Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tour schedule for Frankfurt Radio Symphony with Paavo

May 23, 2008

Frankfurt Radio and Paavo on tour in Japan.

Frankfurt Radio SO China and Japan Tour Schedule:

May 23

Beijing, National Grand Theatre
Brahms: Symphony No.2

Brahms: Symphony No.4

May 26

Suzhou, Grand Theatre
Mahler: Symphony No.9

May 27

Shanghai, Concert Hall
Wagner: Lohengrin, Prélude to act 3

Brahms: Symphony No.3

Brahms: Symphony No.4

May 30

Osaka, Festival Hall
Beethoven: Piano Conc. No.5 (Grimaud)

Brahms: Symphony No.2

June 2

Tokyo, Bunka Kaikan (closed concert)
Brahms: Symphony No.3

Brahms: Symphony No.1

June 3

Tokyo, Suntory Hall
Beethoven: Piano Conc. No.5 (Grimaud)

Bruckner: Symphony No.7

June 4

Tokyo, Suntory Hall
Strauss: Vier letzte Lieder (Maki Mori)

Mahler: Symphony No.9

June 5

Nagoya, Aichi-Ken Geijutsu Gekijo Hall
Strauss: Vier letzte Lieder (Maki Mori)

Mahler: Symphony No.9

June 7

Yokohama, Minato Mirai Hall
Brahms: Symphony No.4

Brahms: Symphony No.2

June 8

Yokohama, Minato Mirai Hall
Brahms: Symphony No.3

Brahms: Symphony No.1

Follow Paavo and Frankfurt Radio on tour!

May 22, 2008

Here is a link to the Tour Blog for Frankfurt Radio orchestra

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Paavo and Frankfurt Radio tour China and Japan!

May 20, 2008

Beijing, Shanghai, Osaka, Tokio… 24. Mai – 8. Juni 2008
hr-Sinfonieorchester auf Tournee in China und Japan Am 21. Mai bricht das hr-Sinfonieorchester mit seinem Chefdirigenten Paavo Järvi zu einer Konzertreise nach China und Japan auf. Das erste Konzert am 23. Mai im National Grand Theatre in Peking ist der deutsche Beitrag zum offiziellen Olympia-Kulturprogramm. Zwei weitere Konzerte in China und sieben in Japan schließen sich an.

Die Reise nach China wird offiziell vom Auswärtigen Amt der Bundesregierung Deutschland unterstützt. „Das hr-Sinfonieorchester fährt als Botschafter Deutschlands in den Fernen Osten“, betont der Intendant des Hessischen Rundfunks, Dr. Helmut Reitze, und bekräftigt das Anliegen der Tournee: „Musik verbindet, Kulturaustausch fördert Offenheit, Verständnis und Annäherung“.
hr-Reporterin Natascha Pflaumbaum begleitet die Musiker auf ihrer Reise in den Fernen Osten und berichtet täglich in ihren Blog, was den Musikern auf ihrer Tour so alles begegnen kann.
zum Blog von Natascha Pflaumbaum Große Sinfonik bestimmt das Programm in beiden Gastländern: Die Brahms-Sinfonien 1 bis 4, Gustav Mahlers 9. Sinfonie und Anton Bruckners 7. Sinfonie stehen auf dem Programm. Die Pianistin Hélène Grimaud wird in Japan Ludwig van Beethovens 5. Klavierkonzert spielen. In Yokohama (Japan) wird Paavo Järvi und die Musiker des hr-Sinfonieorchesters mit Schülern und Studenten ein Bildungsprojekt mit Brahms-Schwerpunkt durchführen.

Konzerte in China
hr-Sinfonieorchester / Paavo Järvi, Dirigent 23. Mai: Peking (National Grand Theatre) : Brahms: 2. Sinfonie / 4. Sinfonie 26. Mai: Suzhou (Grand Theatre): Mahler: 9. Sinfonie 27. Mai: Shanghai (Shanghai Concert Hall): Brahms: 3. Sinfonie / 4. Sinfonie

