Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Japanese Fan Writes...

I received this wonderful email today from one of Paavo's great Japanese fans, Sonae Nagaoka. I sincerely would like to thank Sonae for writing and sharing these special thoughts about hearing DKAM's Beethoven Cycle in Yokohama. It means a lot to me that someone cares enough to write, especially when there is the added challenge of having to do it in English. I understood exactly what you were saying, Sonae. And I know how much it will mean to Paavo to read this. He adores playing in Japan and always loves meeting his fans. Domo arigato, Sonae! :-)

I experienced Beethoven cycles in Japan.

I went to his concert in 2002 Prokofiev No. 5 & 2005 Sibelius Sympony No. 2 He conducted Japanese orchestra. I can't forget that poetic harmony.

This time, he worked so much. Almost every nights he performed with Deutshe Kammerphilharmonie.

24 May Educational programms
25 May rehearsal
26 May Symphonies 1,2,3. encore Sibelius sorrow waltz ["Valse Triste"]
27 May Symphony 4, Violin Concerto, Op 61 Hilary Hahn, Symphony 5
27 May Symphonies 6,7 encore Coriolan
28 May Symphone 8,9 Maki Mori{soprano} Michiko Hayasi{mezzo soprano},Daniel Norman{tenor} David Pittsinger{bass bariton}

Every stages were magnificant. Most famous japanese paper said that "Jarvi is genius.He made marvelous sound". They received the highest praise.

"Please don't stop the music" I wished when I hear the music.

After concert, I said hello to maestro. He has a good bass voice.

They gave us a luxualy time.

I really wanted to write presicely. But my English ability is not enough to describe the feelings.

Let's support him with love!


Sonae Nagaoka from Japan

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Paavo's Big Adventure in Japan!

Here are a few samples of life on the road as Paavo's tour of Japan with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen continues!

Paavo and DKAM enjoy the applause of an appreciative audience in Nishinomaya.

PJ's in big demand, signing DKAM's new Beethoven CDs!

Paavo meets his fans after the concert in Hakodate.

Friday, May 26, 2006

CD REVIEW: Bartók/Lutoslawski

Geoff Brown of The Times (U.K.) offers this short but very sweet four star review (May 26, 2006):
PAAVO JARVI. Bartók/Lutoslawski. Telarc ****

Two famous 20th-century concertos for orchestra from Central Europe, written 11 years apart: a combination so obvious that it's surprising it hasn't become common. Paavo Jarvi and his excellent Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra attack the Lutoslawski with beefy force, strengthening a score that can appear brittle. Some wit is lost in the Bartók, but it's hard not to relish the rude brass in the Shostakovich parody.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Sign and Sight: Arts, Essays, Ideas from Germany

I just found this little item from November 2005 in the webzine Sign and Sight: Arts, Essays, Ideas from Germany and its In Today's Feuilletons section:

Die Welt, 02.11.2005

Kai Luerhs-Kaiser portrays the Estonian conductor Paavo Järvi, whose father Neeme Järvi has put out over 350 CDs and counts among the country's leading conductors. Järvi junior also thinks big. "Today Paavo heads three orchestras, and is on the verge of taking over a fourth, the Sinfonie-Orchester des Hessischen Rundfunks. Delusions of grandeur? No, more like slow and steady multiplication. 'Conducting is what I like to do best when I'm not making music,' Järvi gives as his excuse. Numerous CDs reveal in him one of the most innovative, unpredictable talents of his generation."

Paavo Järvi now heads the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Estonian National Orchestra and the Bremen-based Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie. "Järvi has proved himself to be tireless at tickling sounds from his orchestras. After a day's rehearsal you can't be sure if things will remain as they are, or if they'll take an entirely new direction that evening. The Grammy-winner says he prefers not to act as guest conductor. 'You always work the best with your own orchestras,' he quotes George Szell.

Beethoven boosts CSO

Janelle Gelfand of The Cincinnati Enquirer (5/24/06) gives a wrap-up of the Cincinnati Symphony's 2005-2006 attendance in this article:
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra had a slight upturn in attendance for music director Paavo Järvi's fifth season that ended early this month, the orchestra reported this week.

The orchestra's opening weekend - featuring Beethoven's Ninth, Beethoven bobbleheads and a "Get Your Beethoven On" marketing campaign - was the best-attended opening weekend in recent history.

How the orchestra is filling its seats has changed radically in the past decade. More than one-third of symphony seats sold this year (35 percent) were single tickets, as subscriptions continue to be a hard sell. And single ticket sales through the orchestra's Web site rose 13 percent. The orchestra reported that 22 percent of all symphony and Pops single tickets were sold via the Web.

For the 2005-06 season, average attendance inched up to 1,711, which means that about half of Music Hall's 3,400 seats were filled for the 53 concerts. The orchestra sold 7,084 subscriptions, up about 3 percent from last year. A four-concert Sunday afternoon subscription series targeting families grew 18 percent.

In October, the Cincinnati Pops became the first pops orchestra to tour in China, when it visited Beijing and Shanghai and concluded with performances in Singapore. The tour was partly a salute to Erich Kunzel, who celebrated his 40th anniversary with the symphony and Pops.

The Pops experienced crowds of more than 8,000 in each Chinese venue and filmed a concert to be shown to more than 1 billion people. But at home, both the average attendance and the number of fans buying subscriptions slid 4 percent. Single ticket sales dipped 11 percent.

The orchestra says the tour might be to blame for some of the attendance drop. While the Pops was in China, a performance of the musical "Jekyll & Hyde" drew poorly.

The orchestra is exploring reconfiguring Music Hall for performances and enhancing its public areas.

See Janelle's May 23 blog entry, Take a Poll, and add a comment about your favorite concert.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

CSO filling more seats

This article was just posted online 20 minutes ago:
CSO filling more seats
By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Cincinnati Post (May 23, 2006)

Last fall's Cincinnati Symphony opener at Music Hall - Beethoven's Ninth Symphony led by music director Paavo Järvi - turned out to be a good omen for the season.

Attendance at the concert was the highest for an opening weekend in recent CSO history
, according to figures released Monday by the CSO. The upward trend prevailed for the season as a whole, which saw an increase of 14 percent in single tickets sales over the previous year - that on top of a rise of 3 percent in subscriptions. There were 7,084 CSO subscriptions sold during the 2005-06 season. Average attendance at CSO concerts was 1,711, a slight upturn over 2004-05 (.3 percent).

In other significant indicators, student ticket sales were up 27 percent - there was a 15 percent jump in average attendance at the CSO's three "College Nites," which drew students from 22 regional colleges - and the CSO Sunday matinee series (four concerts) enjoyed an 18 percent increase in subscription sales.

The CSO, which finished its 2005 fiscal year with a small surplus, gained significant notice for its recordings, too. Järvi and the CSO's latest Telarc release, the Bartok/Lutoslawski Concertos for Orchestra, is No. 9 on Billboard magazine's Classical Releases chart.

A cloud on the horizon was the Cincinnati Pops, which saw average attendance - 2,194 and still highest of any pops orchestra in the country, according to the American Symphony Orchestra League - fall by 4 percent. There was a 4 percent decline in Pops subscriptions and a drop of 11 percent in single ticket sales. Some of that has been attributed to disappointing attendance at the free-standing "Jekyll and Hyde" show at Music Hall in October, presented during the Pops' tour of China.

The top-selling CSO concerts of the season were, in order:

#1. Sept. 9-10. All-Beethoven. Overture to "The Creatures of Prometheus." "Ah, Perfido!" Symphony No. 9. Soprano Camilla Tilling, Mezzo-soprano Jane Gilbert. Tenor Stanford Olsen. Bass Stephen Powell. May Festival Chorus. Paavo Järvi.

#2. April 21-23. Gershwin, "Rhapsody in Blue." Bernstein, Prelude, Fugue and Riffs and Symphonic Dances from "West Side Story." Weill, Suite from "The Threepenny Opera." Wayne Marshall, piano. Richard Hawley, clarinet. Järvi.

