Saturday, April 30, 2005

CSO's Gershwin concerto electrifies

CSO's Gershwin concerto electrifies
By Janelle Gelfand
Cincinnati Enquirer, April 30, 2005

Gershwin's Concerto in F is a slice of Americana cast into a concerto. French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet offered an irresistible performance of the jazzy number with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and it's safe to say the crowd went wild.

Paavo Järvi was on the podium for a brilliant evening that included (in a stroke of equally brilliant programming) Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra.

Gershwin's Concerto in F, written for what is now the New York Philharmonic, captures the rhythm and soul of the 1920s - fusing jazz, blues and sweeping tunes into a sophisticated concerto form.

It's the kind of music that "goes right to your soul and makes you smile," Thibaudet said earlier. And so it did.

The Frenchman, who came armed with his usual flair and glittering touch, gave the piece a scintillating reading, knowing when to play boldly and when to pull back and enjoy a bluesy moment. Tall, lanky and projecting an elegant air, he made technical challenges all look effortless.

The first movement was so exhilarating, the crowd burst into applause. He pushed ahead in the finale, tackling fiendish repeating notes and split-second syncopations with pointed attack.

The pianist moved little, except to sway in a jazz moment, and kept his eyes trained on Järvi. It was an electrifying collaboration, highlighted by trumpeter Philip Collin's muted blues solo in the slow movement.

Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra, played in the second half, is a landmark 20th-century showpiece meant to highlight the virtuosity of players in the orchestra. Yet it can be tough to pull off all of its subtleties and make it coherent to the listener.

Järvi's view was so alive, it held one enthralled from beginning to end. He propelled his forces through its five movements with intensity and rhythmic thrust, and the musicians took their solos with freedom of expression.

Details seemed to burst out. There was the quirky humor of the second movement, featuring players in duets, and the beautiful Hungarian theme of the fourth, gorgeously played by the violas.

The heart of the work is the Elegia, which had an ethereal quality and a plaintive oboe solo (Lon Bussell). The finale began like a rocket, and the players dug into their strings in its energized fugue.

They'll record it this weekend for Telarc.

Järvi opened the program with the orchestra's first performance of Gambit by Finnish composer/conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The shimmering, oscillating orchestral canvas was bright, rhythmic and inventive.

Also Thursday, four people were honored for 25 years with the orchestra: principal violist Marna Street, trumpet Steven Pride and stage managers Joseph Hopper and Thomas Thoman.

The concert repeats at 11 a.m. today and 8 p.m. Saturday in Music Hall. Tickets: (513) 381-3300.


Friday, April 29, 2005

French pianist at CSO shows affinity for Gershwin

French pianist at CSO shows affinity for Gershwin
By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Cincinnati Post, April 29, 2005

Applause began before the music stopped Thursday night at Music Hall.

It was a confluence of sorts as, with a broad sweep of his arms, Cincinnati Symphony music director Paavo Järvi sent up the crashing final chord of Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra to meet audience response mid air. The excellence of the performance and the current generated in the hall bode well for the Telarc recording to be made this weekend, which will pair Bartok's Concerto with that of Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski heard last on last weekend's concerts.

Also on the program - next-to-last for the CSO this season - were Gershwin's Concerto in F with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and the CSO premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen's colorful, kinetic Gambit.

Frenchman Thibaudet showed an affinity for Gershwin that, mixed with the clarity and brilliance of his playing and the romantic coloration of the CSO, made for a deeply satisfying performance. The first movement had tonal beauty, jazz inflections, lush melody and a bravura finish. The bluesy Adagio featured CSO principal trumpeter Philip Collins on the "after midnight" theme.

The movement evolved into a real toe-tapper as Thibaudet introduced the perky contrasting material, then built to a big, sweaty climax.

The finale fired off like a machine gun. The rapid, tattoo-like figure got passed from piano to CSO and back until a big tam-tam crash announced a reprise of the climactic theme of the second movement.

The super-soft opening of the Bartok was marred by a remarkable number of coughs and sneezes, a distraction effaced by some of the most intense playing I have ever heard from the CSO violins. Principal percussionist Bill Platt's drumming set the tone for the Scherzando, where pairs of winds and trumpets, like Noah's Ark, marched two-by-two across the page. The Elegia, keystone of Bartok's five-movement arch form, bubbled up mysteriously in the winds to another moment of blazing intensity, with unison first and second violins playing high on their lowest string.

There was schoolyard fun in the fourth movement where Bartok razzes Shostakovich with a prankish quote from Shostakovich's "Leningrad" Symphony.

Järvi danced gleefully on the podium, the winds trilled raucously and there were two extra large glissandi by the trombones. The Presto finale transpired in vivid, streaming color, with lots of verve and bite.

Composer/conductor Salonen (music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic) wrote Gambit in 1998 as a 40th birthday gift to fellow Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg. Nine-minutes-long with myriad percussion, it unfolds in waves of oscillating figures - the "Shrove-Tide Fair" music in Stravinsky's Petrouchka comes to mind. Temple blocks, wood block and marimba introduce a vivid three-note motif and it builds to an explosive finish.

Repeat is 11 a.m. today, 8 p.m. Saturday at Music Hall.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Classical pianist likes to jazz things up

The Cincinnati Enquirer's Janelle Gelfand interviews Jean-Yves Thibaudet in today's paper (4/28/05):

"French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet is a rare classical musician who enjoys crossing over into jazz.

"Thibaudet performs George Gershwin's jazzy Concerto in F with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra this weekend. The multifaceted musician, who is also known for his CDs with opera stars Renee Fleming and Cecilia Bartoli, just finished taping the movie score to Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightly, out this fall.

"He spoke about Gershwin, jazz and more from his Los Angeles home.

Janelle Gelfand: When did you discover Gershwin?

Jean-Yves Thibaudet: I remember playing Rhapsody in Blue and the Concerto at about age 15, at a concert in the South of France. In those days, I didn't know anything about jazz. But when I started listening to a lot of jazz, it became part of my life, and I think my performance of Gershwin changed completely.

JG: How has jazz influenced your playing?

JYT: . There's something about the rhythm, the tempi, and a completely laid-back feeling. Sometimes Gershwin gets a little bit dirty in the rhythms. You need to listen to jazz for that.

JG: Is jazz as important as classical music, to you?

JYT: Yes. One of the reasons I've done (recording) projects of Bill Evans and Duke Ellington (on Decca) was ... those guys are great composers. Guys like Ellington are giants just as much as Ravel. And Gershwin is a genius. .

JG: What other jazz pianists do you admire?