Konzerte in Japan
hr-Sinfonieorchester / Paavo Järvi, Dirigent Hélène Grimaud, Klavier / Maki Mori, Sopran 30. Mai: Osaka: Beethoven: 5. Klavierkonzert / Brahms: 2. Sinfonie 2. Juni: Tokio (Bunka Kaikan, geschlossenes Konzert): Brahms: 1. Sinfonie / Brahms: 3. Sinfonie 3. Juni: Tokio (Suntory Hall): Beethoven: 5. Klavierkonzert / Bruckner: 7. Sinfonie - Dieses Konzert wird von NHK für Radio und Fernsehen mitgeschnitten. 4. Juni: Tokio (Suntory Hall): Strauss: Vier letzte Lieder / Mahler: 9. Sinfonie 5. Juni: Nagoya (Aichi-Ken Geijutsu Gekijo Hall): Strauss: Vier letzte Lieder / Mahler: 9. Sinfonie 6. Juni: Yokohama – Jugendprojekt (Minato Mirai Hall) mit Paavo Järvi 7. Juni: Yokohama (Minato Mirai Hall): Brahms: 4. Sinfonie / 2. Sinfonie 8. Juni: Yokohama (Minato Mirai Hall): Brahms: 3. Sinfonie / 1. Sinfonie

