Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Stravinsky Festival: Week 1

Cincinnati Symphony and Paavo Jarvi, conducting
May Festival Chorus, Robert Porco, director


STRAVINSKY: Chorale-Variations on Vom Himmel hoch da komm’ ich her (“From Heaven Above I Come to You”)
STRAVINSKY: Symphony of Psalms
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55, Eroica

• Fri., 11/02/07, 8 p.m.
• Sat., 11/03/07, 8 p.m.
• Sun., 11/04/07, 3 p.m. (CSO Family Sundays concert)

Brahms Cycle

Wonderful project from Paavo and Frankfurt Radio Orchestra!

Friday, October 26, 2007

CD REVIEW: Beethoven Symphonies 3 & 8

October 25, 2007 - October 31, 2007
Time Out Chicago / Issue 139 : Album review

Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 3 and 8. Paavo Järvi, conductor (RCA)

From the first notes of Symphony No. 3 (“Eroica”), this cutthroat band of Germans schooled in the period practice of Beethoven’s day proves that they aren’t out to give a lofty portrait of that composer. Järvi whips the energy up to a fever pitch, and this is—no exaggeration—one of the most exciting orchestral discs to come around in several years.
The ensemble’s chamber proportions give it a sinewy, athletic presence, one that Järvi exploits to its fullest potential (with fast tempos). The development section of the first movement hurtles between emotional extremes, and when we finally arrive at the brutally discordant, repeated chords, that discomfort exacts a great toll.
The second-movement funeral march proceeds with almost unbearable mournfulness, with the raw-toned, grainy strings sounding as if they’re returning from some brutal European land war. The gutsy horns have fun romping through the Scherzo, and the finale leaps to its joyful end.
The buzzing strings in the final movement of the Eighth Symphony make easy work of the tricky ensemble Beethoven creates, and, as in the Third Symphony, the timpanist works closely with Järvi to ratchet up the energy.
This disc is their first collaboration, and more Beethoven symphonies are on the way. We can’t wait.— Marc Geelhoed

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

CD REVIEW: Tüür- "Magma"

October 24, 2007
Reviewed by: Christian Hoskins

Tüür Symphony No.4 (Magma), for solo percussion and symphony orchestra
Inquiétude du Fini, for chamber choir and orchestra
Igavik, for male choir and orchestra
The Path and the Traces, for strings
Dame Evelyn Glennie (percussion)Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Estonian National Male Choir
Estonian National Symphony Orchestra Paavo Järvi
Recorded 7-11 June 2006 in Estonia Concert Hall, Tallinn, Estonia
CD Number VIRGIN CLASSICS3 85785 2 Duration 67 minutes

The music of Erkki-Sven Tüür (born 1959) has surprisingly little in common with the output of other well-known Estonian composers such as Eduard Tubin or Arvo Pärt. Instead, one hears echoes of composers as varied as Berg, Varèse and Penderecki, and the influence of minimalism and even rock music (Tüür founded an Estonian rock group called “In Spe” [In Hope] at the age of 20).

The first and most impressive work on this disc, the Fourth Symphony, was composed in 2002 at the behest of percussionist Evelyn Glennie. The work is in one movement of 31 minutes, with four subsections that approximate to the movements of a traditional symphony. The work’s title of ‘Magma’ was chosen to reflect both the elemental power and fluidity of the material.
The symphony opens with a primordial growl of timpani and low pitched brass chords, followed by an introductory section of sliding string clusters, chirping woodwind and rhapsodic sequences on the upper register of the glockenspiel. As the work progresses, a variety of percussion instruments are heard, including vibraphone (reminiscent here of Berg’s “Lulu”), bongos, marimba, wood-blocks, congas and the traditional drum kit of rock and jazz (hi-hat, cymbals, snare drum and bass drum). This latter group of instruments is used in the agitated second section of the symphony and in the soloist’s freely improvised cadenza. The symphony includes a highly atmospheric slow movement where percussion is used to add gentle splashes of colour to luminous string chords that are suggestive of John Adams. A final section conveys a sense of struggle before the music fades mysteriously into silence.
The distinctive sonorities and pounding rhythms of Tüür’s Fourth Symphony give it an immediate and visceral impact, but it also has sufficient originality and symphonic strength to bear and repay repeated listening. It certainly has the potential to become a repertoire piece. Tüür’s occasional use of atonality is unlikely to be a challenge to anyone exposed to contemporary film music; the idiom is no more advanced than, for example, John Williams’s score for “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” from the late 1970s.
“Inquiétude du fini”, for chamber choir and orchestra, was composed in 1992 and is the earliest work on the disc. It is set to a text in French by the Estonian poet and writer Tõnu Õnnepalu. The mix of minimalist choral chants, occasional bursts of pounding rhythms and interludes of atonality sit together rather uneasily. Much more impressive is “Igavik” (Eternity) for male choir and orchestra, written in 2006 for the funeral service of Lennart Meri, a former president of Estonia and a friend of Tüür’s. Featuring both vibraphone and sliding string textures, clearly favourite sonorities for Tüür, it is a dramatic and affecting piece. (Texts for the choral works are included in the booklet.)
The final work, The Path and the Traces was written in 2005 and dedicated to Pärt on the occasion of his 70th-birthday. Composed for string orchestra and featuring simultaneous streams of fast- and slow-moving music, it is both immediately accessible and a work of profundity.
All four pieces are given carefully prepared and committed performances by the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra under Paavo Järvi, and the involvement of the dedicatee, Evelyn Glennie, in ‘Magma’ gives this performance an additional measure of authority. The engineers provide a recording of enormous weight and clarity, the results of which are particularly remarkable in the Symphony. This excellent Virgin Classics release should do much to advance the cause of Erkki-Sven Tüür’s distinctive and fascinating music.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Paavo in Frankfurt October 26, 2007

As always, great programming, and a fantastic soloist will make this an exeptional performance!

