contrastes de dynamiques et de tempi et, dès lors, d’en paraître plus extérieur que véritablement impliqué – il est vrai que l’accompagnement ne résiste pas toujours à la tentation de rouler des mécaniques.

Avant de tenter d’apaiser un public enthousiaste en offrant son bis favori – une brève Marche de Prokofiev, arrangement de la dixième des douze pièces de son recueil pianistique Musique pour les enfants (1935) – Capuçon profite de la présence d’Escaich pour livrer une transcription de l’air «Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix» de Samson et Dalila (1877): voilà qui change avec bonheur de l’incontournable «Cygne», qu’il avait choisi en janvier dernier, d’autant que le violoncelle et l’orgue rendent à l’opéra les voix qui lui avaient manqué lorsqu’il avait été présenté la veille à Pleyel en version de concert.

Ce bis constitue en même temps une transition vers la seconde partie de la soirée: entièrement consacrée à une autre œuvre créée à Londres (comme le Concerto de Dvorák) il y a cent vingt-cinq ans jour pour jour, elle établit un parallèle entre Saint-Saëns et Escaich, non pas au travers de la mythologie, où Phaéton aurait pu répondre à La Barque solaire, mais de nouveau par l’alliage de l’orgue et de l’orchestre, de l’empereur et du pape – pour reprendre la plaisante métaphore filée par Berlioz dans son Grand Traité d’instrumentation et d’orchestration modernes. Cité fort pertinemment par la note de programme de Claire Delamarche, il ne pensait pas que leur «singulier rapprochement» puisse être positif – «leur mission n’est pas la même, leurs intérêts sont trop vastes et trop divers pour être confondus» – et considérait que l’un finissait nécessairement par prendre le pas sur l’autre, s’indignant en particulier de ce qu’on puisse «étrangement rabaisser ce majestueux instrument» en le réduisant à un «rôle secondaire» lorsqu’il est mêlé «aux divers éléments constitutifs de l’orchestre».

Parvenant sans peine à démentir les craintes exprimées par Berlioz, Escaich a déjà joué la Troisième Symphonie (1886) en mars 2007 avec l’Orchestre de Paris à Pleyel; à la baguette, Michel Plasson avait alors laissé un sentiment mitigé, mais tel n’est pas le cas de Paavo Järvi: peut-être moins soucieux d’expression que de qualité de la réalisation instrumentale et de la mise en place, soignant particulièrement l’équilibre entre les pupitres, il ne se départit pas volontiers sinon d’une froideur ou d’une distance, du moins de cette objectivité qui le caractérise souvent dans le répertoire français. Et quand il l’abandonne, ici ou là dans le Poco adagio, c’est pour s’alanguir quelque peu, alors que cette musique ne demande qu’à s’épanouir avec fluidité. Même le Scherzo, plus incisif que mordant, aurait gagné à davantage de peps, celui qu’il insuffle au Finale, parvenant à éviter l’emphase en lui conférant une allure dramatique et conquérante. Mais par sa réussite instrumentale comme par sa tenue interprétative, cette Troisième se range parmi les meilleures entendues ces dernières années et apporte en même temps la confirmation de ce que le climat se maintient au beau fixe entre le directeur musical – déjà regretté à Cincinnati où il vient de faire ses adieux en se voyant décerner le titre de music director laureate – et la phalange parisienne.

http://www.concertonet.com/scripts/review.php?ID_review=7474

Järvi Valedictory in Cincinnati Bittersweet

ConcertoNet.com
by Mary Ellyn Hutton

Cincinnati
Music Hall
05/13/2011 - & May 14*, 2011
Erkki-Sven Tüür:
Fireflower – Piano Concerto
Gustav Mahler:
Symphony No. 5 Awadagin Pratt (piano)
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Järvi (conductor)

P. Järvi (Courtesy of CSO)

Paavo Järvi’s final concert as music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra was filled with emotion. Ten years – the length of his tenure in Cincinnati – is a long time in anyone’s life, but the crowd in sold-out Music Hall (3,516 seats) lost no time in letting him know that, for them, it was too short.

The program was trademark Järvi. There was a world premiere, Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür’s Fireflower ; a North American premiere, Tüür’s 2006 Piano Concerto; and a work that was given its U.S. premiere by the CSO in 1905, Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. Soloist in the concerto was pianist Awadagin Pratt.

Fireflower is a three-minute fanfare for full orchestra, written for Järvi’s tenth anniversary with the CSO. Bright and colorful with a hint of jazz tucked in, it proceeded to a “perfect” conclusion, i.e. a perfect fifth sounded by the oboes. This, said Tüür, was to celebrate the “perfect chemistry” between Järvi and the musicians and the hope that they will collaborate again soon.

Tüür’s Piano Concerto was premiered in 2006 by Thomas Larcher and the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra, led by Järvi. It exhibited a phenomenal sonic imagination, with waves of percussion-rich color interacting with the piano. Pratt, who is artist-in-residence at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, handled its considerable technical demands – complex rhythms and difficult repeated note patterns – with great command. He spoke to its emotive content, too, in quiet, almost meditative moments, and there was a feeling at the end of safe harbor after an adventurous journey.

Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 has been a touchstone of Järvi’s career in Cincinnati. He took it to Vienna with the CSO on their 2004 European tour together, a kind of bringing-coals-to-Newcastle approach that earned very favorable notices. This final performance with the CSO was something different, however, with the added layer of emotion that a leave-taking brings. There was grief – and heroism – in the opening Trauermarsch and plenty of conflict in the Stürmisch bewegt that followed. Turmoil of all kinds, giddy and unhinged, beset the Scherzo, which was enhanced by placing principal hornist Elizabeth Freimuth at the front of the orchestra for a gorgeous stereophonic effect with her section colleagues.

The famous Adagietto was revelatory. Järvi shaped his lines here with aching tenderness, as if striving for something beyond reach, the harp accompaniment casting a warm glow over the strings. The Rondo-Finale brought things back to earth. It was a breathtaking, brassy run-up to a crashing final chord, another Järvi trademark, given all the muscle he could deliver.

The audience responded with a shout and an instantaneous standing ovation. There was an encore, a very touching one, Sibelius’ Valse Triste, given a breadth of feeling and dynamic range that spoke volumes. As the ovation continued, Järvi walked among the musicians shaking hands and exchanging hugs right and left. When it seemed the audience would not let him go, he finally waved goodbye and walked off the stage.

Järvi, 48, is one of the world’s busiest conductors (he heads the Orchestre de Paris, Frankfurt Radio Orchestra and Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen in addition to serving as artistic advisor of the Estonian National Orchestra). Having been given the title of music director laureate by the CSO, it is hoped that he will return soon to re-kindle his relationship with the orchestra and an audience that clearly loves him.

http://www.concertonet.com/scripts/review.php?ID_review=7477

Deutsche Welle: "Das Beethoven-Projekt" als beste TV-Produktion des Jahres ausgezeichnet

lifePR.de

Beim "WorldMediaFestival" in Hamburg gehen zahlreiche Preise an das deutsche Auslandsfernsehen

(lifepr) Bonn, 20.05.2011
, Als beste Produktion des Jahres ist beim "WorldMediaFestival 2011" in Hamburg "Das Beethoven-Projekt" der Deutschen Welle mit dem "Grand Prix" ausgezeichnet worden. Bei der Verleihung am Mittwoch, 18. Mai, gingen weitere Preise an den deutschen Auslandsrundfunk.

Die 90-minütige Dokumentation von Regisseur Christian Berger war 2010 ausgestrahlt worden. Berger hatte mit einem Kamerateam mehrere Wochen lang die Kammerphilharmonie Bremen unter Dirigent Paavo Järvi während der Proben und der Aufführung aller neun Beethoven-Symphonien begleitet. "Der Film spielt mit Klischees und sprengt sie gleichzeitig", so die Jury des Hamburger Festivals.

