Sunday, September 28, 2008

Discs re-create Music Hall magic

September 28, 2008
By Janelle Gelfand
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Cincinnati Symphony and Pops orchestras have come out with two new albums, and they are both worth adding to your CD collection or iPod playlist.
Erich Kunzel's 86th album for Telarc of Ravel's "Boléro" is the Cincinnati Pops' first recording of Ravel's most famous orchestral piece. The disc, loosely wrapped around music of exotic cultures, also includes music from the Broadway show "Kismet" by Borodin, two suites from Bizet's tuneful opera "Carmen," and "Fete-dieu a Seville" from Albeniz's "Iberia."
Lovers of beautiful melody will gravitate to this collection, and Telarc succeeds in capturing the sonic splendor of the orchestra in Music Hall.
The orchestra, as the Cincinnati Symphony, has recorded "Boléro" two other times, in 2004 with Paavo Järvi and in 1998 with Jesus Lopez-Cobos. Kunzel's version, taken at a brisk clip, is not as sensuous as Järvi's nor as elegant as that of Lopez-Cobos. Ravel's sinuous theme flows along with note-perfect playing but little of the steamy quality that makes this a showstopper.
Still, there is something arresting about Kunzel's interpretation of this inspiring music, and ultimately, it works for its sheer intensity. William Platt's snare drum underscores it all masterfully.
Alexander Borodin ironically won a Tony for best musical score in a musical - 66 years after his death. Kunzel and the orchestra perform some of the most gorgeous melodies ever written with glowing expression. The medley, adapted by Kunzel, includes themes from Borodin's String Quartet No. 2 - ("And this is My Beloved" and "Baubles, Bangles and Beads"), the Polovtsian Dances ("Stranger in Paradise") and others.
In their 14th collaboration for Telarc, a just-released all-Mussorgsky album, Paavo Järvi and the Cincinnati Symphony have captured the electrifying performances they gave last season of Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition."
Järvi has a natural affinity for Russian repertoire, and this "Pictures" is an exhilarating view of the famous stroll through an art gallery. Each "portrait" is strongly characterized, and the Promenades are richly sonorous. "The Old Castle," with its haunting saxophone solo, has an aura of mysticism. "Tuileries" and "The Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks" are engaging for their humor and lightness.
There is the awesome power of "Catacombs," spectacularly played by the Cincinnati brass, and the unforgettable "Hut on Fowl's Legs" - evoking the dreaded "Baba Yaga" of Russian folklore. The closing picture, "The Great Gate of Kiev," with its brass-filled splendor and tolling bells, is the next-best thing to hearing it live in Music Hall.
Järvi leads with an ear for subtlety as well as brilliance. The album includes a hair-raising rendition of Rimsky-Korsakov's tone poem evoking a witches' sabbath, "Night on Bald Mountain" (used in Disney's "Fantasia"), and the Prelude to "Khovanshchina," which paints a magical scene of dawn over the Moscow River.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

All the World's a Stage for Paavo Järvi

September 22, 2008
By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Paavo Järvi is the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s first truly international music director.
He currently holds two posts in addition to the CSO, music director of the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra and artistic director of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. In the fall of 2010, he will add another, becoming music director of the Orchestre de Paris. (Järvi recently extended his CSO contract through the 2010-11 season, with a provision for automatic renewals.)
A native Estonian, Järvi, 45, also serves as artistic advisor of the Estonian National Orchestra, with whom he won his and Estonia’s first Grammy in 2003 (for Sibelius Cantatas with the ENO, Estonian National Male Choir and Ellerhein Girls Choir).
Järvi records with all of these ensembles and has toured internationally with the CSO, DK and Frankfurt Radio Orchestra. He gives to -- and learns from -- all of them with respect to their individual strengths and musical traditions.
With the DK, for example, he is recording a complete cycle of the Beethoven Symphonies, tapping into the Bremen musicians’ German roots and their extraordinary skills as one of the world’s best chamber orchestras. The result is a version that blends lean authentic performance practice with an updated, 21st century “kick.”
In Frankfurt, an orchestra with a Bruckner tradition, he would like to perform and record Bruckner (their Bruckner No. 7, recorded in 2006, was released earlier this year). He and the Frankfurt Orchestra have also recorded Dvorak’s Cello Concerto with the young French cellist Gautier Capucon, (to be released in early 2009).
In Estonia, Järvi is free to perform and record Estonian and Scandinavian music, without the shock of unfamiliarity he is likely to encounter elsewhere (including Cincinnati).
Love of music and music-making allied with the Järvi family’s rigorous work ethic are what drive him. His father Neeme, 71, and brother Kristjan, 36 (both conductors) follow the same kinds of paths. Having emigrated from Estonia in 1980 without expectation of ever returning – Estonia and the Baltic countries were occupied by the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991 – they became citizens of the world and followed the muse wherever it led them. All became U.S. citizens, but continue to maintain residences in Europe.
Kristjan lives in Vienna, where he is music director of the Vienna Tonkünstler Orchestra (he also heads the electro-acoustic chamber ensemble Absolute and is artistic advisor of the Basel Chamber Orchestra). Neeme, who is based in New York City, is music director of the Hague Residentie Orchestra in The Netherlands and, until the end of this season, of the New Jersey Symphony. In addition to his apartment in East Walnut Hills, Paavo has a home in London’s Notting Hill district, where his wife, violinist Tatiana Berman and their daughters Lea (4) and Ingrid (2) also spend time when not in Cincinnati.
All of the Jarvis speak multiple languages.
What -- besides spending many hours in the air jetting from place to place -- does it mean to be an international conductor on such a scale?
It means time, or a chronic lack thereof, for family life.
“I feel that the family is getting a little less than they should,” said Paavo, in the middle of a working vacation in Estonia last summer. “I need to be with the kids more than for vacation once a year (they had some time off together in the Canary Islands in August). I need to be there every two weeks at least.”
Still, Järvi does not believe his situation is that different from many others in today’s world. “I’m not that special, because everyone has gone through that. I mean, you think I’m busy? I know people ten times more busy with much more important issues to solve.”
As for his health, “so far, so good,” he said. (He underwent minor surgery in the summer of 2005 to relieve pain in his left arm.)
Musically speaking, conducting all over the world has given the Järvis a very broad perspective on music and musicians. Comparing his American and German ensembles, Paavo had this to say:
“American orchestras basically play as they are asked to. They can play extremely expressively, but there is a kind of ‘less is more’ thing. It’s something cultural about the society: Do it clearly. Play together. It’s soft enough if it’s piano. It’s loud enough if it’s forte. 'You want to take your time? OK, let me write that down.'
"Individual expression is what I miss in American (and English) orchestras. In German orchestras, they will do it, but they will tend to overdo it. They will be like, ‘Nobody knows this.’ Yeah, but you have to make sure it’s together and that it’s right.”
Järvi has noticed this attitude among the music critics in both countries. When you read critics, for example, in London, you have often: ‘Oh, he had a tendency to drag. Let’s get on with it.’ It’s very often the same in America. It might register as a bit less 'captivating,' so they say: ‘Well, it’s boring. Get on with it.’
"People often speak of the “Russian temperament,” said Järvi (whose mother was born in Russia).

