Monday, December 28, 2020

Les Echos: Le top 10 des albums classiques 2020

Les Echos
Philippe Venturini
23.12.2020

La pandémie n'a pas vraiment freiné l'édition de disques classiques. D'Erkki-Sven Tüür à Chostakovith, Brahms, Beethoven ou Bach, de sonates en symphonies, les grands compositeurs ont été bien servis. Voici nos enregistrements préférés de l'année.

Erkki-Sven Tüür - Symphonie n° 9 « Mythos ». Sow the wind… - Estonian Festival Orchestra, Paavo Järvi (dir.)

La « Symphonie n° 9 » résume le style à la fois direct et raffiné de l'Estonien Erkki-Sven Tüür, né en 1959. Volontiers éclectique et accessible, elle convoque l'orchestre dans toute sa puissance organique et ses larges dimensions, lui insuffle une inépuisable énergie, probable souvenir du passé de rocker du compositeur, fait briller les instruments de mille feux. Irrésistible.

Paavo Järvi :"Jedes Jahr ist Beethovenjahr"

DW
Gaby Reucher
December 2020


Was kommt nach dem Beethoven-Jubiläumsjahr? Dirigent Paavo Järvi spricht mit der DW über Beethoven 2021 und seine Gedanken zum Konzertleben nach Corona.

Der estnische Dirigent Paavo Järvi ist bekannt für seine Liebe zum Detail und die akribische Auseinandersetzung mit den Komponisten und ihren Werken. Seit 2004 ist er Chefdirigent der Deutschen Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. Zusammen mit dem weltweit renommierten Orchester hat er das viel beachtete Beethoven-Projekt, die Sinfonien von Robert Schumann und zuletzt den Brahms-Zyklus realisiert. Der DW-Film zum Beethoven-Projekt wurde preisgekrönt. Wegen der Corona-Pandemie konnten sämtliche im Rahmen des Beethoven-Jubiläums 2020 geplanten Aufführungen des Beethoven-Zyklus nicht stattfinden. Im Interview mit der DW erzählt der Stardirigent, wie er die musikalische Zukunft nach Corona sieht.

DW: Anlässlich des 250. Geburtstag von Ludwig van Beethoven wollten Sie mit der Deutschen Kammerphilharmonie Bremen und Beethovens Neun Sinfonien noch einmal auf Tournee gehen. Konzerte in Bremen und Frankfurt wurden vom Frühjahr auf den Herbst verschoben und jetzt mit dem neuen Lockdown endgültig abgesagt. Ebenso wie die geplanten Konzerte in Tokio. Das war sicher enttäuschend für Sie und das Orchester.

Paavo Järvi: Natürlich hatten wir die Hoffnung, dass sich die Konzerte noch irgendwie realisieren lassen würden. Aber der Musikbetrieb geht ja weiter und legt dann nicht mehr unbedingt den Fokus auf Beethoven.

Wenn es noch zu einer Aufführung des Beethoven-Zyklus kommt, speziell mit der Deutschen Kammerphilharmonie, die sehr bekannt ist für dieses Repertoire, dann wahrscheinlich am ehesten in Tokio. Mein Traum wäre es auch, den in Frankfurt geplanten Zyklus noch einmal aufzugreifen. Aber gerade jetzt gibt es einen enormen Rückstau all der Projekte, die nicht stattfinden konnten. Wir müssen abwarten, wie die Organisatoren weiter verfahren. Das wird wahrscheinlich in den nächsten Monaten entschieden.

Ich dachte, in Deutschland wäre es einfacher, Beethoven-Konzerte nachzuholen, weil das Beethoven-Jahr wegen der Ausfälle in der Corona-Pandemie offiziell bis September 2021 verlängert wurde.

Ich hoffe es, aber in Wahrheit ist ja jedes Jahr ein Beethovenjahr. Beethoven wird immer gefeiert und gespielt, da gibt es keinen Mangel. In Deutschland wird noch mal ein Akzent gesetzt. Da fände ich es allerdings wichtiger, Beethoven-Stücke zu spielen, die selten gespielt werden. Das Ganze einmal anders aufziehen und mit anderen Sachen zu kombinieren: Das wäre eine interessante Idee. Aber das sind reine Spekulationen. Im Moment haben wir eigentlich keine Idee, wie wir in den Musikbetrieb zurückkommen. Da sieht es nicht sehr vielversprechend aus.

Viele Musiker sagen, sie hätten den Lockdown genutzt, ganz andere Stücke zu spielen als im Konzertbetrieb oder neues Repertoire zu entdecken. Haben sie die Zeit für die seltenen Beethoven-Stücke genutzt?

Ich persönlich habe die Zeit genutzt, um mich mit neuem Repertoire zu befassen. Wenn man jede Woche dirigiert und jede Woche ein anderes Programm spielt, bleibt dafür sehr wenig Zeit. Ich habe mich tiefgründiger mit einem Repertoire beschäftigt, das ich vorher noch nie ins Auge gefasst hatte. Da gibt es Komponisten, mit denen wir kaum in Berührung kommen.

Ich habe mir viel Musik des 20. Jahrhunderts angeschaut, von Witold Lutosławski über Sergei Prokofjew bis hin zu Krzysztof Penderecki, zu Arthur Honegger oder Bohuslav Martinů. Das sind alles Komponisten, deren Namen man zwar kennt, die aber kaum jemand aufführt. Es gibt einiges an bemerkenswert guter Musik von diesen Komponisten. Und da sind noch mehr. Ich studiere gerade Eduard Tubins Sinfonien, sehr unterschätzte, wundervolle Sinfonien aus Estland. Das Repertoire ist so umfangreich, dass es mehr als ein Leben braucht, um nur annähernd ein bisschen davon erkunden zu können. Da gibt es einfach nicht genug Zeit.

Es sei denn, Corona wird den Musikbetrieb noch länger so stark einschränken…

Ja, das Positive daran ist - abgesehen natürlich von den Nöten der Musiker - etwas Zeit zu haben. Nicht nur um neues Repertoire zu lesen und zu erforschen, sondern auch für Podcasts, Videogespräche mit Studierenden, mit jungen Musikern oder Dirigenten. Bei Diskussionen im Netz über verschiedene Komponisten war ich überrascht, wie viele Leute sich zugeschaltet haben, nur um über Musik zu sprechen und über Komponisten zu diskutieren.

Was denken Sie, wie Corona die Musikwelt verändern wird? Ob es danach zum Beispiel noch die großen Tourneen geben wird?

Das ist interessant zu beobachten. Es gibt viele Spekulationen und viele Leute versuchen herauszufinden, wie es weiter geht. Dazu gehört auch die Idee, dass die Orchester nicht mehr so viel auf Tournee gehen sollen, sondern mehr für das Publikum vor Ort spielen. Es geht darum, auch ökologisch verantwortungsbewusst zu handeln, indem man nicht so oft zu weltweiten Veranstaltungsorten fliegt.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Paavo Järvi, um dos maiores maestros europeus: “Beethoven não se esgota”

Veja
16.12.2020





Escuto Beethoven desde pequeno. Meu pai era maestro e uma parte habitual da nossa vida familiar na Estônia, onde cresci nos anos 70, consistia em nos sentarmos em volta do aparelho de som para ouvir juntos gravações. Na Estônia sob ocupação soviética havia um forte foco no repertório russo, mas, ainda assim, o compositor de maior destaque sempre era Beethoven. Quando criança, eu ouvia religiosamente as famosas gravações de Fürtwangler e Karajan, maestros lendários que ganharam reputação como os maiores intérpretes da música de Beethoven, e isso influenciou muito a maneira como eu ouvia sua música. Foi só quando cheguei aos Estados Unidos, em 1980, que tive contato pela primeira vez com as interpretações do movimento musical clássico “autêntico”, incluindo apresentações de maestros como Harnoncourt e Norrington. A abordagem e o som deles eram tão radicalmente diferentes que foi como um novo despertar que me fez questionar verdades comuns com as quais eu havia crescido.

Em minha experiência como maestro na Filarmônica de Câmara de Bremen, logo ficou claro que era muito fácil programar as sinfonias ao redor do mundo, pois Beethoven tem uma espécie de toque mágico. Daí surge a pergunta: por que confiamos tão explicitamente em Beethoven e por que ele ainda é tão popular? A conclusão a que cheguei é que há uma qualidade na música de Beethoven que faz com que você sinta que ele está dizendo a verdade — e não há dúvida de que sua música tem uma força tão convincente a ponto de ninguém questionar seu valor ou mensagem. Também parece que é subconsciente, pois sua popularidade não é resultado de um filme como Amadeus, que levou a música de Mozart às massas. Esse nunca foi o caso de Beethoven. De algum modo, ele tem uma credibilidade inerente: as pessoas acreditam intuitivamente nele.

Neste momento, o legado de Beethoven parece mais relevante que nunca, à medida que nos tornamos cada vez mais céticos a respeito das coisas infundadas que ouvimos de líderes políticos e que lemos nas redes sociais. O que nós precisamos agora é de algo em que possamos acreditar, e Beethoven preenche essa lacuna. Da mesma forma que são importantes para nós agora, os temas da liberdade e dos valores democráticos também foram pilares em que Beethoven acreditava piamente e que foram incorporados à sua música há mais de dois séculos — a Ode à Alegria, da Nona Sinfonia, o gesto político que ele realizou ao eliminar o nome de Napoleão da Eroica e sua crença, exaltada na partitura de Fidelio, de que o amor verdadeiro pode triunfar sobre a ditadura. Ele sonhava com um futuro melhor, equiparável a sua habilidade musical e senso de humanidade.

Alguns perguntam se precisamos celebrar Beethoven, já que, de qualquer forma, ele é tocado com tanta frequência. A meu ver, a questão não é essa. Precisamos celebrar os símbolos da nossa cultura, ainda mais quando a maior parte da cultura popular tem muito pouco valor musical. O que continuamos a aprender através da sua música é o padrão de referência em termos de qualidade, e é por isso que devemos aproveitar qualquer oportunidade para celebrá-lo.

Sem dúvida alguma, o ciclo completo de sinfonias e aberturas de Beethoven que gravei à frente da Filarmônica de Câmara de Bremen é a mais importante prova musical da minha vida até o momento, motivo de orgulho para mim. Ao continuar a reger Beethoven, ainda me pego repensando muitas das coisas que fiz antes e experimentando novas abordagens. Esta é mais uma prova da grandeza das suas composições: há tantas camadas e o material é tão rico que as maneiras de olhar para ele são inesgotáveis. Com a música de alguns compositores, a interpretação permanece igual a cada retorno. No caso das sinfonias de Beethoven, você pode tocá-las de maneiras radicalmente diferentes e continuar a aprender algo novo. Essa não é, afinal, a marca inequívoca de um gênio?