JYT: Art Tatum, Fats Waller, and then Oscar Peterson, from that great era. Some modern ones are Brad Mehldau, Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea. The pianist that I really adore is [Cincinnati native] Fred Hersch. Whenever he plays in Paris or New York, I go there, because he's such an inspiration.

JG: Another side of you is your love of playing with opera singers. What's rewarding about that?

JYT: Everything! Playing for singers is what gives me the most pleasure. It's the intimate, inside pleasure, the intensity of the human voice.

JG: What's it like to work with someone like Renee Fleming or Cecilia Bartoli?

JYT: It's a lesson every day. When I am in a concert, I think how privileged can you be sitting on the stage with this person, making music?

JG: You've become known for your red socks. How did that start?

JYT: About 15 years ago, I was in Charleston, South Carolina at the Spoleto Festival, and I was late as usual for the concert, and I couldn't find a pair of black socks. I picked up this pair of red socks and went onstage. Then it started - at every concert, I would wear the red socks.

JG: Where did you buy them?

JYT: The only place where I could find the most beautiful ones - and it's been in the news lately with the pope - is Gamarelli, the fabulous shop in the Vatican where they sell clothes for the cardinals. I decided it (the red socks) had to finish. At the turn of the century in a big gala concert with Michael Tilson Thomas, was the last time.


What: The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Järvi, conductor; Jean-Yves Thibaudet, pianist
When: 7:30 p.m. today; 11 a.m. Friday; 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine
Free: Thursday night dinner buffet in Ballroom from 6:15 p.m.
Tickets: $17.50-$73; $10 students. (513) 381-3300 or

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

BABE ALERT! Oooo, la la! Jean-Yves Thibaudet to Guest on Chris and Rob Show!

Can it really be three years since the last time the fabulous French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet visited Paavo and the Cincinnati Symphony? My favorite memory of that visit (aside from his brilliant performances) was of sitting in the balcony, overlooking the piano, on Saturday night and noticing that his feet seemed to be twinkling as they plied the piano's pedals. Later, upon meeting Jean-Yves in the Green Room, I complimented him on his shoes, which had beautiful rhinestone buckles that had so unexpectedly drawn my attention from his gorgeous playing. Ever the charmer, he jokingly said that it was Saturday night and that his shoes always were looking to have fun and that is why they twinkled so... (And, well, it doesn't hurt to have former Punk Rock icon, designer Vivienne Westwood, designing your concert togs either, does it!)

Jean-Yves will be the sole guest on the Chris and Rob Show on WAIF-FM, 88.3 Tuesday night, April 26, from 10-11 pm EDT. Call (513) 749-1444 to ask Jean-Yves questions and be eligible to win his CD Reflections on Duke: Jean-Yves Thibaudet Plays the Music of Duke Ellington!

Check out Jean-Yves' comments about working with his friend, Vivienne Westwood:

A 'New Look' - Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet on Fashion for Musicians by T. J. Medrek, Boston Herald, 25 February 2005

Monday, April 25, 2005

Deadline for GLBT Night Reservations Is Wednesday!

Vivienne Westwood's design for Jean-Yves's London Proms performance of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue ("Dangerous Liaisons"!)

GLBT Night at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is Saturday, April 30! Make tracks for the glamourous confines of beautiful Music Hall and take part in this celebration of diversity and music. Hear the world-acclaimed CSO, conducted by its charismatic Music Director Paavo Järvi, perform a program of Gershwin, Bartok, and Salonen, with special guest, French pianist superstar Jean-Yves Thibaudet (and marvel at his concert dress, designed by his good friend, British punk icon Vivienne Westood!). The special reception afterward in Corbett Tower includes light appetizers, entertainment and great fellowship! Concert + Reception, all for $30. Call (513) 744-3590 for these specially-priced tickets by Wednesday, April 27, at 4:00 pm.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Only Two Weeks Left in This CSO Season!

Check it out: the season for the Cincinnati Symphony is almost over and you only have two more weeks to see Paavo lead his favorite orchestra in their beautiful Music Hall home.

This week's program features Gambit by the Finnish composer and Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Esa-Pekka Salonen; Gershwin's jazzy Piano Concerto in F, performed by the French piano superstar Jean-Yves Thibaudet; and Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra, to be recorded by Paavo and the CSO early next month for future release on Telarc.

Performances are scheduled for Thursday, April 28, at 7:30 pm, to be preceded by a complimentary buffet for ticketholders in the Music Hall Ballroom at 6:15 pm; Friday, April 29, at 11 am; and Saturday, April 30, at 8 pm.

Tickets may be purchased here.

Hear Paavo talk about the works on this week's program here. Read the Program Notes (in PDF format) before you go. This program will air via streaming audio on WGUC, 90.9 FM, on Sunday, May 22, at 7:30 pm EDT.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

CONCERT REVIEW: Fans adore Chang, but Lutoslawski steals show

Cincinnati Post music critic Mary Ellyn Hutton offers a rave review of this week's CSO concert (April 23, 2005):

Those who left Music Hall at intermission at Friday night's Cincinnati Symphony concert missed the best thing on the program.

Nothing against violinist Sarah Chang, whose energetic performance of the Dvorak Violin Concerto prompted a lengthy standing ovation, but the real excitement emanated from music director Paavo Jarvi and the CSO in Witold Lutoslawski's 1954 Concerto for Orchestra.

Influenced by Bartok's well known Concerto for Orchestra, Lutoslawski's take on the genre is breathtaking - and too little heard, as is the work of the Polish master in general. Fueled by Jarvi, the CSO warmed to their task with stunning virtuosity, bringing page after page of colorful score into ear-dazzling relief.

Jarvi and the orchestra will record both concertos for Telarc later this month. The pairing of familiar and less familiar works follows several others by Jarvi and the CSO - Sibelius/Tubin, Stravinsky/Nielsen, Dvorak/Martinu - and like them, it should attract considerable attention, not solely for the repertoire, but for the high level of excellence the CSO has reached under Jarvi.

Now 24, Chang cut a compelling figure in the Dvorak. Always in motion, the former child prodigy bent and swayed with the music, tilting her Guarnerius violin high in the air and punctuating phrases with an occasional kick. She drew a big sound from the instrument, sometimes a bit strident for my taste, but she was able to moderate it beautifully in the Adagio, where she achieved a gentle, husky tone, and in the sunny, dance-like finale.

It was Lutoslawski, however, who stole the show. Jarvi prefaced his Concerto for Orchestra with his "Fanfare for Louisville," written for the 50th anniversary of our sister city's orchestra, where Lutoslawski was honored in 1985 with the University of Louisville's first Grawemeyer Award for Composition. It sounded like grapeshot at first, the brasses creating a clamor of notes, followed by trills in the winds and "stringer" chords melting into echoes.