“It’s not even the Russian temperament so much, because if you look at who runs Russian music even now, there are people from Armenia, Georgia, Caucasus. (Yuri) Temirkanov and (Valery) Gergiev (conductors) are both Ossetian. Khachaturian the great Russian composer was from Armenia. It’s a complicated area, because there are also lots of Jews and other ethnic groups mixed in, and over the years it has become that ‘Russian personality.’ Basically, it’s kind of unpredictable.”
A worldwide viewpoint affords a keen appreciation of performance styles and strengths. For instance, there are simply no choirs like those in the Baltics, said Järvi, having most recently worked with the State Choir "Latvija" on Brahms’ “A German Requiem ." He would like for Cincinnati's choruses to be less "top heavy" and have "more low men.”.
When it comes to interpreting composers from the former Soviet Union such as Shostakovich, there are two ways of looking at it, said Järvi. Referring to Shostakovich's Chamber Symphony, Op.110a -- required repertoire for students in a master course he taught in Pärnu, Estonia in July -- "it's almost impossible to really relate to it if you are not vaguely or somehow distantly related to somebody who has gone through this." You have to "get into" the history, or at least read about it, he said. "You have to kind of digest it, and how can you digest it if you don't have any contact with it?"
Many of the songs and hints of songs in the Chamber Symphony are "old Red Army revolutionary songs which he re-worked into eerie kind of hints, and nobody in the West knows it." A Shostakovich scherzo -- while a scherzo and "it comes from there" -- is used as "sort of a camouflage. Inside, there is this incredibly sarcastic and ironic music. It's sick music, actually."
(The Chamber Symphony, composed in 1960, has been called Shostakovich's "musical suicide note.")
On the other hand, "it's just that dimension that I can tell when nobody gets it. The tempi are very good and it's played very well, but it lacks the inner expression. It's more merry. Maybe it's very good for Shostakovich to have also non-Russian expression. It makes it more international. There's nothing wrong with that."
Being from Estonia, which has been little known in the West because of its absorption by foreign powers over the centuries, the Jarvis have tried to bring Estonian music and musicians to the world’s concert stages. Though no one does it better – and who else but Estonian conductors should be their country's advocates? – it has been difficult, he said.

He hopes to bring Lithuanian cellist David Geringas to Cincinnati to perform Estonian composer Lepo Sumera’s Cello Concerto (a powerful work which they recorded with Sweden’s Malmö Symphony). But he expects reluctance.
“’Gering-who? Sumer-what? Yo Yo Ma is better,’ they will say, or 'Alicia Weilerstein is more marketable.’ That’s exactly how it’s going to be, but I want to do it anyway.” (Järvi performed Sumera’s Symphony No. 6 with the CSO in 2002).
“The balance between Estonian and other music is going to get better,” he said. “In general, we ought to commission more American music, but we don’t have enough money. I can only commission pieces if I do it in collaboration with another orchestra, like the Jörg Widmann piece (“Antiphon” performed by Järvi and the CSO in March).
Having opened the CSO season this month with two very successful programs (one all-Russian with Andre Watts in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, the other all-Dvorak with Capucon in the Dvorak Concerto), Järvi goes to Europe for concerts in Frankfurt, Tallinn and Paris in October. He returns to Cincinnati for three concerts with the CSO in November, including Brahms' Requiem with the May Festival Chorus, soprano Heidi Grant Murphy and baritone Matthew Goerne, Stravinsky's "Petruschka" and Holst's "The Planets."

Frankfurt Concert: 26 September 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

CD REVIEW: Mussorgsky Pictures at an exhibition

September 22, 2008

MODESTE MUSSORGSKY Pictures at an Exhibition (orch. Ravel);
Night on Bald Mountain & Prelude to Khovanschina (both arr. Rimsky-Korsakov)
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Paavo Järvi
Telarc- 60705(SACD)Reference Recording - Pictures: Ormandy (Sony)
Telarc has had very good luck with Pictures at an Exhibition, starting with its celebrated Maazel/Cleveland recording--a seminal event heralding the digital recording age, and still a prime recommendation. This release exactly duplicates the label's previous, also very fine version from Levi/Atlanta. Paavo Järvi's performances offer little or nothing to criticize and much to praise. He turns up the voltage in the second-half reprise of Night on Bald Mountain's opening material in genuinely exciting fashion. Pictures opens with a warm, legato, and very Russian-sounding "Promenade" and builds steadily. Tuileries and the Ballet of the Chicks in their Shells have lots of charm; Bydlo and Catacombs feature plenty of weight; Baba-Yaga and The Great Gate of Kiev are simply spectacular, with lots of splashy emphasis from tam-tam and bells at the end.
The obvious reason for recording this repertoire all over again is to release the music in SACD surround sound, and in this respect I have to say that this disc is a big winner. Rock-solid bass, brilliant but never shrill treble, excellent internal balances, and an incredibly natural multichannel acoustic make this the obvious choice if you want to hear these pieces in surround sound. Happily, the relatively high-level engineering sounds excellent even on less expensive systems, though on high-end equipment you'll have your neighbors begging for mercy (or coming over to wallow in the spectacle). In sum--a very enjoyable production, on both musical and sonic grounds.
--David Hurwitz

Saturday, September 20, 2008

CONCERT REVIEW: Dvorak as You Like It

September 19, 2008

By Mary Ellyn Hutton

A lock of dark hair falling over his eyes, French cellist Gautier Capucon, 27, made his entrance in Dvorak’s Cello Concerto with smooth, broad bowstrokes Friday morning at Music Hall.
It was an auspicious moment, the debut of an important new artist with music director Paavo Järvi and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Capucon won over his listeners in a sublimely musical way, without flash or excess, keeping them deeply engaged from beginning to end..
The Concerto was one of three Dvorak works on the program. As Järvi put it in his pre-concert "First Notes" projected above the stage, "if you don’t like Dvorak, you’re out of luck."
Fortunately most people do, since the Czech composer is one of the most populsr in the symphonic repertoire.
Instead of opening with one of Dvorak’s popular Slavonic Dances or an overture like "Carnival," Järvi chose the Symphonic Variations, Op.78, a work full of beauty and invention that is infrequently heard on concert programs. One reason for that may be its 22-minute length, which when paired with the Cello Concerto and the concluding Symphony No. 8, added up to a rather long concert.
The theme of the Variations is a bit unusual: 20 bars divided into seven, six and seven-bar segments using both F-sharp and F-natural. Dvorak borrowed it from a piece he wrote for men's chorus. There are 27 variations and a fugal finale. Järvi shaped it elegantly, with lots of dynamic and tempo nuances. The variations ranged from light and charming with flute and piccolo filigree to heavier and more somber. (Variation 24 somehow reminded this listener of the fourth variation of Brahms’ Variations on a theme of Haydn.) The CSO performed it all with great agility and spirit.
Capucon and Järvi, who have recorded the Dvorak Concerto with the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra (for January release), were like-minded in their approach to the work. The performance was as much symphonic as soloistic, with delicious interactions between cello and orchestra – the flutes, for instance, in the first movement development, associate principal clarinetist Jonathan Gunn and the woodwinds in the Adagio, including a ruby-colored moment pairing the oboes and the cello toward the end. The finale soared, from the triangle-spattered introduction to the magnificent coda (final section), where Dvorak demonstrated his ability to craft a leave-taking like none other. Concertmaster Timothy Lees, whose urgent solos led into the coda, returned near the end for a breathless duet with Capucon, who eased gently downward into the cello’s last, lingering solo line.
Throughout the concert, Capucon demonstrated a calibrated intensity, carved partially with expressive vibrato – or most eloquently sometimes, no vibrato at all -- and carefully shaded dynamics. All told, it was music that sent shivers up and down the spine and brought an enthusiastic ovation from the Music Hall audience.
Dvorak’s Eighth has been called his "pastoral" symphony and it does partake of that spirit. Consider the merry flute solo at the outset, performed with exquisite sweetness by principal flutist Randolph Bowman, and the village waltz-like third movement. However, there is gravity, too, as in the light to dark exchanges between the flutes and clarinets and a sudden, stern outburst by the horn near the end of the second movement (delivered with authority by associate principal Thomas Sherwood).
The finale began with a bright trumpet fanfare followed by a set of variations. There was a lot of inspired commotion here, broken by the return of the fanfare, a bit of flute "birdsong" atop the CSO cellos and another of Dvorak’s prolonged farewells. This one seemed more in fun than in the Concerto, as the triadic theme augmented itself and repeated over and over until Järvi brought it to a delightful end with the raucous, slapdash conclusion.
Repeat is 8 p.m. tonight at Music Hall.