October 26, Alte Oper Frankfurt, 20h
Mahler Adagio from the 10th Symphony
Mozart Piano Concerto KV 595 Lars Vogt Piano
Sibelius Symphony No 5

Stravinsky Festival

October 22, 2007

Here is a link to an article about the Stravinsky Festival that Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra will be holding in November 2007.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Paavo with Frankfurt Radio in Paris!

October 18 and 19, 2007
Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris
Brahms: Double Concerto with Renaud and Gautier Capuçon
Brahms: Symphony No.4


October 19, 2007

Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park

There’s a confession box in the lobby at Playhouse in the Park these nights, where the “Altar Boyz” are holding forth on the Marx stage. To get audiences in the mood, Playhouse applied to local celebs for their confessions, which are on display.
A couple favorites: Cincinnati Symphony maestro Paavo Jarvi writes, “Sometimes when I turn around to the audience following a performance I hear Elvis’ voice in my head saying, “Thank you, thank you very much.”

Saturday, October 20, 2007

CONCERT REVIEW: Frankfurt Radio and Paavo at the Royal Albert Hall
By Hugo Shirley

Prom 40: Frankfurt Radio Symphony/Paavo Järvi
Mahler: Des Knaben Wunderhorn; Brahms: First Piano Quartet

Royal Albert Hall, 13 August 2007
This visit by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra under their principal conductor, Paavo Järvi, concentrated on the nineteenth-century Austro-German tradition, with a dash of twentieth-century colour in the form of Schoenberg's imaginative orchestration of Brahms' G minor Piano Quartet. Right from the slow introduction of Weber's Oberon overture, it was clear that this was a polished band. The opening horn solo was suave and technically secure and the wind and violin interjections playfully executed, while the main Allegro was given a highly fluid and enjoyable rendering.
Matthias Goerne, who seems to have suffered some sort of leg injury, made his entrance like the walking wounded. This was strangely appropriate for several of the songs he'd selected from Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn, dealing as they do with the grotesque futility of war. Goerne is a great communicator but unfortunately, right from the start of Der Schildwache Nacht, showed that his soft, grainy voice - hugely effective in quieter passages - was going to struggle to cut through the orchestra at full tilt.
That said, the control and sensitivity he brought to the more reflective passages was at times breathtaking. The beauty of his voice and his unexaggerated interpretation were particularly moving in the heartbreaking dialogue in Wo die schönen Trompeten and Urlicht, more usually sung by mezzo (as it appears in the 'Resurrection' Symphony).
Throughout, the orchestra playing was wonderfully vivid. In Lob des Hohen Verstandes the wind players seemed to be trying to outdo one another by showing how much wit and characterisation they could bring to each of their tongue-in-cheek solos while the raucous march episodes in Revelge were gloriously uncouth. Goerne tired slightly towards the end and the doubts about the basic ability of the voice to rise over a large orchestra remained. However, there were more than enough moments of great beauty, not to mention the sheer interpretative integrity of his performance, to allay these concerns.
The second half of the concert was given over to Schoenberg's 1937 orchestration of Brahms' First Piano Quartet. In his famous 1853 essay, Neue Bahnen, Schumann had hailed all Brahms' instrumental works as 'veiled symphonies' and Schoenberg's arrangement maybe gives us a taste of what sort of symphony the younger Brahms (the Brahms of what one biographer has termed the Vorbart - 'pre-beard' - period) might have produced had he not been so fixated with the Beethovenian inheritance.
That's not to say that Schoenberg's orchestration is in anyway an attempt to recreate Brahms' own manner with orchestration. In what was obviously a great labour of love, Schoenberg created a true orchestral showpiece, and if he used a few Brahmsian devices (the horns doubling soaring string lines, for example), he scored the piece in very much his own way for a much larger orchestra than Brahms would have employed (including a large percussion section, most obviously, with judiciously employed xylophone).
The slightly paradoxical effect of all this is that the bare sounds of the piano and strings of the original - which creates a particularly modern effect in the first movement - is filled out and almost smoothed over to create something more overtly romantic. The tonal splendour of the big, fruity sound the Frankfurt players produced, however, made any thoughts of 'authenticity' seem irrelevant.
Järvi's approach was broadly romantic and he pulled around the tempo a fair amount, perhaps speeding up a bit too much as the march was introduced in the third movement Andante con moto. The opening Allegro was given an essentially straight reading, as befits its tautly argued structure, and the Intermezzo gave the players a chance to show off their virtuosity in some of the more delicately scored passages, the horn solos, in particular, tossed off with hugely impressive swagger.
For the opening of the Andante, Järvi drew from his players a sound of astonishing richness that really allowed us to wallow in Brahms' flowing melodies before the outbreak of the extraordinary march sequence (not a million miles away, especially in Schoenberg's orchestration, from Mahler's martial outbreaks in the Des Knaben Wunderhorn songs of the first half).
Things reached fever pitch in the Alla zingarese finale. Here Schoenberg really pulls out all the stops with his orchestration, cranking up the pressure with one surprise in instrumentation after another. Of course, Brahms' original is a tour de force of rip-roaring gypsy exuberance but inevitably the four instruments of the original can't come close to the sonic variety of a full orchestra and Schoenberg is particularly masterful in adding layer upon layer of sound and additional counterpoint so that the whole movement is one long crescendo.
Järvi and his players fully rose to the challenge and the audience could not help but be caught up in it all, reacting with justly enthusiastic applause. Järvi's approach is, on the whole, one of seriousness (perhaps not helped by his passing resemblance, from a distance at least, to Vladimir Putin) so it was nice to see him smile after this and the beautifully playful rendition of Brahms' Sixth Hungarian Dance that was performed as an encore.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