Monday, May 19, 2008

CD REVIEW: Prokofiev Symphony No 5, Lt. Kije Suite

May, 2008

Sergei Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5 and Lieutenant Kijé Suite The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Järvi, Cond. (Telarc, SACD-60683), 2008.
A Fresh Look and Review
By Max Dudious
I wish I could tell you this review was of a really mistaken reading, one where the conductor sets out with a faulty major premise, and sticks with it until he's driven a stake through the heart of a perfectly wonderful piece of music. That would be a clever conceit. But I can't. This is another great performance of a major 20th century work, Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony, and another homerun by Conductor Paavo Järvi and his forces. Not a solo homer, but a homer with a man on; in this case, Lieutenant Kijé. [And speaking of baseball, this morning's newspaper reported the Orioles were still in first place. Some guys will stoop to anything.] Both readings of these pieces are quite of the "scorched earth" strategy, following Sherman's "March To The Sea" where he burned everything in a sixty mile swath as he marched the Union army from Atlanta to the Atlantic, bringing the Confederacy to its knees. If this Telarc recording, with their usual excellent recording engineering (that really allows us to hear all the notes, all the time), mated deliciously with the interpretive excellence of Maestro Järvi, and the tight ensemble playing of the Cincinnati Orchestra, leaves anything for future recordings to discover, I can't imagine what that might be.
This symphony, it is said, was delivered after a longer period of gestation than usual for a Prokofiev symphony. Prokofiev, arguably among the most facile of composers since Mozart, attended with a stopwatch the daily screenings of the rushes to Eisenstein's epic film, Alexander Nevsky (1938). There he broke down the action so he could write music to fit the changing images. Imagine! Film scores, by the clock, to the second. He must have enjoyed this style of composing, as he wrote the scores for six films. It is hard for (procrastinator) me to imagine someone with that much facility, that much self-assurance. For sure, he was no time waster. The body of his work was prolific, including many individual works considered masterpieces.
In an unattributed paragraph about Prokofiev in The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music (1980 edition) is written: "Though regarded as impossibly dissonant and avant-garde in his youth, Prokofiev can now be seen as in the direct line of Russian Composers, embodying the bold and colourful strokes of 19th-cent. nationalists into a 20th-cent. style strongly marked by its brittle wit and capacity for pungent dramatic characterization. Like Walton and Poulenc, he was fundamentally a romantic melodist and his style is formed like theirs from a reconciliation of the 2 strains in his personality, the tough astringent modernist and the lyrical traditionalist. He was successful in a wide range of works: War and Peace is a great opera on the largest scale; the symphonies and concerti are fine music, at least 3 of his ballets are masterpieces, the piano sonatas are crucial to the 20th-cent. piano repertory; and in Peter and the Wolf he created the most enduring, touching, and instructive of young persons' guides to the orchestra."
His score for Nevsky (including the 14 minute "Battle On The Ice," which still stands on its own as a miniature masterpiece) was a triumph of the genre, and is still played and recorded as a concert suite. I was lucky enough to see the film a few years ago, accompanied by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra conducted by Maestro Yuri Temirkanov, and it was an event I never shall forget. For his fifth symphony Prokofiev collected many notebooks filled with sketches—for fourteen years!
When he finally decided to write these sketches into symphonic form, it took him only the month of May 1944. (I started this little review last Thanksgiving.) Of his Symphony No. 5, he said it was "the culmination of a larger period of my creative life." In other words, he (not unlike Dvorak) was in his 50s, with a track record of composing many, many successful pieces of music (operas, ballets, film scores, piano music, chamber music, as well as symphonies) for over three decades, before he produced such a late masterpiece, considered by many critics his "richest and most heroic symphony." (Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music)
My personal familiarity with this symphony goes back to my college days, in the early years of stereo, when I became entranced by Eugene Ormandy's conducting The Philadelphia Orchestra, an orchestra that frequently visited Baltimore, only 90 miles away. I was then (late '50s and early '60s) an adoring fan of Ormandy and his orchestra. I think they played Prokofiev's 5th Symphony on one of their visits to town, and I was so enraptured I ran out and got the LP. Today, it has become a cliché to say of Ormandy, "Never a bad recording: Never a great one." As a conductor, Ormandy was much more "risk-averse" than Bernstein or Szell (companions in arms under the Columbia & Epic labels), and his interpretations have fallen away as too "tepid." My BBC recording, with Gianandrea Noseda conducting the BBC Philharmonic (2003) is more gripping than Ormandy's, but not as exciting as Paavo Järvi's. Noseda, who is considered an up and coming conductor, is good; some say, very good. I'd say that makes Järvi a notch above very good, perhaps excellent. How does that manifest itself? Based on their comparative readings of this symphony?
I'd say there is a very finely grained intelligence guiding Järvi's hand. Using his bag of conductor's tricks to its fullest extent, his well-honed baton can cut through to the essentials, or it can bring forth some effects that can enhance the actual notes on the page. For one example, in the second movement (at about the 2:40, 3:30, and the 3:40 minute marks, and following the 7:00 minute mark to the end) there are certain ascending and descending arpeggios played by the violins. Maestro Järvi takes it upon himself to nearly transform these arpeggios to glissandi. That is not to say the violins actually slide their fingers up and down the fingerboard (they do at 3:30 and 3:40). But they take the passages at great speed, and when they are not performing true glissandi, they inflect the arpeggios as if they were glissandi. This is a nice effect, and I had to go back and listen to that movement a few times to separate when the violins were and weren't, in fact, using the glissando. This brings forth an earthy peasant, perhaps gypsy quality to the passage, suggesting the Red Army was made up of farm boys, which, in large measure, it was.
In any event, it is another of the many "touches" that Järvi elicits from his musicians the likes of which I've not noticed in other readings. You have to have a great (SACD) recording, a superior rig, and the inclination to listen with all your might. If you can put all that together, you can catch what makes this reading sensational. There are similar touches all through each movement. At the 10:00 mark, and following, of the third movement there are similar rising figures, performed in a similar way.
At the end of the first movement Prokofiev has a dissonant chord resolve into a major chord. In the Romeo and Juliet Ballet Suites (1936), Prokofiev builds a similar dissonant "Monster Chord" at the beginning of the second suite (soon after the deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt), pauses a moment and then repeats it with even more ghastly touches, as if to suggest the horror that is to come to the young lovers and their families. In his Symphony No. 5, Prokofiev was pretty much accommodating the state by resolving the dissonant chord (the bloody battle) with the sunny and optimistic (major chord) sound of the eventual Russian triumph over the Germans, which was still playing out (as the Russians crossed The Vistula) the same day as the symphony was enjoying its debut. Järvi certainly understands this and handles it well, with just a bit—though not too much—irony. Little sparks like these punctuate his reading throughout.
Some of you might remember that I gave Järvi's reading of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet my writer's award for "Recording of the Year" when it came out. I wrote an overly long review trying to justify my high opinion of that recording. If you'd know more, check the archives at It is enough to say that all the sympathies Järvi has for Prokofiev (as displayed in his reading of Romeo and Juliet) are on display in this SACD, both in the Symphony No. 5 and in his tone poem, the Lieutenant Kijé Suite. As you might expect, I recommend this SACD wholeheartedly, though I've tried to be brief about it this time.
This recording by the Cincinnati Orchestra conducted by Maestro Järvi marks the latest in a string of exciting and thoughtful releases by this Orchestra. I don't know how many great recordings an orchestra has to make before we concede that it no longer has to be called "up-and-coming." This one does it for me. The Cincinnati Orchestra has arrived: So sayeth Max Dudious.
If you're in the market for a great Telarc recording to find out how they've been pushing the envelope in the art and science of recording technology for decades; or if you want to hear what gets me to gushing about how a great recording can spin us off into another time and place; or if you're a Prokofiev fan and you want to hear the latest SACD that confirms your judgment; or if you're unfamiliar with Prokofiev and want to hear why he is considered one of the major musical figures of the 20th century; or if you want to hear the great Cincinnati Symphony flexing its muscles, I suggest you phone up your favorite vendor and order this one.
Right Now! Do it!
And tell 'em Max Dudious sent ya'.
Meanwhile congratulations to everyone associated with this recording. It was a pleasure to listen to from the opening bars. To the Maestro, to the Orchestra's players, to everyone in the Cincinnati organization, to the Telarc gang (including Sweet Amanda) who have done it once again: THANK YOU.
What else can I say?
That's it from here, adrift in cyber-space, where we shrink from faint praise.
Ciao, Bambini.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

