Thursday, April 19, 2012

Schumann’s Complete Symphonies, Second Night
Krzysztof Komarnicki
27 March 2012

Two years after the triumphant presentation of Ludwig van Beethoven’s complete symphonies, Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen orchestra returned to Warsaw to perform another complete set during the Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival – this time of Robert Schumann’s symphonies. The announcement of this event had electrified the audience, and it must be said that the Estonian conductor and his orchestra did not disappoint.
After two years, it seems that the German Chamber Philharmonic from Bremen has taken a step forward. This orchestra is even better than two years ago. Especially the strings – with a balanced sound and a rich timbral palette, shimmering with a wealth of nuances of articulation.
The orchestra’s musicians are ready to go through fire and water for Paavo Järvi, and the concertmaster loves his musicians. Despite the orchestra’s rather large size, the epithet “chamber” conveys its character perfectly: these people admire and respect one another very much. They like each other very much. As simple as that. In such an environment, joint music making becomes a beautiful artistic adventure and brings with it fantastic results.
During the second Schumann evening, the Bremen orchestra performed the Second and the Third Symphony. The orchestra’s virtuosity allowed it to show the distinctive contours of particular motifs, bringing the parts from the background to the fore (yet without exaggeration), and finally, to perform truly piano-like rallentandi in the Scherzo movement of Symphony No. 2. It seems that such a sharp and capricious deceleration of the tempo can be fully harnessed only by a single musician. And this is exactly what happened: the reins were held by Paavo Järvi; he had – as conductors put it – the orchestra on the tip of his baton, and it played what it was supposed to in perfect synchronisation. This should not have succeeded, it should have fallen apart; but the conductor, with confidence in his musicians, repeated the same thing each time, with every return of the phrase. And each time with the same excellent result.
The woodwind section also deserve a mention – an excellent group of musicians of a wonderful timbre, who put their heart and soul into the melodies entrusted to them by the composer. They were particularly poignant in the extraordinary fourth movement of the Third Symphony – in the rarely used key E flat minor key, evoking the dark interiors of the Cologne cathedral.
As an answer to the enthusiastic reception of both symphonies, Järvi proposed two encores: both are the orchestra’s favourite showpieces. In the first one – Edvard Grieg’s Anitra’s Dance – the audience was enraptured again by the wonderful sound of the string section (and obviously by the subtlety of the triangle). For the second encore the orchestra played Valse Triste by Jean Sibelius. Here too, Järvi enchanted the audience with expressive pianos, flexible phrases, rich articulation and rhythmic precision.
Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen leave Warsaw seen off as good friends – and it is thus, as one looks forward to the return of a good friend, that we shall await their return.

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