CD REVIEW: New Tchaikovsky CDs, from tragic to sparkling

October 18, 2007

Mary Ellyn Hutton,
Cincinnati Post music writer

If you like Tchaikovsky - and who doesn't? - you might want to give these new recordings by the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras a spin when they hit the stores Tuesday. Both are from Telarc.
Paavo Järvi: Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Tchaikovsky, "Romeo and Juliet" Overture Fantasy. Symphony No. 6 ("Pathetique"). Telarc. A.
Here's music to move you, no matter how many times you have heard it. Sorrow is the overriding emotion in Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet" and in his valedictory, "Pathetique" symphony, but both works are beautifully, sensitively rendered by Järvi and the CSO. The pacing of the music, its peaks and valleys and the clarity and quality of Telarc's audiophile sound project deep feeling.
The tone poem "Romeo and Juliet" is based on Shakespeare's play. Järvi begins it exquisitely, more slowly and thoughtfully than most, with sudden fortes that sound like sobs. When the love theme arrives, he treats it with the utmost tenderness, as if allowing the lovers a moment of happiness before the ax falls. And fall it does, with a thud of timpani. The final sad wind chorale and love theme/elegy give way to stern staccato chords and a broad, very Russian sounding end.
Tchaikovsky never divulged the "meaning" of his "Pathetique" symphony (though it had one, he said). The title was suggested by a friend and Tchaikovsky asked that it be removed, but he died nine days after the premiere and it stuck. Tragedy clings to the work, perhaps for that reason, and it begins and ends in emotion-laden darkness.
Järvi's reading is highly dramatic. Prepare yourself (if you can) for the thunder clap fortissimo that opens the development section in the first movement. He shapes the lovely second theme touchingly, ending the movement in a huge outpouring of grief.
The middle movements bear the optimism of the work. The CSO cellos all but laugh in the famous 5/4 waltz. The blustery march/scherzo features snappy rhythms and swirling strings. However, the final Adagio, in which a theme from the waltz becomes a threnody, is wrenching in its despair.
Available in CD and SCAD formats.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Highest accolade for Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen Beethoven CD wins the Annual German Record Critics’ Prize

The first SACD of Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen’s Beethoven cycle, featuring symphonies No. 3 and No. 8, has won the Annual German Record Critics’ Prize.

The particular value of this award stems from the independence of the jury, made up of leading German music critics. The Annual German Record Critics’ Prize is considered the most renowned award for sound recordings in the German-speaking world.

In its explanatory statement, the jury writes:

“Out of the abundance of Beethoven symphony recordings, this SACD production clearly stands out as a prelude to a new complete works. For the way that the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen plays under its conductor Paavo Järvi sounds historically-accurate and modern in equal measure: thrilling, trim, vivacious. This recording is both original and rousing in its transparency and its luminous impact, in its chamber-musical sophistication and its balance of analysis and emotion. The stringency of the articulation, and the determination with which the musicians explore Beethoven’s contrasting worlds, force the listener to remain permanently attentive. The tempi, based on Beethoven's original metronome guidelines, also lend this production some additional authenticity

Phenomenal: Beethoven symphonies from the Kammerphilharmonie Bremen

October 2, 2007

Stuttgarter Zeitung

Neither mourning nor dancing
By Jürgen Hartmann

Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen make Beethoven shine with resplendent light, simultaneously freeing the symphonies from the quagmire of analytical verbosity in the process. A funeral march? The apotheosis of dance? Perhaps, but this is certainly not the main issue here. Everything which Beethoven included in his composition – the irritation, the composition process, the genially unfinished oeuvre, the paradox – it is all conveyed with razor-sharp precision on the second CD of this new symphony cycle, as on the first, without any pretentious deconstruction of the musical fabric.

The pinpoint crescendi, the clarity of the musical layering, the incredibly detailed arrangement of the musical dialogue impress once again, and not only in the superbly executed solo sections. Many parts are performed at a terrific pace, but not simply scurried through: the Estonian-born conductor and his fabulous orchestra always allow time for the tonal language to come through, especially in the quieter passages, which simply quiver with suspense.