CONCERT REVIEW: Gautier Capuçon and Paavo in Frankfurt

May 13, 2008
F.A.Z. Rhein-Main-Zeitung S. 59

Weg zum perfekten Orchesterklang Paavo Järvi dirigiert Gustav Mahlers "Todtenfeier" Der Blick in die Werkstatt eines Tonsetzers kann peinlich anrührend, aber auchsehr erhellend sein. Auf diese Weise nämlich werden Details offenkundig, die auch Veränderungen der Denkweise im Lauf der Jahre dokumentieren. Im Fall der Sinfonie Nr. 4 d-Moll op. 120 von Schumann kommt die formal leichtgeglättete, zehn Jahre später konzipierte Zweitfassung in einem derart veränderten Klanggewand daher, dass es gute Gründe gibt, die weit frischere Urversionvorzuziehen. Bruckner selbst hat bei den Bearbeitungen seiner Sinfonien sotiefgreifend die kompositorische Substanz verändert, dass die einzelnen Fassungenziemlich autonom nebeneinander existieren. Im Fall Mendelssohns, dessen überarbeitete Sinfonie Nr. 4 A Dur op. 90 eher Geschmackssache sein dürfte, wird zumindest klar, dass es immer auch mehrere Wege zum Ziel gibt. Brahms hingegen, der aus wenig spektakulär anmutenden Themen große Kunstgebilde schuf, wollte solche Einblicke nicht gewähren. Dass er in Wiesbaden an seiner Sinfonie Nr. 3 F-Dur op. 90 arbeitete, hat er selbst Freunden in Rüdesheim, wo noch heute ein für Spaziergänger interessanter Brahms-Weg an die hohen Besuche erinnert, verschwiegen. Mahler hingegen war gewohnt, schon veröffentliche Werke auf Klangver besserungen und strukturelle Optimierung hin zu überprüfen. Jede seiner Sinfonien war für ihn auch ein "work in progress". Beim "Freitagskonzert" des hr-Sinfonieorchesters ließ sich ein spannender Kompositions prozess dieser Artnachvollziehen. Denn die 1888 komponierte, später auch separat veröffentliche"Todtenfeier" ist die Urform des erst sechs Jahre später in Angriff genommenen Kopfsatzes seiner "Auferstehungs-Sinfonie". Wie Chefdirigent Paavo Järvi in seiner ungemein klaren, klangscharfen, nie auf bloßes Pathos vertrauenden Wiedergabe zeigte, ist auch die Urform dieser Musik schon ein profiliert ausgreifendes Werk, vordem einst selbst ein Mahler-Freund wie Hans von Bülow mit den Worten zurückzuckte, im Vergleich zu diesem Stück wirke Wagners "Tristan" wie eine Haydn-Sinfonie. Heute allerdings hat sich die Musikwelt an ganz andere Offenbarungen gewöhnen müssen. "Todtenfeier" ist in dieser Version einesinfonische Dichtung, deren Länge das spätere Sinfonie-Pendant noch übersteigt. Wer Mahlers zweite Sinfonie im Ohr hatte, konnte anhand "unbekannter" Partien leicht bemerken, dass er seinen Satz später um einige Melodiepassagenund ausgeklügelte harmonische Wendungen gestrafft, seine Musik jedochdynamisch noch wesentlich geschärft hat. Dank Järvis Einsatz für diese Frühformwar ein interessanter Vergleich möglich, doch dürfte die Spätversion,die in Mahlers Sinfonie Nr. 2 c-Moll eingeflossen ist, das letztendlich wirkungsvollere Klangstück sein. Brahms' Sinfonie Nr. 3 F-Dur op. 90 wirkt dagegen recht konzis, weil der Komponist eine melancholisch und expressiv aufgeladene Grundstimmung in eine ziemlich knappe Form gedrängthat. Die Musik wirkt immer ein wenig explosions gefährdet, erst am Ende sinktsie ermattet zurück: Wie am Schluss der großen Klaviersonate h-Moll von Lisztscheint das Material erschöpft. Paavo Järvi vermochte dies zu verdeutlichen, indem er sich nicht auf den Gefühlsüberdruck der Musik beschränkte, sonderndurch seine souveräne Interpretation ein Werk nachzeichnete, bei dessenkunstvoller Verarbeitung keine Note zu viel komponiert scheint, sämtliche Ausdrucksmittel und Klangeinstellungen organisch auseinander hervorgehen. Zum Schwelgen und Genießen taugte diese Sicht nicht unbedingt - dafür standim Zentrum des Abends jedoch Gautier Capuçons himmlische Wiedergabe des Konzerts für Violoncello und Orchester h-Moll op. 104 von Antonín Dvorák. Der Franzose ist dafür der optimale Künstler: große Geste, großer, warmer, runder Ton, absolute Intonations reinheit. Der Beifall war gewaltig, eineamüsante Zugabe war der "Marsch der kleinen Soldaten" von Prokofieff.