* Paavo Järvi, 57 anos, é maestro titular da Filarmônica de Câmara de Bremen, Alemanha

Publicado em VEJA de 16 de dezembro de 2020, edição nº 2717 

Friday, December 11, 2020

Paavo Järvi conducts Tchaikovsky with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich [Alpha]

Classical Source
Ates Orga
November 2020

Back in 2012, towards the end of his Frankfurt RSO tenure, Paavo Järvi showed his broader Tchaikovsky hand with a particularly appealing account of the vernal First Symphony. Combining Germanic underlay with Russian fantasy, muscular orchestral textures with solo cameos and chamber offsets, sentiments of different shades, it wasn’t Tchaikovsky in the throaty, gravelled, all-guns blazing Svetlanov or Gergiev mould. But it had plenty going for it, a mixture of northern moods, sunsets and nights, lyric song and balletic embrace, reminding us quietly that the same waters of the Gulf of Finland link Tallinn, Järvi’s birthplace, with St Petersburg scarcely five hours northeast.

Just over a year ago Järvi was appointed Chief Conductor and Music Director of the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich – a challenging Diapason d’Or Messiaen release launching a deal with Alpha. Now sees the start of a new Tchaikovsky cycle promising culture and class before crassness. As a concert these same forces undertook in Vienna last January showed [https://www.classicalsource.com/concert/tonhalle-orchester-zurich-paavo-jarvi-in-vienna-bela-bartoks-dance-suite-and-pyotr-tchaikovskys-fifth-symphony-martin-frost-plays-aaron-coplands-clarinet-concerto-live-webcast/], the style and substance of the Fifth Symphony is ingrained in their DNA. Big dynamic range, hard yet cushioned tuttis, warmly lyrical contrasts, beauty of sound and detail at a premium, structure and theatre hand in hand. Opting for the large-scale overview, letting facets glint the horizon that others underplay or take too easily for granted, is part and parcel of Järvi’s mature language these days. Conscious that shaded brushstrokes will often say more than bright stage lighting, he doesn’t need to over-act a story to get the message across.

Typical touches abound, small in themselves perhaps but catching the ear. The closing hairpins of the first movement, for instance, increasing then easing the dynamic; the bassoon rubato (taking a hint from the ‘solo’ marking of the score) and string accents at the end of the (tenderly caressed) Valse; the snarling, roaring timpani crescendoleading into the allegro of the Finale, a single bar of compelling brilliance. In performance and recording terms, there are plenty enough soundbites to recommend this version. The Finale for one: splendid in every way, the orchestra exultant, relishing the pulse and splendour of the occasion, rising as one to Järvi’s needs and nuances. The Andante cantabile for another: not just the contouring of the horn tune and its continuation but the refinements of accompaniment and phrasing, the darker recesses of timbre, the structuring of climaxes, the refusal to let events drag. Notwithstanding the Tonhalle’s reference recordings under David Zinman, Music Director from 1995 to 2014 (Strauss and Mahler in particular), this is interpretation, playing, production and sound engineering on an epic, eloquent scale. Byronic Romanticism.

In the tradition of the Liszt tone poems, and Tchaikovsky’s own, earlier and later, Francesca da Rimini, after Dante (1876), is a bold drama, a tragic fate ‘opera’ for orchestra in three idée fixe referenced acts with Vorspiel, played without a break. The finest conductors have tackled this showpiece. It separates the men from the boys. Suffice that Järvi’s is a reading up there with the greats. He sets the bar high. “One Hell of a performance” deems a colleague, verging on understatement. The tension is volcanic, the whole sweep and panorama a film spiralling deathwards, emotions and ‘Second Circle’ punishment laid bare. The music vents a phenomenal display of virtuosity and unanimity from the Tonhalle, across the board from visceral strings to fiery brass to the plaintive clarinet song of the central Andante. The electricity of the moment, the sense of infernal storms and Saturnian forces unleashed, of musicians taken over by dimensions beyond them, hits one fair and square.

Live through the seventy-four minutes of this disc, and you’ll reach the last seconds gasping, without words, drained by the intensity of the narrative. Heaven only knows what the players must have felt. Elated yet floored. Wiped out yet triumphant. Järvi at his best.




TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5

MusicWeb International
William Hedley
03.12.2020

Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony opens, like the Fourth before it, and like Beethoven’s Fifth for that matter, with fate knocking at the door. Those who find this idea unconvincing – or are simply fed up of hearing it – should know that, in this case, it comes from the composer himself. But fate, though an irresistible force, can often be a force for good. The luckier ones amongst us are aware of this, and the Fifth confirms it, by a journey that ends in triumph. This is Tchaikovsky, however, so the road is difficult; and victory, though hard won, could well be no more than provisional.

This very fine performance from Zurich begins in deep melancholy rather than foreboding, the two clarinets in unison beautifully woody in the lower register. The movement as a whole positively fizzes with musical invention, and Järvi is more than keen to go along with it. The overall tempo for the movement is uncontroversial, as it is for pretty much the whole work – only once did I mark anything to do with basic tempo in my notes. Järvi is refreshingly flexible as regards pulse, but his expressive manoeuvres all seem natural and spontaneous. How naturally he eases off the pulse for the rising string phrase – with answering woodwind motif – that sounds like it’s going to be the second subject, just as he does in the singing, D major melody that is the real second subject shortly afterwards. The many dramatic moments are skilfully handled too, with striking, dogged tread to launch the movement’s coda.

Järvi’s way with the opening bars of the slow movement makes rather more of them than a simple series of preparatory chords. I have heard slower accounts of this movement, but the chosen tempo avoids indulgence whilst giving the musicians time to express themselves. This the principal horn, and a little later in duet with the principal clarinet, do most successfully. If the clarinet could be a little louder the echo effect is none the less brought out most beautifully. There is a moment in this movement, as there is in the finale too, where tenderness seems to be getting the upper hand but is cut off with a shocking explosion of violence followed by disillusion. This is marked fff in the score, superbly handled here, and the listener notices how careful Järvi is throughout to show that ff and fff are not at all the same thing. The third movement is a waltz that could have come from one of Tchaikovsky’s ballets – or so one thinks at first. I’m no dancer, but even those with greater skills than I would have difficulty dancing the waltz to this music, especially when fate returns to the scene. The unexpectedly loud ending is not the only equivocal feature of this movement, whose conflicting elements are skilfully managed in this performance.

Despite the sombre colours, the finale opens with the fate motif in the major key, the music steadfast, a glimmer of hope already. Once the main section of the movement is launched, Järvi never lets up. Tempi are rapid, the playing of virtuoso standard. A key event for this listener is the arrival of the second theme, an absolutely thrilling moment with the lower strings inexorably driving the music on. Järvi does not disappoint; indeed, driving the music on is exactly what he does, right up to the final pages, particularly forceful and exciting.

Hans Keller once wrote that the Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony was so well known that he was almost embarrassed to be writing about it. I feel much the same when it comes to comparing this new performance with earlier ones, if only because they are so numerous, and with so many of outstanding merit. Two classic performances are those by Mravinsky (DG), or Maris Jansons (Chandos), part of his marvellous series with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. I’d like to recommend two byways. Constantin Silvestri was a fine conductor indeed, and readers are encouraged to seek out his 1957 performance with the Philharmonia Orchestra on EMI Warner. Another very satisfying reading, and an intriguing prospect that pays handsomely, was released by BIS in 2013. Christian Lindberg conducts the Arctic Philharmonic.

Fate also has a hand in the story of Francesca da Rimini and her lover, Paolo, though in their case the price to pay for an illicit love affair is literally a fate worse than death. I’ve never been able to get on with this work, finding that the story brought out the worst in Tchaikovsky, whereas the best of him, as in the Fifth Symphony and so many other works, and this despite all the drama and anguish, conveys sentiments which are both grand and noble. But Järvi and his marvellous orchestra play the work for all it is worth, its passion and violence brought out in all its Technicolor ferocity.

The booklet suggests that these were live performances, which might account for the white-hot performance of Francesca da Rimini, as well as the gripping final pages of the symphony. There is not a sign of audience noise and no applause at the end. The recording is outstanding, full, rich and with impeccable balance. The booklet carries a short essay in German and in English by Ulrike Thiele, some attractive photographs taken in performance and, commendably, a full list of the orchestra’s members.

The beautiful, haunted symphonies of Franz Schmidt

The Spectator
Richard Bratby
05.12.2020

Dogged by false accusations that he was a Nazi, the Austrian composer has finally been brought in from the cold.

Composer Franz Schmidt with conductor Oswald Kabasta before the premiere of his oratorio The Book with Seven Seals in 1938. Photo: Imagno / Getty Images

The sounds that Franz Schmidt made while learning the trumpet were pretty much unbearable, or so the story goes. In order to practise he would leave his home in the Lower Austrian town of Perchtoldsdorf and walk up to the heath, a grassy hillside above the town. There, far from unappreciative neighbours, and looking down towards the spires of Vienna, a few miles north and east, he could crack notes to his heart’s content — in perfect isolation.

Some artists hand you their metaphors on a plate. Schmidt spent his career trying to escape the suburbs of central European music, dogged by private grief and professional frustration. ‘Someone with a name like Schmidt should never become an artist,’ declared his piano teacher. Later, he played the cello in the Vienna Opera under Gustav Mahler — who stood by while the orchestra’s leader bullied Schmidt into submission. Schmidt lost a wife to mental illness (the Nazis murdered her after his death) and a daughter to childbirth, and continued to write music through heart attacks and nervous breakdowns, even after doctors told him that the effort would kill him — which it did in 1939, 11 months after the Anschluss.

It might have been better for his legacy if he’d died a bit sooner. Schmidt was — that old get-out — not interested in politics, but in his dying months Austria’s new rulers commissioned him to write a propaganda cantata. He never completed it, instead devoting his failing energies to a piano quintet for an old friend, the Jewish pianist Paul Wittgenstein. But for some, it’s proof that Schmidt was an enthusiastic Nazi, and if you ignore the testimony of Schmidt’s admirers Hans Keller and Oskar Adler — who knew him, and insisted ‘with all the emphasis at my disposal’ that he was neither a Nazi nor an anti-Semite — it’s case closed. Schmidt was no Strauss, Stravinsky or Webern, to name just three 20th-century composers whose music is charismatic enough (or so it seems) to allow listeners and performers to gloss over some, well, let’s call them ‘problematic’ political choices.