The oft-neglected Fourth Symphony is highly privileged. It becomes apparent, upon following Järvi’s highly analytical presentation, that the opening Adagio is often taken to be a prime example of a slow introduction. It is noticeable, in any case, that the slow movements by no means pale in comparison to the tumult of the Allegro, as may often be observed in historicising interpretations. With the Beethoven of the Bremen orchestra, every metre has a tremendous amount to say. The equally clear and astute slant on what is assumed to be familiar in the Seventh is simply stunning – it can hardly be described, it has to be experienced. It is true what they say – the best Beethoven symphony is always the one you are listening to at the time.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Fourth and Seventh symphonies. RCA Red Seal 88697129332 (SACD)

Daring for more democracy

October 11, 2007

Rheinischer Merkur
Every note counts: the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen lets its company philosophy be heard

By Hilde Malcomess

After midnight, over a white wine, tender chicken and fine beans, the protagonists celebrate the conclusion of their world tour and joke about the name of their collective. “Actually, something short and sexy would be better”, says conductor Paavo Järvi with a smirk. On the international scene, the verbal monster is considered a challenge for concert hosts and radio presenters. The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen is the showpiece ensemble within our system of subsidised orchestras. A wonder-child, born in 1980 of two dozen young string players who set off in woolly jumpers and parkas to create a musicians’ paradise on a North Sea island: rehearsing, discussing, agonising, taking their time, rehearsing again, the whole collective becoming engrossed in the scores.
Out of the fundamentally democratic organisation which was the collective at that time, a company orchestra has emerged, a non-profit-making limited company. The shareholders are its 36 musicians. It is for this reason, too, that everyone in this Kammerphilharmonie plays from on the edge of their seat; their own income and the wellbeing of their firm depend on the success of the concerts.
Currently, the orchestra is celebrating success from all quarters, especially with Beethoven. Since 2004, the Estonian-born Paavo Järvi has been their Artistic Director. When the Bremen musicians play the Beethoven symphonies with him, the performance is tight, crystal clear, and snappy, but it breathes naturally too, with long slurs and soloistic aural clarity.
What is the difference between a symphony orchestra and a chamber orchestra? “The decisive factor is the difference in attitude, rather than the size of the ensemble”, says Järvi. He should know, as alongside the Kammerphilharmonie he directs the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Estonian Symphony Orchestra and the hr-Sinfonieorchester in Frankfurt. “The Kammerphilharmonie musicians see themselves as chamber musicians, they know about their responsibility. Every note counts, every voice is significant”, explains Järvi.
In 2005, the Bremen musicians and Järvi gave guest performances of Beethoven in the USA. In 2006 they flew to Japan to give their breathtaking interpretation of Beethoven’s complete works. The 2007 tour, from Strasbourg to Japan, Canada, and back via Chicago and New York to Dresden, finished with a wonderful Sixth at the Beethoven Festival in Bonn, which has particular ties with the Kammerphilharmonie as its orchestra in residence. Anyone who has played that much Beethoven would want to get the final rehearsal over and done with as quickly as possible. Not Järvi and the Bremen musicians. Even in Bonn, they rehearsed for over two hours. “With Beethoven”, says Järvi, “you're never finished”.
The balancing act between grassroots democracy and economic viability is tested on a daily basis. If it is a matter of filling a vacancy in the orchestra, the collective decides. Regarding collaboration with soloists and conductors, a plenary meeting is called. When deciding on new projects and programmes, a plenary meeting is called. When deciding on new projects and programmes, too, everyone’s opinion is called for.
The violist Klaus Heidemann is one of the four founder members who still play in the orchestra today. “It’s my baby”, he says almost affectionately. The organisation of the ensemble may have changed, but not its ethos: “We search without compromise for the idea of the composer, and rehearse until we reach the best possible realisation of this.” Those original members, who used to play without a conductor altogether, now also have a say in questions of interpretation. “Confident conductors appreciate it when there is input from our ranks. That is unthinkable in a salaried orchestra.”
For their salaried colleagues, performing on the basis of collective employment contracts, it would be inconceivable for a violist to turn round to an oboist to say that they were playing too sharp, thinks the oboist Ulrich König. “With us, on the other hand, there is no hierarchy between the instruments. We're all paid the same too.” How much they earn depends on the rehearsals and concerts where they actually play. If someone is ill, they earn less.
This orchestra born out of dreams of self-management and self-realisation is today amongst the best chamber orchestras in the world. It generates 44 percent of its budget through concerts, and earns 15 percent from sponsoring. That still leaves the 41 percent, or two million euros, which is contributed by the Federal State of Bremen. The orchestra left its first residence, Frankfurt am Main, in 1992, when the culture administration tried to force it to make artistic compromises by putting on the squeeze with funding.
Up to 2009, the programme is determined by Beethoven. And then? “We have asked Järvi if he can imagine a romantic future with us”, reveals oboist Ulrich König. “We want to take on Brahms.”

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphonies 3 & 8. Symphonies 4 & 7. Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. Sony/BMG.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