CONCERT REVIEW: CSO soars with Dvorak

September 19, 2008

The Cincinnati Enquirer

By Janelle Gelfand

No doubt many in Music Hall for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s concert this morning spent a difficult week without power. Paavo Järvi’s all-Dvorak program, grounded in beautiful Bohemian moods, was a gratifying respite. But there was an added bonus: A bright new cellist named Gautier Capucon.
A few in the audience responded to the symphony’s last-minute, two-for-one power outage ticket deal – but more are expected to when the concert repeats today. This was an exciting debut of a 27-year-old artist who possesses the drama, musicianship and assuredness to become a major star.
Järvi explained the pros and cons of a program devoted entirely to one composer – the downside being, “if you don’t like Dvorak, you’re out of luck.” But the rich outpouring of Bohemian folk melodies in Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B Minor, Symphony No. 8 and even in the quirky “Symphonic Variations” which opened the program, proved to be irresistible.
Capucon, a native of Chambery, France may not be a household name in the United States, but he’s already performed with the Philadelphia and Houston orchestras, is championed by pianist Martha Argerich and has a recording contract with Virgin Classics. (His recording of the Brahms Piano Trios with his violinist brother, Renaud, and Cincinnati native Nicholas Angelich is first rate.)
He projected a big, throaty sound in the vibrant folk themes of Dvorak’s Cello Concerto. It was a magical performance. Capucon is an expressive, involved performer, leaning back and closing his eyes during lyrical phrases, and letting his long dark hair fall into his eyes as he hunched over his cello. His playing was poignant but never overly sentimental. He turned often to communicate with soloists in the orchestra. His first-movement duet with flutist Jasmine Choi was sheer poetry.The slow movement, with its soulful melody borrowed from an earlier song, was beautifully shaped, and the cellist allowed its phrases to breathe. He had something imaginative to say in every note of the dance-like finale.The orchestra provided a red-blooded, romantic canvas, and the collaboration was seamless. Principal horn Elizabeth Freimuth’s solo in the first movement was ravishing.The great tunes continued in Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 in G Major, a work in pastoral Czech moods, including a waltz movement that recalls Dvorak’s “Slavonic Dances.”Järvi was an energized leader, and the orchestra responded with polished, colorful playing. There was an invigorating freshness about this performance, which had a freedom that made it all sound spontaneous. Järvi emphasized the lyricism as well as Dvorak’s mercurial changes of mood, contrasting heroic horn calls against Czech melodies that were tinged with melancholy. The waltz movement was breathtaking for its lightness, and the finale, a set of variations, was warmly played.The program opened with the rarely played “Symphonic Variations.” The piece built to a full-blown fugue with the full power of the brass, but getting there was a bit rough.The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra repeats at 8 p.m. Saturday in Music Hall. Tickets are two-for-one for those who have had power outages this week. Mention it when you call 513-381-3300 ,

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

NEW CD: Paavo Jarvi, Cincinnati Symphony Paint Vivid Musical Pictures

September 16, 2008
The 14th Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Telarc recording with Music Director Paavo Jarvi is an all-Mussorgsky disc, to be released September 23, 2008 in CD and SACD formats. The repertoire includes the composer’s colorful Pictures at an Exhibition, the mystical Night on Bald Mountain and closes with the serene Prelude to Khovanshchina. Modest Mussorgsky is one of the best known and most beloved Russian composers.
“There is something about the way the line moves in Mussorgsky’s music that reminds you of Russian character and language,” said CSO Music Director Paavo Jarvi. “His music has real depth and color.”
The latest Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra release on Telarc features Maurice Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Mussorgsky originally composed the work for piano following the untimely death of his friend, artist and designer Victor Hartmann. As part of the grieving process, he visited an exhibition of Hartmann’s artwork and each of the piece’s ten movements represents a different painting. Ravel’s celebrated orchestration of the work premiered in October of 1922.
“I have always wanted to record Pictures at Exhibition,” said Mr. Jarvi. “There’s a good reason it has become one of the best known pieces in the world… It’s such an irresistible concept – walking from one painting to another and describing not only what you’re seeing, but the whole promenade experience of walking from frame to frame. This work is full of color.”
The CD opens with Mussorgsky’s wildly popular Night on Bald Mountain, as orchestrated by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Generations have grown up hearing this thrilling tone poem based on a witches’ sabbath in Walt Disney’s classic cartoon film, Fantasia.
“It is unmistakingly Russian… moody and very atmospheric,” said Mr. Jarvi. “Night on Bald Mountain is a fairy tale… Russian composers of the time were drawn to the philosophical fairy tale… to the supernatural…”
This all-Mussorgsky CD closes with the Prelude to Khovanshchina (Dawn on the Moscow River), another Mussorgsky work lushly arranged by Rimsky-Korsakov.
Telarc’s 13 discs with Paavo Jarvi and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra have garnered critical acclaim, including their January 2008 release of a celebrated all-Prokofiev CD. The 2007 release of Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony was praised by The Philadelphia Inquirer as “one of the best available outings with this great symphony.” In May 2006 the CSO’s Bartok and Lutoslawski Concertos for Orchestra debuted on the Billboard classical chart at number 9, and The New York Times said of it, “Mr. Jarvi’s interpretations are everywhere persuasive, and the performances almost uniformly virtuosic. Telarc’s typically expansive sound is especially gratifying…” The September 2005 release, Dvorak: Symphony No. 9/Martinu: Symphony No. 2, was named an “Editor’s Choice” by Gramophone Magazine. Music of Ravel also was named a Gramophone “Editor’s Choice” and was awarded a Diapason d’or. --

Concert and interview download

September 3, 2008
The opening concert at the Beethovenfest in Bonn featured Beethoven's 9th, which at the time was seen as a pointed rejection of Napoleon Bonaparte. The programme also included a Schonberg piece which lashed out at Hitler. Conductor Paavo Jarvi talks about Beethoven, using music to relax, and the difference between US and European orchestras.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

CONCERT REVIEW: Watts electrifies CSO opener

September 13, 2008

The Cincinnati Enquirer
By Janelle Gelfand

It’s not often that one hears a living legend perform one of the great piano masterpieces of all time.
Andre Watts helped open the
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's 114th season Friday night in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Watts’ view of Rachmaninoff’s Second was, in a word, symphonic. He was an equal partner with the orchestra, for all its lushness and sweep. Yet this was also a performance of stunning poetry, and Watts illuminated every note.
Watts wasn’t the evening’s only star power. Music director Paavo Järvi led the orchestra in its own showpiece in the second half: Rachmaninoff’s “Symphonic Dances.”
Top 10 picks for the CSO season
Watts, 62, has sustained a distinguished career since he was first thrust into the limelight as a 16-year-old prodigy. At the keyboard, he is a master of color and sonority, projecting a clear, singing tone. His playing was electrifying as he charged through fiendishly difficult passages with hands flying – once nearly flying off his piano bench.
Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 2 is known for its outpouring of nonstop beautiful melody. The pianist’s sound was orchestral from the first note. Even though he pulled back when the music became intensely lyrical, he never lost sight of the grandeur of the piece. His phrasing was heartfelt, and he allowed the music to breathe. The collaboration between soloist and orchestra was seamless. Watts often turned to the musicians to communicate, as if playing chamber music, for an extraordinarily intimate effect in the slow movement. He displayed a surge of power in the finale, bouncing on his seat as he muscled through double-octave runs and pushed the tempo to the climactic finish. The crowd was ecstatic.Rachmaninoff’s “Symphonic Dances” were written near the end of the composer’s life. The finale is almost a dance of death, and its melodies have a melancholy, Russian flavor.The orchestra was in top form. The first of the three dances was super-charged, and the haunting timbre of the alto saxophone (James Bunte) made a striking contrast. The waltz-inspired second unfolded with great beauty, as Järvi swept up the strings spontaneously. Järvi, a master of detail, called for an energized, sometimes rugged sound, especially in the low strings. He led the finale in big, dramatic gestures. At times, it seemed disconnected, although the players gave it a brilliant reading.Järvi opened on a note of pomp, with Tchaikovsky’s “Festival Coronation” March, last played by the CSO in 1936.The concert repeats at 8 p.m. today in Music Hall. Tickets: 513-381-3300 .
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Facing the music