HARALD BUDWEG © 2008 PMG Presse-Monitor GmbH

Sunday, May 11, 2008

CONCERT REVIEW: Frankfurt Radio, Paavo Järvi and Gautier Capuçon

Die Ökonomie der Ideen
Paavo Järvis hr-Sinfonieorchester und die zentraleuropäische Romantik
Von Hans-Jürgen Linke
Gustav Mahler fand, Johannes Brahms arbeite zwar mit dem bisschen, was ihm einfalle, recht gut, nur leider so wenig dramatisch. Brahms seinerseits bewunderte Antonin Dvorák für dessen Ideenfülle. So dass eine Konfrontation der drei Herren anhand dreier in vergleichsweise kurzem zeitlichem Abstand entstandener Kompositionen eine interessante Momentaufnahme der zentraleuropäischen Romantik versprach: Mahlers 1888 entstandener sinfonischer Satz "Totenfeier", Dvoráks in New York 1894 komponiertes Cellokonzert und Brahms' 1883 fertiggestellte 3. Sinfonie F-Dur bildeten das Programm im vorletzten hr-Sinfoniekonzert der Saison in der Alten Oper.Natürlich muss man Brahms gegen Mahler in Schutz nehmen. Die dritte Sinfonie, wie Paavo Järvi sie mit dem hr-Sinfonieorchester interpretiert, ist ein dramatisch perfekt gebautes Werk, das in präzise kalkulierten Bewegungen, mit nie ausufernden, nie sich überspitzenden Steigerungsmomenten, mit zeichnerisch exakten Konturen und klaren Setzungen daher kommt, so dass man die große Ordnung in all der aufwühlenden Durchführungsarbeit bewundern muss. Die Ökonomie der Ideen erscheint in Järvis Sicht als Gleichgewicht aus dramatischem Gehalt und strukturellem Kalkül - eine äußerst widersprüchliche, unruhige, aber formvollendete Angelegenheit also, ohne farbenfrohe Übertünchungen präsentiert.
Viel Freude hatte das Publikum mit Dvoráks effektvoll schwelgerischem Cellokonzert, das von der Neuen Welt erzählt und von dem jungen französischen Cellisten Gautier Capuçon eindrucksvoll vorgetragen wurde. Capuçon hat einen großen, warmen und angespannten Ton und spart nicht mit Pathos und mit Sahne. Aber er greift nur manchmal ein bisschen zu sehr ins Volle, er ist durchaus in der Lage, seinen Überschwang zu dosieren, sich im wohlverstandenen Dienste des Werkes zurückzuhalten, seinem Ton die Vehemenz zu nehmen und sich in den umgebenden Klangkörper hinein zu lehnen. Übrigens hat man als Zuschauer manchmal den Eindruck, dass er gerade das auch genießt: im Kreise eines Orchesters zu sitzen, das mit diesem Qualitätsbewusstsein eine klangliche Umgebung liefert, in der er sich sicher genug fühlt, um übers Ziel hinaus zu schießen, in dem er aber auch verschwinden und dem er mit so viel Gewinn bei der Arbeit zuhören kann. Sehr entspannt und virtuos verspielt klang Capuçons Zugabe, Prokofiews "Marsch der Kindersoldaten".Gustav Mahlers "Totenfeier", deren revidierte Fassung der erste Satz seiner zweiten Sinfonie wurde, ist keine Totenklage, sondern ein Ritual. Ein vielfältiges episches Gewimmel zieht vorüber, die Ordnungsanstrengung und die dramatische Zuspitzungsarbeit fußt auf einem elliptischen Element, nämlich dem Zurückkommen auf eine düstere rhythmische Figur der dunklen Streicher. Wer einen pastosen Hollywood-Mahler bevorzugt, ist bei Paavo Järvi und seinem hr-Orchester nicht ganz an der richtigen Adresse. Wer aber hören will, wie diese Musik funktioniert, den erwartet hier eine schlüssige Arbeit.