CONCERT REVIEW: Violinist brings Beethoven to life

October 12, 2007

Cincinnati Enquirer

You've heard the Beethoven Violin Concerto before, but this one was as close to heaven as it gets.
In an unusual Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra program that brought the soloist out last,Vadim Repin's performance of Beethoven on Thursday was a blend of profound inspiration and sheer beauty of sound.
It was worth the wait. Paavo Järvi's program of three symphonic movements by Mahler, combined with the concerto, was a lengthy undertaking for one evening. That said, the symphonic splendor of the "Adagio" from Mahler's Symphony No. 10 will not soon be forgotten.
Mahler's symphonies encompass the composer's struggles with mortality and the meaning of life, while delighting in nature and mundane marches. Järvi opened with two Mahler movements from opposite spectrums: "Todtenfeier" (Funeral rites), an early version of the first movement of Symphony No. 2; and the "Adagio," the only complete movement of his last symphony.
It was a fascinating juxtaposition of two universes. The "Todtenfeier" pitted the anguished against the serene, opening fiercely in low strings against pounding timpani. Järvi wonderfully contrasted the terror-filled death march against moments of glowing themes in the strings, and the orchestra responded with pristine playing. (This early version is more transparent but also lacks momentum at times, a problem Mahler corrected later.)
Järvi's view of the "Adagio," on the other hand, was reflective and autumnal in character. The sweeping power of the strings against soaring themes in the horns, the moments of bittersweet irony, the brilliant chirping for the wind players - it beautifully summed up all that is Mahler. The conductor led with affection and tremendous attention to detail, and the musicians played it superbly.
After intermission, Järvi introduced the orchestra's first performance of Mahler's "What the Wild Flowers Tell Me," from Mahler's Third, as arranged by Benjamin Britten. It was a brief, lighthearted gem, and allowed orchestral soloists, including oboist Dwight Parry, to shine.
So, after this three-course meal, Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major arrived. Born in 1971, Repin is one of a generation of spectacular violinists to come out of Siberia, and his glorious sound and relaxed technique hark back to the golden age of violin playing.
From the first note, Repin's sound on his 1736 Guarneri del Gesu violin was arresting - pure, fluid and amazingly plush. He took his time and seemed to revel in each stroke of the bow, allowing his golden, enveloping sound to linger just a bit longer.
The violinist took a genial pace in the first two movements. Phrases were poetic, beautifully shaded and nothing was glossed over. His cadenzas, by Fritz Kreisler, were feats of effortless fireworks and mesmerizing control.
He smiled through the finale, and Järvi and the orchestra made excellent partners.
8 p.m. Saturday. 513-381-3300.

CONCERT REVIEW: Jarvi loses his baton, but CSO doesn't miss beat

October 12, 2007
Cincinnati Post
By Mary Ellyn Hutton Post music writer

The Boy Scout motto, be prepared, must be Cincinnati Symphony music director Paavo Järvi's motto, too.
Though it wasn't the most stirring thing that happened at Thursday evening's CSO concert at Music Hall, it did cause a moment of concern when Järvi's baton struck his music stand and flew into the cello section as guest artist Vadim Repin and the CSO neared the end of Beethoven's Violin Concerto.
Järvi put his hand to his mouth briefly (out of concern for principal cellist Eric Kim, who was in the line of fire), picked up another baton - apparently he keeps an extra on the podium - and resumed conducting as if nothing had happened. Kim appeared not to have missed a note, and the concerto came to a rousing conclusion.
The true excitement of the evening lay with the music itself, even in the way it was presented. The Beethoven came last, preceded by three symphonic movements by Mahler.
"Todtenfeier" ("Funeral Rites"), which Mahler turned into the first movement of his Symphony No. 2, opened the concert.
Next came the Adagio from his unfinished Symphony No. 10, which dwells on the end of life.
First after intermission was "What the Wild Flowers Tell Me," second movement of his Symphony No. 3 arranged in 1941 by Benjamin Britten. A CSO premiere, it could have been new life pushing through the earth.
Beethoven, in whose shadow Mahler (and everyone else) wrote, made the perfect, upbeat ending with one of his best-loved works.
All of this was done, like the baton, with the utmost preparation. Järvi does not like to speak to the audiences before (or during) concerts.
It's nothing personal, he says; he doesn't like to speak to anyone before concerts, but tries to focus his energies solely on making music. (For an engaging substitute, the CSO has begun projecting program notes by Järvi onto a screen over the stage before his concerts.)
"Todtenfeier," musicologists say, was inspired by a poem about a young man who commits suicide when the woman he loves marries another. Järvi poured trauma to match into the CSO performance: anger in the cellos and basses, soft, sudden tenderness in the violins, nostalgia in the English horn, chaos culminating in a big drop off, then despair heard against muffled cymbal, heaving horns, a shriek in the trumpets and downward tumbling scales.
"Like a stab in the heart" is how one member of the audience described the fortissimo outburst in Mahler's Adagio, with its high C held for seven bars by the first trumpet.
The violas opened with a hushed, tender melody, sounding like one instrument. First violins introduced a melancholy theme building to high-lying threnodies against sorrow-laden textures. There were sardonic moments, as well, but the anguish and terror finally subsided in an atmosphere of peaceful resignation.
"What the Wild Flowers Tell Me" brought smiles. Vividly orchestrated by Britten, it contrasted a gentle landler with a whirling mid-section, ending in a tracery of woodwind "blossoms."
Repin and the CSO made splendid partners in the Beethoven concerto. The Russian born violinist unites exquisite musicianship with a pearly tone and daunting technique.
Järvi, having just performed the complete Beethoven symphonies with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen on tour, led as if born to the task, and I found myself relishing the CSO every bit as much as the soloist.
Repin was compelling in the softest moments, as in the Larghetto, where it grew so quiet in the hall the only sound was his violin against soft pizzicato, a quartet of woodwinds or a pair of unbelievably faraway sounding horns at the end.
He was commanding in the cadenzas, full-voiced and flowing, and he scampered nimbly with the CSO in the finale.