The 30-minute Concerto highlighted the orchestra as few works can (or have in my memory of attending the CSO). Every section and many individual players had moments to shine. The opening Intrada introduced the work's folk-like theme, which rose up through the lower strings to fade out at the end after a gentle pealing of celeste.

The Capriccio skittered to life in muted strings, turning impish amid scalar runs and filigree passages in the winds. The movement engaged five percussionists, who drew it to a close with a soft rustle of drums.

The finale began deep in the double basses, who outlined a slow passacaglia theme. As it got passed through the orchestra, there were smudges of piano and flutter-tongued "raspberries" in the winds and brass, ending in a haze of string harmonics. A lively toccata bubbled up from the cellos, giving way momentarily to a lovely, lyrical chorale, which returned after further commotion, allowing Jarvi a big, bold finish.

Jarvi opened with a vibrant reading of Haydn's Symphony No. 97. He and the CSO were like one instrument, and he gave them a considerable vocabulary of "show me" gestures, from scooping notes off the floor to eloquent flicks of the wrists. The variations movement was carefully delineated and full of character, with a touch of romance and even grit at one point as the strings played close to the bridge. He had fun with the Menuetto, with its lilting trio section and timpani hammer blows, and the Presto finale was like 18-century swing.

Repeat is 8 p.m. tonight at Music Hall.

CONCERT REVIEW: Sarah Chang treats big crowd

The Cincinnati Enquirer's Janelle Gelfand relates her Friday night experience in this review (April 23, 2005):

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra had one of its largest first-night crowds in recent memory on Friday night. Perhaps it was because Paavo Järvi was back in town for his final three concerts of the season. Or maybe it was because there was the added star power of violinist Sarah Chang.

Either way, they weren't disappointed. Chang wielded considerable virtuosity in Dvorak's Violin Concerto in A Minor. And in Järvi's hands, the precision and balance of Haydn's Symphony No. 97 that opened couldn't have been more of a contrast to Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski's explosive Concerto for Orchestra that concluded the concert.

At 24, Chang, who is Korean-American, has been playing violin for two decades. The well-known former prodigy and student of Dorothy DeLay is now a mature artist who is as mesmerizing to watch as she is to hear.

Not afraid to take risks, she turned in a performance of the Dvorak Violin Concerto that was highly individual and more about intensity than beauty. An emotive performer, Chang projected a throbbing vibrato on her Guarneri del Gesu violin, as she leaned back and swayed through Dvorak's romantic themes.

Though her sound was not big, it was compelling, particularly in the muted slow movement. The dance-like finale sparkled. She almost danced around the stage as she charged through fiendishly difficult passages, stamping her foot in the accents. Järvi and the orchestra supported her seamlessly, and the crowd was on its feet.

For his Concerto for Orchestra, Lutoslawski took his cue from Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra, but folk music was merely a starting point for this post-war, sophisticated orchestral showpiece.

It opened with a timpani heartbeat and a repeating theme that grew out of the depths of the orchestra. Järvi's view was intense, relentlessly driving and rich in contrasting colors. The way the first movement, after so much power, faded away to a ringing bell and a little folk tune, was simply stunning.

The slow movement, a delicate scherzo colored by piano, harp and celeste, had both spectacular precision and spontaneity. The finale had a kind of shattering power and raw energy, interrupted by a breathtaking chorale, an island of serenity, at its center.

Although the piece is extraordinarily demanding, the musicians turned in a supercharged performance. They'll record it in early May.

Järvi also introduced Lutoslawski's "Fanfare for Louisville," composed for the 50th anniversary of the Louisville Orchestra.

The concert repeats at 8 p.m. today. Tickets: (513) 381-3300.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Only 3 CSO Programs Left till the End of This Season!

Paavo returns to the Cincinnati Symphony podium this week to begin the final three weeks of his fourth season as Music Director. The CSO's special guest this weekend is the acclaimed young Korean-American violinist Sarah Chang, playing Dvorak's dance-like Violin Concerto, last heard on the Music Hall stage in March 2001, performed by Gil Shaham. Rounding out the program are Haydn's delightful Symphony No. 97 in C Major and Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra. Sandye's Note: If my memory serves me well, I think I remember reading that the CSO will be recording the Lutoslawski for a future release on Telarc.

Performances are Friday, April 22, and Saturday, April 23, at 8 pm. Tickets may be purchased here.

Hear Paavo talk about programming the standard repertoire, as well as the works on this week's program here. Read the Program Notes (in PDF format) before you go. This program will air via streaming audio on WGUC, 90.9 FM, on Sunday, May 15, at 7:30 pm EDT.

Sarah Chang's recording of the Dvorak Violin Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis conducting, may be purchased from

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

CONCERT REVIEW: A fine touch by Paavo Jarvi leads riveting performances

A fine touch by Paavo Jarvi leads riveting performances
by Lawrence Budmen
Miami Herald, April 20, 2005

"The music of Danish composer Carl Nielsen was the featured attraction with some Mozart added for good measure when Estonian-born conductor Paavo Jarvi took the podium of the New World Symphony on Saturday night at the Lincoln Theater.

"A member of a distinguished musical dynasty, Jarvi galvanized the young players to some of their most riveting performances of the season.

"Conducting fellow Benjamin Shwartz opened the evening with a lethargic performance of Sibelius' Finlandia. Under Shwartz's plodding direction, orchestral details were muddy and indistinct. There was nearly a total absence of instrumental color or dynamic variety. The music was played at an unrelenting forte.

"Jarvi led a brisk, supple account of Mozart's Symphony No. 39. From the first bars of the introductory adagio, Jarvi commanded astonishing orchestral control. His bracing performance was definitely not powdered-wig Mozart. Taking his cue from such pioneers of the period instrument movement as Nikolas Harnencourt, Jarvi fielded a reduced ensemble with vibratoless strings and felicitous woodwinds. It was refreshing to hear the menuetto played with such incisive energy and vigor. The final allegro literally sparkled with vivacity and élan.

"Nielsen's Symphony No. 6 (Sinfonia Semplice) is both witty and deeply pessimistic. This 1925 score is a musical portrait of a world on the verge of chaos and disintegration. A deceptively light and elegant opening subject leads to harmonic and thematic ambiguity. The grim humor of the Humoresque (with its enlarged percussion battery) contrasts with the deeply pensive and emotional writing for the lower strings in the Proposta seria movement. Jarvi conducted a magisterial performance that never lost sight of the grand arc of Nielsen's musical invention. In the concluding Theme and Variations he superbly gauged mercurial changes of tempo and mood. Jarvi and his brilliant players recreated a unique sound world that encompassed Mahler's expressionism, Stravinsky's tart neo-classicism, and Schoenberg's excursions beyond tonality. Demonstrating a vibrant dynamic palette, he unleashed the orchestra in full-throttle fortissimos and brought the sound down to a mere whisper. Jarvi vividly delineated the agony and the ecstasy of this restless score."