hr 2-kultur am 20. Mai, 20.05 Uhr

CONCERT REVIEW: Fankfurt Radio: Paavo Jarvi, Gautier Capuçon

May 10, 2008[id]=4801065

Die Musikspinnt Silberfäden Das HR-Sinfonieorchester und der Cellist Gautier Capuçon konnten in der Alten Oper Frankfurt restlos überzeugen.
Der Brahms-Zyklus des HR-Sinfonieorchesters neigt sich dem Ende zu. Die vorletzte Ausgabe der Konzerte für diese Spielzeit konfrontierte das Publikum in der Alten Oper mit der 3. Sinfonie. Wobei es „Konfrontation" kaum trifft. Es war eher eine absolute Vereinnahmung der Zuhörer, die dem bestens aufgelegten Klangkörper unter seinem Chef Paavo Järvi gelungen ist.
Gleich um die Ecke, in Wiesbaden, hat Brahms das Werk im Sommer 1883 vollendet, und dem HR-Sinfonieorchester ist es gelungen, es in all seinen unterschiedlichen Schattierungen 125 Jahre später anregend zu beleben.
Schon zuvor war aufgefallen, wie besonders aufmerksam das Orchester an diesem Abend musizierte. Man ist ja einen gewissen Standard von den Radiosinfonikern gewohnt, doch diesmal schienen die Musiker von einer besonderen Begeisterung getrieben. Dass Gustav Mahlers Totenfeier zur eindrucksvollen Demonstration von Kraft und Emotion werden würde, konnte erwartet werden. Doch die Sensibilität, mit der hier zu Werke gegangen wurde, war atemberaubend. Viele kleine Momente ließen immer wieder aufhorchen. Da blies sich der Klang buchstäblich auf, um einer einsamen Melodie Platz zu schaffen, die zunächst von hellem Holz, später einem schwülen Geigentutti übernommen wurde. Der empfundene Puls wechselte ständig, mitunter schien er ganz zu erlöschen oder im Gegenteil zu explodieren.
Im Cellokonzert von Dvorák fand das Orchester genau den richtigen Ton zwischen Zurückhaltung sowie Stütze und Forderung des Solisten. Gautier Capuçon kostete diese besonders organische Form des Musizierens hörbar aus, zog Motive wie an einem silbernen Faden herbei, ließ zarte Eleganz aufblitzen und faszinierte mit pfiffigen Läufen. Dabei trübte keine Unsauberkeit die Klarheit seines Tons. (hon)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Kammerphilharmonie TV concert may 12 @ 3.30pm

May 12, 2008
Paavo and Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen TV concert broadcast!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