Friday, October 12, 2007

CD REVIEW: Tchaikovsky Sumphony No. 6 "Pathetique"

October 11, 2007
By William Dart

A few months back, the Cincinnati press posted warnings about Paavo Jarvi's new recording of Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. While blowing out your speakers might always be a risk with this composer, the danger to watch out for was "musically induced hyperactivity of the lachrymal glands".
In other words, have the tissues handy for when Tchaikovsky wrenches at the heartstrings.
In fact, the CD renders such fears unnecessary.
The Estonian conductor draws the purest of emotion from potentially tear-drenched pages. The handling of the first movement's second theme is exemplary, especially with the Cincinnati musicians' clean, clear woodwind playing.
The strings sigh sumptuously in the finale and Jarvi ensures we feel the weight and import of every phrase.
Telarc technology has clothed a superlative performance in every sonic shade imaginable, the bonus being a Romeo and Juliet overture, with climaxes that may make you solicitous for those speakers.

CD REVIEW: Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6 "Pathetique"

October 10, 2007
By Victor Carr Jr

Petr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 "Pathétique"; Romeo and Juliet
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra -Paavo Järvi
Telarc- 80681(CD)

Reference Recording-Muti/Philharmonia (EMI); Mravinsky (DG); Bernstein (DG); Gergiev (Philips)

Paavo Järvi's remarkably fresh-sounding Tchaikovsky Pathétique emphasizes the music's lyricism and singing line, with flowing tempos and unforced, natural phrasing throughout. Accordingly the strings predominate in this performance, and the Cincinnati players make beautiful sounds, especially in the outer movements. Järvi treats the first movement's "big tune" as a love song that grows more impassioned with each appearance. On the other hand he leads a quite angry development section, with biting brass ratcheting up the tension. The second movement goes at a lively, dancing pace, while Järvi's quick-stepping third-movement march generates real excitement in its second-half, with brilliant playing by the Cincinnati brass.
Järvi is at his finest in the Finale, where his intuitive phrasing, exquisite sense of timing, and most certainly his skillful use of the timpani for dramatic effect make for a deeply moving conclusion to the symphony--quite the opposite of Paavo's father Neeme Järvi's brisk and cool reading on BIS (type Q7907 in Search Reviews). My only concern is that Tchaikovsky's colorful woodwind writing is too often submerged in the orchestral texture, though this may be an aspect of Telarc's recording, which needs to be played at high volume for full effect.
Järvi leads a similarly successful Romeo and Juliet, wherein he places special emphasis on color and timbre (the trombones and timpani especially) while powerfully realizing the music's drama and passion. I'm assuming there's an SACD version soon to follow, but as it stands Järvi's CD joins the list of preferred modern recordings.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

CONCERT REVIEW: CSO greeted warmly in Lakota

October 9, 2007

The Cincinnati Enquirer

WEST CHESTER TWP. – Cincinnati’s world-famous symphony joined the chorus of supporters for Lakota’s high school marching bands this evening (Tuesday evening) with its first performance in a suburban school.
Director Paavo Järvi led the CSO before 800 fans at a sold-out auditorium in Lakota’s Freshman School in the first regional concert in his six-year tenure. The unusual fundraiser brought in about $15,000 to benefit the Lakota West and Lakota East band programs as they prepare to travel thousands of miles during the next year to play in high-profile parades in California and Hawaii.
Proceeds from the concert will help 300 members of the Lakota West Marching Firebirds make the 2,000-mile trip to Pasadena as the first high school band to represent Southwest Ohio in the Tournament of Roses Parade this coming New Year’s Day. The concert also will help fund Lakota East’s trip to Hawaii to perform in the November 2008 Waikiki Holiday Parade and perform at the USS Missouri battleship.
“This is an historic evening for the district, and the fact that the CSO would come to our community says a great deal about both the residents who helped make it happen and the residents who came to make it a successful evening,” said Jon Weidlich, spokesman for Lakota schools in Butler County.
Gary McClimans, chairman of the Lakota Upbeat Club Inc. – the fundraising arm for the two high school marching bands – said: “This was huge. It’s an incredible boost for the fund-raising for both schools. To have a demonstration like this by such an amazing organization as CSO to our bands and our community is wonderful.”Varying ticket prices allowed for students ($10), adults ($20) and “patrons” ($100) to contribute at different levels. Before the event, band boosters had raised about $82,000 toward a $400,000 goal for the marching Lakota West Firebirds to play in Pasadena. The total cost of the trip is about is $1 million. A reception for Jarvi was to be held at the Wetherington Country Club in West Chester Township following the performance. Tim Sant’s daughter Maggie – a junior in the Firebirds marching band – looked around at the packed school auditorium as the internationally acclaimed orchestra took the stage.“This doesn’t happen every day,” Sant said, smiling. “It’s very generous of the symphony and its supporters to do this.”Nick Miller, a Lakota West sophomore and band member, shook his head at the sight of the crowd – many dressed in suits and cocktail dresses – filing into an auditorium that normally features ninth-grade theatrical productions.“This is pretty amazing,” he said.