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Paavo on

Well! I think this may be a first -- at least for me. A Paavo page in Polish!

Monday, April 18, 2005

CONCERT REVIEW: New World tackles tough Nielsen work

Lawrence A. Johnson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel offers this review of Paavo's visit to the New World Symphony:

New World tackles tough Nielsen work
April 18, 2005

"In the last decade Carl Nielsen has belatedly begun to receive his due, though not in Florida, where his music remains largely unperformed. All credit then to conductor Paavo Järvi for leaping in at the deep end with Nielsen's Symphony No. 6, performed Friday night by the New World Symphony.

"The Danish composer's music speaks with an instantly recognizable voice, open-air Nordic lyricism and contrapuntal rigor allied to a tautness and harmonic palette that are unique and compelling.

"Nielsen's strange world is one of order harshly threatened by instability. The surface of placid serenity and cheerful progress is continually rocked by jarring dislocations, never more so than in his sixth and final symphony.

"With the deceptive subtitle Sinfonia semplice or "simple symphony," Nielsen's Sixth is cast in four movements, but that's where tradition ends. This time the digressive shadows that forestall optimism and progress are so sudden and hair-trigger that one can hardly tell if movement has even begun. The serene opening has barely started when jagged figures surface and the roiling tonal conflict is on. In the Humoreske movement, percussion and winds offer anarchic witty asides to little avail or relief.

"Most striking is the finale, led by a bassoon theme that sparks ten destabilizing variations. Near the end, the symphony rockets through a lilting waltz, immediately dismantled, to a cacophonous percussion band, grandiose brass fanfare, lightning string figures, and brief luminous warmth before a final rude woodwind coda

"To say this music is enormously difficult to perform would be a vast understatement. Järvi stated that he felt confident the New World was up to the challenge and handle it they did. With Järvi's precise and idiomatic direction firmly bringing out Nielsen's mercurial gear-shifts and sheer weirdness, the musicians responded with playing of titanic force and commitment in all departments. Kudos especially to timpanist Alex Orfaly and the percussionists, and the superb woodwinds led by Lori Wike's subversive, personality-plus bassoon solos.

"Järvi preceded Nielsen with Mozart, where his thoughtful take on the Symphony No. 39 proved a breath of fresh air.

"Generous with repeats, Järvi's astringent reading showed a keen preference for period-performance qualities, with brisk tempos and springy rhythms. At times, his Mozart seemed to border on the ascetic; the small string section's light bowing and sparing vibrato may have provided bracing textural clarity but with a loss of tonal richness and grandeur. In the outer movements, especially, tuttis sounded decidedly undernourished.

"Yet the performance provided recompense as well. At a flowing tempo, the Andante was floated with great purity and polished agility. Rarely will one hear the minuet taken at this frantic a clip, but the effect was undeniably invigorating, even if the trio's woodwinds sounding strangely like carnival sideshow music.

"Finlandia began the evening, led, oddly, not by Sibelius specialist Järvi, but Benjamin Shwartz. The conducting fellow's plodding introduction seemed more elephantine than ominous, yet his reading soon found its footing and rescued Sibelius' tone poem from pops-concert purgatory. The lean string tone in the second theme skirted schmaltz, and with brilliant brass playing, the conclusion made its clarion impact without descending to noisy vulgarity."

Copyright © 2005, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Guest conductor loves working with young orchestras

Guest conductor loves working with young orchestras
by Lawrence Budmen
The Miami Herald
Saturday, April 16, 2005

Conductor Paavo Jarvi remembers his first experience conducting the young musicians of the New World Symphony. ''I was rehearsing a work by my friend Erkki-Sven Tuur,'' Jarvi says by phone from his home base in Cincinnati. "The New World musicians really identified with the music from the point of view of rock. They understood when I told them to play this piece like Led Zeppelin.''

Jarvi, who is conducting a series of three concerts this weekend with the New World players at the Lincoln Theater, has directed the UBS Verbier Festival Youth Orchestra, the European Union Youth Orchestra and the Russian-American Young Artists' Orchestra. ''I love working with youth orchestras,'' he says. "The musicians have fewer preconceived ideas and bring tremendous energy to their playing. With young ensembles I always make sure the program pushes the orchestra further. I try to inject a sense of curiosity and adventure.''

The music of Danish composer Carl Nielsen will be Jarvi's adventure this weekend. ''Nielsen deserves more recognition,'' Jarvi says emphatically. ``This is music that is looking for a good champion.''

Jarvi is music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and also is artistic director of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, a touring chamber orchestra based in Bremen, and artistic advisor of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra in Tallinn.

Jarvi's father Neemi is a distinguished Estonian conductor soon to become music director of both the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and the Hague Residentie Orchestra. ''He is an erudite musician who gave me a sense of curiosity. His enthusiasm always ignited when he learned about new works and new composers. He really enjoys the process of music making,'' Paavo Jarvi says.

Paavo's brother Kristjan Jarvi is conductor of the New York-based Absolute Ensemble, and his sister Maarika Jarvi is a solo flutist.

In four seasons at Cincinnati, Paavo has rejuvenated that venerable ensemble -- the fifth oldest in the United States. ''Our support is tremendously strong. The orchestra really matters to the community,'' he says.

Jarvi will be recording the Concertos for Orchestra of Bela Bartok and Witold Lutoslawski when he returns to Cincinnati. He calls the Lutoslawski "a great work that is not absolutely standard repertoire.''

This weekend, Jarvi will conduct Nielsen's Symphony No. 6. ''The Sixth Symphony was written in the first quarter of the 20th century [1925] at the time of Walton and Copland. The musical language is fantastic, wonderfully strange and extremely original,'' Jarvi says.

Mozart's Symphony No. 39 will complete the program. Jarvi's approach to Mozart's score has been greatly influenced by the period instrument movement. He calls it "shocking and powerful . . . a totally different sound.''

Friday, April 15, 2005

If I was a crab...

If, in fact, I was a crab...I could think of less glamourous places to end up than the legendary Miami eatery, Joe's Stone Crab! And God knows, a Maestro's gotta mangia!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Conductor Järvi brings fire, dynamism to far-ranging repertoire

Paavo is in Miami this week to conduct the New World Symphony, founded by Michael Tilson-Thomas. Lawrence A. Johnson of the Florida Sun-Sentinel, offers this wide-ranging interview with Paavo to re-acquaint listeners what he's been up to lately.