Schmidt’s music has survived as a cult item, beloved of record collectors and champions of oddball symphonists. His fans make heroic claims: a musicologist friend assures me that Schmidt is ‘one of the greatest contrapuntists of all time’. Well, maybe: when I heard his Fourth Symphony at the Proms in 2018, my companion fell asleep. Whatever his finer qualities (and musicologists are rather like accountants: on paper, at least, they can make anything add up to a masterpiece) Schmidt has never really found his audience. If you don’t warm to his blend of surging romanticism and oddly detached mock-baroque rigour, no theoretical argument is going to persuade you.

But if you do, a new recording of his four symphonies from Frankfurt, conducted by Paavo Jarvi, is tantamount to mainstream endorsement. It’s on Deutsche Grammophon, complete with the yellow cartouche and moody conductor photo that — in the world of classical recordings, anyway — still signifies prestige. The symphonies themselves are postcards from a collapsing culture. The First, premièred in Vienna in 1902, is all lush strings and leaping horns. ‘I sing as the bird sings,’ Schmidt wrote on the score: an ambitious 28-year-old asserting his place in what he confidently assumed was a living tradition. The Second was premièred in 1913, and like Elgar’s Second or Mahler’s Eighth, it’s one of those proud, glittering pre-1914 epics that seem to embody a civilisation on the brink. Jarvi’s performance is resplendent, if not quite as convincing as Dmitri Mitropoulos’s sweeping (if scratchy) 1958 recording from Vienna.

I’ve never clicked with Schmidt’s Third (1928) — a lyrical symphony with a faintly unreal air, written in a shrivelled post-Imperial Austria to mark Schubert’s centenary. It feels as though it should be wearing a dirndl. But the beautiful, haunted Fourth (1933) is another matter, composed after the death of Schmidt’s daughter Emma and cast in a single huge span of music. If Strauss and Mahler were romanticism’s fabulous sunset, by Schmidt’s Fourth only the afterglow remains. Night is falling, and there’s a chill in the air. Schmidt’s classical logic becomes the natural language of a composer who felt more isolated than ever. The symphony’s intimate confessions and nightmarish collapses emerge gradually (and in Jarvi’s performance, inevitably) before unravelling into silence.

It ends, as it begins, with a lone trumpet floating a wavering, desolate melody towards a dark and uncertain horizon. Cold comfort, though Schmidt, alone on his hillside, at least lets us hear why it could be no other way. Again: it’s not for everyone. But if, after the past few months, you can still bring yourself to value art for the resonance of its solitude or the quality of its despair, Franz Schmidt might offer something in the way of consolation as the lights go out.

Franz Schmidt’s Complete Symphonies, recorded by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony conducted by Paavo Jarvi, is out now on Deutsche Grammophon.

A box of French delights from the Paavo Järvi and the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester

Bachtrack
Chris Garlick
28.11.2020


A French evening of 20th-century neoclassical works was a breath of fresh air. It was good to hear a German orchestra find the necessary flexibility, lightness of tone and wit that is so intrinsic to French music of this period. Paavo Järvi is a conductor who finds his home in most musical genres he turns to and he certainly helped the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester produce warm hearted accounts of all the works on offer.

Poulenc's Sinfonietta (1947) is a work that has never really caught on as much as his early ballet Les Biches. The composer seemed to be somewhat inhibited in the first movement, with its rather awkward sonata form. However, he becomes more relaxed as the movements progress, relying sensibly on his bottomless pit of gentle charm and melodic gifts. The Andante cantabile is particularly lovely creation, its exquisite string melody luxuriously played here.

Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin is another charmer. It has that quality of perfection Ravel instinctively aspired to throughout his career. Sanity and grace are an antidote to his experiences on the frontline in the First World War, each movement commemorating lost friends. In this performance the tricky woodwind writing wasn’t given the slickest of performances in all departments, but there was much needed character to the playing overall, which is perhaps preferable in this case to over-refinement. The Menuet was a particular joy, capturing the affectionate sadness of the piece.

Albert Roussel is a deeply under-appreciated composer in the concert hall. Occasional outings of his Third Symphony and his ballet Bacchus et Ariane, touch only the tip of a very interesting iceberg. His late Sinfonietta for Strings is a work full of neoclassical wit and a more propulsive symphonic toughness. As with many of his works, the true depth of feeling is only heard in the slow movements, here a rather dark place. However, it only momentarily interrupts the energetic flow, leading directly into the rhythmic and exciting finale. The Elbphilharmonie strings had just the right balance of heft and flexibility and Järvi drove things along with gusto.

Jacques Ibert is another French composer too often overlooked in the concert hall. His irreverent Divertissement was written in 1929, originally as the incidental music to a production of The Italian Straw Hat, and is his most played work for good reason. It is a delightful mixture of the playful, the mysterious and the devil may care. It is a work that needs a particularly light and bright touch. Järvi and his orchestra, particularly the brass section, were clearly enjoying themselves here, relishing every absurd twist and turn.



This performance was reviewed from the Elbphilharmonie video stream.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Schmidt: Symphonies Nos 1-4

Classical Music
Erik Levi
26.11.2020


Schmidt
Symphonies Nos 1-4; Notre Dame – Intermezzo
Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra/Paavo Järvi
DG 483 8336 180:32 mins (2 discs)



Is Franz Schmidt finally securing due recognition as the last great Austrian symphonist of the late-Romantic era? The enthusiastic reception accorded to two of his symphonies at the BBC Proms over recent years certainly suggests so. I have no doubt too that his music will win over many new admirers thanks to this beautifully played and luxuriantly recorded cycle of concert performances given in Frankfurt between 2013 and 2018.

Paavo Järvi is an almost ideal interpreter of this composer, not only managing to bring transparency and luminosity to Schmidt’s often thickly textured orchestration, but also keeping a tight rein on the structural direction of works that in lesser hands can seem to meander. The youthful First Symphony receives an exuberant performance in which Schumann rather than Wagner emerges as the most potent influence. Järvi is no less impressive in the Second Symphony, exerting formidable control over the tricky babbling brook passagework in the opening movement and giving the music a dynamic sense of forward momentum and febrile excitement that is not so evident in other recordings.

In the more emotionally elusive Third Symphony, Järvi emphasises the lyrical and pastoral qualities in the outer movements but also brings a deep sense of foreboding to the darkly chromatic Adagio. Best of all is his deeply committed account of the Fourth. Thanks to the sustained almost grief-stricken intensity of the playing, not least the distinguished solo contributions from the trumpet, cor anglais and cello, it proves to be a gripping musical experience from first bar to last.

Franz Schmidt, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Järvi

The Canadian
27.11.2020

The situation is funny: Järvi father (Neeme) and Järvi fils (Paavo) compete for the market for the integrals of the symphonies of Franz Schmidt, a Viennese, whose production covers the period 1899-1933. The postromantic Schmidt never really made its hole, except, relatively, for the 4e Symphony, orchestral requiem in memory of his daughter. Its musical language derives from Mahler and Richard Strauss, but with a profusion and harmonic complexity that need to be tamed, as in Zemlinsky for example. The decisive contribution of Paavo Järvi is to clarify the structures and the polyphony of Schmidt. The close and precise sound recording allows a more carnal contact with sound textures, and the approach to the music is also more active and lively than that of its other competitors (Sinaïski, Luisi, Rajter). Paavo Järvi never “listens to himself conduct” while swooning over the beautiful music his orchestra produces. With its disarming evidence, it now dominates the discography and facilitates the composer’s approach.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Piotr Ilitch Tchaïkovski, Orchestre de la Tonhalle de Zurich, Paavo Järvi

Le Devoir
Christophe Huss
27.11.2020



Les CD de symphonies de Tchaïkovski sont légion, mais les interprétations de cet acabit, très rares. Tchaïkovski en Suisse ? Oui, et c’est brûlant. Paavo Järvi a pris la direction de l’Orchestre de la Tonhalle de Zurich au début de la saison 2019-2020 et se lance dans une intégrale des symphonies du grand compositeur russe. Il le fait en gravant l’un des plus grands enregistrements de sa carrière. Ce n’est assurément pas une 5e de Tchaïkovski comme les autres, mais un flot de lave musicale porté par un engagement forcené. Il faut écouter avec quelle intensité sont traduites les indications « marcato », « largement » ou « féroce » pour comprendre qu’au-delà des notes Järvi et son orchestre incarnent la destinée d’un Tchaïkovski (la délicatesse des violons sur les phrases « avec noblesse ») laminé par la fatalité. Le 2e mouvement est au cœur des tourments tchaïkovskiens, et Paavo Järvi le sculpte avec liberté et soin du détail. Le chef estonien organise dans Francesca da Rimini un rouleau compresseur musical implacable et saturé de couleurs.

CD-Kritik: Paavo Järvi - Franz Schmid - Complete Symphonies

WDR 3 TonArt
09.11.2020
07:05 min


Der Cellist Franz Schmidt, geboren im Jahr 1874 in Preßburg, war ein bedeutendster Komponist der österreichischen Spätromantik. Paavo Järvi legt mit dem hr-Sinfonieorchester eine Gesamteinspielung seiner wenig bekannten Sinfonien vor. Adele Jakumeit hat sie gehört. (Franz Schmidt: Symphonien Nr.1-4 / Radio-Sinfonie-Orchester Frankfurt, Paavo Järvi / DGG 4838336)

Paavo Järvi’s Really Fine Schmidt Symphonies

Classics Today
Victor Carr Jr.

Artistic Quality: 9
Sound Quality: 9


Paavo Järvi joins his father Neeme as one of the few conductors to record all four symphonies by Austrian composer Franz Schmidt. Symphony No. 4 is by far the most performed and recorded, as well as the best work of the bunch. Like Josef Suk before him, Schmidt transformed the pain of personal tragedy (the death of his daughter) into a symphonic composition of exceptional beauty and deep feeling.

Zubin Mehta’s classic recording, a measured, Brucknerian reading, evokes the music’s darker emotions, while at the other interpretive end, Franz Welser-Möst’s taut and swift rendition presents the work as elegiac rather than funereal. Paavo Järvi’s reading comes in between these two extremes, and his well-chosen tempos and naturally-breathed phrasing make for a cogent and near-ideal presentation of this music. Many individual moments, like the heartfelt cello solo in the second movement and the poignant, perfectly-played opening and closing trumpet solos, contribute to this uniquely persuasive performance. The Frankfurt Radio Symphony may not have the string sheen of the Vienna Philharmonic (Mehta), but the players’ palpable commitment is quite moving.