Die Musik-Dokumentation wurde aus 555 eingereichten Produktionen aus 36 Ländern ausgewählt. Sie erhielt in Hamburg neben dem "Grand Prix" auch den Jury-Sonderpreis "Grand Award" und einen "intermedia-globe-Award" in Gold (Kategorie "Documentaries"). Die Produktion der Deutschen Welle war zuvor schon mehrfach im In- und Ausland ausgezeichnet worden, darunter mit dem Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik und dem "Creation"-Award von "Eyes and Ears of Europe". Bei Filmfestivals in Montreal (Kanada), Ghuangzhou (China), Rhodes Island und Cincinnati (USA) hatte "Das Beethoven-Projekt" ebenfalls Beachtung gefunden.

Projektleiter Rolf Rische (DW): "Der Film beweist, dass es möglich ist, ein komplexes Thema unterhaltsam aufzubereiten, ohne die Inhalte zu trivialisieren. Wir nehmen die Auszeichnung in Hamburg als Bestätigung und Ansporn zugleich." Der Film wurde in Koproduktion mit "Unitel", München hergestellt, ausführender Produzent war die Firma BFMI, Salzburg. Sony Music vertreibt den Film als DVD weltweit.

Für die Deutsche Welle gab es in Hamburg weitere Auszeichnungen. Einen "intermedia-globe-Award" in Silber (Kategorie: Documentaries Culture) erhielt die einstündige Dokumentation "Maschinenmusik - 40 Jahre Electronic & Dance aus Deutschland" von Regisseur Reiner Schild und Anja Freyhoff-King. Einen weiteren "intermedia-globe-Award" in Silber vergab die Jury an den Magazin-Beitrag "Kleinste Bank Deutschlands" von Volker Witting (Kategorie: Global Issues). Ebenfalls Silber gab es für die "Politik direkt"-Sondersendung "20 Jahre deutsche Einheit" (Kategorie: News) und für die Spezial-Ausgabe "Jugend in Europa" des TV-Magazins "Europa aktuell". Die Redaktion hatten Dagmar Michel und Christian Uhlig.

http://www.lifepr.de/pressemeldungen/deutsche-welle/boxid/232603

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Paavo Järvi's final CSO concert festive, bittersweet

Cincinnati.com
by Janelle Gelfand

Paavo Järvi gestures Saturday during his final concert as music director for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. / The Enquirer/Joseph Fuqua II
For the musicians who have played with Paavo Järvi for a decade, and those who have heard his exciting performances, his last concert as music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra on Saturday night was both celebratory and bittersweet.

"What Paavo has done for this city is remarkable. He has put us on the map," said Bill Friedlander, a longtime symphony supporter who, with his wife Susan, helped to fund the CSO's Japan tour in 2009. "The man has been amazing. He's been a real plus for our city."

A large "Bravo Paavo" banner was draped over a railing over Music Hall's foyer, which held a crush of music lovers of all ages. Inside, the hall was packed up to the rafters for the sold-out performance. It marked the end of an era.

William Platt, who retired last season after four decades as principal percussionist, will remember the "great performances, great tours and great recordings." His favorite performance was playing the snare drum part in Carl Nielsen's Symphony No. 5 under Järvi.

"The greatest part of our profession is the people one gets to meet and work with, many of whom become lifelong friends," he said. "I'm indeed fortunate to consider Paavo my friend and I'll miss him dearly."

When Järvi entered the stage on Saturday to conduct a program of Erkki-Sven Tüür and Mahler's Symphony No. 5, the audience gave him an instantaneous, thunderous standing ovation.

Mark Weaver, 51, of Hyde Park, a member of the May Festival Chorus, wouldn't have missed the concert, despite a seven-hour rehearsal there for the May Festival, which opens Friday.

The chorus has sung with Järvi many times.

"I remember him first coming to town, and he was a rock star," he said. He's very soft-spoken the way he does things, but the music he leads is very exciting. You can tell from tonight's turnout, he's really turned things around for the symphony. They'll have some large shoes to fill."

Kelci Hill, 18, and her sister, Kori, 20, both violinists who live in College Hill, spoke about Järvi's energy, too. They have performed in the lobby before concerts.

"I feel sad," Kelci said. "He's a really great conductor, but he's moving on to bigger and better things. All I can do is wish him good luck."

On the second floor of the balcony, where a farewell party would take place later that evening, Crystal Thies, 39, and Rich Seil, 43, of Ludlow, Ky., were gazing up at the new portrait of the maestro by artist Carin Hebenstreit. The oil painting was dedicated in February, and hangs with those of other maestros.

"I moved here right before he started. I'm a native of Cleveland, so we come from a very good symphony background, and we really enjoy what Paavo has done for the Cincinnati Symphony," Thies said. Seil, who is a Suzuki piano coordinator at Wyoming Fine Arts Center, agreed.

"He's a really interesting interpreter. He's very dynamic and he always brings out something interesting. The orchestra has been very lively since he's been here," he said.

Several musicians, entering the stage door to perform their last concert with Järvi, stopped to reflect on what he had done for the orchestra.

Tuba player Carson McTeer was impressed that Järvi always knew every part - even if the tuba only had five notes.

"He always found a way to inspire me," he said.

Trumpeter Doug Lindsay said for him the night was "the end of 10 of the most intense years of my life with this orchestra. You feel like it's the end of a real opus."

Sally Lund, 71, of Walnut Hills wouldn't have missed a week in her seat in the balcony.

"I was here last night and tonight because I can't let go of him," she said. "I'm going to miss the energy he has given all of us, and the special love of music we're not used to. I wish him well and I wish he weren't leaving, but I understand."

Longtime supporter Jane Ellis, who has attended the Cincinnati Symphony since the Eugene Goossens era in the 1940s, was sad, "but I know it's his decision. Please come back soon," she said.

http://communitypress.cincinnati.com/article/AB/20110515/ENT03/105150341/J-rvi-s-final-concert-festive-bittersweet?odyssey=nav|head

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Järvi's Farewell Emotion-Laden

MusicinCincinnati.com
by Mary Ellyn Hutton
May 15, 2011

Paavo Järvi knows how to say goodbye -- and he did so powerfully with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Friday night at Music Hall.

Never, in fact, have I heard such an emotionally charged performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. The CSO music director – soon to be music director laureate – poured every fiber of his being into Mahler’s complex score and the musicians played their hearts out for him.

It was a near-sellout crowd for Järvi’s final concert as CSO music director (repeat is 8 p.m. tonight, but tickets are scarce). The audience gave him their hearts, too, standing for Järvi at the beginning of the concert -- before a note was played -- and at the end in a unanimous demonstration of appreciation for his ten years of stewardship in Cincinnati.

Appropriately, there was a fanfare, “Fireflower,” by Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür, a world premiere composed for the occasion. There was a guest artist, famed pianist Awadagin Pratt, artist-in-residence at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, in the North American premiere of Tüür’s Piano Concerto. And there was the Mahler, a work given its American premiere by the CSO in 1905. It was a configuration uniquely appropriate for Järvi’s farewell concert.

Just short of four minutes, “Fireflower” is a “bouquet to Paavo,” writes Tüür in his program note. The image of blossoms as flames fit the composer’s incandescent palette, a full orchestra lit by percussion, flickering winds and brilliant brasses. It built to a plateau of joy, with catchy rhythms in the strings, before ending on a “perfect” interval, a soft open fifth by solo winds. This is symbolic, says Tüür, of the “perfect chemistry” between the CSO and Järvi and hopes for their future collaboration.

Premiered in 2006 by pianist Thomas Larcher and the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra under Järvi (also music director in Frankfurt), Tüür’s Concerto exhibits the same limitless sonic imagination as “Fireflower.” Pratt was literally all over the keys, from bottom to top of the piano’s range, as he interacted with the orchestra. Composed without a break, the music unfolds in waves of color, like light bent through a prism, or bolts of multi-colored fabric.

Pratt began with an emphatic low note on the piano, which seemed to bleed into the double basses and timpani, like ink spreading through the water. As the piano rose into a higher register, the brasses blew through their instruments, giving the texture an unforgettable “open” effect.

As the instrumental voices accumulated, the piano kept weaving among them, often with difficult repeated note figures, and there was considerable rhythmic interaction with the strings. Colors were vivid, Tüür creating an almost pitch black sonority at one point, utilizing low brasses and piano. As the work progressed, the piano came increasingly to the fore, and there was a long, almost rhapsodic piano solo, touchingly conveyed by Pratt.