#3. April 27-28. Rachmaninoff, Dances/"Aleko," "Rhapsody/theme of Paganini," Symphony No. 2. Anna Polusmiak, piano. Järvi.

#4. April 7-8. All-Mozart. Symphonies No. 1/No. 41. Piano Concerto No. 9. Benjamin Hochman, piano. Jaime Laredo, conductor.

#5. May 5-6. Bartok, Dance Suite. Beethoven, Violin Concerto. Mendelssohn, Symphony No. 3 ("Scottish"). Henning Kraggerud, violin. Järvi

Japan Tour Poster

Have a look at the Beethoven tour poster for Yokohama, Japan! What a treat they are in for -- wish we could all be there...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Is Japan the Spiritual Home of Classical Music?

That is the question posed by about the article Why they are hooked on classical by Ivan Hewett in The Observer (U.K.) (May 20, 2006). An excerpt:
Even quite modest provincial towns have lavish arts centres, thanks in large part to the so-called "bubble" economy of the '80s and early '90s. One of them, the Mito Art Tower, has one of the world's great chamber orchestras in residence, whose chief conductor is Seiji Ozawa. The chief executive, Yazawa Takaki, is clearly proud of the centre, and is keen to show me the theatre, modelled on Shakespeare's Globe. But, once inside the concert hall, he reveals an anxiety about the arts in Japan. "You hear the silence in this hall? That is what music really needs, but we have so little silence in our lives. I really wonder whether the younger generation will be able to hear music at all."

It was a surprise to hear Yazawa unwittingly express the ancient Japanese idea of ma. This guiding concept behind much traditional music performance says that music lives only in constant dialogue with silence. It was a reminder that many factors come together in the Japanese love affair with classical music, some ancient, some new. The most obvious factor is fairly recent - Japan's decision in 1868 to end centuries of isolation and open itself to the West. One of the first imports was Western music. By 1872 Western music had supplanted traditional music in the Japanese school system, and in 1884 the philosopher Shoichi Toyama actually suggested that Christianity should be adopted because it would help the new music to take root.

Friday, May 19, 2006

CONCERT REVIEW: DKAM in Frankfurt (1)

I would like to thank Lukas, a Paavo fan from Bern, Switzerland, for providing these reviews of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen's recent Frankfurt concert.
Bremens vitale Stadtmusikanten - Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen mit einem exzellenten Beethoven und einer extravaganten Solistin
Von Stefan Schickhaus
Frankfurter Rundschau, 17.5.2006:

Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen arbeitet gerade an ihrer "Aktion 1000+". Die beiden Abonnementreihen in ihrer Heimatstadt sind fast ausgebucht, bei mehr als 1000 neuen Interessenten versprechen die Musiker, eine dritte Reihe einzurichten. In Bremen wird Service groß geschrieben, was für dieses Orchester Notwendigkeit ist. Denn die Kammerphilharmonie, die in Frankfurt 1980 gegründet worden war, der aber hier am Main 1992 der Finanzhahn zugedreht wurde, muss auch in Bremen rund zwei Drittel ihres Etats selbst erwirtschaften. Not macht erfinderisch: Das Orchester bietet Manager-Seminare und Kinderunterhaltung, und ein festes Gehalt gibt es für die Musiker nicht.

Dabei ist Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen (der bestimmte Artikel gehört offiziell zum Namen) eines der weltweit herausragenden Kammerorchester, wie jetzt ihr Pro-Arte-Abend in der Alten Oper wieder zeigte. Zur Zeit beschäftigen sich die selbst organisierten Musiker mit Beethoven. Auf ihrer jetzt startenden Japan-Tournee etwa stehen binnen dreier Tage sämtliche Beethoven-Sinfonien auf dem Programm. Und diesen Beethoven, in Frankfurt war es die Achte, spielen sie sensationell: Entfesselt, pointiert, geistreich und forsch. Bremens vitale Stadtmusikanten sind dabei weit weg vom deutschen Orchesterklangideal mit seinem schmelzenden Streicherbett. Hier spielt man mit lediglich acht ersten Violinen, Holz und Blech dominieren den Klang. Und der hat es in sich.

Der Dirigent der Deutschen Kammerphilharmonie ist Paavo Järvi, er wurde in Frankfurt als neuer Chef des Radiosinfonie-Orchesters ja bereits eingeführt. Mit diesem Beethoven-Abend hat er erneut bewiesen, wie gut diese Wahl war und wie wenig Sorgen man sich um den durch Hugh Wolff gewonnenen neuen Klassiker-Ton machen muss.

Poesie, Leidenschaft, Provokation: Für das Beethoven-Violinkonzert hatte man in Bremen ursprünglich mit der Geigerin Akiko Suwanai gerechnet. Die aber plante anders, aufgrund ihrer Schwangerschaft musste man nach Alternativen suchen und fand zwei diametral verschiedene. In Japan wird Hilary Hahn geigen, die ausgewogene Klassikerin, in Frankfurt dagegen spielte die Moldawierin Patricia Kopatchinskaja. Die nun ging mit allen Parametern dieses Violinkonzerts extrem frei um, auch was Gestik und Mimik betrifft in den Passagen, in denen die Solovioline pausiert. Da tanzte die 29-Jährige. Und wenn sie spielte, war dies nicht minder extravagant. Die Solokadenz des ersten Satzes etwa teilte sie sich mit dem Pauker, die beiden nahmen sich viel Raum. Auch den Übergang zum Finalsatz nutzte Kopatchinskaja für eingefügte Spielfiguren, das Beethoven-Konzert wurde zum eigenwilligen Kabinettstück, mit Geschmacksgrenzen und Irritationen experimentierte die Violin-Darstellerin mutig und gekonnt. Ihre Homepage beginnt mit den vier Begriffen "Poetry Passion Provocation Patricia". Die Betonung hier lag auf der Drei.

Zur Zugabe gab die vom Frankfurter Publikum begeistert gefeierte Patricia Kopatchinskaja etwas Launiges des Wiener Avantgarde-Komponisten Otto Zykan, eine Art Hexenzauber mit Stampfgeräuschen, Beschwörungssilben und einer Pirouette um die eigene Achse. Da kam einem das Wort in den Sinn, nach dem man bei ihrem Beethoven unbewusst gesucht hatte: "Clownesk".

CONCERT REVIEW: DKAM in Frankfurt (2)

Frankfurt Review #2, thanks to Lukas!
Auf der Suche nach Extremen: Debüt der Geigerin Patricia Kopatchinskaja in der Alten Oper
Von Harald Budweg
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 16.05.2006

Ein Beethoven-Abend, bestehend aus einer Ouvertüre, einem Solokonzert und einer Sinfonie: Eine konventionellere Programmgestaltung, so scheint es, kann es im Musikleben einer Stadt gar nicht geben. Wie sehr aber auch in diesem Fall Erwartungen getäuscht werden können, wie sehr scheinbar wohlvertraute Konzertsaalrituale zu einer musikalischen Abenteuerfahrt in unbekannte Gefilde einladen können, das bewies jetzt ein Gastspiel der Deutschen Kammerphilharmonie bei "Pro Arte" in der Alten Oper.