The second-best symphony is No. 2, and here Järvi runs up against papa Neeme who, with a highly-enthused Chicago Symphony (whose players clearly relish unfamiliar music) produce a formidable performance. As per usual, the elder Järvi plays it quite fast, and while Paavo’s less athletic tempos allow for more audible detail, and his brass is better balanced in the ensemble (probably the way Schmidt intended), there’s no denying that the Chicago brass is just stunning in this music. That said, Järvi fils is more attuned to the composer’s colorful and characteristic woodwind writing, which really enlivens the theme-and-variations second movement. Schmidt’s Notre Dame: Intermezzo makes a for a fine encore following the symphony.

Schmidt’s pretty and harmless Symphony No. 3 was submitted to, and won, Second Prize in the Schubert Centennial Contest of 1928. The work’s predominantly pastoral mood is reminiscent of Schubert’s Fifth symphony (albeit without its good tunes), and despite the somewhat dissonant harmonies in the slow movement’s main theme, the overall impression is one of perfumed languor. Järvi enlivens the music’s bright instrumental colors, particularly so in the first movement and Finale, and provides more clarity and concision than his dad, whose Chicago Symphony feels like overkill in this work.

Like many a first symphony, Schmidt’s No. 1 gives little indication of his later style, especially in the first movement, with its prominent echoes of Wagner (especially in the brass writing) and Schumann. The third-movement scherzo puts us on familiar territory–the busy triple-meter string writing points ahead to the Second and Fourth symphonies, while Schmidt’s chromatic neo-baroque harmonic style reminds of No. 3. Järvi makes a strong case for the symphony (as do the Frankfurt brass), which nonetheless leaves the impression of Schmidt as an interesting composer with “potential”.

Throughout, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony plays handsomely, with excellent work from all sections and soloists. Still, I can’t help wondering how these pieces would have sounded with Järvi’s former orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony, and its more aggressive playing style. The live recordings (made in Frankfurt’s Alte Oper and hr-Sendessal) sound very fine, though in No. 2 woodwind and brass detail occasionally gets blurred in the resonant acoustic. In all, this is a highly enjoyable release. If you want a single set of Schmidt symphonies, young Järvi’s is the one to get. But I suggest you also get the recommend recordings of Nos. 2 & 4 as supplements.

Warm and affirmative playing from the LSO and Paavo Järvi at St Lukes

Bachtrack
17.11.2020
Chris Garlick


An early evening concert with a light-hearted programme seemed like a good idea in this dark November lockdown. The live audience of office workers caught on the way home was replaced by this live-streamed event from the beautiful setting of St Luke’s in Farringdon.

The first work was a rarity in the concert hall, the Concerto for Strings by the talented and prolific Polish composer Grażyna Bacewicz. In three concise movements it is not an ambitious work, but it is a good introduction to the neo-classical earlier style and distinctive harmonic language of the composer that didn’t change greatly over the next 20 years. This lack of progression in her style was the probably the reason why her music has largely been ignored since her death in 1969 until more recent revivals in the recording studio. It was the more exploratory Lutosławski and Penderecki that lead the way in Poland.

The opening Allegro is rhythmically determined with flecks of lyricism. The strings of the LSO were certainly rich and rounded here, but never too rotund to overpower the music. Paavo Jarvi kept the tempo moving and also found a deeply brooding quality in the Andante that followed. Here one felt that Bacewicz was at her most personal, troubled and heartfelt. The final Vivo movement returns to the dynamism of the Allegro this time seeming to seek out an untroubled major key resolution.

Haydn's Sinfonia Concertante in B flat major for oboe, bassoon, violin and cello is one of those works that you could describe as being sublime in its pure sense of joy. Haydn was the true master of happy music, without ever sounding shallow or trite. This work, one of a handful of important concertante works he produced amongst his vast output. The work was given the sort of performance one would ideally wish for. With a biggish string section, it was not an “authentic” style of interpretation, but there was an emphasis on clarity, as well as moments of more romantic lyricism. The soloists, taken from the front desks of the orchestra, showed their mettle in the extensive first movement. Particularly fine playing from cellist Rebecca Gilliver and the beautiful French tones of oboist Olivier Stankiewicz here. The Andante had an appropriate intermezzo feel to it, with a good tempo choice and all four soloists relishing the beautiful ensemble writing. The finale was fleet footed and witty, with the orchestra’s leader Roman Simović on fine form leading the charge to the warm and affirmative B flat major close.

Beethoven’s Symphony no. 8 F major is another work of full of good humour and wit. This is not the composer of the Grosse Fuga or the Ninth Symphony, it’s not even the composer of the idyllic Pastoral. The Eighth is a much more personal work. It is scaled down to human size, a work you felt was the product of a man and not a would-be god and as such Beethoven believed it to be a greater symphony than his ambitious Seventh.

Järvi and the LSO certainly revealed many subtleties of mood and orchestral colour. Never did Beethoven find more varied colours from the woodwind and the quality of the playing here from the whole section was outstanding. The humour was brought out well, for example the sudden interjections of brass and timpani in all the movements sounding playful and not frightening, as they can in some performances. The finale had some of the manic energy of the Seventh, but was never pushed too hard, its progress here remained pleasingly and appropriately earthbound.

This performance was reviewed from the live IDAGIO Global Concert Hall video stream.

London Symphony Orchestra & Paavo Järvi at Jerwood Hall, LSO St Luke’s [Idagio livestream]

Colin's Column
Guest Reviewer, Ateş Orga
18.11.2020

Stepping in for Gianandrea Noseda (having had to withdraw due to travel restrictions), Paavo Järvi took over the London Symphony Orchestra for a programme traversing the relatively unfamiliar through the occasionally tried-out to standard mainstream. All dispatched with his customary composure and attentiveness, coaxing detail and character out of the players, never pushing the moment. Järvi has the safest hands in the business with a disposition to match. He doesn’t do ordinary. There’s always a surprise around the corner, a touch of adventure, a glint in the eye to keep us on our toes.

I grew up with Grażyna Bacewicz’s 1948 Concerto for Strings. The years have softened it somewhat. It’s not quite the Bartók Divertimento substitute I used to imagine. Nor does it approach those carved string intensities and serrated extremes Lutosławski, Penderecki and the Polish school were to make their own a decade later. But it has determination and guts, it engineers its motifs neo-classically, it encloses a sublimely turned Andante, and it has enough tricky solos and textures to test the best musicians. Järvi authoritatively drew the LSO (12.10.7.6.4) into the idiom.

Haydn’s B-flat Sinfonia concertante for violin, cello, oboe and bassoon, written for London in 1792, was about chamber elegance, gallant rhythms and sensitive, placed accompaniment, the orchestra fielding a pedigree quartet of principals – Roman Simovic, Rebecca Gilliver, Olivier Stankiewicz and Daniel Jemison. The first movement ensemble cadenza (Haydn’s own) took the ruminative route.

Järvi’s Beethoven is familiar terrain, if a little more moderated and measured these days than when he videoed the Symphonies with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen in 2009. In a chat beforehand he stressed the enigmatic “unusual” nature of the 1812 Eighth, a work taking a “sideways step” between the Seventh and Ninth, not fitting the populist view of Beethoven as a frowning, fist-shaking heavyweight. “Beethoven and ‘funny’ [people say] cannot be used in the same sentence … they sure can.” His Bremen account was a fierce one, running out at around twenty-four minutes. Two minutes longer, this LSO version had humour, an especially taut first movement development, and plenty of sharp oppositions – sudden quiets, unforgiving louds, hide-and-seek scampers, theatrical Finale unisons. Maybe the Loki blaze was dampened here and there but Järvi’s ruggedly full-throated stance had a persuasive ring overall, his body language – reminding of Celibidache in illustrative, point-making mood – striking a communicative note. Dvora Lewis, the LSO’s PR duchess for nearly forty years whose death had been reported earlier in the day, would have loved it.

Idagio’s livestream combined atmospheric lighting with good camera angles. But the sound (Jonathan Stokes, Neil Hutchinson) was variable, Nigel Thomas’s timpani proving over-reverberant in the mix, at the expense of clarity.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Paavo Järvi tutvustab kontsertide puudumisel oma orkestreid heliplaadistuste kaudu

ERR Kultuur
Priit Kuusk
15.11.2020


Järvi Akadeemia galakontserdi proov Jaani Kirikus
Foto: Kairit Leibold (ERR)


Uue kontserdihooaja algus on dirigentidele vahepeal teoks saanud kontsertide järel taas heitlik. Plaanitust on tulnud kohati kõik muusikakavad ära jätta. Kui kontserdimajad on suletud, on Paavo Järvi kohta ilmunud uudistest esiplaanil tema plaadistustegevus, mille kaudu ta saab ka keerulistel aegadel oma orkestreid muusikaavalikkusele näidata.

Paavo Järvit iseloomustavad eeskätt mahukad, mitmeid aastaid hõlmavad suured tsüklid. Ta tahab võimalikult mitmekülgselt tutvustada heliloojat, samas ka seda muusikat esitanud orkestrit. Ajakirjanduses rohkesti ilmunud arvustusi ja ülevaateid edastab alates 2005. aasta jaanuarist blogi Paavo Project USA-st. Autentse allikana on see rikkalikem, mis ühe Eesti dirigendi kohta kunagi on avaldatud. Pole harvad juhused, kus Paavo Järvi ka ise sõna saab. Siin kajastub lisaks ettevalmistuse muusikateadlaslikule põhjalikkusele ka Järvi väga intensiivne interpreeditegevus, sest plaatidele minevad teosed kõlavad muu repertuaari kõrval enne või pärastki kindlasti kontserdikavades orkestri kodusaalis ja kontserdireisidel mitmetel maadel. Samas leiavad tsükli plaadid või neile plaanitud üksikteosed avalikkuse tähelepanu ridamisi ka ühe kaupa, enne kogu tsükli ilmumist.

Järgnev annab põgusa ettekujutuse sellest, missuguse vastukaja on leidnud Paavo Järvi viimased plaadiprojektid. Uudis 10. novembrist (Paavo Project) valgustab laiemalt tundmatu helilooja Franz (Ferenc) Schmidti (1874–1939) harukordset menu: ajakirja Musica novembrinumbris on Frankfurti Raadio SO ja peadirigent Järvi see plaadikomplekt (Deutsche Grammophon) Schmidti kõigi nelja sümfooniaga (3 CD) saanud 5 tärni. Salvestused on tehtud viie aasta jooksul (2013–2018). Sama plaat on saanud ajakirja Gramophone oktoobrikuu plaadi auhinna. Vastukajasid Schmidti plaaditsüklile veel (jutt pole uue plaadi raadios ettemängimisest, vaid retsenseeritud hinnangutest): Münchner Merkur (2. XI); Musik und Theater (november 2020); Rootsi Raadio P1 (3. XI); The Onliner, Šveits (27. X), Trouw, Hollandi (23. X); Belgia Raadio RTBF (23. X); Musikzen, Pariis (13. X); parim päevaklassika plaat, France Musique (2. X); Capriccio, Rootsi (7. X); Concerti, Naxos Records (7. X); nädala album, Bayerische Rundfunk, BR Klassik (2. X) jne.