Conductor Järvi brings fire, dynamism to far-ranging repertoire
By Lawrence A. Johnson
Classical Music Writer
April 10, 2005

It's hard to believe that not too many years ago Paavo Järvi was known as the upstart son of the celebrated Neeme Järvi, a conductor beloved by collectors the world over for the remarkable variety of rare repertoire he has recorded.

Yet more recently, with the younger maestro's fast-rising profile and reputation, it's increasingly likely that Järvi peres will soon be known as Paavo Järvi's father.

Now in his fourth season as music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Järvi has by all accounts re-energized the venerable 110-year-old ensemble with a combination of dynamic performances, venturesome programming, and an approachable, nonstuffy personality. Local concertgoers got a taste of Järvi's blend of intelligence and live-wire adrenaline in the electrifying Scandinavian concert he presented with the New World Symphony three years ago.

Järvi will return to South Florida this week to lead the New World Symphony in music of Mozart, Nielsen and Sibelius, at the Lincoln Theatre.

With a very active conducting schedule and contracts with two record labels, the 42-year old Estonian has been raising his international profile, winning accolades in guest appearances with the world's major orchestras, and racking up several tours, including trips to Japan and Europe with the Cincinnati orchestra. A recent Chicago Tribune article added him to the short list of candidates to succeed Daniel Barenboim as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (a list that also included New World artistic director Michael Tilson Thomas).

Yet for now, Järvi is content to enjoy his popularity and newfound success in the American Midwest.

"I must say this has been above expectations," the conductor said recently in a phone conversation from Cincinnati. "I think I made the right decision."

He is quick to add that the Cincinnati Symphony was a very good orchestra before he arrived. "It's a matter of chemistry. We speak the same language----strangely enough even though we are not from the same environment."

Järvi has quickly become a fixture in his adopted city on the Ohio River. In addition to staying to sign CDs and chat with audience members after every concert, he lives in Cincinnati with his wife and 13-month-old daughter---a far cry from the usual limo-bound European music director, whose feet never touch the pavement of the American cities they conduct in.

After the initial hype and excitement of his appointment in fall of 2001, Järvi believes his relationship with his players has evolved and grown closer, something that is not a given. "There's always a big hoopla in the beginning whenever any orchestra has a new music director," Järvi said. "There's an incredible artificial high that is created and, if it is not organic, that will come down and inevitably it will seem like a bit of a disappointment."

"I must say that, at least as far as I'm concerned and can detect, there's no feeling that the honeymoon is over. There's a huge difference between something that works in a relationship and an artificial, manufactured kind of success. I think we have the real thing here."


The conductor was hugely impressed with the quality of the New World players when he made his first appearance with them 3 years ago, calling them a "fantastic orchestra." He was especially flabbergasted by the verve and virtuosity they brought to Exodus, a difficult piece that fuses heavy-metal rock and classical by Järvi's compatriot, the Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür.

"I don't think that piece has ever worked as well anywhere," said Järvi of those Miami Beach performances. "It takes a little bit of a rock [sensibility] and those kids were so into it. If a piece like that is done that way, it's usually very convincing. They have such energy, it's unbelievable."

This week's program of Mozart and Nielsen reflects Järvi's attempt to blend the standard and offbeat. Even though he has conducted and recorded a wealth of far-ranging repertoire, like his father, Järvi has a special feel for Nordic and Scandinavian music. Carl Nielsen's Symphony No. 6 reflects the conductor's passion for this music, a work he views as Nielsen's "crowning achievement."

In varied ways, Nielsen's symphonies reflect an ordered universe beset by disorder, most famously in his Fourth Symphony, "Inextinguishable", where the harmonic conflicts culminate in an improvised battle between two dueling timpanists. "Nielsen has his own fantastic language,"says Järvi. "In a strange way if one is familiar with Nielsen's language there is a logic to it, harmonically. The more you know it, the more familiar and consistent things sound. Everything is more massive in the last three symphonies than the First but the principles remain the same."

Järvi believes that the Danish composer is finally getting his due in the U.S., in no small part because of the "curious phenomenon" of Scandinavian and Baltic conductors leading several American orchestras: the Finns Esa-Pekka Salonen with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Osmo Vanska in Minnesota, and the Estonian Järvis, himself in Cincinnati and his father, long in Detroit and now in New Jersey.

"It makes me smile every now and then because of course we bring a love of that kind of music," said Järvi. "And surprisingly it's not rejected by the audience; in fact it's very much embraced by them."


Though Mozart is a considerably better known commodity, Järvi also has strong ideas about performing the Austrian composer's music with informed period elements, which he will bring to the Symphony No. 39, a work more difficult to pull off than many think.

"39 has an incredible operatic slow movement, which needs rubato and also discipline so that's it's not interpreted in a too-personal way, but still has style." Järvi believes that despite decades of period-performance influence and recordings, there is a kind of "protectionist attitude" and an old-fashioned approach to string playing that still dominates American conservatories in 18th-century repertoire.

"We're a little behind in this country in embracing the period-performance traditions," Järvi said. "People used to create a 'fat' sound in Brahms at the expense of nobody hearing the inner voices or the second oboe line. The German-Jewish and Russian schools have really been dominating American string playing. And now all of a sudden these principles are being questioned."

"I'm not saying that one school is right and one is wrong; I just think there should be a larger point of view. Even someone like [conductor Claudio] Abbado has changed his view of interpreting Beethoven. No one today can really interpret Beethoven the same way Bruno Walter did. It's important to do both. I know a younger orchestra is always more open to things. I might even learn something!"


Paavo Järvi has kept up a busy recording schedule for Telarc, with an eye toward quirky programs. In addition to discs of Debussy, Ravel and Prokofiev, his Cincinnati recordings have served up such unlikely CD partners as Stravinsky's Rite of Spring with Nielsen's Fifth Symphony, and Sibelius' Second Symphony with the Symphony No. 5 of Eduard Tubin. Järvi's non-Cincinnati discs for Virgin and Bis rove even farther afield from Arvo Pärt to Bernstein, Sibelius cantatas, Stenhammer and Sumera.

His next Telarc/Cincinnati disc will offer a bracing Czech program combining Dvorak's New World Symphony with Martinu's Symphony No. 2. They will follow that up with the Concertos for Orchestra of Bartok and Lutoslawski. "We're trying to have a little fun," he said. "We do a lot of strange things."