Das kleine Eliteorchester, früher einmal zum Frankfurter Kulturleben gehörend, seit 1992 aber in Bremen ansässig, wird seit zwei Jahren von dem estnischen Dirigenten Paavo Järvi geleitet, der im kommenden Herbst als Nachfolger Hugh Wolffs auch die Leitung des hr-Sinfonieorchesters übernehmen wird. Die Qualität der ohnehin längst zur Spitze zählenden Deutschen Kammerphilharmonie hat er offenbar noch steigern können. Reaktionsschnell, flexibel und klangschön spielten die Musiker einen ganzen Abend lang, schlank im Ton, aber straff im Ausdruck. Schon Beethovens Ouvertüre zu Collins Drama "Coriolan" c-Moll op. 62 war für Järvi alles andere als ein Warmspielstück - ungewöhnlich heftig prallten die musikalischen Gegensätze aufeinander. Erst recht war Beethovens Sinfonie Nr. 8 F-Dur op. 93 von einer unterschwelligen Unruhe und heftigen, emotionsgeladenen Impulsen geprägt, ausgelöst durch die äußerst dichte musikalische Struktur der Kopfsatz-Durchführung und der jähen Kontrastdramaturgie des Finales. Obwohl Järvi stets ein vehementes Tempo vorlegte, geriet die Musik dank vorbildlicher Aufmerksamkeit der Bremer Musiker nie kurzatmig. Allerdings setzte der Dirigent auch nicht auf wohlfeile Effekte, sondern lotete die Musik in ihrem doppelbödigen Sinngehalt optimal aus und blieb dabei als
Gestalter doch auch ganz Musiker, ließ den Ausführenden Raum zum "atmen", zu sauberer, einheitlicher Phrasierung bei genauer Beachtung der instrumentalen Charakteristika. Eine sehr feinsinnig differenzierte Interpretation der Komposition "Valse triste" op. 44 von Jean Sibelius war die Zugabendelikatesse dieses Abends.

Anstelle der ursprünglich angekündigten Solistin Akiko Suwanai gab Patricia Kopatchinskaja ihr Debüt in Beethovens Konzert für Violine und Orchester D-Dur op. 61. Die junge Frau aus Moldau wird in Veranstalterkreisen hoch gehandelt, ihr Name taucht plötzlich wie aus dem Nichts auf den Konzertplakaten der Welt auf. Das macht neugierig. Steht die Geigerin dann auf der Bühne, glaubt man seinen Augen kaum zu trauen: Beethovens Konzert beginnt mit einer sehr langen Orchestereinleitung, doch bevor Patricia Kopatchinskaja ihren ersten Einsatz absolviert, hat sie schon ein erhebliches Pensum hinter sich: Während Järvi und die Musiker die Themen und ihre Verzweigungen vorstellen, vollführt die Solistin heftige, fast tänzerische Bewegungen, richtet, weil nicht auswendig spielend, ihren Notenständer, nestelt an ihrer Kleidung, grimassiert den musikalischen Verlauf.

Wer nun glaubt, dies alles seien nebensächliche Äußerlichkeiten eines Auftritts, irrt gewaltig: Patricia Kopatchinskajas ungewöhnliches Verhalten führt direkt ins Zentrum ihrer Musikauffassung. Als Interpretin nämlich scheint die hochbegabte Nachwuchsgeigerin ausschließlich in solchen Extremen zu denken: Mal spielt sie über Gebühr leise und tonlos, mal wird jeder kleine Akzent zu massiv und ruppig gesetzten Sforzati. Es gibt kaum eine musikalische Phrase, deren Gestaltung nicht maßlos übertrieben wirkte.

Dies alles wäre nicht der Rede wert, stünden der Solistin technisch-musikalisch nur begrenzte Ausdrucksmittel zur Verfügung. Doch das Gegenteil scheint der Fall: Patricia Kopatchinskaja ist eine begnadete Ausnahmegeigerin, die - so absurd das klingen mag - über zu viele Ausdrucksmittel verfügt, die sie am liebsten alle gleichzeitig einsetzen möchte. Viele Passagen klingen, als wollte die Künstlerin Hanslicks berühmtes Fehlurteil des 19. Jahrhunderts über Tschaikowskys Violinkonzert, in dem die Geige nicht gespielt, sondern gerupft und gezaust werde, nachträglich beglaubigen. Haben ihre Lehrer in Übungsstunden nie von der Ökonomie der Mittel und einer dem Werk dienenden Interpretation gesprochen? Man mag angesichts des enormen geigerischen Potentials auch deswegen so fragen, weil sich da noch manches korrigieren ließe.

Paavo Järvi hat wahrscheinlich nichts gesagt, er hat sich vielmehr den Intentionen der Solistin spürbar angepaßt - zumindest in den Rahmensätzen. Im Larghetto aber ist er eigene Wege gegangen. Nun mußte Patricia Kopatchinskaja sich auf ihn einstellen. Flugs entstand ein Klangbild, in dem eines aus dem anderen logisch hervorging. Das soll allerdings nicht bedeuten, Patricia Kopatchinskaja suche aus Kalkül und Provokationslust den grellen Effekt. Einige ihrer Kollegen tun dies ja, doch mit denen möchte man die Künstlerin nicht vergleichen. Dennoch hat ihre seltsame Interpretation wenig mit Beethoven, um so mehr jedoch mit ihr selbst zu tun: In ihrer Biographie heißt es ausdrücklich, die Violinistin komponiere gelegentlich und improvisiere gern. Genau das war es auch: eine Art Improvisation über Beethovens Violinkonzert, zumal sie es mit dem Notentext nicht immer ganz genau nahm.

Ob Patricia Kopatchinskaja musikalische Vorbilder hat, ist nicht bekannt. Wäre der Pianist Olli Mustonen ein Geiger, wäre er vielleicht ein solches. Im Vergleich zu Patricia Kopatchinskaja ist Julia Fischer eine kreuzbrave Interpretin. Nach dem Genuß ihrer Beethoven-Interpretation allerdings geht man beseelt nach Hause. Über Kopatchinskajas Darbietung ist man lediglich verwundert. Doch sei's drum: Dem Pro-arte-Publikum hat es gefallen. So sehr, daß schon nach dem ersten Satz der Beifall derjenigen, die das Stück für beendet hielten, kaum aufhören wollte. Ob die Dame, deren Handy während der Musikdarbietung so unverkennbar klingelte, von dem gerade stattfindenden Erlebnis begeistert erzählt hat?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Friederike's "Diary" - Day 3

Here is the written entry for Day 3 from Friederike Westerhaus's Radio Bremen online diary. If you follow the link given here, you may also listen to a 3 minute 6 second audio clip of Paavo talking with her about Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 ("Eroica"). The audio clip requires Real Player.
3. Sinfonie in Es-Dur, op. 55, "Eroica", (1803/04)

"Die dritte Sinfonie ist legendär, weil sie die Geschichte der Sinfonie und der ganzen Musik verändert hat. Es ist sozusagen eine politische Sinfonie - und das nicht nur wegen der Ereignisse, die zeitgleich um Beethoven herum in der Welt passieren. Zunächst einmal ist diese Sinfonie doppelt so lang wie die meisten Sinfonien, die es zu jener Zeit gab. Sie hat eine extrem komplizierte Form, und die Idee, das musikalische Ausgangsmaterial immer weiter zu variieren und zu verändern, rückt in den absoluten Mittelpunkt. Dann der ganz offenkundig dramatische, theatralische Aspekt in dieser Musik, zum Beispiel im Trauermarsch, der Versuch, ein wirkliches Statement abzugeben - das war vorher in der Musik nicht so zentral. Eine Art sozialer Aussage. Das macht diese Musik wirklich neuartig. Und natürlich wissen wir um die ganze Geschichte mit Napoleon. (Anm. d. Red: Aus Bewunderung für Napoleon hatte Beethoven die 3. Sinfonie mit der Widmung "Sinfonia grande, intitolata Bonaparte" versehen, zog die Widmung aber aus Enttäuschung über Napoleon zurück, als dieser sich 1804 zum Kaiser krönte.) Aber ich denke, die Dritte ist sogar noch beeindruckender wegen ihrer rein musikalischen Errungenschaften. Es ist der Versuch, die Gattung der Sinfonie mit einem neuen Rahmen zu versehen. Man hat hier eine Sinfonie, die sich schon dem annähert, was Gustav Mahler später über die Gattung der Sinfonie sagt: sie müsse "die Welt umfassen". Die dritte Sinfonie spricht uns sehr viel tiefgreifender und direkter an als die früheren Sinfonien." [Autor: Paavo Järvi, Übersetzung: Friederike Westerhaus]