September 11, 2008
The Beethoven Festival in Bonn has a history of being misused for political ends. This year, the organisers have confronted its troubled past

If the composer Ludwig van Beethoven had a troubled life, so has the festival founded in his name which has just begun in the city of Bonn. The first Beethovenfest there took place, in 1845, at the same time as the unveiling of his statue beside the cathedral, on what would have been his 75th birthday. Franz Liszt and Queen Victoria were there. The second Beethovenfest was postponed due to war. The Nazis complained that the 1927 centenary of Beethoven's death had been unworthy, not to say a shambles, and turned the event into a tub-thumping Popular Beethoven Festival. Beethoven was the epitome of all that was sternly, creatively German, they thought, and conveniently forgot that Beethoven's grandfather was a Dutchman, hence the "van". In 1944, the principal concert hall, the Beethovenhalle, was destroyed by a stray bomb and not replaced for 15 years. Bonn was not officially a target, but many planes unloaded anywhere.
In the 1970s the festival dwindled to a triennial event and in the 1990s the then despondent City of Bonn, shortly to be deprived of its status as federal capital, withdrew its support entirely. In 1999, however, an international festival organisation was established with corporate sponsorship and new, exciting life breathed into the old shell. Against expectations, Bonn has grown in wealth and population since the politicians departed, and the festival has prospered. This year the tenth event has decided to face its troubled past and runs throughout September under the provocative pun "Macht. Musik". Macht is "makes", but it is also "might" of the political variety. It is an apt theme for a festival in a city that was the seat of power in Germany for half a century.
"It is important for a generation to confront what is usually not spoken about," says Ilona Schmiel, director of the Beethovenfest since 2004. She is breezy and excited when we meet, the day after the opening concert, at her office in the Bauhaus-style building designed as the national parliament, but now headquarters of the international broadcaster Deutsche Welle, one of the festival's principal sponsors. The other is Deutsche Post, whose beautiful, curved-glass tower block has dominated this bend in the Rhine since the building was completed in 2003. Confidence and optimism now surround the new Beethovenfest to such an extent that Schmiel's team was able to announce the building of a new Festspielhaus in Bonn in a first-night speech delivered by the culture minister for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. To call the venue a Festspielhaus is a conscious reference to Wagner and Bayreuth, with all its insidious Nazi baggage, as the minister reminded us. The festival touched a taboo. "Yes, it's about the misappropriation of music for political ends," says Schmiel. "But the pun has a third meaning. Music has emotional power over us."
The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, under Paavo Järvi, demonstrated this power by generating an opening-night atmosphere on 29 August that pulsed with anticipation. The octaves at the start of Beethoven's "Leonore Overture No 3" were as satisfyingly tuned as the buttons were shiny on the bellboys' jackets. No detail had been left unattended to in the thorough rehearsals Järvi is known for. Familiar music had been smartened up. Unfamiliar music had been programmed. It was daring to include Schoenberg's setting of Byron's "Ode to Napo leon Buonaparte" in its chamber music version for string quartet and speaker. "Is this the man of thousand thrones/Who strew'd our earth with hostile bones?" rasped the speaker, "Nali" Gruber, in the composer's own distorted Viennese English. "Atonal Arnie" wrote it in Los Angeles. His rhythmic dissonance placed Byron's anti-paean firmly in the discordant 20th century. Adolf Hitler was the new Napoleon, amplified and worsened for the machine age.
The concert closed with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony,whose choral finale is the anthem of the European Union. It was an unusually ecstatic performance of punched themes, a euphorically light scherzo and a Turkish march of deflationary bathos. The Deutscher Kammerchor sang with passionate volume. "Alle Menschen werden Brü der," they declared with fortissimo certainty - "all people will be brothers". Down at the riverside, the memorial to a synagogue destroyed by the Nazis alludes to this line. Let the people remember, it says, that they are alle Menschen.
Evidence that people forget is on display at the Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik (Museum of the History of the German Federal Republic). A snatch of film shows a hysterical crowd at a Nazi rally bellowing with bloodlust, "Ja!" to Goebbels's chilling demand, "Do you want total war?" By stark contrast, a recording of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer opening the new parliament after the war promises an end to nationalism and a commitment to European unity.
One understands why Bonn was the politicians' choice for Germany's new capital. The city is small, modest, peaceful and well-behaved. There is no nightlife to speak of. The university dominates the town centre and the cafes in the pedestrian zone are full of students who cycle everywhere. War damage was minimal. A bomb demolished the concert hall and another struck the Schumannhaus, the former lunatic asylum where the composer Schumann ended up after throwing himself into the Rhine. The rebuilt house is a charming festival venue. Only the Beethovenhaus itself, containing the composer's pianos, portraits, life and death masks, and ear trumpets, has more emotional resonance.
The second night featured the 20-year-old pop band Die Prinzen, originally from East Germany and therefore a symbol of German unity. They sang in favour of "monarchy in Germany" with comic political reasoning and Eurovision harmonies. A less jokey symbol of Germany's unification is the conductor Kurt Masur, who brought his Orchestre National de France for a Beethoven symphony cycle. Other orchestras include the New York Phil under Lorin Maazel (12 September) and the Leipzig Gewandhaus under Riccardo Chailly (14 September). There was Beethoven cello by Sol Gabetta and still to come are cycles of sonatas for violin by Renaud Capuçon (17 September) and string quartets by the Gewandhaus-Quartett (20-27 September). András Schiff performed Beethoven piano sonatas. The violinist Daniel Hope (20, 21 September) will play music composed in Theresienstadt, the "model Jewish town" that turned out to be nothing of the sort, but a staging post to Auschwitz. "Hope plays about hope," says Schmiel, "as that's what music was to many of the inhabitants."
The festival is full of puns. In German, the word for note is the same as the word for need. Beethoven once said that all his notes had not rescued him from need but that he wrote notes because he needed to. "What this festival celebrates more than anything is creativity, and we are proud to have premiered 28 new works since 2004," says Schmiel. The final concert on 28 September will stage the world premiere of a new orchestral work by Wolfgang Rihm, one of Germany's most eminent living composers. It is called Verwandlung, or "transformation", which is exactly what has happened to the Beethovenfest. And Bonn. Not to mention Germany.
For information on the rest of the Beethovenfest log on to:

Andre Watts To Perform With Cincinnati Orchestra

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is rolling out the red carpet for the “Mega-Watt” opening of its blockbuster 2008-2009 season at historic Music Hall
on Friday, September 12 and Saturday, September 13 at 8 p.m.
Fresh off a phenomenal season and hugely successful European tour in April that saw sold-out concert halls in Paris, Madrid, Vienna, Munich and Amsterdam, Music Director Paavo Jarvi kicks off the new season with works by celebrated composers Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff and the return of legendary pianist Andre Watts to the Music Hall stage.
According to The
New York Times, Mr. Watts “can actually make the piano roar, sob, even giggle when the mood so demands. It is an impressive gift.”A post-concert “Afterglow” party will be held in the lobby following both performances.
“I am so thrilled to be back in Cincinnati, and I’m very much looking forward to this season,” said CSO Music Director Paavo Jarvi. “We have a fantastic roster of guest artists and conductors joining us throughout the season, and we begin with a program showcasing the tremendous talent of Andre Watts.”
The concerts open with Tchaikovsky’s Festival Coronation March, followed by Mr. Watts performing Rachmaninoff’s hugely popular Piano Concerto No. 2, a work celebrated for its soaring melodies, lush orchestration and exceedingly difficult piano part.
“I have a very strong weakness for Rachmaninoff’s music. I love the language – I love the sentiment of it. I love the kind of directness and type of beauty that is not suppressed. It is a beauty that just oozes out of you,” said Mr. Jarvi.
This exciting concert program closes with Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances, a work Mr. Jarvi regards as a 20th century masterpiece. Symphonic Dances is the Russian master’s final composition, and ultimately evokes the struggle between death and everlasting life. --