Uudis 9. novembrist. Ajakirja Gramophone novembrinumbri kaas Paavo Järvi plaadi fotoga teatab Tšaikovski-sarja esimese plaadi ilmumisest novembrikuul: Viies sümfoonia ja avamäng-fantaasia "Francesca da Rimini". Mängib Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, väljaandja Alpha Classics. Sarja kõik plaadid ilmuvad kontserdivõtetena. Eelmisel hooajal avas Järvi sarja orkestri kodusaalis IV ja VI sümfooniaga, sel hooajal mängiti plaadistamise plaaniga Viiendat. Vastukajades pressis toovad autorid esile Järvi märgatavalt uutmoodi lähenemist Tšaikovski muusikale, mis tunduvat Tšaikovski taasavastamisena. Zürichi orkester mängis Viiendat aasta algul oma Euroopa reisil. Sümfooniate koguplaadistuse on Järvi aastaid tagasi teinud ka Cincinnati SO peadirigendina. Nüüdne Tšaikovski-sari on kavandatud seitsmele plaadile. 11. novembril on uus plaat retsenseeritud ja kõlanud Lääne-Saksa ringhäälingus (WDR3 Tonart, ka 9. XI); SRF Radio (24. X); Peter Hagmanni blogi (Šveits, 28. X).

Veel 28. oktoobril ütleb Peter Hagmann oma blogis Lugano kontserdi järel, et Viini kontserdid pole ära öeldud. Ootamatu äraütlemine tuli siiski, kohe järgmisel päeval: Zürichi Tonhalle orkestri kõik kontserdid kodus ning muusikareis Viini ei toimu. Viini Musikvereini suures saalis oli 14. ja 15. novembrile plaanitud kokku kolm kontserti: Szymanowski Viiulikontsert nr 1 (Lisa Batiašvili), Schumanni Sümfoonia nr 3 ning Bruckneri Sümfoonia nr 4.

Pisut veel varasemast. Paavo Project teatab BBC Proms'i kavast, kus Paavo kiirkorras asendas kava muutmata Esa-Pekka Saloneni. Veebikontserdil 7. IX Royal Albert Hallis mängis Philharmonia, ettekandel Raveli "Couperini haud", Šostakovitši Klaverikontsert nr 1, solistid, Mozarti "Jupiter-sümfoonia" (nr 41). Õhtu möödus meile peaaegu et teadmata, sest Paavo Järvi ootamatu esinemine sellel jõudis siia napi hilinenud sõnumina.

Mezzo TV andis 8. novembril eetrisse Zürichi Tonhalle orkestri hooaja 2019/2020 avakontserdi salvestuse. Paavo Järvi juhatusel kõlas see 2. oktoobril 2019 Järvi debüüdina orkestri peadirigendi ametis. Ettekanne toimus Zürichi Tonhalle Maagis, kavas Sibeliuse "Kullervo" op. 7, kus olid kaastegevad Eesti rahvusmeeskoor ning solistidena Soome lauljad Johanna ja Ville Rusanen.

Lõpetuseks koju. Esmaspäeval 9. novembril alustas Klassikaraadio uut, viieosalist saatesarja Beethoveni suure tähtpäeva märgiks. Sarja autorid on Paavo Järvi ning Nele-Eva Steinfeld, tema ka toimetajana. Beethoveni kõik 9 sümfooniat ja avamänge esitab uuel plaaditsüklil Järvi juhatusel tema kauaaegne orkester Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. Selle projekti plaate salvestas Paavo Järvi enam kui kümnel aastal (Sony Classical/RCA Red Seal) lõpuni veendununa, et Bremeni orkester oli selleks sobivaim. Projekti üksikplaadid on võitnud mitmeid rahvusvahelisi auhindu. Järvi osalemine kogu saatesarjas on praegust olukorda arvestades harukordne, kahe autori dialoog on põnevusega jälgitav, Bremeni orkestri ja Paavo ühistöö plaadid siinjuures kõlamas. Saatesari lõpeb detsembri algul, 250 aastat tagasi Beethoven sündis, aga tema sünni täpset kuupäeva meil ju pole.

Franz Schmidt : Les quatre symphonies

Les Echos
Philippe Venturini
13.11.2020


Belle redécouverte

Cadet de Mahler sous la direction duquel il joua comme violoncelliste de l'Orchestre philharmonique de Vienne, Franz Schmidt (1874-1939) reste méconnu en France. S'il ne prétend pas participer à l'avant-garde alors qu'il est contemporain de Schoenberg, il déploie une pensée généreuse dans un style qui évoque autant la mélancolie automnale d'un Brahms que la volupté sonore d'un Richard Strauss. L'esprit clair et le geste net, Paavo Järvi évite la tentation du seul hédonisme pour révéler le caractère de chaque symphonie : la dernière, requiem sans voix composé à la mémoire de sa fille, cache sa douleur derrière une noble pudeur.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wP6nQC7QYjU&feature=emb_title

Orchestre symphonique de la Radio de Francfort, Paavo Järvi (direction). 3 CD, Deutsche Grammophon.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

CD-Kritik: Tschaikowsky. Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Paavo Järvi

WDR
Elisabeth Richter
11.11.2020

Das Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich und sein Chefdirigent Paavo Järvi haben alle Sinfonien und weitere ausgewählte Orchesterwerke aufgenommen. Den Auftakt machen die Fünfte und die Fantasie "Francesca da Rimini" nach Dante. Elisabeth Richter hat die CD gehört. (Tschaikowsky / Symphonie Nr. 5 & Francesca da Rimini / Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, Paavo Järvi / Alpha / ALP659)

https://www1.wdr.de/mediathek/audio/wdr3/wdr3-tonart/audio-cd-kritik-tschaikowsky-tonhalle-orchester-zuerich-paavo-jaervi-100.html

Tchaikovsky, Symphony No.5 / Review Highlights



REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

CD RELEASE NOVEMBER 2020


“it certainly hits the emotional spot and marks an auspicious start to Järvi’s Tchaikovsky cycle. Just when you need to cool off after that sizzling coda of the Fifth, though, it’s a case of out of the emotional frying pan and into ... the raging furnace that is the symphonic poem Francesca da Rimini ... Järvi wrenches the drama from the closing pages, the final bars held for all their worth.”

Gramophone, Mark Pullinger, November 2020

"Gleich am Anfang fällt auf, was für einen warmen, vollen, sehr ausgewogenen und dabei transparenten Klang Paavo Järvi mit dem Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich formt. [...] Järvi, der neue Chefdirigent in Zürich, zeigt, dass Tschaikowsky spannend und mitreißend sein kann, ohne Emotionen aufzubauschen.”

"Right at the beginning you notice what a warm, full, very balanced and at the same time transparent sound Paavo Järvi creates with the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich. [...] Järvi, the new chief conductor in Zurich, shows that Tchaikovsky can be exciting and stirring without exaggerating emotions”.

WDR 3 Tonart, 9 November 2020 Die Alben der Woche


“Straff, klar, voller Energie. Aber auch fein und elegant, geradezu verführerisch.”
"Tight, clear, full of energy. But also fine and elegant, almost seductive.”

SRF Radio, Annelis Berger, 24 October 2020

“... die Einspielung von Tschaikowskys Fünfter, der die Tondichtung «Francesca da Rimini» zugefügt ist, lässt denn auch im Dynamischen keinen Wunsch offen. Mit äusserster Sorgfalt ist da alles ausgestaltet, man hört es, weil das Orchester sozusagen von innen heraus aufgenommen ist und die Spitzen der Lautstärke, die Järvi wohl um der instrumentalen Farben willen verlangt, ins Klangganze eingebettet sind. So findet der Kopfsatz nach der gehauchten langsamen Einleitung zu einer Erzählung aus einem einzigen Guss, erzeugt das Andante tiefe Berührung, ohne in Kitsch abzugleiten, kann man im Walzer des dritten Satzes die Vorteile der alten deutschen Orchesteraufstellung mit den beiden Geigengruppen links und rechts vom Dirigenten entdecken, während das Finale mit der ganzen Schönheit des dunklen, warmen Tutti-Klangs prunkt. Das Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich kommt hier zu einem blendenden Auftritt.”

“ ... the recording of Tchaikovsky's Fifth, to which the tone poem Francesca da Rimini is added, leaves nothing to be desired in the dynamic. Everything is arranged with the utmost care, you can hear it because the orchestra is recorded from within, so to speak, and the peaks of the volume, which Järvi probably demands for the sake of the instrumental colours, are embedded in the whole sound. Thus, after the slow breathed introduction, the opening movement becomes a narrative in a single cast, the Andante creates a deep emotion without slipping into kitsch, in the waltz of the third movement one can discover the advantages of the old German orchestral arrangement with the two violin groups to the left and right of the conductor, while the finale shines with all the beauty of the dark, warm tutti sound. The Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich makes a dazzling performance here".

peterhagmann.com, 28 October 2020

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Schmidt recording was awarded with 5 stars in MUSICA, November edition.




'






Review Highlights: FRANZ SCHMIDT COMPLETE SYMPHONIES




“Dem hr-Sinfonieorchester unter der Leitung des estnischen Dirigenten Paavo
Järvi gelingt mit Abstand die bisher künstlerisch und klangtechnisch beste Aufnahme
auf dem Markt. Nie bombastisch oder klanglich dick, hören wir wunderbar transparente
und sich von Werk zu Werk steigernde Interpretationen dieser noch zu entdeckenden
Juwelen der klassischen Moderne. Järvi ist die Begeisterung für die Strukturen, aber
auch für den durchaus feinen Klangsinn des Komponisten anzumerken. Der Schwung,
der Elan, der gekonnte Walzerdreh – Järvi legt mit dieser epochalen Einspielung nicht
nur ein präzises Momentum zu großer Musik ab, sondern fordert damit auch die
anderen Spitzenorchester heraus, sich mit dem symphonischen Schaffen von Franz
Schmidt auseinanderzusetzen. Eine Einspielung etwa mit den Wiener Philharmonikern
wäre überfällig. Die Zweite mit Semyon Bychkov war ja schon einmal ein guter Anfang.”