The wave-like motion grew turbulent, almost violent midway in the 25-minute piece, and one could hear that repeated note motif being passed around the orchestra (timpani, xylophone). A little jazz riff, beginning in the double basses, led into somewhat calmer waters. There was a brief, lullaby-like interlude by the piano over a sustained bass note before the waves begin to smooth out toward the end. Again, the brasses blew through their instruments. It was like a cool breeze after a storm, or a safe harbor at last.

“Fireflower” and the Piano Concerto are the eighth and ninth works by Tüür to be introduced to Cincinnati audiences by his fellow Estonian Järvi. It is a rich legacy and one well suited for a virtuoso orchestra like the CSO. Tüür, who is in town for this weekend’s concerts, is without doubt one of today’s greatest sonic artists, in a direct line from Berlioz, Mahler and such 20th-century masters as Stravinsky and Edgar Varese. Don’t take your eye off him, Cincinnati.

There are no words to do justice to Järvi’s performance of the Mahler Fifth Symphony. Everything about it was ultra expressive -- like a life lived to the fullest. Indeed, it is that kind of path Mahler marked out here, passing from funereal sorrow to struggle, abandon, reverie and finally jubilation, all garbed in the multi-colors of the romantic symphony orchestra. (More than once, one was reminded that Tüür follows in Mahler’s footsteps by stretching the bounds and possibilities of instrumental color.)

How gently the strings entered after the brasses (led by principal trumpeter Robert Sullivan) announced the somber funeral march. And how suddenly anguish broke in. There would be no holds barred in this performance, Järvi seemed to be saying.

The movement that followed (marked Stürmisch bewegt, mit grösster Vehemenz, "Violently agitated, with the greatest vehemence") upped the ante, with its shrieking strings, crackling trumpets and what sounded like a swoon before the cellos entered with their sorrow-laden theme. This turbulent movement experienced wrenching ups and downs in Jarvi’s hands (and a very ill-timed cough from the audience as it came to its plaintive end).

Principal French hornist Elizabeth Freimuth came to the front of the stage for the huge scherzo, where she gave her section a thrilling stereophonic effect, her playing carefully dovetailed with theirs. The clarinets, oboes and horns often had their bells in the air as they conveyed the movement's wildly shifting emotions. Life in all its dimensions was on display -- in the cackling clarinets, clucking oboes, slurpy violins and general melee, and Järvi was in the thick of it, calling all the shots.

The famous Adagietto (compare Barber’s Adagio for Strings) was very slow, as the composer indicated. Supposedly written as a love song for Mahler’s wife Alma, it had a tragic feel, beginning with soft, gauzy strings and growing achingly expressive. Harpist Gillian Benet Sella provided a current of warmth on the halting main theme, which seemed to be reaching for something unattainably precious.

The horn call announcing the finale followed immediately, like a new day dawning. Life triumphed over adversity here, jocularly at times, and Järvi reveled in it, sometimes dancing on the podium. Never have deceptive cadences (unexpected resolutions of the harmony) been so deceptive. The movement climaxed into a huge peroration, and there was a shattering conclusion a la Järvi.

Audience response was immediate and ecstatic, with everyone on their feet demanding repeated bows. Several of them were solo bows by Järvi -- at the players’ insistence since they refused to come to their feet when prompted.

Could an encore top this? Well, no, but that was not the point. Järvi obliged with one of his trademark pieces, Sibelius’ “Valse Triste.” Dynamic contrasts were vivid and extreme – to near inaudibility at one point, capped by Jarvi’s own voice at another – and there was a feeling at the end, as the solo violins trailed off, that this parting by conductor and musicians is truly bittersweet.

Järvi spoke touchingly in the foyer afterwards, where there was a champagne toast and an after-party free to ticketholders (to be repeated tonight). He signed CDs for a line that trailed several times around the lobby.

http://www.musicincincinnati.com/site/reviews/J_rvi_s_Farewell_Emotion-Laden.html


For his penultimate concert, Paavo Järvi, Cincinnati Symphony rise to occasion

Cincinnati.com
by Janelle Gelfand

Paavo Järvi will conduct his final concert as music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra tonight in Music Hall. Janelle Gelfand reviews Friday night's penultimate performance..

Paavo Järvi received a standing ovation as he walked to the podium on Friday night to conduct the first of his final two concerts as music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Later, as his fans cheered and flashbulbs popped at the conclusion of Mahler’s Symphony No. 5, Järvi treated with a rare encore: Sibelius’ “Valse Triste.” It was a moving farewell to his decade-long tenure.

More than 3,000 came out for Friday’s concert, and all were invited to stay afterward for a party. The evening opened with a warm video message from the maestro, in which Järvi thanked the audience “for a wonderful 10 years.” He added that with the unique support of this community, “the orchestra can continue to be one of the greatest in the United States.”

After Friday’s performance, no one would dispute that Järvi has elevated this orchestra to a new level. His inspiring reading of Mahler’s Fifth will be remembered as one of the great performances by the Cincinnati Symphony during his tenure.

Besides Mahler, the program included Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür’s new fanfare, “Fireflower,” in Järvi’s honor, and the American premiere of Tüür’s Piano Concerto with pianist Awadagin Pratt, artist-in-residence at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Järvi’s interpretations of Mahler during the past decade have been among his most enjoyable, partly for his ability to bring out the expressive details of Mahler’s myriad moods. Never, though, has this expression been so vivid as it was on Friday. From the first to the last note of this 70-minute symphony, Järvi led with electricity, and propelled the orchestra forcefully. As the musicians responded, you could only marvel at their precision and energized playing.

The Mahler universe brings together the mundane and the sublime – funeral marches, waltzes, Austrian folk tunes and noble brass chorales. In Järvi’s hands, the Funeral March was not despairing, but rather defiant and full of drama. It was enhanced by superb playing from principal trumpet Robert Sullivan.

Järvi brought out the schizophrenic nature of Mahler’s music, balancing white-hot intensity with sunny little tunes. It was all alive with expression. His tempos were bracing, yet he easily pulled back to allow a soloist to soar, or to linger on a phrase. The winds lifted their bells, there was bite in the strings, and the brass chorales were magnificent.

For the scherzo, an exuberant ländler (Austrian folk dance), Järvi brought principal horn Elizabeth Freimuth to the front. It was a terrific touch, and she filled the hall with glorious, golden sound.

In the famous “Adagietto,” Gillian Benet Sella’s harp added an extra glow and the strings were so refined, it took your breath away. The cheerful finale, with its beautiful brass chorale, was a dazzling summation.

Järvi opened with “Fireflower” by Tüür, a fellow Estonian whose music the conductor has championed. The avant-garde composer has many influences, from minimalism to rock. The piece, also celebrating the 50th anniversary of WGUC, was celebratory in tone, with shimmering swaths of sound clusters, glissandos by the whole orchestra and even some jazz drumming.

For his Piano Concerto, Tüür gave the pianist fiendishly difficult technical hurdles, from keyboard-spanning leaps and bounds, to incessant repeating notes – giving the effect of tintinnabulation. The work opened and closed with the whoosh of brass and wind players blowing soundlessly through their instruments, like the wind.

Pratt tackled it all with flair. The first part set an agitated mood, and his muscular flourishes in the piano were echoed by the orchestra. The center of the piece was a lyrical, more improvisatory contrast, warmly played by the soloist. Glimmering motives were tossed between piano and orchestra, and dissolved into a moment of jazz trio with bass and cymbals.

The concerto was well-received and the composer was present to take a bow.
At intermission, it was announced that three musicians will retire with these concerts: Violinists Darla Da Deppo Bertolone (43 years) and Borivoje Angelich (46 years) and flutist Kyril Magg (38 years).

http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20110514/ENT/305150008/-J-rvi-CSO-rise-occasion?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Bravo Paavo

Cincinnatisymphony.org
Media Room
by Kathleen Doane

It’s the sentiment we greeted him with when he became the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director, and one we say again as we prepare to say good-bye.