Järvi feels that performing only Beethoven, Brahms and Tchaikovsky tends to patronize audiences' intelligence and that challenging programs are much more widely accepted than nervous orchestra execs recognize. Surprisingly, in Cincinnati, he says it is the older, more veteran subscribers that seem most excited by new music and younger subscribers tend to be more conservative.

"Young people will come up and say, 'Well, I didn't care for the first piece but I really loved the Tchaikovsky.' And older, sophisticated music lovers, say 'Bring us more new things!' After the Arvo Pärt Second Symphony, I had 25 people, all over 60, standing in line and telling how much they loved it. So I think it's a little bit of a myth that older concertgoers are more traditional. People want to learn and be brought into a new territory and discover new things."

At a time when the top American orchestras are all without long-term contracts, the fast-growing discography that the conductor has built reflects the energy and renewed sense of purpose he has brought to the Ohio city. Järvi feels that the CD project is not only essential to his growing personal and professional bond with his Cincinnati collagues, but crucial to getting the word out about his orchestra to the greater musical world.

"Larger orchestras like Philadelphia or New York are able to get by on their fantastic reputations alone because they're not really building those reputations anymore," said Järvi. "They are maintaining them. They are not losing out as much as we would be if we weren't recording, because we are still building our reputation."

So, he and his orchestra have something to prove. "Absolutely! On a pragmatic being-seen kind of level. But also just philosophically speaking as well."

"I think if you don't have anything to prove you sort of stop caring really. And I think that if you have something to prove that means you have something higher to achieve."

WHAT: Paavo Järvi conducts the New World Symphony in Mozart's Symphony No. 39 and Nielsen's Symphony No. 6. Conducting fellow Benjamin Shwartz will lead the musicians in Sibelius' Finlandia.

WHEN: Concerts are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. April 17 at the Lincoln Theatre, 541 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach.

TICKETS: $24-$69. Call 305-673-3331, visit the box office or go online at

Friday, April 08, 2005

CD REVIEW: Debussy

Well, by golly, here's a little review from the Flagstaff [AZ] Live! Arts section (no date):

Nando’s nookie notes
Music for love

Claude Debussy—Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, Nocturnes, La Mer, Berceuse Héroïque
Performed by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; conducted by Paavo Järvi
Telarc 80617

This new recording not only includes Claude Debussy’s most popular masterpieces for orchestra, but Paavo Järvi and the Cincinnati players prove once more that their artistic marriage is one of the most successful. Debussy’s music requires a transparency comparable to the famous French painter Monet and there are not many orchestras in this competitive world who can produce that transparency in such a way. The recording is sublime and serves the honor of one of the greatest French composers in the entire history of music.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

CD REVIEW: Bernstein: West Side Story

This review is rather old, but I just discovered it. It is from the first issue of the webzine hi-fi+ Classical and Audiophile Music review:

Leonard Bernstein: Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs; Facsimile; West Side Story - Symphonic Dances; Divertimento for Orchestra
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Paavo Jarvi, conductor
Virgin Classics 5 45295-2 (68m 23s)
Reviewed by JMH

As a composer, Leonard Bernstein's music is too multi-faceted to be showcased on a single CD. But this one gives a good idea of his brash jazzy side. The exception is the ballet score Facsimile, which Bernstein wrote for Jerome Robbins. The work, premiered in 1946, deals with the dehumanising of contemporary life and is the most 'serious' piece on the disc. The most fun is undoubtedly Prelude, Fugue and Riffs which finds Bernstein at his most extrovert[ed] and outrageous - so far-out at times, it's almost a parody of itself; only Bernstein could write music like this! Paavo Jarvi's performance is not as wild and exaggerated as some, but he treats the music with great respect, and obtains crisp rhythmically-tight playing from the CBSO culminating in a racy exciting conclusion. Jarvi takes the Symphonic Dances more slowly than usual, and the quieter sections have great atmosphere. Overall, his performance is exceptionally cohesive, emphasising the Symphonic nature of the music. Divertimento, written for the Boston Symphony Orchestra's centenary, is a highly eclectic 8 movement mixture of styles, including a smoky sexy Blues - wonderful stuff! The recording sounds crisp and clean, with good clarity and definition yet no obvious spotlighting of instruments.


Tuesday, April 05, 2005

CONCERT REVIEW: Matthias Goerne / Paavo Järvi et l’Orchestre Nationale de France (6/13/03)

I never can predict when things like old reviews may turn up, and here's proof of that: one from a June 2003 Paris concert by Paavo and the Orchestre Nationale de France from the webzine

Matthias Goerne / Paavo Järvi et l’Orchestre Nationale de France
[Paris] Un grand Paavo dans la mare du Romantisme
par Christophe Le Gall (13/06/2003)

Paris. Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. 12-VI-2003. Arvo Pärt : Cantus. Gustav Mahler : Sechs Knaben Wunderhorn Lieder (Six Lieder extraits du recueil « Le Cor merveilleux de l’enfant »). Anton Bruckner : Symphonie n°4 en mi bémol majeur « Romantique » (A 95), version originale de 1880. Matthias Goerne, baryton. Orchestre Nationale de France. Direction : Paavo Järvi.

"Oubliés la chaleur lourde d’un été en pleine maturation ainsi que les tracas d’une société socialement éprouvée, c’est une soirée placée sous le signe du recueillement que le théâtre des Champs-Elysées nous offrait le jeudi 12 juin dernier. Presque une célébration tant le programme était imposant et rempli d’espoir, tant les serviteurs de ce dernier faisait rayonner la reconnaissance de leur talent sur l’imaginaire d’un public d’emblée conquis et enthousiaste.

"Paavo Järvi fait partie de ces chefs d’orchestre mythiques. Une personnalité affirmée alliée à une connaissance étendue du répertoire et qu’il a façonnée au sein des plus grandes institutions. Aux Etats-Unis, notamment, où il s’installe en 1980 et où il est formé au Curtis Institute of Music ainsi qu’au Los Angeles Philhamonic Institute auprès de Leonard Bernstein. Sa nationalité Estonienne le fait s’intéresser de près aux compositeurs de son pays qu’il revisite régulièrement pour travailler avec l’Orchestre Symphonique National d’Estonie. Invité dans toute l’Europe il impose sa maîtrise aux plus grandes formations orchestrales sans oublier pour autant de s’intéresser en priorité à l’enseignement des jeunes orchestres.