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Interview about new music

Um blog de
Álvaro Sílvio Teixeira

August, 2008

Paavo Järvi: the new music can start anywhere
Álvaro S. Teixeira: Which 20th century (not contemporaries) composers are the more interesting for you? And the more important?
Paavo Järvi: There is Shostakovich, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Nielsen, Prokofiev, Sibelius. Obviously there are representatives from other countries, such as Debussy, and Ravel. One can name others that have made major contributions to the 20th century repertoire. No two are more influential, for me, than Debussy and Stravinsky. There are two kinds of composers, one who creates new language, and one who creates something new by using the already established vocabulary. Take for example, Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler.But it is the composer who is able to create a new language that brings the music forward in the most influential way. There is no question that composers such as Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Nielsen, Debussy, are pioneers in this respect.AT: What you search for when you direct contemporary works?PJ: I try keeping an open mind. In today's new music environment, one does not necessarily have to go in searching for one particular style or method of getting a message across. There is no limitation of how to express one's ideas and therefore it is a very good time for New Music. You can go from the traditional approach, to Schoenberg's approach, or one can start from minimalism. There are many varieties of possibilities in the middle, and mutations of these possibilities. Today the new music can start anywhere.What's most important is to keep an open mind when one looks at the score. What I am looking for ultimately is not how the work is put together, but rather what the work is able to communicate in the performance. In other words, I look for what is being communicated and how the work communicates with the listener. I am not interested in intellectual exercise just for the sake of it.

AT: Do you feel that it's a good thing to play the first part a classic or romantic work and in second part a contemporary piece, or the opposite?

PJ: It all depends on a piece and the environment you play the piece in. In general, the opening work is short so one can continue with standard repertoire, which to me is not always ideal. It often diminishes the first piece to an opening fanfare role. On the other hand, in most cities, there is major difficulty programming a completely new piece in the second half, unless there is a good enough reason to keep the audience interested in staying. The current notion is that there is no use putting a new work in the second half if means losing the audience. Again, it ultimately depends on the environment and the work itself.

AT: Some responsible people from festivals and music saisons think that people don't come to concerts if we give for they some contemporary music. It's true, it's just a stupid idea, or can be true in some not developed countries?

PJ: There is some truth to all three that you suggest in your question. In many communities around the world it is difficult to program New Music because of audiences. This is certainly true in the US. In some cities in the US, it is absolutely mandatory to feature a new work, in other cities it is seen as too much of a risk which might translate into decreasing audiences. Ultimately, each city knows their audience and their own traditions. Each needs to be sensitive to the realities they face. Some older audiences fear the new music. Audiences in the 60s and 70s were so frightened of the New Music played at that time that they now distrust new music. We are, in essence, paying for our's parents sins. I notice that right now there is less fear associated with new music. Concert goers now are much more positive towards discovering new. Today the music that we play often gets better response than the standard repertoire because the audience can identify with it. The key is to keep programming New Music that the audience can connect with. In saying that, I don't mean we should program works that aren't difficult, but rather high quality music that challenges the audience.

AT: When you conduct the gesture precision it's the most important?

PJ: It's always important to be clear, but it is obviously not the most important thing about conducting, to be manually clear. The most important part is to be able to communicate through your movements, what the music should sound like. A display of virtuosity, for virtuosity's sake is meaningless.

AT: Before start work with orchestra, how many days you need to know a new orchestral piece?PJ: It all depends on the piece. I always find that learning a piece, especially a completely new work, is just the beginning of the journey. No work can be completely understood before the first orchestra rehearsal; before the score comes to life for the first time, in real time. It is not unusual, even for exceptional composers to change many things in the score after or during the first rehearsal with orchestra. While studying the score is extremely important, it is only the beginning of a longer process.

AT: In your first lecture, alone, what you search?

PJ: I have, over the years, developed an established system of approaching a score. I always start every score with same exact step-by-step approach. It's something that I do with each score, new or old.

AT: It's a good idea to be at same time conductor and composer?

PJ: I think it is a very good idea. It is not absolutely necessary. But composers look at music in a different way than performers do. If the composer happens to take the art of conducting seriously then a conductor/composer combination can be a very powerful one. Conducting is an art and not a hobby. Many composers and soloist turned Conductors forget this. Often, great composers are weak conductors, and perhaps do more damage by conducting their own music than good. This was not the case, of course, with Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss and many other great composers and equally formidable conductors. For example Esa-Pekka Salonen is an excellent conductor and composer. So, if both art forms are treated equally, the combination can be powerful.

AT: Give us 10 contemporary pieces, that you find very interesting, and you think the world needs to know.

PJ: I can give you 200 pieces that people should hear and it still would be meaningless. It is not always helpful to create a gradation of music you should hear. We need to establish a culture that encourages people hear new music. From Northern Europe, I can name many composers whose music should be heard. They are Saariaho, Tüür, Sumera, Salonen, and Lindberg, to name but a few. A similar list could be put together practically from each European country and certainly from the US. I never look a list of top 10 contemporary composers and grade them. I am more piece oriented. If there is a piece that is exceptional, it needs to be heard. It does not necessarily mean that the composer who wrote it is automatically the best. It is important to take things piece-by-piece and see what each has to offer. Only history will tell how correct our judgments were. I don't want to contemplate a ranking because that would be completely pointless.

CONCERT REVIEW: Frankfurt Radio

September 6, 2008

Alte Oper
Eine Fülle von Fragen

Das Stimmen und Einspielen der Instrumente, unvermeidliches Orchester-Ritual vor dem Konzert, bekommt einen anderen Charakter, wenn es vor einem Konzert mit Musik von Mauricio Kagel geschieht, weil es Fragen aufwirft, auf die man sonst nicht ohne weiteres käme: Gehört das schon zum Konzert? Steht in der Partitur vielleicht etwas wie "Einspielen, Instrumente stimmen, sich dabei möglichst natürlich verhalten" oder eine andere theatrale Anweisung für die Musiker? Gibt es irgendwo eine nicht gleich erkennbare rhythmische Figur?
Der Verdacht ist naheliegend, aber unbegründet. Kagels Étude Nr. 3 für großes Orchester beginnt erst, nachdem Dirigent Paavo Järvi das Pult vorm HR-Sinfonieorchester betreten hat. Die Étude selbst erweist sich allerdings als ein Stück, das jeden Verdacht belegen kann: Klangkonstellationen entstehen burschikos und übergangslos als geplante Ergebnisse verwirrender rhythmischer Operationen,und der Dirigent hat allein mit dem Taktschlagen eine reichlich anspruchsvolle Aufgabe zu erledigen. Järvi allerdings tut das souverän und federnd leichtgängig und hat dabei in sich immer noch genügend Aufmersamkeit für das Stück übrig, so dass in seiner klingenden Wechselbalg-Gestalt ein herausfordernd mit dem Material spielender Kagel erscheint, dem dieses Konzert zur Eröffnung des Komponisten-Porträts im Rahmen des "Auftakt"-Festes der Alten Oper große Freude bereitet haben dürfte.