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Friederike's "Diary" - Day 2

Here is the written entry for Day 2 from Friederike Westerhaus's Radio Bremen online diary. If you follow the link given here, you may also listen to a 3 minute 6 second audio clip of Paavo talking with her about Beethoven's Symphony No. 2. The audio clip uses Real Player.
2. Sinfonie in D-Dur , op. 36, (1802)

"Die zweite Sinfonie ist eines meiner absoluten Lieblingsstücke. Ich bin damit aufgewachsen, sie mit sehr romantischen Dirigenten zu hören. Mir leuchteten diese Interpretationen immer sehr ein und haben mich wirklich angesprochen, vor allem die von Bruno Walter. Natürlich weichen die Informationen in der Partitur davon erheblich ab - und da ist es besonders interessant, sich mit der Frage der Metronomzahlen zu beschäftigen (Anm. d. Red.: Beethoven selbst hat in seinen Partituren Metronomzahlen vermerkt, die von vielen Dirigenten als zu schnell abgelehnt werden. Järvi folgt den Originaltempi Beethovens). Man hat beispielsweise Passagen, die (im Originaltempo) nicht gesanglich sind, aber viele der älteren Dirigenten haben versucht, diese Passagen sehr gesanglich und fast wie Bruckner klingen zu lassen. Wir versuchen, das einfach fließen zu lassen. Ganz offensichtlich ist an dieser Sinfonie, das sich alles von Haydn und Mozart weg entwickelt. Beethoven wendet sich in eine neue Richtung, die eigenwilliger ist, engagierter und weniger traditionell. Seine musikalische Sprache entwickelt sich weiter, denn obwohl der unterschwellige Ton sehr leicht ist, ist insgesamt alles viel ernsthafter. Von der zweiten Sinfonie aus kann man schon verstehen, was später mit Brahms passiert, und woher die romantische Musik überhaupt kommt. Wenn man sich zum Beispiel dieses Scherzando-Gefühl im Finale anhört, dann realisiert man, dass das nicht mehr dieselbe freie, freudige Musik ist wie in der ersten Sinfonie. Der ganze Prozess ist viel engagierter und vertrackter." [Autor: Paavo Järvi, Übersetzung: Friederike Westerhaus]

CD REVIEW: Bartók/Lutoslawski

John Sunier of the webzine Audiophile Audition gives the SACD version of Paavo and the Cincinnati Symphony's newest offering a glowing review here:

BARTOK: Concerto for Orchestra; LUTOSLAWSKI: Concerto for Orchestra; Fanfare for Louisville - Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra/ Paavo Järvi - Telarc

Effective pairing of two orchestral concertos showcasing the virtuosity of orchestra members

BARTOK: Concerto for Orchestra; LUTOSLAWSKI: Concerto for Orchestra; Fanfare for Louisville - Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra/ Paavo Järvi - Telarc Multichannel SACD-60618, 71:40 *****:

Having just reviewed the Philadelphia Orchestra's entry in the Bartók Concerto sweepstakes on SACD, here is yet another. And one so spectacular I believe I would have chosen it my Multichannel Disc of the Month if we didn't already have one on the site labeled that. The pairing of the two Concertos for Orchestra is quite a coup; they have a number of connections. While Bartók's was created in the middle of WW II, the Polish composer penned his concerto in 1954 in the midst of the difficult postwar period in his country. Both composers were steeped in earlier music such as Bach, as well as in folk music of their respective Eastern European nations. Like Shostakovich in Russia, Lutoslawski had to be very careful about what music he wrote and opinions he espoused during the Stalinist repression. Though his concerto is no more avant than Bartók's - and in fact sounds amazingly similar at many points - it was considered a rather dangerous work. Fortunately Stalin had died by the time the work was premiered in Poland. In three movements, it concludes with a Passacaglia, Toccata and Chorale longer than the initial two movements put together, and serving as a spectacular showcase of the virtuosity of many of the symphony members.

Both concertos are strongly-colored works with many contrasts of solo and small instrumental groups against the mass of the orchestra, as well as massive ensemble sounds with all players participating. Both the smaller individual sounds and the larger aggregations are reproduced with the greatest clarity and pinpoint imaging on the soundstage, especially in the surround version. Some may not find the Cincinnati band in the same league as the Chicago or Philadelphia Orchestras, but in the surround sonics department I felt this disc was clearly the winner.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Here's the Tour Schedule for Japan!

We have been getting a lot of visitors from Japan lately, many of whom must be waiting excitedly for Paavo and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen's tour schedule of Japan. Finally, here it is, complete with venues and links everywhere. And, if you are fortunate enough to live in Yokohama, you have the opportunity to hear them play the entire cycle of Beethoven's glorious symphonies!

Friday, May 19
Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
Mibu Auditorium

Beethoven: "Coriolan" Overture in C minor
Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61 (Hilary Hahn, violin)
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in e flat major, op.55 ("Eroica")
* * * * *
Saturday, May 20
Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
Aichi-ken Geijutsu Gekijô
Nagoya, JAPAN

Beethoven: "Coriolan" Overture in C minor
Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61 (Hilary Hahn, violin)
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, op.55 ("Eroica")
* * * * *
Sunday, May 21
Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
Hyogo Performing Arts Theater
Nishinomiya, JAPAN

Beethoven: "Coriolan" Overture in C minor
Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61 (Hilary Hahn, violin)
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, op.55 ("Eroica")

* * * * *
Monday, May 22
Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
Hakodate Shimin Kaikan Hall
Hakodate, JAPAN

Beethoven: "Coriolan" Overture in C minor
Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61 (Hilary Hahn, violin)
Beethoven: Symphony No.5 in C minor, op.67

* * * * *
Friday, May 26
Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
Minato Mirai Hall
Yokohama, JAPAN

Beethoven: Symphony No. 1 in C major, op.21
Beethoven: Symphony No. 2 in D major, op.36
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, op.55 ("Eroica")

* * * * *
Saturday, May 27 (14:00)
Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
Minato Mirai Hall
Yokohama, JAPAN

Beethoven: Symphony No. 4 in B flat major, op.60
Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61 (Hilary Hahn, violin)
Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, op.67

* * * * *
Minato Mirai Hall
Yokohama, JAPAN

Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F major, op.68
Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A major, op.92

* * * * *
Sunday, May 28
Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
Minato Mirai Hall
Yokohama, JAPAN

Beethoven: Symphony No. 8 in F major, op.93
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D minor, op.125 (Maki Mori, soprano; Michiko Hayashi, mezzo-soprano; Daniel Norman, tenor; David Pittsinger, baritone)

Friederike's "Diary" - Day 1

Here is the written entry for Day 1 from Friederike Westerhaus's Radio Bremen online diary. If you follow the link given here, you may also listen to a 3 minute 2 second audio clip of Paavo talking with her about Beethoven's Symphony No. 1. The audio clip uses Real Player.
1. Sinfonie C-Dur, op. 21

"Die erste Sinfonie ist eine erstaunliche Studie, wie sich die Sinfonie von Haydn über Mozart zu Beethoven entwickelt hat und wie feststehend die Tradition des Komponierens von Sinfonien zu jener Zeit war. Aber Beethoven hebt das auf eine deutlich neue Ebene. Was diese Sinfonie so neu macht: das Menuett ist hier eigentlich schon ein Scherzo, aber ihm liegt ein Menuett zu Grunde, das viel langsamer gespielt werden müsste. Und Beethoven ändert das einfach, ohne uns wirklich klar zu machen, warum. Das ist ein Menuett, wie Haydn es schreiben könnte, aber Beethoven stellt das einfach auf den Kopf (Anm. d. Red.: indem er es viel schneller spielen lässt). Und er gibt damit den Anstoß dazu, den dritten Satz in einer Sinfonie aus einem ganz neuen Blickwinkel zu betrachten. Besonders charmant an der ersten Sinfonie sind die großartigen Einleitungen im ersten und vierten Satz. Da kann man sehr gut erkennen, wie humorvoll und spritzig Beethoven ist - etwas, das in den späteren Sinfonien immer schwerer wird, sogar sein Humor wirkt später etwas bedrückt und hat einen weniger fröhlichen, weniger vergnüglichen Ursprung." [Autor: Paavo Järvi, Übersetzung: Friederike Westerhaus]

Monday, May 15, 2006

DKAM's Tour of Japan

Are you, like me, unable to jet off to Japan for the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen's all-Beethoven tour of Japan this week and next? Well, we can be there vicariously thanks to Radio Bremen's music correspondent Friederike Westerhaus and her online diary on beginning tomorrow -- which just happens to be my birthday! (What a nice present, Friederike! :-))

As she writes: "Every day, there will be an audio-file with Paavo talking about one of the nine Beethoven symphonies. And best of all: that's going to be in English!! Especially for you ;-))"

The tour begins on Friday, May 19. The schedule and venues will be posted here tomorrow.