It hardly seems possible that nearly a decade has gone by since banners went up all over town proclaiming Bravo Paavo, our collective welcome to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s new maestro, Paavo Järvi. The arrival of this charismatic young Estonian conductor was a bright spot in a year filled with unprecedented tragedy, first for our city with the April 2001 riots, then a few months later, for our country with the events of 9/11. To fully appreciate the journey that Järvi and the CSO have taken in the years since, it’s probably best to go back to the beginning.

During a yearlong search as one millennium drew to a close and another loomed, Järvi emerged early on as a favorite. He had gotten high marks from the orchestra as a guest conductor on three different occasions in 1999. Audiences at those concerts also clearly saw and heard a newly energized orchestra under his baton. The hopeful buzz was confirmed the afternoon of January 24, 2000, at a press conference when then CSO board chairman Peter Strange named the 38-year-old Järvi as the CSO’s new music director. Järvi stepped into the room to the enthusiastic applause and cheers of the crowd gathered in Corbett Tower.

With no prepared notes in hand, he talked about his exhilaration at accepting his first full-time position and the connection he already felt to the CSO through his teacher and former CSO music director, Max Rudolf. Then he got down to business, outlining his plans and dreams for the orchestra. First and foremost, was his desire to create a much higher profile for the orchestra. And there were other goals: to champion the works of young composers and to provide a stage for rising stars. Of course, no challenge was more important than the most basic of his job responsibilities: Helping the orchestra live up to its potential, which is the best place to start when taking stock of Järvi’s years with the CSO.

Measuring that success comes down to one thing: sound. “From his first appearance as a guest conductor here, Paavo always demanded an especially rich and full sound from the orchestra, especially the strings,” CSO Concertmaster Timothy Lees says. Technical perfection was necessary, of course, but only the starting point. Getting 100 musicians onboard with Järvi’s own musical instincts lay at the heart of creating the kind of intense, emotional music-making that flows from stage to audience.

“There’s nothing more important in making music than personality,” Järvi says. “We have soloists in this orchestra who are playing incredibly expressively with a lot of individuality and risk,” he adds. “That is something I’m very happy about.” That collaborative philosophy often doesn’t characterize the relationships between a symphony orchestra conductor and the musicians. “As a leader in the orchestra, it’s important for me to be on the same musical page as Paavo from the very first rehearsal,” Lees says. “He’s always been very open to my own musical instincts and suggestions.”

The Järvi years also have given local audiences an opportunity to hear new works by young as well as established contemporary composers. During the previous nine seasons, there have been six world premieres, including prairyerth, by Cincinnati composer, Robert Johnson. Järvi’s first concerts as CSO maestro, three days after 9/11, featured the emotional premiere of Steetscape by New York-based composer, Charles Coleman. “Very often, this music might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but that doesn’t matter,” Järvi explains. “There are a lot of composers in this country who deserve our attention, and we must never forget that our mission is to create and support new music. It’s what keeps us relevant.”

To further that mission and celebrate Järvi’s 10th season and WGUC’s 50th anniversary, the classical radio station and the CSO commissioned five composers from around the world—Jonathan Holland, Jörg Widmann, Stewart Goodyear, Charles Coleman, and Erkki-Sven Tüür—to write fanfares, premiering during the second half of the season.

Giving talent its due by providing a stage for young soloists is another of Järvi’s passions. In fact, under his reign, a gig with the CSO has become a rite of passage for many young performers, especially European or Asian artists looking for an American debut. “We are known as the orchestra who takes chances with young artists,” Järvi says, proudly. “The bigger orchestras like New York or Chicago now call us to ask, ‘Do you think we should hire this person because we know they just debuted with you?’ ” Some of those young artists are now well on their way to becoming major stars, such as cellist, Alisa Weilerstein , violinists, Alina Pogostkina and Henning Kraggerud and trumpeter, Alison Balsom.

The CSO’s prestige and reputation beyond our borders has grown tremendously during Järvi’s tenure. “A great orchestra like this constantly needs to feel the pulse of the world by being a part of the international musical scene,” he says. “I only had really two ways of doing this: recordings and touring.” To that end, Järvi managed to take the orchestra on European tours in 2004 and 2008 and to Japan in 2003 and 2009. It became clear wherever they played that the rest of the world confirmed what we already knew. “There’s a certain electricity that he [Järvi] brings to everything he conducts, and audiences abroad had the same positive reactions that audiences at home did,” Lees says.

Järvi’s tenure also included three tours in the states: a 2003 East Coast tour, a 2004 Florida tour, and 2007 California tour. Still, he has regrets: “We were in Europe twice but never managed to get to Estonia and had invitations to play the London Proms Concerts [in Royal Albert Hall], but we couldn’t go because we couldn’t finance the tour.”

The other piece of building CSO’s global awareness—recording with the orchestra on the Telarc label—yielded 16 recordings in nine years. With the demise of Telarc’s classical label last year, the CSO found another way to record by creating its own Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Media label. Its first recording, American Portraits, was released earlier this year. Järvi believes that continuing to record is the most important component of preserving the CSO’s legacy. “We have recordings of all the great conductors who have been here before. Not to do that in the future would be a big mistake.”

Just as vital to the future is the work to preserve and renovate Music Hall that Järvi set in motion shortly after he arrived. “The plans that are in place make me very happy,” he says. “When it’s all finished, it will be a new lease on life for the orchestra, a rebirth of sorts for years to come.” And for anyone who still may harbor doubts about preserving the integrity of the hall, especially its celebrated acoustics, Järvi says: “Chicago did it. Cleveland did it. Carnegie Hall did it, and Detroit Symphony Hall did it. We can do it, too. Great halls can become even greater without losing anything.”

Devey agrees: “It’s too bad it didn’t get completed under his watch, but it will be a great moment when it’s all done and he can come back to see this part of his legacy fulfilled.”

Ultimately, that legacy—the thing people will most often mention when the Järvi years with the CSO are discussed—will revolve around the memorable, often magical, performances that we came to expect each time he stepped in front of the orchestra and lifted his baton. “When you play music, you cannot just be the keeper of someone else’s tradition,” he says. “Whether a Beethoven symphony or a contemporary work, you must make it new every time.” You always do, Maestro. And for that, we can’t help but say: Bravo Paavo.

Kathleen Doane is a freelance journalist who writes about the arts. She is a retired Senior Editor of Cincinnati Magazine where she covered the local arts scene for 10 years. Prior to that she was an Assistant Features Editor at The Cincinnati Enquirer.

http://cincinnatisymphony.org/mediaroom/?p=1897

Final farewell for CSO Music Director Paavo Järvi

wcpo.com
by Valerie Miller
May 13, 2011

CINCINNATI, Ohio - Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Music Director Paavo Järvi is having his final farewell after 10 years leading the orchestra. He joined the organization in 2001. His first concert as music director was just after September 11, 2001. He says that performance remains his most memorable time in Cincinnati.

"It was like a catharcis." said Järvi. "Everybody was singing the national anthem. I must say that will be a moment I will never forget."

There were many memorable events for CSO concert goers. Järvi has lead the way for extensive touring on three different continents. During his tenure, the CSO also recorded 17 cd's for a growing worldwide audience.

Of all things in Cincinnati, he said he will miss the parks and the orchestra itself. He said of all of the arts in the area, the orchestra is the crowning jewel. He said it is so critical for the community to continue supporting the orchestra. Järvi added, "If one really cares about the true world class organization, something that can really carry the flag of this city, it's this orchestra."

He said the arts community is extremely generous and Cincinnati offers so many cultural opportunities.

The search for his successor has been ongoing for about 15 months so far. The CSO will have guest conductors over the course of the next season who will be here for auditions. Jarvi says whoever takes his place is very lucky.

"This orchestra is amazing." he said. "It's an orchestra that will work with you, will root for you, and do everything possible to make the final result as good as it can be."

The final performances with Jarvi are Friday, May 13 and Saturday, May 14. Both performances are at 8 p.m. After the concerts, Jarvi will join ticket holders for a post-concert reception.

http://www.wcpo.com/dpp/news/region_central_cincinnati/over_the_rhine/final-farewell-for-cso-music-director-paavo-jarvi

A look back at the Järvi era

Cincinnati.com
by J. Gelfand
May 13, 2011


Autograph line for Paavo Jarvi at Suntory Hall, Japan, 2009

Paavo Järvi leads his final concerts as music director this weekend in Music Hall. (Limited seats are still available.)