“”The hr-Sinfonieorchester under the baton of the Estonian conductor Paavo Järvi
succeeds in making by far the best recording on the market so far, both artistically and
technically. Never bombastic or tonally thick, we hear wonderfully transparent and from
work to work increasing interpretations of these yet to be discovered jewels of classical
modernism. Järvi's enthusiasm for the structures, but also for the composer's very fine
sense of sound, is noticeable. The verve, the élan, the skilful waltz turn - with this
epochal recording, Järvi not only lays down a precise momentum to great music, but
also challenges the other top orchestras to deal with the symphonic work of Franz
Schmidt.”

onlinemerkur.de, Dr. Ingobert Waltenberger, 7 November 2020

---

“Die Aufnahmen sind derart vorzüglich geraten, dass man von einem Meilenstein
sprechen kann ... Paavo Järvi dirigiert diese stilistisch recht diffizile Musik mit
ausgesprochenem Fingerspitzengefühl. Er hält die Musik in einem derart natürlichen
Fluss, dass es scheint, als sei da gar kein Dirigent, der interpretierend «eingreife».
Vielleicht ist das sogar das grösste Kompliment, das man Järvi machen kann: Dass der
Schleier der «Interpretation», der so häufig zwischen dem Hörer und der Musik hängt,
hier wie weggezogen scheint. So, wie Franz Schmidts Sinfonien unter seiner Leitung
klingen, müssten sie künftig weltweit Erfolg in allen Konzertsälen haben.”

“The recordings are so excellent that one can speak of a milestone ... Paavo Järvi
conducts this stylistically quite difficult music with a pronounced sensitivity. He keeps
the music in such a natural flow that it seems as if there is no conductor who
"intervenes" in the interpretation. Perhaps this is the greatest compliment that can be
paid to Järvi: That the veil of "interpretation" that so often hangs between the listener
and the music seems to have been drawn away here. The way Franz Schmidt's
symphonies sound under his baton, they should in future be successful in all concert
halls worldwide.”

Musik und Theater, Werner Pfister, November issue 2020

---

“Lux Klass - Schmidt’s Symphonies cannot be heard better than on these recordings
with the fantastic Paavo Järvi and Frankfurt Radio Symphony.”

P1 (Sweden), Johan Korssel, 3 November 2020
full review available to listen to on P1 podcast (from 41’00)

---

“... these are compelling, supremely persuasive performances that constantly underline
the music’s great qualities ... (Paavo Järvi) has an apparently instinctive ability to draw
Schmidt’s symphonic threads together into performances that are persuasive, powerful
and, thanks here to the rich-sounding Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, very well
played to boot ... an unfailing musicality, an extra sense of refinement, a seriousness
that never spills over into portentousness, an ability to let Schmidt’s ideas unfurl
naturally ... As a set, they allow the listener to trace Schmidt’s development in a genre
whose gods were very much in their twilight.”

Gramophone Magazine, Hugo Shirley, October 2020
Recording of the Month

---

“Paavo Järvi verricht wonderen met het Radio Symfonieorkest uit Frankfurt in alle vier
symfonieën. En uiteraard ontbreekt dat zinderende Intermezzo niet.”
“Paavo Järvi performs miracles with the Radio Symphony Orchestra from Frankfurt in
all four symphonies. And, of course, that sweltering Intermezzo is not lacking.”

Trouw, Peter van der Lint, 23 October 2020

---

“Comme son père Neeme, Paavo Järvi aime explorer des répertoires méconnus. Coup
de chapeau à lui et aussi à Deutsche Grammophon qui, en cette année où pleuvent les
intégrales des symphonies de Beethoven, proposent une intégrale des symphonies
de... Franz Schmidt ... et remarquablement jouée ici par l’Orchestre symphonique de la
Radio de Francfort.”

“Like his father Neeme, Paavo Järvi likes to explore little-known repertoires. Hats off to
him and also to Deutsche Grammophon who, in this year when the complete
symphonies of Beethoven are raining down are offering a complete set of the
symphonies of... Franz Schmidt ... remarkably played here by the Frankfurt Radio
Symphony Orchestra.”

Le Choix Musical de Musiq 3
RTBF - Belgium Radio, Nicolas Blanmont 23 October 2020

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“Sans oublier l’interprétation de cette ultime symphonie gravée au début des années
2000 par Yakov Keizberg (PentaTone), Paavo Järvi et Francfort apportent une noblesse
brucknérienne à cette partition qui se voulait, comme l’indique le sous-titre, un requiem
destiné à la fille du compositeur, morte en bas âge.”

“Without forgetting the interpretation of this final symphony engraved at the beginning
of the 2000s by Yakov Keizberg (PentaTone), Paavo Järvi and Frankfurt bring a
Brucknerian nobility to this score which was intended, as the subtitle indicates, a
requiem intended for the composer's daughter, who died in infancy.”

Musikzen, Frank Mallet, 13 October 2020

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Le Disque classique du Jour on France Musique, 2 October 2020

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“Paavos Järvis entusiasm för dessa verk är påtaglig och orkestern lyckas genomgående
ge musiken både den kraft och klarhet den behöver ... Genomgående i samtliga verk –
även Schmidts mest kända “hit”, intermezzot ur operan Notre Dame – är både
tolkningarna, orkesterspelet och ljudbilden i toppklass. Som jag ser det, är det här du
som lyssnare bör starta om du vill bekanta dig med dessa personliga symfonier. “

“Paavo Järvi's enthusiasm for these works is palpable and the orchestra consistently
manages to give the music both the power and clarity it needs ... Throughout all the
works - even Schmidt's most famous "hit", the intermezzo from the opera Notre Dame -
both the interpretations, the orchestral performance and the soundscape are top class.
As I see it, this is where you as a listener should start if you want to get acquainted with
these personal symphonies.”

www.capriccio.se, Per Nylen, 7 October 2020

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“Jetzt liegen die Mitschnitte auf drei CDs vor. Järvi deutet diese Musik, wie in der ersten
Sinfonie, mit einer gewissen Weitherzigkeit, nie gehetzt, mit genauem Sinn für
Proportionen und die Verteilung der Stimmen. Auch wenn die Frankfurter oft Glut und
Hitze entwickeln, so leiden die Mitschnitte nie unter Überdruck. Järvi verortet Schmidts
Musik durchweg in einem weiten Feld der Spätromantik, die die Türen zur Moderne sehr
wohl kennt, sie aber nicht krampfhaft öffnet. So ist eine in sich geschlossene,
facettenreiche Gesamtschau der Sinfonien entstanden.”

“Järvi interprets this music, as in the first symphony, with a certain expansiveness, never
rushed, with a precise sense of proportion and the distribution of the voices. Even
though the Frankfurters often develop embers and heat, the recordings never suffer
from overpressure. Järvi locates Schmidt's music throughout in a wide field of late
romanticism, which knows the doors to modernity very well, but does not open them
spasmodically. The result is a self-contained, multifaceted overview of the symphonies.”

Concerti, Christian Lahneck, 7 October 2020

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“Gleich der erste Satz von Schmidts 1. Sinfonie ist mitreißend, erhebend, eine große
leuchtende Neonreklame für diese CD-Box ... Das ist keine "Schön, dass es mal jemand
gemacht hat"-Einspielung. Sondern beste Werbung für die Musik von Franz Schmidt. So
bleibt dieser Name im Gedächtnis.”

“The very first movement of Schmidt's 1st Symphony is rousing, uplifting, a large,
glowing neon sign for this CD boxset ... Järvi enjoys the sounds of Schmidt - and
makes listening a pleasure. This is not a "nice that someone did it" recording. But the
best advertisement for the music of Franz Schmidt. So this name stays in the memory.”

Album der Woche on Bayerische Rundfunk (BR Klassik),
Henrik Oerding, 2 October 2020

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“Deutsche Gramophone, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and Paavo Järvi
deserve whole-hearted praise for releasing a new Franz Schmidt symphony cycle ...
Excepting the Chicago/Chandos performances, these are certainly the best engineered
recordings of the cycle. This incredible music deserves and benefits from different
interpretive views. Any lover of late-Romantic music will want this set, supplementing it
with Neeme Järvi’s second and Zubin Mehta’s fourth. But if forced to choose only one
cycle, this would now be a primary recommendation.”

The Classic Review, David A. McConnell, 2 October 2020

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“Here, as everywhere in this set, Järvi allows just the right amount of rubato to follow the
music's warp and weft. and when it comes to the playful Scherzo (Schnell und leicht:
Quickly and lightly), the Frankfurt orchestra excels ... I have never heard the Frankfurt
orchestra on such fine form as under Paavo; and this music is truly revelatory. This is
when the idea of exploration of the repertoire, the heart of Classical Explorer's very
existence, really comes into its own and the rewards show themselves fully.”

Classical Explorer, Colin Clarke, 1 October 2020

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“Paavo Järvi knuffar Franz Schmidts symfonier till verklig klassikernivå ... Omvärlden
vaknade sent, men mer och mer blir det uppenbart att Franz Schmidt hör hemma bland
de stora.”

“Paavo Järvi pushes Franz Schmidt's symphonies to the real classical level ... The
outside world woke up late, but more and more it becomes clear that Franz Schmidt
belongs among the greats.”

HD (Sweden), Staffan Storn, 29 September 2020

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*A benchmark set of Franz Schmidt’s four symphonies
“... Complete recordings of all four symphonies under, for example, Schmidt’s pupil
Ľudovít Rajter, and Neeme Järvi, are now joined by a consistently compelling cycle by
the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra under Neeme’s son Paavo, who drives the
Fourth with maximum ardour but also realises the Third’s Schubertian axis (the slow
movement is especially magical) and the very different characters of the First and
Second Symphonies. The First in particular opens like a hymn to the sun, the best
version I’ve ever heard.”

robcowan.com - rob’s retro classical, 27 September 2020

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“Should Schmidt’s Symphonies be unfamiliar, they should appeal to admirers of the
music of Bruckner, Mahler, Reger and Richard Strauss. Paavo Järvi clearly believes in
their considerable worth and conducts them accordingly. Recorded between 2013 and
2018, the sound is very good if a little edgy in the loudest passages, but that is an
insignificant caveat given the compositional and interpretative artistry on offer.”

Colin’s Column, Colin Anderson, 27 September 2020

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“Satisfyingly sumptuous accounts of Schmidt's 4 late-Romantic symphonies; the post-
Brahms symphonies that Richard Strauss and Schoenberg wouldn't or couldn't compose

themselves.”

The Symphonist, 19 September 2020
#Record of the Week

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“Denn dem von Paavo Järvi geleiteten hr-Sinfonieorchester gelingt es, einen mit all den
rauschend-kulinarischen, stets körperreich und durchsichtig ausmusizierten Klangfarben
in jeder Sekunde zu packen und bei der Stange zu halten. Da fragt man sich zwar
ständig, wo und bei wem Schmidt nun dieses und jenes wieder geklaut hat. Aber er hat
es nun mal hörenswert gut gemacht, wie diese Aufnahme beweist.”