Friday, May 12, 2006

New Beethoven CD's with Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen

It looks like BMG Japan has two new Beethoven CD's by Paavo and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen ready for release on the occasion of their upcoming tour of Japan beginning May 19.

The first, Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor Op. 37 and Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat Op. 73 "Emperor" with Ikuyo Nakamichi (piano), is available for purchase now on SACD as an import from BMG Japan (BVCC-34134) through

The second, Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 "Eroica" and Symphony No. 8, (BVCC-34139) will be released on May 17 in Japan.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

CONCERT REVIEW: Gut gelaunter Beethoven

Erwin Schwarz of the Esslinger Zeitung gives us this review (May 12, 2006) of the Stuttgart concert:
Kammerphilharmonie Bremen mit Paavo Järvi und Lars Vogt

Stuttgart - Zwei glückliche Stunden für Beethovens Musik. Kein Jubiläum nötigte zu stilistischen Verrenkungen. Mit Paavo Järvi stand kein Scharfmacher auf dem Podium. Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen glänzte mit dynamischem Feinsinn und ausgehörtem Klang. Der Schlussabend der Reihe "Konzertanter Querschnitt" im gut besuchten Beethovensaal geriet über alle Erwartungen hinaus zum Fest für Auge und Ohr.

Paavo Järvi, seit zwei Jahren Chefdirigent des exzellent besetzten Orchesters, darf auf alle aufgesetzten kapellmeisterlichen Druckmittel verzichten. Statt verkniffener Gesten gibt es bei ihm tänzerische Eleganz. Die eröffnende Sinfonie Nr. 1 C-Dur kam daher wie auf Ballettschuhen, ohne jemals außer Atem zu kommen, leichtfüßig, ein bisschen burschikos im Kopfsatz, aber stets in feinstem Fluss und voller Klangfarbenüberraschungen. Järvi und die Kammerphilharmonie haben die gute Laune in Beethovens Erstling entdeckt und stecken das Publikum damit an. Ovationen schon nach einer halben Stunde.

Auf dieser Sympathiebasis hat es Lars Vogt mit dem Klavierkonzert Nr. 2 B-Dur natürlich leicht, zumal er den Solopart ohnedies unbekümmert erzählend statt mit Überschwang demonstrierend angeht. Mit der sprudelnden Geläufigkeit seiner Rechten strebt er auf die erst Jahrzehnte später komponierte Kadenz zu, die eine zentrale Szene an wacher Gespanntheit in seiner Wiedergabe darstellt. Sie wirkt wie ein tiefes Atemholen auf das Fragespiel des Adagios mit den feinfühligen Antworten der Kammerphilharmonie. Dieser heiter nachdenkliche Satz mündet in ein Rondo, wo die Lust an Witz und Pointe überwiegt. Unübertrefflich intelligent gelingen die Satzschlüsse. Auch in Beethovens "Pastoral"-Sinfonie setzt Paavo Järvi auf die Intelligenz seiner Musik und ihre nun ganz offen hörbar werdende Lust am ausgefeilten Orchesterklang, vor allem, was dynamische Dehnungsmöglichkeiten anbetrifft. Nun gibt es Zeit für Wohlbehagen in den ersten beiden Sätzen, scharf vorbereitete und raffiniert getönte Gewitterballungen (Verzicht auf moderne Trompeten) und schließlich die ruhig atmende Entspannung des Hirtensgesangs. Die Eleganz und klangliche Wendigkeit des Orchesters und seines von Postulaten unbelasteten Dirigenten wurden gefeiert.

And may I say, I sometimes find my "Babelfished" translations to be quite unexpectedly bizarre, but somehow lovely. Just a little taste of it here: "The opening symphony No. 1 C major came along as on ballet shoes..." :-)

Sunday Concert to Air Live This Week!

Paavo's concert with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie at the Alte Oper in Frankfurt on Sunday, May 14, will air live via streaming audio on Deutschlandradio Kultur at 20.03 Frankfurt time (or 2:03 pm EDT). Check here for notes.

This all-Beethoven program features his Overture in C minor from "Coriolan", op. 62; Concerto for Violin in D major, op. 61 (Patricia Kopatchinskaja, violin); and Symphony No. 8 in F major, op. 93.

New Schedule Coming Soon

Wow. I just put my trash out for the garbageman (it's 2:37 am) and it is warmer now than it's been all day. The wind is picking up and a thunderstorm is on its way. And I sit here at the computer, wishing there was some exotically fragrant candle burning nearby just in case the lights go out, and sneezing, coughing and generally suffering from my first spring cold in years. (Please. Someone. I really need some Chinese hot and sour soup about now! ;-))

But, there's good news, too, and that is that I am also working on editing and formatting Paavo's new 2006-2007 World Schedule for your reading pleasure. You will read it here first!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

New Week, Different Country

So. It's a new tour this week for Paavo and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, as they perform the all-Beethoven repertoire they will take along with them as they tour Japan next week.

This week's schedule is:

Wednesday, May 10, Stuttgart, Liederhalle, Beethovensaal
Symphony No. 1 in C major, op. 21
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 2 in B major, op. 19 (Lars Vogt, piano)
Symphony No. 6 F major op. 68 "Pastorale"

Friday, May 12, Bremen, Die Glocke
Symphony No. 1 in C major, op. 21
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 2 in B flat major, op. 19 (Lars Vogt, piano)
Symphony No. 2 in D major, op. 36

Saturday, May 13, Bremen, Die Glocke
Symphony No. 1 in C major, op. 21
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 2 in B flat major, op. 19 (Lars Vogt, piano)
Symphony No. 2 in D major, op. 36

Sunday, May 14, Frankfurt, Alte Oper, Großer Saal
Overture in C minor from "Coriolan", op. 62
Concerto for Violin in D major, op. 61 (Patricia Kopatchinskaja, violin)
Symphony No. 8 in F major, op. 93

Saturday, May 06, 2006

CONCERT REVIEW: CSO season climax rich

Janelle Gelfand of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes of a broken string, but unbroken concentration by special guest Henning Kraggerud during last night's Cincinnati Symphony performance!
It happens. Violinist Henning Kraggerud got to the end of a beautifully executed first movement in the Beethoven Violin Concerto Friday night - and snapped a string.

With a sheepish grin, he trotted off stage, traded his violin for another and continued the piece with absolute focus, as if nothing had happened.

That was just a minor glitch in an evening of splendid music making for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's season finale Friday in Music Hall. The gifted Norwegian violinist, stepping in for an ill Akiko Suwanai, impressed with his gorgeous, relaxed sound as much as for his unique interpretation of Beethoven.

On the podium, Paavo Järvi opened with an earthy Bartok Dance Suite and closed with an electrifying account of Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 3 in a Minor, "Scottish."