For the past 10 years, I’ve had the best seat in the house, from Music Hall to Suntory Hall in Tokyo.

Here are a few of my favorites. What were yours?

Sept. 14, 2001 – Faced with a national tragedy, a soloist who was stranded in Norway, and the collapse of a musician during the performance, Paavo Järvi’s inaugural concert three days after 9-11 was a test of grace under pressure. In the end, the conductor brought Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 to an affirmative and powerful conclusion that did not fail to move anyone who heard it.

Feb. 2003 – It was the dead of winter, but the maestro turned on the heat in a hypnotic performance of Ravel’s “Bolero” in Music Hall.

Nov. 2003 — Järvi and the CSO make their mark in Japan, as Japanese fans go wild over Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique.” In ‘Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath,’ the basses slithered, the violins cackled, and clarinetist Anthony McGill played his eerie dance on the E-flat clarinet. Järvi treated his cheering audiences to no fewer than four encores.

CSO at Carnegie Hall

January 2004 – Bruckner’s Third – a tricky piece to pull off – was simply awe-inspiring. Järvi’s view had breadth and majesty – yet it was also down-to-earth. He brought its Austrian character to the fore – the sunny themes and earthy folk dances – and that warmth communicated to the listener.

Feb. 2004 – In Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring,” the orchestra’s playing was almost brutal. Every beat was taut – even the silences had electricity.

Oct. 2004 – The 70-minute journey through the sprawling universe of Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 had intensity from the first note to its last majestic moments.

Jan. 2005 — Getting the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra to Carnegie Hall involved more than “practice, practice practice” in the wake of a record-setting East Coast snowstorm that dumped nearly 14 inches of snow on New York. A day after the CSO’s flight was canceled, Delta found a plane to get the orchestra to the Big Apple in time for its 45th concert in the fabled hall.

New Yorkers were still digging out from “The Blizzard of 2005.” Incredibly, the 2,804-seat Carnegie Hall was nearly filled with an enthusiastic crowd of intrepid New Yorkers, who braved frigid temperatures and slushy sidewalks to stand and cheer at the conclusion of Sibelius’ great Symphony No. 5 in E-flat Major. The concert drew 15 national music writers.

January 2006 — Composer Anton Bruckner is known for the heavenly length of his symphonies. On Friday, Bruckner’s Symphony No. 5 performed by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra clocked in at 75 minutes, but under the baton of Paavo Järvi, it was 75 minutes of power, emotion and discovery.

March 2006 — When the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra struck an earth-shattering climax in the final moments of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection,” on Friday night, you could feel the floor of Music Hall vibrate. Its sheer sonic power punctuated one of the most electrifying readings by Paavo Järvi in his five-year tenure, a journey that was at once fiercely intense and wonderfully relaxed.

Nov. 2007 — Järvi’s high-voltage interpretation of Beethoven’s Third with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra on Friday night was revolutionary – in a program that matched two composers who revolutionized music. In step with the trend of “period” performance, tempos were exceedingly quick. Short bows, prominent timpani drumrolls and crisply articulated phrases created an unusual lightness of spirit. It was adrenalin-charged and the musicians played like virtuosos.

April 2007 As Paavo Järvi and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra erupted onto the finale of Carl Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4, timpanist Richard Jensen strode onstage from his seat in the hall to begin a fierce duel with timpanist Patrick Schleker. It was an electrifying finish to a performance that vividly captured the drama and grandeur of Nielsen’s Fourth, “The Inextinguishable.”

Jan 18 2008 — Pictures at an Exhibition — it’s in the classical top 40. But this performance stands out for its electrifying contrasts and sheer spontaneity, from the edgy gnome of “Gnomus” to “The Great Gate of Kiev,” ablaze with gongs and chimes.

Nov. 21 2008 — The floors of Music Hall vibrated in this high-voltage performance of Gustav Holst’s “The Planets,” the English composer’s suite evoking seven celestial bodies. With an expanded orchestra onstage, a panorama of glowing orchestral colors unfolded through each of the seven movements. Besides the music – which has inspired many a Hollywood film score – here was an orchestra playing at the height of its powers. It simply doesn’t get any better than this.

March 15 2008 Paavo Järvi led one of two tour programs that the Cincinnati Symphony will be playing in Europe’s musical capitals, and it was clear this ensemble is primed to go. Schubert’s “Great” Symphony is known as “a symphony of heavenly length.” Yet this reading, from first note to last, never lacked for inspiration. Järvi took his cue, perhaps, from period instrument performances, for bows were short and timpani attacks were crisp. Yet it also was a performance that sang, befitting this composer of 600 art songs.

April 8 2008 – VIENNA The intense mood continued in Shostakovich’s Tenth, a searing portrait of Stalin, composed in 1953. It was a performance of devastating power and extremes of tempo. The musicians rose to the occasion with stunning playing.

Nov. 5 2009 — TOKYO – Musically, the orchestra’s seven-concert, two-week tour of Japan has been a steady crescendo through some of Japan’s finest halls. For the finale in Suntory Hall, the whole tour seemed to be summed up in its performance of Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2. It was perfection, not only for the romantic sweep, interpretive power and excellent playing, but also for the sheer sonic beauty of this orchestra in an acoustic gem. Like every other concert here, tickets were expensive (up to $255) but the hall was full, and patrons mobbed the table of Järvi’s CDs – with the CSO and his other orchestras – at intermission.

Feb. 19, 2011 — It was the first Beethoven symphony that Paavo Järvi conducted with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 1999. Järvi, now in his 10th and final season, revisited Beethoven’s Fifth. For listeners in Music Hall, it was an unforgettable occasion where great music meets orchestral virtuosity and precision.

http://cincinnati.com/blogs/arts/2011/05/13/a-look-back-at-the-jarvi-era/

Paavo Järvi finale

Cincinnati.com


Paavo Järvi conducts his final concerts as music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, 8 p.m. today and Saturday in Music Hall.

Järvi's finale includes Mahler's Symphony No. 5 and a new fanfare by Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür: "Fireflower." Pianist Awadagin Pratt, artist-in-residence at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, performs the premiere of Tüür's Piano Concerto.

Join Järvi after both concerts for a farewell celebration in the Music Hall lobby. Bid adieu with a toast in his honor. There will also be hors d'oeuvres, cash bar, a raffle and live entertainment.

After the toast, Järvi will sign CDs and other items in a receiving line.

http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20110513/ENT03/105130318/Paavo-J-rvi-finale?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Entertainment

Parting thoughts from Paavo Järvi

MusicinCincinnati.com
by Mary Ellyn Hutton
May 13, 2011

Paavo Järvi, newly named music director laureate of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, has advice for his successor (to be named):

Have a vision for the orchestra.

“One of the things that an orchestra needs is somebody with a vision, somebody with a clear plan. And the more musical it is, the better. Once you live here a little bit and you get to know the community, then one either will choose to become involved in it or not. But the main thing is to have a strong point of view of what to do here musically.

“On the one hand, the orchestra has a very distinguished history, but this history has always been under the supervision of a music director. It has always been somebody who has had a strong mission.”

Former CSO music director Max Rudolf (with whom Järvi studied at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music) “had a mission to build this orchestra, so under him, it become known as something on a high level. He was the one who was credited with making this into a fine orchestra. There is a certain glamour that (Thomas) Schippers added to that legacy. Fritz Reiner was legendary for precision and the kind of standard he later brought to Chicago.

“You’re never going to make everybody happy, but make sure that musically the orchestra is growing.”

Järvi, who became music director of the Orchestre de Paris last September, spoke earlier this week before rehearsal for the CSO’s annual joint concert with the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra. His final concerts as CSO music director are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (May 13 and 14) at Music Hall.