Monday, October 08, 2007


October 8th, 2007

CSO Welcomes Acclaimed Violin Soloist

Järvi leads a stirring, all-German program featuring Mahler and Beethoven

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Paavo Järvi, conductor Vadim Repin, violin
Thursday, October 11, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, October 12, 8 p.m.
Saturday, October 13, 8 p.m.
Music Hall. Tickets: Call (513) 381-3300 or


MAHLER: Todtenfeier
MAHLER: Symphony No. 10 (Adagio)
MAHLER / arr. BRITTEN: What the Wild Flowers Tell Me
BEETHOVEN: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61

Heralded as “the greatest living violinist” by the Berliner Tagesspiegel (The Berlin Daily Mirror), Vadim Repin brings his impeccable artistry to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for three spellbinding performances on Thursday, October 11, Friday, October 12 and Saturday, October 13 at Music Hall. Music Director Paavo Järvi conducts an exciting program featuring works by two German masters, Gustav Mahler and Ludwig van Beethoven.
The CSO opens the program with Mahler’s Todtenfeir (“Funeral Rite”), a transcendent work that later evolved into the first movement of the composer’s much-admired Symphony No. 2. This is followed by Mahler’s final, unfinished Symphony No. 10, a heart-wrenching expression of fear and anguish. The final Mahler work on the program is the CSO premiere of What the Wild Flowers Tell Me, arranged by Benjamin Britten.
To close the concert, Mr. Repin will perform the solo in Beethoven’s masterful Violin Concerto in D Major, dubbed by many as the “King of Concertos.”
“Vadim Repin is certainly part of that very, very top echelon of violinists,” says CSO Music Director Paavo Järvi. “He’s an old friend of the orchestra, and I’m very grateful that we have an opportunity to play this concerto, a work we have never performed together.”
Audiences are invited to learn more about the music at Classical Conversations with CSO Concertmaster Timothy Lees and hosted by CSO Assistant Conductor Eric Dudley, one hour before each performance.
Vadim RepinBorn in 1971 in Novosibirsk, Vadim Repin began playing the violin at the age of five and after only six months made his first public appearance. He studied in his hometown with Zakhar Bron. At the age of seven he gave his first performance with orchestra, at eleven, his St. Petersburg recital debut. His international breakthrough came in 1989, when Repin became the youngest-ever winner of the world’s most prestigious and demanding violin competition, the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels.
Since then Vadim Repin has appeared with the world’s greatest orchestras and conductors. He is also a frequent guest at festivals such as the Hollywood Bowl, Tanglewood, Ravinia, Rheingau, Verbier and the BBC Proms. His “Carte blanche” invitation to the Louvre in Paris resulted in a prize-winning live recording of music performed with colleagues including the gypsy violinist Roby Lakatos. His chamber-music partners have included Martha Argerich, Yuri Bashmet, Evgeny Kissin, Nikolai Lugansky, Mischa Maisky and Mikhail Pletnev.
The violinist has won numerous prizes including an Echo Award as “Instrumentalist of the Year 1999”, the Diapason d’or, the Prix Caecilia and the Edison Award.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

CD REVIEW: Beethoven Symphonies 4 & 7

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN Symphonies n° 4 et 7
Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Paavo Järvi

RCA Japon- 88697-09995-2(SACD)
Référence: Kleiber-Amsterdam (DVD Philips)

By Christophe Huss

Voici en avant-première, à partir de l'audition du SACD sorti au Japon un peu plus tôt en 2007, le commentaire du second volume de l'intégrale de Paavo Järvi.
La première chose à souligner est qu'en deux années la discographie de la 4e Symphonie a radicalement évolué. Pour décrire la situation, on peut aujourd'hui totalement se passer de la version Kleiber-Orfeo, puisque, par exemple, Järvi développe la même ambition et furia musicale, dans une réalisation orchestrale infiniment mieux maîtrisée et une prise de son incomparable.
Nous avons donc quatre "nouvelles" versions de la 4e Symphonie qui ont tout chamboulé: Vänskä-Minnesota (BIS); Haitink-LSO (LSO); Skrowaczewski-Saarbrücken (Oehms) et Järvi-Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen (RCA). On peut mettre côte à côte les deux premières, qui sont ce qui se fait de mieux, de plus lisible et équilibré dans la catégorie "grand orchestre". Skrowaczewski se situe dans une voie intermédiaire et scrute les textures avec un côté ludique et très transparent. Järvi revendique la taille réduite de l'orchestre, mais en même temps une puissance supérieure. Si l'on veut une image, c'est le Beethoven le plus échevelé et rebelle des quatre.
Tout comme dans le disque des Symphonies n° 3 et 8, Paavo Järvi ne lâche jamais la bride. Son orchestre déploie une énergie folle pour que chaque mesure soit nourrie de l'intérieur. Il en va de même dans la 7e Symphonie.
L'impact des interprètes (car l'orchestre est indissociable du chef ici) repose sur un respect quasi obsessionnel de l'accentuation, mais sans induire un quelconque caractère martial. Ce n'est pas non plus une "parade de tambours et trompettes" comme chez maints baroqueux. Car ce que je n'ai pas assez souligné dans l'article sur les Symphonies n° 3 et 8, c'est qu'il y a là un vrai son, incomparablement plus beau et étudié que celui d'orchestres comme celui dirigé par Thomas Dausgaard dans son intégrale Simax ou de Mackerras dans sa nouvelle intégrale Hyperion.
Du point de vue strictement orchestral, la Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen est, dans son genre et son style, un "leader" comme l'était le Philharmonique de Berlin de Karajan pour les grands orchestres dans les années 1975 à 1985. Cela s'entend dès la première note de la 4e Symphonie.
Le principe, qui vaut pour les Symphonies n° 4 et 7 est d'allier la force motrice de tempos quasi vertigineux, à la fois avec la puissance et la transparence. La partition est éclairée de l'intérieur dans la mesure où la taille de la formation permet de jouer comme un ensemble de musique de chambre, les divers pupitres laissant alternativement émerger les solos, les accents ou les couleurs des un et des autres. Cette complicité et ce plaisir de jouer s'entendent à chaque mesure.
À cette transparence s'allie une vraie inventivité, avec un jeu sur les couleurs (écoutez les deux dernières minutes du 1er mouvement de la 4e ou la dernière minute de cette même symphonie), mais aussi un dosage du vibrato – souvent les notes tenues en ont moins, comme pour faire saillir un "dard musical".
Ce disque relève un défi majeur: être un choc de 69'23 à la mesure choc de l'Héroïque. L'allant et la recherche sur les accents, les couleurs, la polyphonie et les contre-chants n'empêchent jamais le chef et ses musiciens d'accomplir le plus important: faire de la grande musique et nous dévoiler le bouillonnement intérieur du créateur Beethoven!