Although he's not yet well known in this country, Kraggerud, 32, has a busy career in Europe, and is championed by his countryman, pianist Leif Ove Andsnes. Tall, lanky and boyish, he seemed immediately at ease, projecting a pure, elegant tone and legato line on his Bergonzi violin (he did not play the "Ole Bull" del Gesu). His was a sweeter interpretation than most, although his tempos moved along. There was refreshing spontaneity to his phrasing - he'd pull back on a lyrical theme and then smile at its effect.

He injected his own personality into his cadenzas, too, which were of his own invention. The first involved virtuosity in a Beethoven vein; the second was freer and seemed as if he was improvising it on the spot.

Most refreshing was that the violinist played with a genuine sense of joy, even when tossing off technical feats. But mainly one noticed his beautiful line. The slow movement, after the violin switch, was a vehicle for his lyrical gift, and his tone glowed in the pianissimo passages. The finale danced, and nothing was glossed over, despite its quicksilver tempo.

Kraggerud's collaboration with the orchestra was superb; he turned, as if playing chamber music. Järvi led the orchestral exposition in one broad arc, and never overpowered the soloist.

Instead of a bon-bon for an encore, Kraggerud played the second movement of Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 - transposed to a different key, and adding in the accompaniment, too. Wow!

Järvi's view of Mendelssohn's Third was also unique - infused with that inner energy and intensity we have come to know with his interpretations. He cultivated a rich, full-blooded sound in the strings, who played with refinement and precision of ensemble. The scherzo came off in one big flourish - almost impossibly quick - but the musicians came through with chortling winds and blustery horns.

Järvi found drama in each movement. The Adagio had great noble themes and intensity in its dotted rhythms. The finale was supercharged, with especially polished playing from the winds and horns. Järvi urged on his players with flying arms, turning to galvanize each section.

At intermission, the orchestra honored retiring violist Judith Martin for 34 years of service.

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


CONCERT REVIEW: Norwegian violinist enchanting

Mary Ellyn Hutton reports on Friday night's Music Hall concert in today's Cincinnati Post (5/6/06):
Sometimes the best things are unplanned.

So it was Friday night at Music Hall. Making his debut with the Cincinnati Symphony on a week's notice was violinist Henning Kraggerud.

To say that Kraggerud made music in Beethoven's Violin Concerto would be an understatement. The 32-year-old, mop-haired Norwegian, who stepped in for ailing Akiko Suwanai, performed with a stylistic command rarely heard at Music Hall. It is a safe prediction that he will soon be knocking on the door of stardom, not only for his daunting virtuosity and strapping good looks, but for his distinctive artistry.

Kraggerud did not attempt to make the Beethoven a showpiece, or inject anachronistic, late romantic touches, but gave it a profoundly musical interpretation, true to its time and date of composition (1806). CSO music director Paavo Jarvi led an accompaniment to fit, which often meant holding the musicians to a very soft dynamic and eliciting chamber music-like textures.

Kraggerud spun a pure, sweet tone from his "Kreisler" Bergonzi violin, never heavy with vibrato, and he shaped phrases with keen focus and economy of bowing. The result was enchanting, never more so than in the Larghetto, where he spoke in a whisper against muted strings (the orchestra's fortissimo outburst at the end was downright rude by comparison). The cadenzas, Kraggerud's own, blended Bachian polyphony with passages in octaves and occasional virtuosic touches.

The only mishap, but a well-timed one, was a broken string at the end of the first movement, when Kraggerud exited briefly to switch violins. Called back for repeated bows, he played an encore, his own arrangement of the second movement of Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5, where he undertook both solo and accompanimental roles.

The concert, Jarvi and the CSO's last before fall, also included Bartok's 1923 Dance Suite and Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 3 ("Scottish"). The Bartok had many fine moments, though it needs more performance to be totally assured. Still it was a real trip with its exotic woodwind colors, kicky trombone slides and raucous, folk-like melodies.

The Mendelssohn showcased the CSO beautifully. Flutist Molly Barth and French hornist Elizabeth Freimuth, both visitors, made their presence heard (though the horns were occasionally overbearing, especially in the final chorale). The lower strings were robust and full, and the unfailingly characterful CSO winds were all spit and polish.

The program repeats at 8 tonight at Music Hall.

Friday, May 05, 2006

CD REVIEW: Bartok/Lutoslawski

Another review I missed -- this time by Janelle Gelfand at the Cincinnati Enquirer (4/23/06):
Järvi connects with composers

Paavo Järvi, music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, enjoys making musical connections. His latest album, recorded with the orchestra last May in Music Hall, pairs Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra with that by the Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski, written just a decade apart.

It's in stores Tuesday.

Hearing the two concertos side-by-side is a revelation, if for nothing else than to point out that no music is composed in a vacuum. But most of all, both showpieces reveal the stunning artistic achievement the Cincinnati Symphony has made under Järvi. It is a recording that is, by turns, exuberant, arresting and virtuoso.

Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra of 1943 was his last completed masterpiece. Järvi gets inside the music with richly expressive detail, yet he never loses sight of the dramatic sweep of its five movements.

The central movement, an elegy, has a haunting atmosphere that evokes the mystery of Bartok's "night music." In the "Interrupted Intermezzo," Järvi brings out the nostalgia of the beautiful song "Hungary, Gracious and Beautiful."

Composed in the Stalinist years, Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra, moves beyond Bartok's folk music to become a powerful postwar statement. It opens in low strings, set against the pounding of the timpani that soon flows into a delicate counterpoint of winds, harp and violin. The finale is a driving, arresting passacaglia with a serene chorale at its center.

The orchestra gives it a supercharged performance, and Järvi's interpretation is intense, probing and rich with color.

The album also includes a splashy, pull-out-the-stops performance of Lutoslawski's "Fanfare for Louisville," composed in 1985 for the Louisville Orchestra.


CD REVIEW: Bartok/Lutoslawski

During my extended period of computer tech problems, I missed this review of the new CSO CD by Mary Ellyn Hutton in the Cincinnati Post (4/20/06):
CSO has heart, technique in music with WWII roots

Paavo Järvi: Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Bartok, Concerto for Orchestra. Lutoslawski, Concerto for Orchestra and Fanfare for Louisville, Telarc, A.

Relish this one. It may be the last of its kind for Paavo Järvi and the CSO.

Since becoming CSO music director in September, 2001, Järvi has led the orchestra in several pairings of familiar and less familiar works, including Sibelius' Symphony No. 2 and Eduard Tubin's Symphony No. 5, Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" and Carl Nielsen's Symphony No. 5 and Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 ("New World") and Bohuslav Martinu's Symphony No. 2.

All feature stylistic, historic or nationalistic parallels that stretch the listener's imagination. This latest release, the ninth by Järvi and the CSO, continues in that vein, with the Concertos for Orchestra by Bartok and Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski. The parallels here are even closer than in some of the others, with matching genres, styles and milieu, both works stemming from the turbulence and dislocation of World War II.

Lutoslawski's 1954 Concerto is the real stunner, virile, virtuosic and vibrant. The CSO players outdo themselves in technical proficiency which, allied with Järvi's interpretive and communicative skills, yields a performance that may well be definitive. Bartok's 1943 score is lovingly crafted, exuding color, strength of gesture and a quality of heart that is Järvi and the CSO's own. Lutoslawski's 90-second Fanfare for Louisville, written after he won the University of Louisville's 1985 Grawemeyer Award for composition, rolls off the brasses' lips like sparks from an anvil.

This is a handsome CD that will rank high among Järvi's CSO output. But don't look for this type of mix to be repeated soon (Järvi's contract expires in 2009). Upcoming CSO Telarc recordings are safely mainstream. Elgar and Britten ("Enigma" Variations and "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra") and an all-Rachmaninoff CD will be released next season. Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5 and "Lieutenant Kije" and an all-Tchaikovsky CD will be recorded in 2006-07.

Paavo to Lead CSO on 2007 California Tour

Paavo and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra will tour California in April 2007, performing five concerts, including a concert at the new hall at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. Violinist Leonidas Kavakos will be the featured soloist for the Brahms Violin Concerto which he recently performed with Maestro Järvi and the CSO in September.