Was im Detail steckt
Auch das Sinfonieorchester des Hessischen Rundfunks hat einen Artist in Residence vorzustellen, den Geiger Christian Tetzlaff, und als Eröffnungsstück dafür eines der großen romantischen Violinkonzerte, das e-Moll-Konzert op. 64 von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy gewählt.
Eine von Tetzlaffs Eigenarten scheint zu sein, das Neue seines persönlichen Zugriffs auf die Musik aus gründlichem Erforschen zahlloser Details zu gewinnen und aus der Fähigkeit, aus einer ungemein differenzierungsfähigen Detail-Gestaltung etwas Komplettes entstehen zu lassen. Seine Spielhaltung kommt ohne jedes Auftrumpfen daher, ohne selbstzufriedenes Virtuosengehabe, sein Ton ohne Breite, Fülle und Sämigkeit und seine Haltung zur Romantik ohne zurückblickende Gefühligkeit, aber er ist kein kalter Analytiker. Seine Stärke ist seine Angespanntheit, die ihm zu jeder Phrase eigene Gedanken abfordert, die mit einem Grundgedanken über das Ganze in engem Zusammenhang stehen.
Und genau da trifft er sich offenbar mit Paavo Järvi, der in (oder vor) den Proben das Violinkonzert offenbar auseinandergenommen und beim Wieder-Zusammensetzen und mit einer Fülle von Fragen angereichert hatte. Das HR-SinfonieOrchester entwickelte seine hellwache Spielkultur wie ein Kammerorchester aus interner Aufmerksamkeit und brauchte kaum. Wenn diese Qualität die Maßstäbe für die Zusammenarbeit zwischen dem Orchester und seinem Gastsolisten über die Spielzeit hinweg gezeigt hat, dann stehen dem Publikum eine Reihe bemerkenswerter Konzerte bevor. Tetzlaff gab in der Zugabe (Gavotte aus der Partita E-Dur für Violine solo von Johann Sebastian Bach) einen Vorgeschmack auf seinen nächsten Frankfurter Auftritt.
Im dritten Stück des Abends, Béla Bartóks zerklüftetem Konzert für Orchester aus dem Jahre 1943, war das Orchester selbst der Solist, und wieder zeigte es sich als fast perfektes Instrument für Järvis Detail-Sinn. Bartok führt auf vergleichsweise engem Raum eine Fülle von Spielweisen, rhythmischen Situationen, Klangkonstellationen und Veränderungen vor, so dass es einer erheblichen Interpretations-Anstrengung bedarf, wenn man hier noch vor lauter Bäumen den Wald im Blick behalten will. Was in diesem Fall vorzüglich gelang.

CONCERT REVIEW: Paavo with Christian Tetzlaff, music by Mauricio Kagel

Mauricio Kagel

September 6, 2008
Im vitalen Rausch der Taktlosigkeit
hr-Sinfonieorchester mit Kagel in Alter Oper
zib. FRANKFURT In zwei Konzerten wird das Ensemble Modern ausschließlich Stücke von Mauricio Kagel interpretieren. Der 1931 in Argentinien geborene, seit langem in Deutschland lebende Komponist steht dieses Jahr im Mittelpunkt des "Auftakt"-Festivals der Alten Oper Frankfurt. Er selbst wird die Aufführungen eigener Stücke durch das Ensemble Modern am 22. und 24. September leiten, darunter Originelles wie die "Exotica für außereuropäische Instrumente".
Wer, wie Kagel, Stücke namens "Variaktionen" oder "Märsche, den Sieg zu verfehlen" schreibt, weiß, wie sich das Ohr theatralisch verführen lässt. Das gilt selbst, wenn für Kagel nur neun Minuten Zeit bleiben. So lange dauert seine dritte, 1996 beendete Étude, mit der nicht nur die Alte Oper ihr Komponistenporträt des dabei anwesenden Kagel, sondern auch das hr-Sinfonieorchester und sein Chefdirigent Paavo Järvi ihre neue Saison eröffneten. Luftig schlugen einem in dieser Étude die vermeintlich unberechenbar verschobenen Metren aus den Reihen der bestens disponierten Bläser entgegen, der Rausch der Taktlosigkeit dieser Komposition hatte eine höchst vitale Frische. Ein knapper, aber guter Anfang eben.

Ein Anfang war dieses Abonnement-Konzert auch für den Geiger Christian Tetzlaff. Nicht in der Alten Oper, wo der 1966 in Hamburg geborene, in Bad Homburg lebende Künstler häufig aufgetreten ist. Neu aber ist für ihn die Rolle eines "Artist in Residence", wie ihn sich das hr-Sinfonieorchester seit kurzem saisonal leistet. Wie glücklich, dass man Christian Tetzlaff dafür gewinnen konnte; er wird in den kommenden Monaten bei mehreren Rundfunk-Konzerten mitwirken. Jetzt war seine Interpretation des so oft gehörten Violinkonzerts e-Moll op. 64 von Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy geprägt von großer Energie, von der Lust am vitalen, Phrasierungen frisch durchlebenden Musizieren, die erfreulich schnell das hr-Sinfonieorchester ansteckte. Gerade dessen Streicher wirkten füllig im Klang, aber so abstimmungsgenau, als ob man Kammermusik interpretierte. Tetzlaff bedankte sich mit der Gavotte aus Bachs dritter Violin-Partita für den Applaus.

Nach der Eröffnung des Kagel-Porträts und der Einführung von Tetzlaff als Residenz-Künstler der Rundfunk-Musiker stand noch ein dritter Anfang auf dem Programm: Das hr-Sinfonieorchester und Paavo Järvi blicken in dieser Saison besonders intensiv auf die Werke von Béla Bartók. Ein kollektiv-virtuoses Werk hat der ungarische Komponist mit seinem "Konzert für Orchester" aus dem Jahr 1943 geschrieben. Wie Järvi im "unterbrochenen Intermezzo" des vierten der fünf Sätze geschmeidig-süßliche Melodik gegen eine besonders grell überzeichnete Operetten-Parodie setzte, war nur einer von vielen höchst starken Momenten. Ein äußerst gelungener Anfang also.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Interview Bonn Beethovenfest

Paavo Järvi hat das Eröffnungskonzert des Bonner Beethovenfestes dirigiert.
September 5, 2008