“... the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, directed by Paavo Järvi, manages to
grab you every second and keep you going with all the lavish, culinary timbres
that are always full-bodied and transparent. One constantly wonders where and from
whom Schmidt stole this and that again. But he did it well, as this recording shows.”

Rondo Magazine, Guido Fischer, 19 September 2020

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Comparing the cycles of father and son, tempi don’t appear to be wildly different, and
the playing on both the Chandos and DG sets is exceptional by any standards. However,
I have to say that I have an overall preference for this new release with Paavo Järvi and
the Frankfurt Radio Symphony. The sound has an added glow and depth, and there is
greater definition and potency. So, it goes to the top of my list of recommendations
for this symphonic cycle.

MusicWeb-International.com, Stephen Greenback, September 2020

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“Aunque muchas de estas obras han sido llevadas ya al disco, faltaba quizá en la
discografía de Schmidt un registro que consagrase definitivamente su figura. La
publicación de la integral de sus sinfonías por parte de un sello como Deutsche
Grammophon llena este vacío.”

“Although many of these works have already been recorded on record, perhaps a
record was lacking in Schmidt's discography that would definitively establish his figure.
The publication of the entirety of his symphonies by a label like Deutsche Grammophon
fills this gap.”

Scherzo Magazine, 17 September 2020

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“Heute ist er (Schmidt) weitgehend vergessen ... Ob sich das nun mit der Einspielung
aller vier Symphonien (DG) ändern wird? Wäre denkbar. Denn erstens leistet das
Symphonieorchester des Hessischen Rundfunks, unter Leitung von Paavo Järvi
hervorragende Arbeit. Zweitens gibt es hinter der manchmal sehr soliden
symphonischen Wertarbeit in der Tradition der neudeutschen Schule eine Menge
erstaunlicher Eigenheiten und stilbildender Entwicklungen ... Man spürt nahezu
physisch den Schaffensdruck, die kreative Freude, die Gestaltungskraft, die virtuose
Instrumentationskunst, die Sicherheit, große Spannungsbögen zu ziehen.”

“Today he (Schmidt) is largely forgotten ... Will that change with the recording of all four
symphonies (DG)? Would be conceivable. First of all, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony
Orchestra, under the direction of Paavo Järvi, does an excellent job. Second, behind the
sometimes very solid symphonic workmanship in the tradition of the new German
school, there are a lot of astonishing peculiarities and style-forming developments ...
You can almost physically feel the creative pressure, the creative joy, the creative
power, the virtuoso art of instrumentation, the security of drawing large arcs of
tension”

Süddeutsche Zeitung, Helmut Mauró, 14 September 2020

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“Der Sohn in den Fußspuren des Vaters? - Die Tempi sind ähnlich, bei Paavo Järvi
unmerklich langsamer. Es ist der Zugang, der Vater und Sohn unterscheidet. Neeme
Järvi malte mit breitem Pinsel und schwelgte in Schmidts Klangfluten. Paavo Järvi
versucht, schärfer zu konturieren. Der Klang ist schlanker, die Dynamik feiner abgestuft.
Neeme Järvi ordnete die Details dem Gesamtbild unter, Paavo Järvi nützt sie, um Ecken
und Kanten hörbar zu machen ... Mögen Schmidts Werke auch keine Vollendung der
österreichischen Sinfonik sein: Ein Kennenlernen steht dafür, wenn man
nachromantischen Schwelgereien etwas abgewinnen kann. Um Paavo Järvis Einspielung
wird man dabei nicht herumkommen.”

“The son in the footsteps of his father? - The tempos are similar, in Paavo Järvi's case
imperceptibly slower. It is the approach that distinguishes father and son. Neeme Järvi
painted with a broad brush and indulged in Schmidt's sound waves. Paavo Järvi tries to
outline more sharply. The sound is slimmer, the dynamics more finely graded. Neeme
Järvi subordinated the details to the overall picture, Paavo Järvi uses them to make
corners and edges audible ... Even if Schmidt's works are not a completion of the

Austrian symphony, getting to know them is what it means to gain something from post-
Romantic indulgences. There is no getting around Paavo Järvi's recording.”

Wiener Zeitung, Edin Baumgartner, 22 September 2020

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Im aussergewöhnlichen Normalbetrieb – das Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich mit Paavo Järvi


Peter Hagmann
Mittwochs um zwölf – Der Blog zur klassischen Musik
28.10.2020


Mit Einfallsreichtum, Beweglichkeit und Zuversicht trotzt das Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich der schwierigen Lage. Die künstlerische Entwicklung schreitet jedenfalls kräftig voran, wie vor allem die neue CD mit der fünften Sinfonie Tschaikowskys erkennen lässt.
Von Peter Hagmann

Hervorragend konzipiert, tadellos eingerichtet sind die Schutzmassnahmen, die das Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich bei seinen Konzerten in der Tonhalle Maag walten lässt. Im Publikumsbereich gelten getrennte Wege für die beiden Seiten des Saals, Schachbrettmuster in dem nur zur Hälfte, also mit gut fünfhundert Besuchern belegten Saal, durchgehende Maskenpflicht, Verzicht auf Pause, Gastronomie und Programmheft (letzteres wird digital angeboten). Auch im Orchester wird Maske getragen, allerdings nur für Auf- und Abtritt. Dafür sind die Orchestermitglieder so weit als möglich auseinander aufgestellt; anders als vor dem Ausbruch der Pandemie steht nicht nur den Bläsern, sondern auch den Streichern je ein eigenes Notenpult zur Verfügung – ohne dass dies klanglich hörbare Folgen hätte. Dazu kommt die modernsten Ansprüchen genügende Klimaanlage, die auf voller Leistung läuft und für Verhältnisse sorgt, die jenen draussen vor der Tür gleichen sollen.

Eine neue Art Normalmodus also. Für den künstlerischen Betrieb dagegen gilt das Gegenteil, dort herrscht der reine Ausnahmezustand. Die Situation ist derart volatil, dass nur auf kurze Sicht geplant werden kann und im einzelnen Fall sehr flexibel reagiert werden muss. Für die Eröffnung der Saison 2020/21 Ende September war ein Auftritt des finnischen Pianisten und Dirigenten Olli Mustonen angesagt, eines der Residenz-Künstler dieser Spielzeit. Mustonen musste jedoch überraschend absagen, weil die Schweiz in Finnland damals soeben auf die Risikoliste gekommen war, er nach der Rückkehr aus Zürich also in Quarantäne hätte gehen müssen, was er nicht konnte. Dank dem Netzwerk von Marc Barwisch, dem Leiter des Betriebsbüros beim Tonhalle-Orchester, wurde rasch Ersatz gefunden – mit Lars Vogt prominenter Ersatz. Die Idee, das kaum je gespielte Violinkonzert Ludwig van Beethovens in des Komponisten eigener Transposition zum Klavierkonzert zu präsentieren, fiel jedoch dahin.

Die Umstände sind somit alles andere als einfach. Dennoch, das Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich hält die Fahne der Kunst hoch – mit Energie, mit Erfolg. Paavo Järvi ist in diesen schwierigen Tagen kontinuierlich präsent, in kurzen Folgen erarbeitet der inzwischen in seine zweite Saison eingetretene Chefdirigent und Musikdirektor mit dem Orchester neue Programme, die Konzerte werden durchgängig mehrfach geführt und sind ausgezeichnet verkauft – vor allem: Das Gastspiel im LAC in Lugano vor wenigen Tagen hat stattgefunden und die wichtige Reise in den Wiener Musikverein Mitte November ist derzeit noch nicht abgesagt. Dazu kommt eine ganze Reihe kleinerer Veranstaltungen, so sie denn möglich sind – das Team rund um die Intendantin Ilona Schmiel und die Orchestermitglieder sind da voll involviert. Mutig und beweglich wird agiert – und es ist möglich.

So wird denn trotz der aussergewöhnlichen Lage immer deutlicher, auf welches Profil Paavo Järvi hinarbeitet. Im Vordergrund steht ohne Zweifel «The Joy of Music», um einen berühmt gewordenen Buchtitel Leonard Bernsteins zu zitieren. Die Spielfreude, die das Tonhalle-Orchester zeigt, ist klar zu sehen und deutlich zu hören. Wobei nicht jeder für sich selbst loströtet, wie es vor einigen Jahren noch der Fall war; oberstes Ziel ist vielmehr die Lebendigkeit des Einzelnen im Ganzen der Gemeinschaft. Dabei hält das Engagement auch an, wenn schwierigere Stücke auf dem Programm stehen: letzte Saison die Werke von Erkki-Sven Tüür, diese Spielzeit die Musik von Arvo Pärt, beide Inhaber des Creative Chair. Im jüngsten Programm des Orchesters gab es zur Eröffnung von Pärt das Stück «Trisagion» für Streicher. Die Partitur – Übersetzung eines Gebets der orthodoxen Kirche in Musik – arbeitet mit streng limitiertem Material, das nach der Art des Gebetstextes strukturiert wird. Im Ergebnis, im Drehen um eine kleine Terz, führte das zu einer lange wirkenden Viertelstunde, da half auch die aktive und hochstehende Teilhabe des Orchesters nicht.

Aufschlussreicher fielen in den letzten Wochen zwei Begegnungen mit dem klassischen Repertoire aus. Mit seiner ungestümen Auslegung von Beethovens siebter Sinfonie, A-dur, zeigte Paavo Järvi an, dass er auch bei diesem zentralen Komponisten der Ära mit David Zinman eine Seite weiter blättert (gespannt sein kann man auf den für April nächsten Jahres vorgesehenen Abend, an dem Zinman mit Beethovens Fünfter zum Tonhalle-Orchester zurückkehrt). Während Zinman auf den Pfaden des fein ziselierten, durchhörbaren, dem Heroischen abgewandten Beethoven-Tons wandelte, wie ihn Frans Brüggen mit seinem Amsterdamer Orchester entwickelt und wie ihn Giovanni Antonini mit dem Kammerorchester Basel weitergeführt hat, neigt Järvi zu heftiger, bisweilen geradezu vor Energie berstender Kontur – was schon seine Gesamtaufnahme der Sinfonien Beethovens mit der Kammerphilharmonie Bremen zu erkennen gegeben hat. Die sprühende Vitalität und das mitreissende Temperament in Ehren, gerade bei Beethovens Siebter, aber wirkt dieses von geballter Eruption geprägte Beethoven-Bild in seinem Ansatz nicht doch merklich retrospektiv? Oder gar restaurativ?