The Estonian born conductor first led the CSO in February, 1999 in a guest conducting engagement. He was 36 years old. He remembers his first impression of the orchestra:

“I remember thinking how natural it feels and how good they are, how well they are playing.” Just one year later, in January, 2000 he was named 12th music director of the CSO. His inaugural concert was Sept. 14, 2001, just three days after 911.

Jarvi’s vision is and always has been “to make the orchestra as good as it can be.” He has earned a wave of community affection in the process. There were boos in the hall at the post-intermission ceremony May 3 naming him music director laureate when CSO president Trey Devey mentioned that he was leaving the orchestra this month.

“It’s always nice to feel that you are appreciated,” said Järvi. “I feel that I have always had support -- and a sort of basic support based on music rather than anything else. It’s very touching now to go anywhere – it happened yesterday in a shop – when people come up and say, ‘Thank you for what you have done for our city,’ or something like that. I set out to be as committed to the orchestra as possible, and somehow it has come across.”

Leaving Cincinnati is a matter of the time having come, he said. “I leave because ten years is a very major time in our relatively short lives. I’m not leaving in reaction to something, not at all. I like leaving the way I am leaving now, which is when things are really going well and people are not sick and tired of you yet.” (Going against the industry grain, attendance at CSO concerts has been on a significant upswing the past two seasons, said CSO communications director Christopher Pinelo.)

Ten years is a time to “sort of sit down and assess what you want to do next. Do you want to do or change anything? Do you want to continue doing the same thing? Opportunities come along and you don’t necessarily even expect it. Moving to Paris had a lot to do with my decision, and it is something that five years before I wouldn’t even think about because it was not in the cards at that time. You have to sort of see what life deals for you.”

“How you gonna keep ‘em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?” Järvi was not familiar with the song made popular during World War I, when American troops were abroad, but the analogy doesn’t fit him, having long been accustomed to a cosmopolitan life. In addition to Paris, he also heads the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen in Germany and is artistic advisor of the Estonian National Orchestra in his native country.

There have been frustrations in being CSO music director, Järvi conceded. Chief among them has been Music Hall itself. At 3,516 seats, it is the largest concert hall in America (in fact, just about anywhere). There were too many nights when what would have been a full house in a normal-sized concert hall (2,000-2,500 seats) looked empty. Music Hall’s size comes in handy for things like last weekend’s blockbuster “Amériques” by Edgar Varèse. “On the other hand it’s very hard to play a Haydn symphony here, and that’s exactly what we need to be playing,” said Järvi.

It feels “really great,” when Music Hall sells out, he said (as it did at the May 3 CSO concert with cellist Yo Yo Ma). “It would make all the difference if every concert was sold out. That would have been an incredible boost for the orchestra because people are out there. Why they are coming now – and it may possibly be because it’s my last weeks or maybe there are some other reasons -- but there have been many times when it was half a hall.”

There were viable plans at one point during his tenure to build a new, mid-sized concert hall in the parking lot next door to Music Hall, but they fell through in favor of “revitalizing” Music Hall itself (including a down-sized auditorium). Järvi takes an optimistic view of the project, which is now in the final planning stages, though implementation has been delayed until after the World Choir Games take place in Cincinnati in the summer of 2012. “They are going to re-do it majorly,” Järvi said. “It’s going to be a different hall, and I think it’s about time.”

There is something special about Music Hall, he said. “All you need to do is drive around the building once, especially at night, and look over the park and see this incredibly majestic building. This is a destination.”

Loss of the CSO’s recording contract with Telarc (which ceased producing its own recordings in 2009) was a major disappointment, but the CSO now has its own in-house label, CSO Media, and a distribution arrangement with Naxos Records. The first CD on the new label, “American Portraits,” was released earlier this year and another one is projected (all-Nordic repertoire, compiled like “American Portraits,” from prior CSO concerts).

“American Portraits” has gone international and was just picked up in Japan, said Pinelo.

Järvi, who led the CSO on four international tours, three domestic tours and made 17 recordings with the CSO (not counting “American Portraits), is gratified to have been able to perform and record a sizeable amount of new and lesser known music during his tenure. His farewell concert will include the North American premiere of Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür’s 2006 Piano Concerto with pianist Awadagin Pratt.

The important thing is to program the familiar and the unfamiliar “in context,” he said. “We need to do music that is standard, and if you put it in an intelligent context where you have a little bit of both, it makes sense.” Examples include his pairings of Sibelius and Eduard Tubin, Dvorak and Martinu, Bartok and Lutoslawski and Shostakovich and Veljo Tormis (all recorded). World premieres include Charles Coleman’s “Streetscape,” performed on his inaugural concerts in 2001, and this season, five 10th anniversary fanfares, to include Tüür’s “Fireflower,” which will open this weekend’s concerts.

Järvi’s new home will be in Paris, but he will keep his Cincinnati apartment and plans to return often. Not only are there guest conducting dates in the works, but his two daughters, Lea, 7 and Ingrid, 4, live here with his former wife, violinist Tatiana Berman.

In addition to guest conducting and family visits, he wants to return to Cincinnati see the transformation of Music Hall. “If it happens – and I am very hopeful that it will happen – something very major is going to change in this city.”

Paavo Jarvi’s final concerts as music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (May 13 and 14) at Music Hall. On the program are “Fireflower” by Erkki-Sven Tüür, the Piano Concerto by Tüür with pianist Awadagin Pratt and Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. Tickets (going fast) begin at $10. Call (513) 381-3300, or visit www.cincinnatisymphony.org

http://www.musicincincinnati.com/site/features/Parting_Thoughts_from_Paavo_J_rvi.html

Monday, May 09, 2011

Tüür returns to Cincinnati to Close Järvi's Final Season

Musicincincinnati.com
by Mary Ellyn Hutton
May 4, 2011

April was a composition month for Erkki-Sven Tüür.

And no wonder, since he lives on Hiiumaa, an island off the coast of Estonia.

Here is how he described it in an interview last month:

"I have a home on an island in the Baltic Sea and this is where I am at this moment, sitting in my studio. It’s lovely, just in the middle of the woods. It’s very quiet, but there are a lot of birds at this time. It is springtime and so much bird song. The cranes are singing like trumpets, very specific and very beautiful, noisy sound, which is full of desire. And the first flowers, small blue flowers are going to bloom. It is only ten minutes to walk through the forest to the seashore, so whenever there is a little bit of wind, I can hear the sea.”

In this idyllic setting, Tüür was working on a commission for the Australian Chamber Orchestra to take on tour in August.

Next week, he will be in Cincinnati to hear the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra perform two of his works: a tenth-anniversary fanfare for CSO music director Paavo Järvi (entitled "Fireflower") and the North American premiere of his 2006 Piano Concerto performed by pianist Awadagin Pratt. Concerts are 8 p.m. May 13 and 14 at Music Hall. It is the final concert of Järvi’s decade-long tenure as CSO music director and nothing could be more fitting than to feature the music of his countryman and childhood friend.

Tüür and Järvi met in their teens when both attended Tallinn Music School. “We had one conducting teacher. I remember one lesson we were together and he was watching me conducting and vice versa, which is now very funny to remember.”

Tüür was studying flute and percussion and had his own rock band, In Spe (“In Hope”). And therein lies a tale untold. Paavo’s father Neeme had been condemned by the Soviet authorities for performing music not approved by them in advance. He faced blacklisting or worse and decided to seek artistic freedom in the West. “I invited Paavo to play mallets in my band and he very happily accepted," said Tüür. "But we couldn’t make any concerts because they (the Järvi family) emigrated.” It was 1980. Paavo was 17, Tüür 21.


Tüür became famous as the leader of In Spe, for which he wrote, sang and played flute and keyboard from 1979-84 (their self-titled first album is a collector’s item). His experience there led him to pursue composition at the Tallinn Academy of Music (1980-84).

People often ask him how his career in rock music affected his composing. “It may sound strange,” he said, “but there’s not such a great difference. One could see my music as very complex, yet very powerful, progressive rock music for full orchestra. It is like this because my use of percussion and the free flow, the energetic flow of the music, often remains at or touches the same level which is touched by a really adventurous progressive rock band.