"Sur ces considérations il était tout naturel d’entendre en ouverture de programme une œuvre d’un compositeur Estonien, Arvo Pärt (1935), dont la musique est conçue pour toucher directement l’auditeur en allant « droit à l’âme ». Cantus, composé en 1977 et créé à Londres en 1979 est une composition pour orchestre de durée très courte (8’ environ). Cette œuvre fut écrite en hommage à Britten dont la mort survenue en 1976 affecta terriblement Arvo Pärt. Ce début de programme en forme d’hommage était aussi l’occasion de se rappeler la mort récente de Manuel Rosenthal, chef d’orchestre, compositeur et pédagogue, décédé à l’âge de 98 ans le 5 juin dernier. C’est à Luc Héry, premier violon soliste de l’Orchestre Nationale de France, que revenait l’honneur de placer la soirée entière dans cet ultime hommage au chef français. Le tintement de cloche qui entame le Cantus et qui le rythme d’un bout à l’autre pour renforcer son aspect processionnaire se fait alors entendre dans un silence presque « glacé ». Puis les sonorités tintinnabulantes des cordes rythmant la marche. Enfin les accords dont les transitions si peu perceptibles tant leurs tenues exceptionnellement longues appellent au recueillement et inspirent la lente descente au tombeau forçaient en nous ce sentiment d’humilité face à la mort. La partition se termine par un ultime son de cloche presque libérateur.

"L’entrée de Matthias Goerne, qu’il n’est plus nécessaire de présenter tant sa renommée est faite et méritée, provoque un réel enthousiasme. Le baryton allemand présentait six Lieder extraits du recueil Des Knaben Wunderhorn « Le Cor merveilleux de l’enfant » composés par Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) entre 1888 pour les dix premiers et 1901 pour Der Tambourg’sell. Ces Lieder écrits sur des textes issus de la poésie populaire allemande sont l’évocation des enfances pénibles marquées par la mort, la faim, le froid et la guerre. Cette enfance que le compositeur autrichien a vécue de la même façon au sein d’une famille où le drame existait pleinement et quotidiennement tant il lui fallait se réfugier dans un imaginaire où la soif d’aimer et de vivre s’associait irrémédiablement au tragique et à la mort. Lui inspirant ses plus belles compositions, le contraste de ces deux mondes qui se libère dans un humour souvent proche du grotesque est encore présent dans l’orchestration et la juxtaposition de ces Lieder. Il fallait un Goerne puissant et fortement inspiré pour entamer cette série de six Lieder par le Wo die schönen Trompete blasen ? Où sonnent les belles trompettes ? Question posée au soldat solitaire qui ne trouve le repos que dans la mort. Servi par une diction irréprochable et un sens de la mise en situation époustouflants, le baryton va chercher les graves très loin et renforce la dramaturgie de l’œuvre en imprimant un rythme lent et solennel. Un sifflement certainement dû à la présence de quelque microphone mal réglé a perturbé cette prestation. Le concert était en effet retransmis en direct sur les ondes de France Musiques. Cette perturbation était d’autant plus mal venue qu’elle provoquait une gêne pour tout le monde et a vraiment gâché cet entame de récital. Elle ne s’est, cependant, plus fait entendre par la suite. Moment de pur extase que l’interprétation en quatrième position du célèbre Urlicht (Lumière originelle), que l’on a plus l’habitude d’entendre dans le registre soprano et faisant partie intégrante de la symphonie n°2, Resurrection, du même Gustav Mahler. Goerne a fait rayonner l’amour et la douceur de ce Lied au texte très naïf mais si poignant et si bien servi par une orchestration très inspirée. Les cuivres ont parfois couvert la voix du baryton mais l’émotion a naturellement triomphé. Le récital s’est clos sur les roulements du « petit tambour », Der Tamboursg’sell. Marche à la mort, lente, qui fait écho à la question posée par le premier Lied interprété. Le baryton amène le soldat à la potence et le laisse à son destin en prononçant les adieux, Von euch ich Urlaub nimm ! Gute Nacht ! Gute Nacht ! , Je prends congé de vous ! Bonne Nuit ! Bonne Nuit ! Le salut du public a été triomphal et les bravos accumulés pendant de longues minutes. Matthias Goerne dont l’embonpoint renforce une stature de plus en plus imposante est un maître incontesté dans l’art du Lied. Il se produit aussi à l’opéra et sera au Festival de Salzbourg 2003 pour interpréter le rôle principal d’un nouvel opéra de Hans-Werner Henze : Upupa.

"Que dire sinon saluer encore la présence de Paavo Järvi, chef d’orchestre rigoureux et puissant. Une main ferme tenant une baguette presque invisible tant les gestes qui la rendent mobile sont simples, précis, efficaces. Seule un bras s’écarte de temps en temps du corps, droit et immobile, pour ralentir ou tempérer l’ardeur des premiers violons. Formidable démonstration dans l’interprétation de la symphonie n°4 en mi bémol majeur dite « Romantique » d’Anton Bruckner. Ici donnée dans sa version remaniée par Bruckner en 1880 et d’une durée de 75 minutes, cette œuvre est une symphonie à programme mettant les cors à l’honneur dans une grande fresque légendaire baignée de l’amour du compositeur pour la forêt allemande mais aussi d’un questionnement sur le passé, la mort et l’infini. Elle est une ouverture idéale sur le monde de Bruckner auquel on a longtemps reproché son incapacité à simplifier, ses redites, sa façon brutale d’utiliser les cuivres. Composition naïve, difficile à classer dans un répertoire allant du romantisme tardif à une certaine forme de la musique contemporaine, cette symphonie est aussi considérée comme étant la plus « abordable » du compositeur autrichien. Dès l’entame du premier mouvement, Animé mais pas trop rapide, le chef estonien pose le décor, flatte la noblesse du thème en révélant des cors puissants et majestueux. L’acoustique du Théâtre des Champs-Élysées est alors un atout indéniable car malgré un son un peu sec jamais on atteint la saturation et la dynamique peut s’exprimer pleinement. Le frémissement mystique des cordes laisse place au dialogue entre cuivres et bois. Petit à petit s’ouvre un monde de légende où le relief nous place au bord d’un précipice, l’infini nous appelle. Paavo Järvi a le geste sûre, l’orchestre est impeccablement mené. Les mouvements s’enchaînent et l’auditeur captivé ne peut que contempler l’extraordinaire interprétation qui se joue et que la réputation de Bruckner n’est plus celle qui lui a été faite. Les pizzicati du deuxième mouvement, Andante quasi Allegretto, amènent irrésistiblement à l’appel final de la forêt exprimé par les cors. L’investissement de chaque musicien est total dans ce mouvement où le jeu fatigue, où la température, lourde, devient un handicap. Le tableau de chasse du Scherzo est une démonstration étincelante d’exposition réussie d’un thème quasi « pictural ». Tout y est, le galop des chevaux, les appels des cors de chasse, la poursuite dans la forêt baignée de lumière. Puis il est déjà l’« heure » d’entendre le Finale, Animé mais sans précipitation. L’orchestre révèle des trésors d’harmonie par des passages aux cordes absolument fantastiques. Le thème du premier mouvement, dont la réexposition intervient alors, paraît transfiguré et l’œuvre se termine dans sa tonalité initiale.