„Moskau hat sich nicht geändert“
Erstellt 04.09.08, 18:21h, aktualisiert 05.09.08, 00:10h
Der Dirigent Paavo Järvi aus Estland hat soeben beim Bonner Beethovenfest einen starken Auftritt gehabt. Im Interview spricht er über Beethoven und die "teure Lektion Georgien".
KÖLNER STADT-ANZEIGER: Herr Järvi, Sie haben das Eröffnungskonzert des Bonner Beethovenfestes dirigiert - mit einem Programm, das Beethovens neunte Sinfonie mit Schönbergs „Ode an Napoleon“ kombiniert. Was ist die Idee?
PAAVO JÄRVI: Offensichtlich haben beide Werke mit zentralen Menschheitsideen zu tun, mit Humanität, mit Menschenrechten. Und musikalisch ist es ein interessanter Kontrast.
Sie leiten das Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, das Sinfonieorchester des Hessischen Rundfunks und die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. Das ist doch auch für einen ausgewiesenen Workaholic wie Sie ein bisschen viel.
JÄRVI: Ja, es ist viel. Und mitunter gibt es mit der Logistik Probleme. Aber ich bin halt sehr ungern Gastdirigent. Da kommt man und geht dann wieder, ohne tiefere Spuren hinterlassen zu können. Ich erreiche mit einem eigenen Orchester einfach bessere Ergebnisse. Man bekommt nur so diese enge Verbindung zu, diese intime Vertrautheit mit den Musikern, die ich brauche. Ich kenne dann die Stärken und Schwächen des Orchesters, kann mich selbst ganz anders einbringen und meine Arbeit konzentrieren. Als Gastdirigent läuft man Gefahr, nur Dinge auszubügeln, die der Musikdirektor selbst nicht gerne macht.
Sie stammen aus Estland, einem kleinen Land, das durch einen sagenhaften Ausstoß an musikalischer Exzellenz auffällt - Komponisten, Dirigenten, Solisten. Wie das?
JÄRVI: Ja, wir haben nur eine Million Leute. Es liegt wohl daran, dass die Musik ein bevorzugtes Medium unserer Selbstaussage ist. Sie hat ja auch wenig Konkurrenz im Land - keine Industrie, keine natürlichen Ressourcen. Unsere kollektive Identitätsbildung läuft sehr stark über die Künste und zumal über die Musik. Das gehört zum Nationalstolz. Stärker als in anderen Ländern werden Musiker bei uns Vorbilder für die junge Generation. Mein Vater z. B., Neeme Järvi, hat einen großen Einfluss auf junge estnische Dirigenten. Es gibt bei uns ja eine sehr enge Verbindung zwischen Komponisten und Dirigenten, die dazu führt, dass die neue Musik schnell distribuiert wird.
Sie selbst haben mit Ihrer Familie Estland 1980, also noch zu Sowjetzeiten, in Richtung USA verlassen und sind heute US-Bürger. Estland ist frei und selbstständig - warum remigrieren Sie nicht?
JÄRVI: Ich habe tatsächlich daran gedacht, besitze ja ein Haus dort. Im Übrigen habe ich nicht nur einen US-, sondern auch einen estnischen Pass - wie alle Mitglieder meiner Familie. Aber ich habe eine internationale Karriere gestartet, muss viel reisen. Die Frage, wo genau man da lebt, ist schwierig zu beantworten. Wichtiger aber ist, dass ich meinen Teil zur kulturellen Entwicklung meines Heimatlands beitrage. Dazu gehört etwa die Unterstützung von musikalischen Erziehungs- und Jugendprojekten.
Die Krise in Georgien scheint darauf hinzudeuten, dass Russland seine harte Hand erneut gegen Westen ausstreckt. Was sagen Sie als Bürger eines Landes dazu, das seine nationale Selbstständigkeit Moskau nach 1990 abringen musste?
JÄRVI: Georgien war eine teure Lektion für alle Völker im früheren sowjetischen Machtbereich. Sie besagt: Auch wenn du souverän geworden bist, darfst du dich nicht zu sicher fühlen. Die sowjetische Mentalität, sie gibt es immer noch. Und besonders ein kleines Land wie Estland muss möglichst viele Alliierte im Westen haben - Europäische Union und Nato. Moskau hatte immer eine imperialistische Attitüde gegenüber seinem Umfeld, und das hat sich nicht geändert. Die georgische Lektion sollte den Westen davor warnen, sich falsche Vorstellungen zu machen. Aber er ist moralisch schwach und hat vor allem Angst davor, irgendwelche militärische Konsequenzen zu ziehen.
Sie spielen derzeit mit der Bremer Kammerphilharmonie die kompletten Beethoven-Sinfonien ein. Warum haben Sie unter Ihren drei Orchestern dafür gerade dieses ausgewählt?
JÄRVI: Ganz einfach: Ich habe mit diesem Orchester vor zehn Jahren erstmals eine Beethoven-Sinfonie gemacht und hatte sofort den Gedanken: Wenn du mal Beethoven-Sinfonien einspielst, dann nur mit ihm. Da stimmt einfach die Chemie. So wie die Bremer das von sich aus machen, entspricht es nahezu vollkommen meiner eigenen Vorstellung von diesen Werken. Sie haben nicht nur ein großes, engagiertes Verständnis für den Stil dieser Musik, sondern eine typische Art, wirklich in die Tiefen der Partitur zu gehen. Das Orchester in Cincinnati ist sehr gut, aber mehr zu Hause in der Romantik und bei den großdimensionierten Werken des 20. Jahrhunderts. Es ist halt ein amerikanisches Orchester mit einer Spielweise, die zu einem anderen Repertoire besser passt.
Warum haben Sie dieses Projekt in Angriff genommen - die Diskografie der Beethoven-Sinfonien ist ja, um es mal so zu sagen, nicht so klein?
JÄRVI: Eine gute Frage. Angesichts des Überangebots gibt es in der Tatkeine Notwendigkeit, überhaupt noch eine Aufnahme zu machen. Es mag verrückt sein, aber in der Tatdenken wir, dass wir, wenn wir jetzt dieses Projekt durchziehen, vielleicht doch noch etwas dazutun, eine persönliche Note einbringen können. Am Ende können ja alle anderen entscheiden, ob ihnen die Neueinspielung etwas sagt.
Aber wo ist er für Sie, der „unentdeckte“ Beethoven, was wollen Sie herausstellen?
JÄRVI: Beethoven ist eigentlich immer unentdeckt, er ist jederzeit neu. Ich habe mir vorgenommen, kritisch auf jedes Detail zu schauen. Ich bin ja in Estland in einer Tradition aufgewachsen, wo es diese neue historische Kritik nicht gab. Ich wuchs auf mit den Aufnahmen von Furtwängler, Bruno Walter, Klemperer und Knappertsbusch. Das hat mich damals geprägt. Mit der Weise, wie ich heute Beethoven höre, hat es nichts zu tun. Dabei ist überhaupt nicht unsere Absicht, Beethoven neu zu erfinden. Wir wollen so weit wie möglich in die Tiefe steigen, den Notentext kritisch analysieren und - wie gesagt - die Erkenntnisse der historischen Aufführungspraxis einbringen. Aber wir nehmen das Wertvolle der gesamten Interpretationsgeschichte auf, wir lassen uns nicht in einen Stall zwängen.
Das Gespräch führte Markus Schwering

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Vorverkauf für die neue Saison des hr-Sinfonieorchesters startet

Ein starkes Team: Chefdirigent Paavo Järvi und der „Artist in Residence“ der nächsten Saison Christian Tetzlaff Foto: Manfred Roth

Klassik-Matinée in hr2-kultur mit Verlosungen, Interviews und viel Musik
Eine Sondersendung in hr2-kultur stimmt am Samstag, 9. August, von 10.05 bis 12 Uhr auf die neue Konzertsaison des hr-Sinfonieorchesters ein. Gespräche, Musikbeispiele und Porträts in dieser besonderen „Klassik-Matinée“ geben einen Vorgeschmack auf die kommende Spielzeit. Mit etwas Glück können Hörer auch Abonnements gewinnen. Der Karten- und Abo-Vorverkauf startet am Montag, 4. August. Was erwartet der neue „Artist in Residence“ Christian Tetzlaff von seiner Zusammenarbeit mit dem hr-Sinfonieorchester und Chefdirigent Paavo Järvi? Darüber spricht hr2-Moderatorin Karmen Mikovic mit dem Geiger. Orchestermanagerin Andrea Zietzschmann verrät Höhepunkte der kommenden Saison, ob bei den Sinfoniekonzerten in der Alten Oper Frankfurt, den Barockkonzerten im hr-Sendesaal, der Gegenwartsmusik oder den Konzerten in Hessen. Wer dann Lust auf besondere Konzerterlebnisse bekommt, kann direkt sein Glück versuchen. Während der Sendung in hr2-kultur sind drei mal zwei hochwertige Abonnements zu gewinnen. Viele gute Gründe für ein Abonnement: Mit einem Abonnement kann man bis zu 51 Prozent gegenüber Einzelkarten sparen. Mit Abo-Karten hat man einen festen Sitzplatz, und sie sind übertragbar. Man erhält eine hr-musik.card, die zu 25 Prozent Rabatt auf alle weitere hr-Konzerte berechtigt und zu zehn Prozent Rabatt im hr-Shop. Es gibt elf unterschiedliche Angebote vom Starter-Paket bis zum großen Sinfonie-Abonnement zu Preisen zwischen 24,30 und 294 Euro, inklusive freie Fahrt mit dem RMV.
Der Hör-Tipp: „Klassik-Matinée mit dem hr-Sinfonieorchester“ hr2-kultur, Samstag, 9. August, 10.05 bis 12 Uhr Frequenzen: 96,7MHz, 95,5 MHz, 99,6 MHz Saisonbroschüre, Aboberatung: Telefon: 069/155-4111 Mail:
Weitere Infos im Internet:
Hessischer Rundfunk Pressestelle Bertramstraße 8 60320 Frankfurt am Main Telefon (069) 1 55-4403 Fax (069) 1 55-21 26

Season opening: Frankfurt Radio orchestra, Paavo Jarvi and Christian Tetzlaff

Monday, September 01, 2008

Concert: Beethovenfest Bonn DKAM

Paavo Järvi dirigiert die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen.

