Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cleveland Orchestra: Brahms's German Requiem & Widmann's Chor (for orchestra)

It's an interesting coincidence that my iPod chose London Music Works' version of Requiem for a Tower Dream (aka Lux Aeterna) for the drive back from Severance tonight. [What are the chances of the Orchestra ever doing that piece? But for the chance to see, hear, and feel it live...]

Ok, to get the bad out of the way first: While I found Widemann's Chor (For Orchestra) technically interesting and once again highlighted the fantastic acoustics of Severance Hall -- I also found myself longing for the end if the piece. I perpetually felt like it was building to something that never came; the high points of the piece reminded me of a city traffic jam.

Following that, I was initially concerned about Brahms's German Requiem but those concerns were quickly put to rest. It took me a few minutes to warm up to the first movement, and seeing both violin sections sitting idle for such an extended period was just kind of odd; the second and third movements were my clear favorites, followed closely by the 5th movement.

It's a feeling words can't give justice to, but there were several moments where the combined graceful power of the choir and orchestra not only captured my imagination but a fantastic feeling that resonated in my chest. I know that sounds completely crazy, I guess you'd have to feel it yourself.

As an easily overlooked jewel, the Orchestra offers a pre-concert lecture for many (most?) concerts during the season; I know I've had a propensity to forget about them. A few weeks ago, I caught the last part of the lecture for Shostakovitch's 5th and I felt like it added yet another dimension to my understanding and enjoyment of the piece. This evening I made a point of leaving early and intended to catch the entire lecture; for reasons that need not be discussed here I still managed to miss the first part of the lecture, but again the portion I caught was interesting and informative.

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