"I am so proud of this orchestra and the work we are doing together," said Järvi. "It is an honor to travel with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and demonstrate our artistry in California — a vital arts market."

The tour repertoire is representative of Järvi’s programming — a blend of classical masterworks, new music, the Nordic tradition and his Estonian heritage and the inclusion of exciting talent. Three of the five tour programs include Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, a showpiece for the orchestra. Of the CSO’s 2001 recording of the Berlioz for Telarc, Gramophone said, "This impressive new version of the Symphonie fantastique, coupled with the love scene from Roméo et Juliette, celebrates the arrival of Paavo Järvi as the new music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Here, with vivid Telarc sound ... the brilliance of Berlioz’s orchestration is brought out in finely detailed sound with textures clarified."

CSO California Tour

April 16, McCallum Theater, Palm Desert
BRAHMS: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
BERLIOZ: Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14

April 17 Arlington Theater, Santa Barbara
BRAHMS: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
BERLIOZ: Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14

April 19, Copley Symphony Hall, San Diego
BRAHMS: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
BERLIOZ: Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14

April 20, Renee & Henry Segerstrom Hall, Orange County Performing Arts Center, Costa Mesa
TÜÜR: Zeitraum
BRAHMS: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
NIELSEN: Symphony No. 4, Op. 29, The Inextinguishable

April 21, Barbara K. & W. Terrentine Jackson Hall, University of California - Davis
TÜÜR: Zeitraum
BRAHMS: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
NIELSEN: Symphony No. 4, Op. 29, The Inextinguishable

This is the third domestic tour for Paavo and the CSO since he became music director in 2001. Previous tours have garnered exceptional critical acclaim. Richard Buell, The Boston Globe, said, "A lot of the fun Wednesday was in hearing one finely tuned instrument (Järvi’s bright, keen, athletically trim band of players) 'play' another one (Symphony Hall, which seemed almost gratefully responsive). ... Can there ever be too many first-class ensembles? One is tempted to say: Look out, world, here’s another one."

PJ and the CSO also had successful tours to Japan and Europe together. The CSO regularly tours domestically and internationally in order to showcase the talent of the orchestra and to call attention to its impressive Telarc catalog of recordings. While on tour, the orchestra serves as an ambassador for Greater Cincinnati representing the rich, cultural heritage of the community. The CSO finances its tours through a combination of presenter fees and corporate sponsorship.

Starry, starry nights

The St. Petersburg (Russia) Times reports today on the upcoming 14th International "Stars Of The White Nights" Festival opening Wednesday at the Mariinsky Theater.
Established and run by the Mariinsky’s indefatiguable artistic director Valery Gergiev, this annual event has become Russia’s premiere classical music event and assembles some of the world’s greatest musicians for 70 days of distinguished classical music.

During its history, the event has successfully become a window to the world of opera and ballet for a loyal audience of local music fans, as well as a draw for visitors to St. Petersburg.

...Shostakovich, who would have reached the age of 100 this autumn, will be featured in a special project.

The Mariinsky Symphony Orchestra will perform all of the composer’s symphonies over the course of the festival. Gergiev conducts Symphony No. 11 on May 30, while Symphonies No. 3 and No. 13 will be performed on June 5. German conductor Christoph Eschenbach conducts Symphony No. 5 on June 3.

More Shostakovich can be heard on June 29, when Paavo Jarvi will conduct the Mariinsky orchestra in a performance of Symphony No. 10....

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Catching up with Paavo

Janelle Gelfand talks with Paavo on the eve of the last Cincinnati concerts of this season.

Bartok/Lutoslawski CD hits Billboard Classical Chart!

PlaybillArts reports that Paavo and the CSO's new Bartok/Lutoslawski CD debuted this week at #9 on Billboard's Classical Music chart!

Norwegian violinist scales the heights

The Cincinnati Post's Mary Ellyn Hutton interviews violinist Henning Kraggerud in today's paper:
Not many people have fiddled atop the Great Pyramid. One of them was 19th-century Norwegian violinist Ole Bull (1810-80). Another is Norwegian violinist Henning Kraggerud, who will make his debut with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Music Hall.

Kraggerud, who performs in a Norwegian documentary about the "Nordic Paganini," to be released later this year, will perform Beethoven's Violin Concerto with the CSO led by music director Paavo Järvi.

Also on the concert, final one of the CSO's 2005-06 season, are Bartok's Dance Suite and Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 3 ("Scottish").

Kraggerud, recipient of Norway's Grieg Prize, comes to Cincinnati on short notice, having stepped in for ailing Akiko Suwanai, who cancelled her CSO date last week. It will be the 32-year-old Oslo native's first visit to the Queen City, and he'd like to do some sightseeing, he said.

It would have to be something to equal the 449-foot Egyptian burial vault (though Carew Tower is higher at 574 feet). He climbed the pyramid at sunset with a camera trained on him.

"The filmmaker wanted me to play during the sunset," Kraggerud said.

"He wanted me to climb on the edge. The local guide said, 'You cannot climb there because it's too insecure.' The filmmaker told me, 'You have to be on the very edge, because we want your silhouette against the sky.' "

Kraggerud finished playing on the top, and that's when "the scary part" began, he said.

"It becomes dark and you have to get down again."

Kraggerud and Ole Bull (pronounced O-la Bool) both were influenced by Norwegian folk-fiddle playing. Dating from the 17th century, the folk or "hardanger fiddle" is smaller than the violin, intricately decorated and has four resonating strings beneath the upper set. CSO violinist Paul Patterson played hardanger fiddle in Grieg's "Peer Gynt" with the CSO last fall.

"Hardanger fiddle has some reminiscence from the baroque period and has not changed as much as modern playing," said Kraggerud, "so I have learned quite a bit from that. A lot of the old way of bowing has been preserved in this playing. Most for baroque music, but even for Mozart and Beethoven, it has been (an) influence. When you do not use so much vibrato as you would in late romantic repertoire, you need to be expressive with the bow in a slightly different way than is normally taught in modern violin playing."

Improvisation is another skill handed down through Norway's folk fiddlers. "It's seldom that you would meet people who know how to improvise in the classical tradition," he said.

Kraggerud, who is also a composer and teaches at the Barratt Due Institute of Music in Oslo, loves to improvise and writes his own cadenzas for many of the concertos he performs. "It's a great way to get to know the score in a different way when you actually have to participate (in) composing the music yourself. You get another type of own- ership of the themes and the music."

Being a composer helps him to be a better player, he says. "It's good for composers to be players and good for players to be composers. I have learned a lot about playing by composing. You should dare to own the music. If you don't dare to question one single dot or tie and you think everything is sacred, then I don't think the music will benefit. My best concerts - often I experiment. Some people like it very much, some people don't like it. That is actually good. The worst thing would be if everybody was sort of halfway."

Like Ole Bull, a friend of Ibsen and Grieg, who are said to have patterned the character of "Peer Gynt" partly on Bull, Kraggerud is a champion of his country's music. He has recorded three CDs for Naxos by Norwegian composers (Grieg, Sinding, Halvorsen, Bull). Another is in the works.

Although he has walked in the footsteps of Bull, whose travels also took him to Cuba and the U.S., where he founded a short-lived Norwegian colony in Pennsylvania, Kraggerud has not attempted to equal him in flamboyance.

"He was a crazy man," Kraggerud said. "He was one of the very first to be doing marketing. Before he arrived in America the first time, he got in league with the perfume and soap makers in Paris - so they shipped off soap and perfume called Ole Bull. Same thing as Jennifer Lopez today." Others exploited his sex appeal. "Some hotel owner, after he checked out, put his bath water into small bottles and sold it."

Bull so fascinated the sculptress of the statue of Leif Erikson on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston that she carved it to look like Bull instead of the Viking explorer. Isabella II of Spain offered to make him a general in the Spanish army.