Foto: Barbara Fromman
Sep 1, 2008

Im Rausch der Geschwindigkeit
Bonn. Einer Überlieferung zufolge hatte Sony-Vizepräsident Norio Ohga einst die Aufnahmekapazität der CD auf 75 Minuten festgelegt, damit Beethovens neunte Sinfonie komplett auf den neuen Tonträger passen würde.
Hätte er in die Zukunft blicken können, wäre seine Forderung wohl etwas bescheidener ausgefallen: Paavo Järvi und seine Kammerphilharmonie Bremen nämlich brauchten beim Eröffnungskonzert des Beethovenfests in der ausverkauften Beethovenhalle für die komplette Paavo Järvi dirigiert die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. Foto: Barbara Fromman
Sinfonie deutlich weniger als eine Stunde.
Järvis Motivation ist freilich keine sportliche, sondern eine musikalisch-philologische. Er versucht nichts anderes, als den Komponisten beim Wort zu nehmen. "Es ist ein Fehler, Beethovens Metronom-Angaben nicht zu folgen: Er war zunehmend taub, nicht zunehmend doof", hat er einmal gesagt.
Tatsächlich ist viel über die radikal schnellen, oft kaum realisierbaren Metronom-Angaben diskutiert worden, wobei sie vor allem im Lager der Originalklang-Bewegung Aufnahme fanden, längst aber auch bei Dirigenten moderner Orchester wie David Zinman oder eben Paavo Järvi beachtet werden.
Natürlich funktioniert das Beethoven-Experiment nur mit solch technisch brillanten Klangkörpern wie der Deutschen Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, die, wie schon in den vergangenen Jahren, auch jetzt wieder ein Höchstmaß an Präzision mit beglückend inspirierter Spiellaune verbanden.
Die Geschwindigkeit geht keineswegs auf Kosten des Ausdrucks: Selbst in romantischer gefärbten Aufführungen hört man das Rezitativ der tiefen Streicher zum Final-Beginn kaum je so schön artikuliert singen. Die explosive Wirkung des von der Pauke kontrapunktierten Scherzos ist ohnehin überwältigend. Die Botschaft der Neunten kommt allerdings weniger zum Tragen.
Was sich unter anderem an der Einbindung der menschlichen Stimme ablesen lässt. Unter Järvi, der im vierten Satz nach eigenem Bekunden viel Beethovensche Ironie sieht, erweitert sie die Klangfarben zwar um neue Nuancen, nicht aber die Musik um eine neue Dimension. Ob Järvis Sicht Beethovens Intention wirklich entspricht, ist aber eher fraglich.
Wie dem Deutschen Kammerchor die Verschmelzung gelingt, nötigt gleichwohl größten Respekt ab. Auch das Solistenquartett mit Christiane Oelze, Annely Peebo, Steve Davislim und Matthias Goerne ließ keine Wünsche offen. Im nächsten Jahr wird Järvi den in Bonn gewachsenen Beethoven-Zyklus übrigens zu den Salzburger Festspielen exportieren.
Zu Beginn des Konzerts und im Anschluss an die Begrüßungsreden von Oberbürgermeisterin Bärbel Dieckmann und NRW-Kulturstaatssekretär Hans-Heinrich Grosse-Brockhoff hatte man mit der dritten Leonoren-Ouvertüre, in der bereits die Virtuosität der Musiker zu bewundern war, die Vorfreude auf die Neunte stimuliert.
Beide Stücke sind beziehungsreiche Beiträge zum Festivalmotto "Macht. Musik", ebenso wie Arnold Schönbergs 1942 im Exil komponierte "Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte" nach Lord Byron für Streichquartett, Klavier (Stefan Litwin) und Sprecher.
Energischer, aber kaum zu verstehender Rezitator des englischen Originaltexts war der Komponist und Dirigent HK Gruber. Diese Gegenüberstellung ist allerdings nicht mit der erschütternden Wirkung zu vergleichen, die, wie von Michael Gielen häufig praktiziert, Schönbergs "Überlebender aus Warschau" an der Seite von Beethovens Neunter macht.

Beethovenfest DKAM

August 31, 2008
Noten machen Politik
Von H.D. Treschüren, 31.08.08, 18:57h
Das Eröffnungskonzert probte gleich den Ernstfall. Doch mit Arnold Schönbergs „Ode to Napoleon“ zwischen Beethovens „Leonoren“-Ouverüre Nr. 3 und 9. Sinfonie hat das Thema „Macht.Musik“ des diesjährigen Beethovenfestes hoch respektabel bestanden.
Bonn - Paavo Järvi und seine Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie aus Bremen haben gleich in der ausverkauften Beethovenhalle den Finger auf den ominösen Punkt zwischen Macht und Musik gelegt. Macht Musik! bedeutet der, aber verweist auch auf den Missbrauch von Musik. Den Auftrag der Composer´s League an ihn benutzte Schönberg 1942 im amerikanischen Exil, um mit Lord Byrons 19-Strophen-Pamphlet gegen Napoleon nun seinerseits zur Abrechnung mit Hitler aufzurufen.
Die Musik für Rezitator, Klavier, Streichquartett wurde neben dem „Überlebenden aus Warschau“ Schönbergs zweiter Großversuch im aktuell Politischen. Musikalische Anspielungen, etwa aus der „Eroica“, passten ins Beethovenfest, sogar der Es-Dur-Schluss für eine Zwölftonpartitur. Zweifellos ist auch Schönberg ein Beispiel für die Benutzbarkeit von Musik. Wahrscheinlich ist es aber auch Schönberg, der Byrons Gedicht rettet.
Hier auch mit Hilfe von HK Gruber, dem Wiener Chansonnier, Komponisten und Dirigenten, der ohne jedes Pathos den Text schnell und ohne deklamatorisches Abgleiten in die heftige, fast schrille musikalische Textur einstellte. HK Gruber dirigierte gestern übrigens auch das Bonner Orchester mit einem spannenden Programm von Hanns Eisler, Kurt Weill und Eigenem.
Järvis Bremer Kammerphilharmonie hatte beim Auftakt den hellen Jubel auf ihrer Seite. Sein Orchester ist eins der fixesten, er selbst sowieso: 63 Minuten für Beethoven 9. Sinfonie ist schon rekordverdächtig. Aber mit den Bremern kann er das riskieren. Die Musik bekam einen prächtigen Drive. Das „De profundis“ des Anfangs ist nicht so sehr seine Sache. Dafür aber vertritt er umso heftiger das säkulare Glaubenskenntnis an eine humane Gesellschaft. Seine „Neunte“ steht ganz in diesem Leben, dafür hat er auch fabelhafte Musiker. Wie das schnelle, feine Horn im zweiten Satz (Trio).
Es bleibt bei Järvi alles klein und transparent besetzt. Der Deutsche Kammerchor für das Chorfinale spielte eine exzellent Rolle. Wie natürlich auch das von Christiane Oelze prominent angeführte Vokalquartett im Schluss-Satz. Auch die drei anderen Stimmen waren perfekt ausgewählt mit der ausdrucksstarken Annerly Peebo, dem fabelhaften Steve Davislim in der schwierigen Tenorpartie sowie, last noch least, Matthias Goerne für das berühmte „Freunde, nicht diese Töne“ gleich am