CONCERT REVIEW: "Rite of Spring"" Revelatory Finale for Cincinnati Symphony Season

Paavo Järvi reacting to audience at Music Hall
May 3, 2008

By Mary Ellyn Hutton

“The Rite of Spring” as chamber music?
It wouldn’t be that much of a stretch to
call the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's performance of Stravinsky’s revolutionary work chamber music Friday night at Music Hall. Led by music director Paavo Järvi, it was chamber music -- in quality, at least -- for each strand of its complex, shifting textures was clearly focused and one heard voices that often get "smudged" into the mix. Whether hearing a half-dozen instruments or over 100, one got the feeling of “seeing” into the work.
Järvi set it in high relief. He made it huge, as in the fortissimo maelstrom at the end, where the "Chosen One" (the usual lucky virgin) is sacrificed to appease the gods of spring (fertility). And where called for, he made it very small -- as in the impossibly soft passage for muted horns at the end of the introduction to part II ("The Sacrifice").
Evocative highlights were keenly observed, like the antique cymbals in "Augurs of Spring" ("Dances of the Young Girls") in part I and the soft tambourine in "Ritual Action of the Ancestors" in part II. Colors throughout the half-hour work were vividly drawn. The divided violas were lustrous in " Mystic Circle of the Young Girls" (part II). By contrast, the strings were rough and brutal on the repeated hammer blows that begin "Augurs of Spring."
Solo work was superb. CSO principal bassoonist William Winstead gave a shapely, sinuous sound to the bassoon's famously high opening incantation, and his virtuosity was followed throughout the ranks of the orchestra. Järvi, who drew applause during his screened "First Notes” preceding the concert for saying he is not feeling "a seven-year itch" in Cincinnati -- gave it a sense of unfolding drama. The earth came alive in part I, with woodwinds conjuring earthworms pushing through the soul and vines beginning to sprout. Obsessive horn calls and snatches of melody (some based on actual Slavic folk songs) led to an excruciating climax, then a kind of run for the safe house in the concluding "Dance of the Earth."
Part II began slowly and softly, like ink spreading in the water, topped by a spooky high violin motif. The music took on iridescent colors as it moved relentlessly toward the sacrificial dance. Slinky sounds on English horn and alto flute (later bass trumpet and alto flute) gave way to a dance of doom with cold, sharp slashes of trumpet amid constant changes of meter. Needless to say, timpanists Patrick Schleker and Richard Jensen had plenty to do, as did David Fishlock on bass drum.
(Speaking of "lustrous" violas, three members of the CSO viola section were recognized at the concert. Mark Cleghorn, Joe Somogyi and Ray Stilwell retire this season, a full 25 percent of the section! Also retiring is CSO president Steven Monder, who has served the orchestra for 37 years. Bravos to all.)
Järvi and the CSO have recorded "Rite of Spring" for Telarc and copies were available for sale at intermission, as was "The Igor," a delicious Baba Budan concoction of coffee, kahlua (or amaretto) and whipped cream.
Soloist for the concert was German pianist Lars Vogt, a superb classicist who gave both finesse and power to Mozart's Piano Concerto in D Minor, K.466. He cut through the Concerto's dark, foreboding opening like a ray of sunshine, manifesting both clarity and precision. The Romanza contrasted serene, childlike simplicity with passion -- nothing, however, out of proportion -- while the finale fairly sparkled. (Hear Vogt in works by Brahms and Schubert at 4 p.m. Sunday on the Linton Chamber Music series at First Unitarian Church in Avondale.)
Ending the 2007-08 season right, Järvi and the CSO performed the world premiere of Cincinnati composer Robert Johnson's "prairyerth." As Johnson explained in pre-concert remarks, he was inspired to write the eight-minute piece by William Least Heat Moon's 1991 book of the same name. Moon's book is an affectionate visit to the Flint Hills region of Kansas, the largest remaining area of tall grass prairie in the U.S. (“prairyerth” is an antique geological term for the soils in that area). Johnson, retired director of the Gorno Music Library at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, is a native of Kansas, and there is affection is his work, too. It is not meant to be descriptive, he said, but to evoke feelings one might experience in that special environment.
It opened with a broad, sweeping melody in the cellos, kind of like an unbroken view to a far distant horizon. This was taken up by winds and harp, giving it a shimmering, "amber waves of grain" aspect. The prairie tall grasses in Kansas reach eight to nine feet tall, however, and there is darkness there as well. Johnson explores this aspect, too, and has shaped "prairyerth" with a hint of drama (again non-specific, though he referred to the hard life on the prairie in his pre-concert comments). There is a dark, chorale like theme for low winds, for instance, and considerable thematic development.
Copland, Roy Harris and the New England Classicists come to mind in "classifying" the work, which left one with the feeling that a serious statement had been made, perhaps to the effect that such places as Kansas' tallgrass prairie are rapidly disappearing in today's world.
Repeat is 8 p.m. tonight (May 3) at Music Hall. Hear Johnson in conversation with CSO assistant conductor Eric Dudley at 7 p.m. Tickets at (513) 381-3300 .