“I am not talking about mainstream entertainment, pop music, not at all. These things should not be mixed. It’s very misleading if people are thinking, ah, he was a pop musician and he is dealing with classical music. The leading figures I was attracted by (King Crimson, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Mike Oldfield, Frank Zappa, Yes and Genesis) were very serious musicians with huge ambitions. If you look at my transition from one to the other, it was not a jump from one world to another, but a certain evolutionary movement.”

Tüür’s music has continued to evolve. During his studies and afterward, he absorbed a multitude of styles, from early music to the most intricate refinements of 20th-century atonal music. He has used them as "tools" in pursuit of his own vision, he said. And that is the point.

“I am aware of structure and specific kinds of systems inside the music, but that is not the main issue for me. I think in my recent works I am writing more freely. I trust to my intuition and ability to touch the human soul, and that is the most important thing. I don’t think that the modernists were very much interested in this issue.”

Tüür is not interested in novelty for its own sake either. “It is not my aim to create something absolutely original. I think that is quite foolish. Individuality comes with a strong voice anyway, but I want to deal with higher aims.”

Tüür, who recently joined his In Spe colleagues in celebrating the 30th anniversary of their first concert with retrospective concerts in Estonia, has evolved a structural method which he calls “vectorial composition.” By using a “source code” -- basically certain voice leadings or directions in the music, defined by intervals -- he creates a unified work. The code acts like a “gene,” which as it mutates and grows “connects the dots” in the musical fabric.

For example, “sometimes I use a very ascetic melodic material, but it is always surrounded by a certain halo, which is very timbral (distinguished by color) and always changing. There is the melodic thinking, but it is always embraced by timbral spectra. I want to use both things.

The manipulation of sound and timbre, creating “abstract dramas in sound,” is Tüür’s ultimate goal. He is a master orchestrator, having learned from sources as far removed as Mahler and electronic music. “Working with electronic instruments has taught me a lot. I know something about sound synthesis and synthesizers and digital processing and effects. I use a lot of what I have learned modeling sound. I treat the orchestra in a similar way and that’s why it sounds different.”

Tüür is something of a maximalist and draws upon all sources. “I want to embrace all the possibilities, what we have left from the modernist legacy and the rest of the 20th-century’s music and more. One reason I have been called neo-modernist is that I have not turned my back on the modernist legacy, to the techniques.”

In so doing, Tüür is very much in tune with the times, which have moved from reacting to and rejecting modernism to embracing all music. “Now we see the younger generations writing in very diverse ways. Some are following Central European modernist patterns, some the French spectral way and some the so-called minimalist way. It’s a very good situation in the sense that there is no ruling or ideology for what they are doing.”

The diversity Tüür cultivates includes traditional compositional methods as well. “It’s always interesting to find a synthesis,” he said. “I cannot understand why one should just exclude the traditional, beautiful way of making the sound and vice versa. You can move between expanded and traditional techniques and this is interesting for my ears. The only thing is that the work must be really convincing. If it doesn’t make sense, if it is only for some experimental effect’s sake, then it’s empty.”

Tüür, 51, who has won all the honors his country can bestow and then some, is something of a rarity among serious composers, a free lancer who makes his living by composing, without an academic or other post to help support his art. “It is a great privilege,” he said.

So is coming back to Cincinnati. “Fireflower” and the Piano Concerto will be the eighth and ninth of Tüür's works to be performed by the CSO under Järvi, almost all of them in their U.S. premieres.

“During Paavo’s tenure, the CSO has been my home orchestra in a very special way,” he said.

The CSO led by music director Paavo Järvi performs Erkki-Sven Tüür's "Fireflower" and Piano Concerto and Mahler's Symphony No. 5 at 8 p.m. May 13 and 14 at Music Hall. Soloist in the concerto is pianist Awadagin Pratt.

http://www.musicincincinnati.com/site/features/T_r_Returns_to_Cincinnati_to_Close_J_rvi_s_Final_Season.html

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Clarinetist wows in Jarvi, CSO's all-American evening

Cincinnati.com
by Janelle Gelfand

Nothing was predictable about Paavo Järvi’s all-American program with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra on Friday – from the sensational Swedish clarinetist Martin Fröst, who made his debut in Copland’s Clarinet Concerto, to the symphonic blast that ended Edgard Varèse’s “Amériques.”

The eclectic program of Americana included Three Dance Episodes from Bernstein’s Broadway show “On the Town,” a movement from Charles Ives’ Symphony No. 4, and the premiere of a new fanfare by New Yorker Charles Coleman, “P.J. Fanfare.”

But first, Fröst. As a soloist, he’s mesmerizing to watch – a genius who can dazzle with every kind of pyrotechnic imaginable, and do it with the charisma of a rock star. Tall and wiry, he looked like a rock star, too, in his white-trimmed suit by Swedish designer Lars Wallin, and he danced along as he played.

Copland wrote his Clarinet Concerto for Benny Goodman (who gave the Cincinnati premiere in 1963). It’s an appealing mix of Copland’s folk-like lyricism and exuberant jazz.

In the languid opening, Fröst projected a haunting tone and phrased with enormous beauty, bending, turning, and swaying with his clarinet. He made the most of the range of jazzy moods in the finale, from quirky to swinging, and his playing was a tour-de-force. He danced his way through wide leaps from the basement to the stratosphere, and summoned a range of color, all the way to the final jazz “smear.”

Järvi and the orchestra matched the intensity and the fun, including slapping basses. For an encore, they collaborated in a medley of Klezmer dances, arranged by Fröst’s “little brother,” Goran.

The clarinetist, who is 40, transformed himself, finding the soulful Klezmer spirit with every imaginable effect – trilling and fluttering up and down his clarinet with phenomenal speed, bending his sound, whispering, wailing and even seeming to sing (or perhaps growl) along with his instrument. It accelerated into a raucous dance that brought listeners to their feet with a roar.

The evening opened with Coleman’s “P.J. Fanfare,” hailing Järvi’s 10th anniversary as music director and WGUC’s 50th anniversary. A sophisticated, attractive piece, it was busy, jaunty and jazzy. Like Coleman’s other works, his fanfare evoked the rhythm and life of the big city, and the orchestra played it well.

http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20110507/ENT03/110507008/Clarinetist-wows-all-American-evening?odyssey=nav|head

Bravo Paavo!

Cincinnatimagazine.com
by Polk Laffoon IV
5/1/2011

Paavo Järvi, who this month concludes 10 years with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra to return full-time to his native Europe, is dressed entirely in black: black shirt, black jacket, black pants and shoes, and a black scarf draping his shoulders. The choice reflects something fundamental about him, an innate formality and elegance to be sure, but also a stripping away of things he finds less important, like ornament and decoration, so the things that are important—values, mission, and music—come into sharp focus.

Järvi says his time in Cincinnati has helped him grow. He has traveled between Europe and the U.S., blending his experiences to focus his craft. “The cross-pollination has made me develop as a conductor,” he says. “It makes me constantly think: What’s optimal? What will make the next performance better? I’ve been blessed with an orchestra happy to go along with this process, never rigid, never acting like they are soldiers and I’m the general, but all of us acting as musicians together.”

During his decade in town, Järvi has been married, had children, gone through a divorce, and formed many lasting friendships. “Cincinnati has changed my life in profound ways. I have learned some hard lessons, and I’m grateful for them. But of the many things I’ll remember, making music stands out. That’s what my life is all about. It is my primary activity. Right now we are rehearsing Beethoven’s Fifth. And some may say: Why rehearse it, you already know it? And the answer is: Because we’re always looking for what’s new, what’s the truth in any piece of music.”

I interviewed Järvi once before, and I was impressed then with his crystalline vision of the CSO’s sole purpose: to create art. “If I wanted to fill the hall with marquee names and only the most popular repertoire, I could do it,” he had said, “but that’s not what we’re all about. We should be playing new music that is good but not yet known. We should have guest soloists who are excellent but undiscovered. We should also be playing music from the past that is very, very good but maybe overlooked.”