Nicht dass die historisch informierte Aufführungspraxis alleinseligmachende Wege aufgetan hätte. Gleichwohl hat sie Prämissen geschaffen, an denen bei der Interpretation von Musik aus der Epoche der Klassik kein Dirigent, kein Orchester vorbei kann. Darüber sinnieren konnte man nach der Aufführung von Wolfgang Amadeus Mozarts Sinfonie in Es-dur, KV 543. Auch hier herrschte beim Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich ein frischer, unkompliziert lustvoller Ton – wobei nicht zu überhören war, mit welch wacher Sorgfalt Paavo Järvi das Geschehen steuerte. Aber ist die grosse sinfonische Besetzung mit so kompaktem Klang für das Schaffen Mozarts wirklich das Geeignete? Bleiben die Holzbläser nicht hinter den Streichern zurück, wie es vor fünfzig Jahren der Fall war? Und muss es wirklich durchgängiges Vibrato sein? Sollte in dieser Sinfonie die Musik nicht zum Sprechen finden statt sich, wie es in der langsamen Einleitung zum Kopfsatz geschah, in ebenmässiger Gleichförmigkeit zu verlieren? Fragen über Fragen; sie drängen sich auf. Es darf freilich auch festgehalten werden, dass der Zwei-Viertel-Takt des zweiten Satzes zu trefflichem Fluss fand. Und dass das Trio zum Scherzo von wunderbarer Kantabilität der Klarinetten lebte.

Vor einem ganz anderen Bild steht, wer sich der ersten Ausgabe der angekündigten Gesamtaufnahme der Sinfonien Peter Tschaikowskys zuwendet. Sie gilt der Fünften, jener in e-moll. Da ist Paavo Järvi ganz bei sich, da entwickelt er anregende Perspektiven. Die Tschaikowsky-Interpretation, sagt er, sei bis heute durch die Auffassungen und das Klangbild Jewegeny Mrawinskys beeinflusst, des legendären, langjährigen Chefdirigenten der St. Petersburger Philharmoniker: ja nicht zu viel Emotion, möglichst gerade im Schlag, streng im Ton, herb im Klang. Wie sich Järvi – der damit freilich nicht der Erste ist, wenn man etwa an Mariss Jansons denkt – von solchen Hörerwartungen distanziert, ist in hohem Mass eindrücklich. Furchtlos setzt er auf die emotionalen Dimensionen der Musik Tschaikowskys. So arbeitet er dezidiert und nuanciert mit dem Zeitmass, versieht er Verläufe, Phrasen, Gesten mit individuellen Tempi. Damit einher geht eine geschmeidige, sehr charakteristische Farbgebung, die vom Orchester in grossartiger Intensität ausgeformt wird und von der Tontechnik hervorragend eingefangen ist.

Und die Lautstärke? Als Paavo Järvi im Herbst 2019 mit seinem Zürcher Tschaikowsky-Zyklus begann, er tat es mit den Sinfonien Nr. 4 und 6, kam es im Publikum wie im Orchester zu Klagen über allzu hochgetriebene Dynamik – Klagen, die mir nur zu berechtigt erschienen (vgl. Mittwochs um zwölf vom 31.10.19). In einer Aufnahme kann das natürlich alles zum Besten ausbalanciert werden; die Einspielung von Tschaikowskys Fünfter, der die Tondichtung «Francesca da Rimini» zugefügt ist, lässt denn auch im Dynamischen keinen Wunsch offen. Mit äusserster Sorgfalt ist da alles ausgestaltet, man hört es, weil das Orchester sozusagen von innen heraus aufgenommen ist und die Spitzen der Lautstärke, die Järvi wohl um der instrumentalen Farben willen verlangt, ins Klangganze eingebettet sind. So findet der Kopfsatz nach der gehauchten langsamen Einleitung zu einer Erzählung aus einem einzigen Guss, erzeugt das Andante tiefe Berührung, ohne in Kitsch abzugleiten, kann man im Walzer des dritten Satzes die Vorteile der alten deutschen Orchesteraufstellung mit den beiden Geigengruppen links und rechts vom Dirigenten entdecken, während das Finale mit der ganzen Schönheit des dunklen, warmen Tutti-Klangs prunkt. Das Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich kommt hier zu einem blendenden Auftritt.

Peter Tschaikowsky: Sinfonie Nr. 5, Francesca da Rimini. Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Paavo Järvi (Leitung). Alpha 659 (CD, Aufnahmen 2019/20, Publikation 2020). In der Schweiz sind die Aufnahmen bereits erhältlich, international und im Streaming erscheinen sie ab 6. November.

Musiktipp – Franz Schmidt «Complete Symphonies»

The Onliner
27.10.2020
Martin Taufer


Eine ausgezeichnete Einspielung sämtlicher Symphonien des Komponisten Franz Schmidt durch das hr-Symphonieorchester (Frankfurt Radio Symphony) unter der Leitung von Paavo Järvi.

Franz Schmidt, 1874 in Pressburg (Österreich-Ungarn) geboren und 1939 in Perchtoldsdorf gestorben, war Komponist, Pianist, Cellist und Dirigent. Von 1896 bis 1911 war er Mitglied der Wiener Philharmoniker und bis 1914 Solocellist im Hofopernorchester (dem Orchester der heutigen Wiener Staatsoper).

Sein musikalisches Werk umfasst neben zwei Opern das Oratorium «Das Buch mit den sieben Siegeln», verschiedene Stücke für Klavier und Orchester, Kammermusik und Orgelwerke sowie vier Symphonien, die Franz Schmidt zwischen 1896 und 1933 komponierte.

Auf der neuesten, hervorragenden Einspielung des hr-Sinfonieorchesters unter der Leitung von Paavo Järvi sind Schmidts sämtliche Symphonien plus das Intermezzo aus der Oper "Notre Dame" zu hören. Dabei entstanden ist ein kleines musikalisches Meisterwerk, das das sinfonische Oeuvre des zwischenzeitlich etwas in Vergessenheit geratenen Spätromantikers Franz Schmidt in hellen, körperreichen und berührenden Klangfarben erscheinen lässt.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Paavo Järvi records Franz Schmidt’s Four Symphonies for Deutsche Grammophon

Classical Source
October 2020
Richard Whitehouse


Paavo Järvi has emerged among the most assiduous recording artists of today, threatening to outdo his father in symphonic cycles (witness his Beethoven, Brahms, Nielsen, and Sibelius for RCA). Almost three decades after Neeme set down the Schmidt Symphonies in Chicago and Detroit (Chandos), Paavo in Frankfurt now releases his take on a cycle also tackled by Ludovit Rajter in Bratislava (Opus), Fabio Luisi in Leipzig (Querstand) or Vassily Sinaisky in Malmö (Naxos) without yet entering the repertoire outside the composer’s native Austria.

Järvi takes a long-breathed of the introduction to the First Symphony, the opening movement (its repeat taken) unfolding at a lively tempo flexible enough to give the easeful second theme room to breathe; with no lack of focus during a development as seems almost a paraphrase of the exposition, before a clinching coda. The clarinet melody that launches the slow movement is touchingly rendered, Järvi duly intensifying the rapture and anguish encountered in what is the work’s most prescient section. He also plays up the Scherzo’s bustling gait with its teasing pauses, keeping a firm grip on the Trio as this subsides into a reverie whose enchantment never cloys. Rather dutifully fulfilling its formal remit, the Finale’s trenchancy of purpose overcomes some less than distinctive material en route to a close as brings the work decisively full-circle.

This account of the Second Symphony is among the swiftest yet, appropriate to the opening movement whose polyphonic intricacy can easily become moribund if not integrated within a cumulative design; something Järvi recognises while also harnessing its rhetoric to powerful effect, not least in the coda’s oblique trajectory. Almost as successful is the central Allegretto, its theme of disarming naivete channelled into eight diverse variations, by turns animated and soulful (the eighth generous in its Hungarian pathos), towards a ‘Scherzo and Trio’ where the rumbustious and ruminative find enticing accord. The Finale, however, feels a shade literal in the unforced yet methodical emergence from its placid initial theme, via the fugal interplay of motifs and textures, to the chorale that Järvi builds to an eventually resplendent apotheosis.

Following Schmidt’s grandest and most opulent Symphony with the Intermezzo from his first opera Notre Dame risks anti-climax (at least for CD listeners). It could have been placed after the First Symphony that precedes it chronologically; better still to have included it as part of the Suite which both Sinaisky and Yakov Kreizberg (Pentatone) have demonstrated to be an effective sequence. Järvi brings no mean pathos to this lollipop, shot through with Hungarian inflections, if not quite matching the suavity of Herbert von Karajan’s famous account (also DG).

Equally swift is the Third Symphony, but here Järvi’s tempos are ideally suited to this most Classical of the cycle – a tribute to Schubert of luminous poise and eloquence. The opening Allegro may not be ‘molto moderato’, but its deftly contrasted themes yield expressive unity intensified (after the exposition repeat) by its tensile development then surging coda. What follows is an Adagio in mood rather than pacing, a sustained intermezzo whose crepuscular harmonies and yearning central span have tangible ambivalence. Not so the Scherzo, with its vaunting outer sections and wistfully elegant Trio. Järvi rightly views the Finale’s speculative Lento introduction as the work’s only truly ‘slow’ music; after it, the Allegro brings impetus and no little nonchalance as it pursues a determined course to the tersely affirmative ending.

Whatever its relative familiarity, the Fourth Symphony remains a challenge in integrating its four movements into an unbroken yet cumulative whole. Järvi sets an ideal tempo for the first of them, its elegiac trumpet theme no less intently wrought than that for strings proceeding it. After developmental upheavals, the Adagio’s ineffable cello melody heads inexorably to the work’s emotional apex with its funereal tread then gently consoling coda. Momentum picks up naturally going into the agile Scherzo with its capering demeanour and blithe indifference of its Trios to a catastrophe that, when it arrives, proves as shocking as it is unexpected. From here, the music retraces its steps via horns and woodwind for a reprise which Järvi ensures is informed by the pain of experience – Itself distilled into acceptance with the inward postlude.

How to sum up? Save for a slightly under-characterised Second, Järvi has the firm measure of this music and secures consistently fine playing from the orchestra of which he was principal conductor during 2006-13, aided by decent sound and succinct booklet notes by Adam Gellen. Rajter’s insights are undermined by indifferent playing, and Luisi’s broader tempos can be too much so, while Sinaisky’s sympathetic readings all feature one of Schmidt’s shorter orchestral pieces. Those who favour a Järvi in these Symphonies will find that Paavo is the one to go for.