CONCERT REVIEW: A season finale worth waiting for

May 2, 2008
The Cincinanti Enquirer
By Janelle Gelfand

It was an explosive finale to the symphony season. The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” Friday night was more brutal, powerful and convincing than any in recent memory – including the orchestra’s recording of it a few years ago.
The musicians, who spent most of last month on the road, have never sounded so precise and yet also fearless. Stravinsky’s ballet, which caused a riot in 1913 Paris, still has the power to grip the listener today. On Friday, Paavo Järvi found its power in its primitive, explosive rhythms, which he propelled relentlessly, delivering a performance that was raw and larger-than-life.
“The Rite of Spring” concluded a program that opened with the world premiere of Robert Johnson’s “prairyerth,” a beautifully atmospheric piece evoking the Kansas prairie, and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466, with pianist Lars Vogt.

“The Rite” depicts the ancient pagan rite of a virgin sacrifice through mystical dances and barbaric rhythms. It is a showpiece for orchestra, and the expanded forces included brass arrayed across the back and two sets of timpani.
Järvi led the orchestra as if it were a life force, with often fast, driving tempos. The sinewy opening bassoon solo (William Winstead) unfolded into vividly chirping winds. Horns lifted their bells, timpani crashed, strings dug in, and staccato chords were given ringing cut-offs. It was as if the earth were opening up.
The musicians performed in bold, dramatic flourishes, and the winds especially shone in their mystical solos. At the other end of the spectrum, Johnson’s “prairyerth,” composed in 2006, was a rewarding opener. The title refers to the grassy prairies of the Great Plains. The piece unfolded like a miniature tone poem, well-crafted, with a stunning solo for trumpet before its luminous conclusion. It illustrated Johnson’s gift for melody as well as atmosphere, and its windswept flavor and majestic color sometimes recalled Sibelius. The audience approved, too. The Cincinnati composer, who was director of the library at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music for 32 years, took a bow. For the centerpiece, Vogt gave a robust reading of Mozart’s D Minor Piano Concerto. The 37-year-old German pianist is one of a new generation of gifted young musicians, with immense ability and individuality. This was a reading that looked ahead to Beethoven – and perhaps beyond, given that the pianist wrote his own cadenzas. The D Minor Concerto has its share of brooding atmosphere, and Vogt cultivated a dark, dramatic sound, especially in the first movement, that was heavy and a bit austere for my taste. Yet there was much to admire in his thoughtful phrasing, control and the depths of sonority that he found in this music. His inventive first movement cadenza was something in the style of Beethoven, but with unexpected harmonic shifts. Vogt’s touch could be limpid and quite lovely, as it was in the slow movement, and the finale was a joy. Jarvi and the orchestra matched the pianist’s intensity and dark color. At intermission, the orchestra honored three musicians – all members of the viola section – who are retiring at the end of this season: Mark Cleghorn, a member of the orchestra since 1963; Joseph Somogyi, who joined in 1970; and Raymond Stilwell, a member since 1971. The audience gave them a standing ovation.Retiring president Steven Monder was also honored for serving 37 years with the orchestra, 35 as the top executive.
The concert repeats at 8 p.m. Saturday in Music Hall.
Tickets: 513-381-3300,

Welcome back, CSO

April 30, 2008
Here is a photo of Paavo on Cincinnati's Fountain Square acknowledging Mayor Mark Mallory's proclamation welcoming the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra back from its tour of Europe.
By Mary Ellyn Hutton