"Paavo Järvi a été aidé par un Orchestre National de France étincelant et pleinement investi dans son rôle. Les rappels incessants et les ovations bruyantes du public ont marqué l’événement comme il se devait."

Monday, April 04, 2005

CD REVIEW: Debussy

Another positive review, this time from the [Helena, MT] Independent Record (3/27/05):

Paavo Jarvi and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
‘‘Debussy: Prelude a L'Apres-midi d'un Faune'' (Telarc)

There is no paucity of modern Debussy recordings, especially of his symphonic masterworks Prelude a L'Apres-midi d'un Faune, Nocturnes and La Mer. So why issue a CD from a second-tier — if improving — ensemble such as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra? Two words: Paavo Jarvi. The Estonian conductor has already worked his magic on Debussy's near-relations — Ravel, Sibelius, Britten — for moody, nature-inspired music — as well as edgier selections from Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Sumera and Part. But Debussy brings out Jarvi's historical intelligence and ardor for voluptuous tones. The sensualist in me prefers these renditions to Pierre Boulez's chilly 1960s series or his more tender 1993 versions, or Bernard Haitink's popular recordings with the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Pittsburghers! Circle This Date!

Paavo with composer Charles Coleman (September 14, 2001)

Pittsburgh's PBS affiliate KQED will be re-airing Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra: Paavo Jarvi Inaugural Concert next Sunday, April 10, 2005 at 2:00 pm.

Sandye's Note: It's hard to believe this concert is already almost four years old. Taped in Cincinnati's historic Music Hall, this program was to be a joyous celebration of the beginning of Paavo's new tenure as CSO Music Director. Instead, occurring at the end of the week of the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks, it became a testament to the healing power of music in a time of sorrow. Norwegian cellist Truls Mørk was to have been the weekend's special guest artist, but was unable to fly to the U.S. from Norway in the aftermath of the tragedy. Debussy's La mer which Paavo had guest conducted with the CSO previously (and which is featured on the CSO's most recent CD) was substituted in Mørk's place. Paavo's parents, Neeme and Liilia, who had been planning to attend their son's debut as Music Director, likewise, were stranded at their home in Florida. And as a special tribute to those whose lives were lost in the attacks, Samuel Barber's beautiful and very moving Adagio for Strings was added as the first piece on the program, immediately following the traditional singing of the National Anthem, celebrating the opening of the CSO's new season. Paavo conducted the Barber very movingly, without a baton. Watching his elegant hands as they directed the orchestra, I was reminded of a skillful jockey gently hand-riding a thoroughbred, confident in its powers. Later, when I asked him about conducting the piece without a baton, he confessed that he had picked it up, but quickly realized his hands were shaking from nervousness, and put it back down. The performance itself was self-assured and lovely. A new era for the Cincinnati Symphony had begun.

"Duration: 1:26:46 CC Stereo TVG

"Praised throughout the world as a gifted, innovative conductor and extraordinary musician, Paavo Jarvi deftly leads the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in his inaugural concert as music director. Maestro Jarvi wanted to deliver a balance of the new and old. He chose Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 and showcases a world premiere, Streetscape by Charles Coleman, a vibrant musical montage of life in New York City combining classical themes with jazz salsa and Copland-like mix of percussion.

"Channels and Airdates
"KQED Life
"Sun, Apr 10, 2005 -- 2:00 pm"

Read reviews of the original inaugural concert in Jarvi overcomes circumstances for brilliant debut by Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati Enquirer (9/15/01) and Järvi's debut deserved better circumstances by Mary Ellyn Hutton, Cincinnati Post (9/15/01).

CD REVIEW: Debussy

Edward Reichel of the [Salt Lake City] Deseret Morning News enthusiastically recommends Paavo's newest CD with the Cincinnati Symphony in this review (3/27/05):

"PAAVO JARVI, since assuming the music directorship of the Cincinnati Symphony in 2001, has been a prolific recording artist. He has released some half-dozen CDs on the Telarc label, some of which have been more satisfying artistically than others.

"His most recent album contains some of Claude Debussy's most popular orchestral works. It is also one of Jarvi's most rewarding.

"Debussy's music obviously suits his temperament, and that is reflected in his thoughtful, sensitive and well-conceived readings here.

"The Prelude a l'Apres-Midi d'un Faune is lush, languid and seamless in its long lines. Principal flutist Randolph Bowman gives a shimmering performance, and the entire piece is played radiantly.

"Nocturnes and La Mer are both played vibrantly. The performances that Jarvi elicits from his orchestra are colorful and dynamic, yet also wonderfully subtle.

"The final work on the CD, Berceuse Heroique, is a quietly dignified work written early in World War I in honor of the king. Jarvi deftly captures the somberness and earnestness of the piece with his sensitive and understated reading.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

CD REVIEW: Schumann: Cello Concerto (Truls Mørk)

Matthew Rye of the (London) Daily Telegraph offers his view of the new CD (3/21/05):

Schumann: Cello Concerto
Bloch: Schelomo
Bruch: Kol nidrei
Truls Mørk (cello), Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, cond Paavo Järvi
Virgin VC5 45664 2, £12.99

Although Dvorák's Cello Concerto must count as the ultimate Romantic expression of the medium, Schumann's does not lie too far behind. Truls Mørk is one of the world's more cool-headed cellists, and he responds to Schumann's sense of elegiac longing with an understated and subtly shaped interpretation that dwells on fantasy rather than boldness. This is an approach that the work can comfortably encompass. It is not without its moments of passion - indeed, to the extent that Mørk's vocalisations as he plays begin to intrude - but the feeling of meditativeness dominates.

Almost the concerto's equal in length, though in a single movement, Bloch's Schelomo is another work that couples pensiveness with ardour, and Mørk proves an eloquent cantor in this honest dissection of life's illusions expressed purely through music. The Jewish theme is capped with an equally touching account of Bruch's Kol nidrei.

Parvo Järvi and the French Radio Philharmonic provide solid support, though the recorded balance perhaps favours Mørk just a little too readily.

Friday, April 01, 2005

No Kidding! Paavo Says, "Listen to This!

No April fooling around on Paavo Project today! Instead we offer Paavo's new list of Music You Should Hear. Paavo recommends eleven selections in the classical and jazz categories, along with comments about each one. So what do you think about his faves? Give them a listen!