CD REVIEW: Tüür- "Magma"

By Andrew Clark, Financial Times
Published: Aug 18, 2007

Tüür: Magma
Evelyn Glennie/Paavo Järvi
Virgin Classics
The symphonic music of Estonian composer Erkki- Sven Tüür (b.1959) evokes the hard edge of rock, the textural colours of post- Impressionism and the tonal imagination of Nordic modernism. It's a tempting cocktail, though the music's atmosphere always seems more alluring than its argument. Magma is the title of Tüür's half-hour Fourth Symphony: it's really a many-splendoured percussion concerto for Glennie, who responds with dazzling virtuosity. The CD includes two less interesting choral works and a moody string tribute to Tüür's compatriot Arvo Pärt.

CD REVIEW: Beethoven Symphonies 4 & 7

September 21, 2007

By Attila Csampai, Bayern 4 Klassik
Radio Bayern 4 Klassik

Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 4 in B Flat Major (Op. 60), Symphony No. 7 in A Major (Op. 92)

The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
Conductor: Paavo Järvi

Sony / BMG 88697-09995-2

The times of pretentious Beethoven monumentality seem to be coming to an end. The settings, too, are changing. In this new saeculum, young chamber orchestras from outside of the largest cities have seized the Beethoven initiative. After the fulminant Beethoven interpretations incited in local chamber orchestras by Thomas Dausgaard in Örebro, Sweden or Giovanni Antonini in Basel the Estonian-born American Paavo Järvi impressively reanimated the rebellious spirit of the Vienna composer last autumn in the Eroica and the Symphony No. 8 with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, thus opening a new and even more exciting chapter in current Beethoven reception, following on from the wonderful intermezzo of the historists.

Now, in episode two, Järvi has taken up the two symphonies "governed by rhythm" - No. 4 and No. 7 - and once again worked up his collective of Bremen musicians into a playing frenzy which could almost wake the dead. This is the crispest, most essential and intelligent Beethoven I have ever heard - and possibly the liveliest reanimation of a musical spitfire whose utopian energies can never be extinguished. It is not only the pulsating, constantly driving tempi, not only the acetous richness of timbre in the clearly contoured voices, and not only the dynamic explosiveness of such a highly-motivated group of professionals - it is the quite unique aura and the magnetic power of a precisely conducted collective of musicians possessed which sets apart these forty Bremen city musicians from most cumbersome large ensembles, and which also finally allows us to perceive the unreleased potential of this volcanic music. After this lesson, we can consign large portions of the established Beethoven discography, for want of interest, to mothballs.

CD REVIEW: Beethoven Symphonies 4 & 7

Second installment of the Beethoven Symphonies from Paavo and DKAM's explosive collaboration!

The SACD of the Month
"Stereoplay" October 2007

Beethoven, Symphonies No. 4 and No. 7
Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Paavo Järvi
SonyBMG Hybrid-SACD
88697-09995-2 (69:23)

Paavo Järvi's Beethoven Revolution

Paavo Järvi, an Estonian-born American, has developed into a veritable magician at the lectern. After having taken the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra back to the top in recent years (with a series of excellent recordings on Telarc), as of 2004 he also oversees the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie in Bremen. Here too, he has produced an enormous artistic revival at the first attempt.

The levels of performance which this charismatic total musician is able to incite, even in more reserved Bremen natives, could already be experienced 'first hand' by listening to the first disc of a new Beethoven cycle: the Eroica and the ever-underestimated Symphony No. 8 had never been heard with such fervour and drive ('Audiophile of the Month' from stereoplay 11/06).

Now Järvi has taken up the two playfully-constructed symphonies No. 4 and No. 7, and once again worked up his collective of Bremen musicians into a veritable 'playing frenzy', which could electrify even the most hard-nosed reviewer. I have never, since the recordings of Arturo Toscanini, heard such an 'authentic', rebellious, unrestrainedly-sensual and flawlessly-performed Beethoven.

It is not only the pulsating, constantly driving tempi, not only the acetous richness of timbre learned from the historians, or the wonderfully dramatic dialogue of free, clearly-constructed 'voices', not only the dynamic explosiveness of a frictionless, hyper-alert collective - it is the quite unique aura and the magnetic power of being collectively possessed which sets apart these forty Bremen city musicians from most large ensembles, and which also finally reveals the relentless obsession and burning modernity of such a volcanic genius - and this is achieved with such urgency and clarity that large portions of the established Beethoven discography can subsequently, for want of interest, be returned to the shelves. Finally, the days of cosy bourgeois Beethoven are entirely behind us.

Attila Csampai