"He would do the same as (pianist) Franz Liszt, who hired people to faint during his performances - so you had to go out in the hall and wake them with smelling salts. He was a great showman. Those days have gone in classical music."

In the film, which will be released in an English version and a shorter version for television, Kraggerud plays the 1744 Guarneri del Gesu "Ole Bull" owned by Bull.

That instrument has since been returned to the Taiwanese foundation that owns it now.

In Cincinnati, he will play a Bergonzi violin once owned by the great 20th-century virtuoso Fritz Kreisler (on loan from the Dextra Musica fund in Norway).

Violinist Henning Kraggerud performs Beethoven's Violin Concerto with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra led by Paavo Järvi at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Music Hall. For tickets, call (513) 381-3300.

Mary Ellyn Hutton's website is Music in Cincinnati.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

CSO/CSYO Concert Today at Music Hall

Paavo will join Assistant Conductor Eric Dudley this morning at Music Hall in leading a joint concert of the Cincinnati Symphony and the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra, an annual highlight of the CSYO's season. Wish I could provide the program information here, too, but I just can't find any!

As stated on the CSO's website:
The Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra, under the direction of new CSO Assistant Conductor Eric Dudley, is made up of students in grades 9–12 who represent over 30 high schools in southwestern Ohio, southeastern Indiana, and northern Kentucky.

Founded in 1964 by former CSO Music Director Max Rudolf and area music educators, the CSYO is dedicated to the cultivation of talent and provides outstanding young instrumentalists the opportunity to perform repertoire not normally available through their school music programs.

Rehearsals. Students attend weekly rehearsals at the College-Conservatory of Music, are invited to attend CSO concerts at Music Hall, study with CSO musicians in sectionals held several times throughout the season, and give concert performances, often with peer soloists chosen through the CSYO Concerto Competition.

Tickets for this 10:15 am concert are available in advance only; call (513)381-3300 for pricing and program information.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

CD REVIEW: Norwegische Tänze - Werke von Edvard Grieg

Friederike Westerhaus of Radio Bremen reviews Paavo's new Grieg: Norwegian Dances CD on the NDR Kultur website:
Paavo Järvi dirigiert Grieg Estnisches Nationales

Vorgestellt von Friederike Westerhaus

Sendetermin: 26. April 2006, 15.30 Uhr

Es gibt Menschen, die behaupten, die klassische Plattenindustrie stecke in der Krise. Wenn man sich aber allein die CD-Neuerscheinungen des Dirigenten Paavo Järvi anschaut, mag man das nicht glauben: regelmäßig alle paar Monate ein neuer Silberling mit Werken quer durchs Repertoire und Orchestern und Solisten quer durch die Kontinente. Fast zeitgleich erscheinen in diesen Wochen zwei neue CDs des umtriebigen Dirigenten: Werke von Bartok und Lutoslawski mit dem Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Beethovens Klavierkonzerte 3 und 5 mit Ikuyo Nakamichi und der Deutschen Kammerphilharmonie Bremen (nur in Japan und bei der DDKB) und die CD "Norwegian Dances" mit dem Estnischen Nationalen Symphonieorchester. Darauf zu hören: Werke von Edvard Grieg, unter anderem die Norwegischen und die Symphonischen Tänzen sowie die Holberg-Suite. Nach "Peer Gynt" bereits die zweite Grieg-CD, die der gebürtige Este, der mit seiner Familie 1980 wegen der russischen Okkupation nach Amerika auswanderte, mit dem Estnischen Nationalen Symphonieorchester eingespielt hat. Friederike Westerhaus stellt diese CD vor.

Besonders verbunden

Das Estnische Nationale Symphonieorchester - keines jener Weltklasse-Orchester, mit denen der Dirigent Paavo Järvi sonst oft zusammenarbeitet. Und doch fühlt sich der gebürtige Este gerade diesem Orchester besonders verbunden.

"Als wir Estland verlassen haben, wurde Estland für uns plötzlich so eine Art magischer Ort - fast so etwas wie ein "Heiliges Land", weil wir nicht zurückgehen konnten, und weil wir immer versucht haben, von außen zu helfen."

Inzwischen kann er zurück, Estland ist längst wieder unabhängig. Doch als Künstlerischer Berater des Orchesters sieht er sich noch heute Schwierigkeiten gegenüber, die für andere Orchester undenkbar wären: durch den finanziell äußerst eingeschränkten Rahmen sind vor allem die Streichinstrumente eher mittelmäßig, vielfach wird aus handgeschriebenen Noten gespielt, weil die Leihgebühren zu teuer sind. Einen Ausweg aus der schwierigen Situation sieht Järvi vor allem in CD-Produktionen. Und die internationale Resonanz gibt ihm recht: für die Sibelius-Kantaten gab’s den Grammy, Griegs "Peer-Gynt-Suite" wurde kürzlich mit dem 1. BBC Music Magazine Award ausgezeichnet.

Besonders engagiertes Spiel

Auch die neue Grieg-CD "Norwegische Tänze" ist zweifellos angetan, die musikalische Glaubwürdigkeit und das Ansehen des Orchesters erheblich zu steigern. Järvi scheint die Musiker zu einem besonders engagierten Spiel zu motivieren: ein kraftvoller, runder, homogener Klang, eine ausdifferenzierte Dynamik, eine reiche Farbigkeit.

Besonderer Pluspunkt der Aufnahme ist das Gespür für den volkstümlich tänzerischen Gehalt der Musik Griegs - eine natürliche, organische Interpretation, bei der die innere Verbundenheit der musikalischen Idiome Norwegens und Estlands ganz sicher eine große Rolle spielt. Gekünstelt klingt da nichts. Sei es beispielsweise in den schlichten, gesanglichen Passagen des 4. Symphonischen Tanzes op 64 oder in den geradezu entfesselt wirkenden, burschikosen Momenten des vierten Norwegischen Tanzes op. 35.

Eher fremd für das Orchester: die barocken Muster der Holberg-Suite. Doch Järvi versteht es, die Musiker behutsam in eine historisch informierte Richtung zu lenken, ohne diese Herangehensweise aufgesetzt wirken zu lassen.

Eine lebendige, mitreißende CD, der eines besonders anzumerken ist: die Freude Järvis und der Musiker des Estnische Nationale Symphonieorchester darüber, dass es Ihnen heute überhaupt möglich ist, befreit zusammen Musik zu machen.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Last CSO Concerts of Season Feature Change in Guest Artist

Well, I just spent a long afternoon in the company of a Mac genius who makes housecalls, a charming Frenchman named Thierry, and now can report that my computer is well on the road to regained health--thank God! (Of course, there is still that little matter of an eerie tone we heard which may be the harbinger of further problems; still, hope springs eternal!)

In my fervor of new browsing around the web, I have just discovered that, due to violinist Akiko Suwanai's illness, the young Norwegian musician Henning Kraggerud, one of Scandinavia’s most important artists, will be taking her place this week. Mr. Kraggerud performs on the famous Guarneri del Gesu 1744 violin "Ole Bull," once owned by the famous Norwegian violinist of the same name, which has been generously loaned to him by Mr.Wen-Long Shi, owner of the Chi Mei Cultural Foundation, Tainan, Taiwan.

It is hard to believe that another season -- Paavo's fifth already! -- of the Cincinnati Symphony is already drawing to a close. And after the past two weeks of super high attendance, it must be extremely gratifying to the musicians to feel so appreciated by their hometown audience.

This week's program features Bartok's Dance Suite; Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Minor; and Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 3 in A Minor, Scottish. The concerts take place Friday, May 5 and Saturday, May 6 at 8 pm. Click here for ticket information or call the CSO Sales Office at (513)381-3300 to order.

Listen to Paavo's Notes on this concert and read the Program Notes before you go. This concert will air on 90.9 FM, Classical WGUC on Sunday, May 28 at 7:30 pm.