Now, in anticipation of his departure, he reaffirms that credo: “Our goals have to do with the role in society of an orchestra, the musician, and music. In recent years, all of this has changed. ‘Music’ today, to most people, means pop. So we don’t qualify as ‘music.’ We’re art.” Järvi sees any attempt to compete commerically with pop music as “pointless” and contradictory to the orchestra’s true mission. But economic pressures pull many orchestra managers toward that popular rat race. “I try to convince them that we should not see ourselves as competitors to pop music,” he says. “We can be entertaining, but our mission is to keep the art alive. Nothing will kill us sooner than the grayness and middle ground straddling classic and pop. Our mission is to create and promote the new music of contemporary composers and to keep alive 500 years of the classic repertoire—and that’s a huge task.”

The CSO is the fifth oldest symphony orchestra in the nation. It has a distinguished history, including the American premieres of many European classics and the commissioning of new works like the extremely popular “Fanfare for the Common Man” by American composer Aaron Copland. “It’s not very modest, but the CSO is in the best shape it’s ever been in,” Järvi says. “It has more precision, more clarity, and more range than when I got here. It is more flexible, more elastic.”

While searching for the one right word to encapsulate the orchestra’s evolution during the past decade, Järvi notes that it had always had a beautifully warm sound, one perfectly suited to the late romantic repertoire. But it had not played enough of composers like Haydn and Mozart—“certain compositions that only the classic repertoire can teach you, music that requires clarity and stylistic understanding.” Then, suddenly, he exclaims, “Subtle!” He has found the word. Subtlety is what the orchestra has developed. “For me, it is a very important aspect of music.”

Time, says Paavo Järvi, is a great equalizer. The boundaries of what is appropriate in music are constantly changing. Today, music that was considered too difficult 10 years ago (Stravinsky, Messiaen, Schoenberg, Shostakovich) is accepted. “Our goal is to keep discovering and promoting music that will be acceptable 10 to 15 years from now,” he says. “We cannot be museums.” The problem is that it’s increasingly difficult to explore new material in the U.S. because the economic system imposes such pressure to be profitable. That means playing the tried and true. “America used to be in the forefront of commissioning new works,” he continues, “but now much of what’s new is written in Europe.”

He sees advantages in both the European and American systems, but his preference is clear when it comes to where the arts are best supported. “I completely and thoroughly reject the idea that art is something to be taken care of after everything else. This is Philistinism,” he says. “Art is not just for the rich. It is the history of our humanity. It is what being human is all about.”

Järvi emphasizes that private support for the orchestra in Cincinnati has been “incredibly generous” and that Louise Nippert, who committed the income from $85 million to the CSO in early 2010, is “a guardian angel.” But even in lean times, he says politicians should be reminded of the need to support the arts. “The Republicans want to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and National Public Radio. What kind of Middle Ages do we live in?” He says the financial meltdown of 2008 “made me realize how vulnerable the arts are to financial manipulation in this country. They exist at the mercy of a few rich people, and there is something in such a system that is not quite safe.”

Even so, Paavo Järvi looks forward to returning here often, especially to visit his children. After a year, he expects to guest conduct, and he anticipates with joy doing so in a renovated Music Hall. “When that happens,” he says, “this will be a Mecca of culture in the Midwest. I am very proud, and very optimistic, about what’s going on here.”

Illustration by Sean McCabe
Originally published in the May 2011 issue.


http://www.cincinnatimagazine.com/features/Story.aspx?ID=1404812

Paavo Järvi prepares for final bows as CSO music director

Cincinnati.com
by Janelle Gelfand


CSO music director Paavo Järvi (left) congratulated Yo-Yo Ma after the famed cellist performed with Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra at Music Hall on Tuesday. / The Enquirer/Joseph Fuqua II

“They tell me that I brought the orchestra to a different level,” said Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra music director Paavo Järvi, after a farewell luncheon with musicians at Music Hall on Wednesday. “Well, they brought me to a different level. I learned more from them than they probably learned from me.”

Järvi was reflecting on his decade as music director of the nation’s fifth oldest orchestra. That his era will end next weekend is “not a reality yet.” He is leaving to take on new challenges with the Orchestre de Paris.

“I feel very sad in one way. It’s like leaving your family,” said the 48-year-old Estonian-American conductor. “I just feel very at home here. I also know that it is a right decision because I need to challenge myself. I need to find ways to explore, to push my own boundaries. We have a relatively short life, and 10 years is a very substantial lifetime. The older we get, the more substantial it becomes. You have to think, ‘What’s next?’”

Then he joked “I’ll have to put on my laurels,” referring to his new title of “Music Director Laureate,” bestowed during Tuesday's gala concert with cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The title means he’ll be returning “as often as I humanly can.” Part of the reason is that his two daughters, ages 4 and 7, live here with his former wife. He’ll keep his East Walnut Hills apartment, and make Cincinnati and Paris his homes between performances with his three orchestras. (He also has two in Germany, Frankfurt and Bremen.) Järvi arrived in 2001 to take his first major American post at age 38. His first rehearsal took place on Sept. 11, as New York’s Twin Towers were being attacked by terrorists. Järvi’s opening “gala” concert three days later was subdued. The country was in mourning. Nevertheless, he and the musicians had “chemistry” from the first note. He’s not sure why. “If I could explain it, I could manufacture it somewhere else,” he said. “But you always know when it exists and when it doesn’t exist. The personalities match. Something feels natural or makes sense.” He’s proud of something equally elusive – which has made CSO performances spontaneous, or what he calls “more alive.” “It is a very subtle thing, because it was a very good orchestra before I came here,” he said. “An orchestra can do exactly what they rehearsed, and do it very well and precisely and with the subtleties, but it somehow is always the same. It’s not living. It’s not alive. This orchestra can make music come alive. It sounds cliché, and it’s not always easy to do. It’s not in every orchestra’s DNA. We have that. That’s what I’m very proud of.” Over 10 years, Järvi has influenced the orchestra’s sound in many ways – including hiring 21 of its 90 members, seven of them principal players. For the first-chair players who play the big solos, he has looked for larger-than-life musical personality. “It’s important that somebody has the courage and personality to bring their own point of view. I’ve never been a fan of ‘sit and shut up and deliver.’ That’s not music – it’s not even an army. In a good army, people are encouraged to think on their feet and come up with solutions. In music, it’s the same thing,” he said. He recalls some extraordinary performances when his musicians exceeded his tough expectations: Bruckner’s Symphony No. 5, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10 (“I thought, this is amazing what the orchestra can do”), Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 (on tour in Japan) and Mahler’s Symphony No. 7. Of his 17 albums with the CSO, the Grammy-winning conductor especially likes the pairing of Sibelius and Tubin symphonies – the first time a Tubin symphony was recorded by major American orchestra. He’s grateful for the unique relationship he shared with Telarc president Bob Woods, who understood Järvi’s preference for projects that might not be best-sellers, pairing Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony with the Czech composer Martinu, or Bartok with Lutoslawski – the latter a big seller on iTunes. During Järvi’s tenure, the Cincinnati Symphony: • Lost its longtime recording contract with Telarc • Weathered the recession and saw its neighborhood come back after the spring 2001 riots near Music Hall that came in the wake of a police shooting • Was gifted with an $85 million endowment from patron Louise Nippert that rescued the orchestra from financial crisis. “There were some critical moments just recently about money. We are very grateful that we are not in that situation anymore. We were literally thinking of existential questions. You lose sleep over it. I did,” he said. Järvi had frustrations – such as looking out at empty seats in the vast, 3,400-seat hall, even though attendance was steady. He’s happy with the planned $100 million renovation of the hall. “Now, sometimes when I’m heading home late at night, I look around the hall and I’m hopeful,” he said. “I see things being renovated, the garage being built, Washington Park being worked on, and the new performing arts school. This is a testament to Erich Kunzel because he actually made this thing into a priority.” As for a successor – he has given the search committee his advice: “Find somebody who really clicks, musically speaking, with the orchestra.” “An orchestra wants a master, somebody who knows what they are doing,” he said. “It needs to be somebody who they want, can still get and who has the potential for development – for growing with the orchestra and making the orchestra grow with them.” He knows that he has grown. “It’s been a great 10 years,” he said. “It’s something I’ll never forget.”

http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20110506/ENT03/305060015/Paavo-prepares-final-bows?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Entertainment|p