Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cleveland Orchestra: Bruckner Symphony No. 8 (DVD Recording)

Prelude Concert
Ives: Prelude in F major (for Solo Organ, Joela Jones, Organ)
Interview with Franz Welser-Most and William Cosel; Dee Perry, host
Ives: Variations on 'America' (for Solo Organ, Joela Jones, Organ)

Special Concert Presentation
Bruckner: Symphony No. 8 in C minor (1887 version, edited by Leopold Nowak)

The Cleveland Orchestra is opening its Severance Hall home this week for a gratis performance of Bruckner's Eighth Symphony as it is recorded for future DVD release and in advance of their upcoming European tour and residency.

In advance of tonight's sold-out performance, I knew that there would be a discussion with Franz Welser-Most, but the two organ pieces were a pleasant surprise. You may recall that this past Saturday, the nicest thing I could say about Ives's work was that it was "Only 4 minutes long". Tonight was the first time I can truly say that I've 'heard' Severance Hall's magnificent organ--I know it has been played during pieces, but I've never had an "oh, there's the organ" moment--I was awestruck by the beautiful sound with which Ms. Jones made that organ sing.

Bridging the two Ives pieces was an interview with Mr. Welser-Most and producer Mr. Cosel. I would have enjoyed hearing more from both participants, particularly since this is the first time I've heard Mr. Welser-Most speak live, yet, I was particularly struck by two comments that he made during the short time he was addressing the audience:

On the subject of the recording affecting the performance: "Microphones or not, these musicians play on the highest level possible; it's what drives them" -- something I've long suspected (and after hearing the performance thoroughly agree with) but it's interesting to hear from someone with a deeper immersion in music.

On the subject of Bruckner's music he commented* on how the experience of the Cleveland Orchestra performing Bruckner's Fifth Symphony at the Abbey of St. Florian and hearing the distinct acoustics with which the composer was working gave a greater appreciation of where Bruckner was coming from with the structure of his pieces.

The Orchestra ended their 09-10 season with Bruckner's Eighth, which was clearly the meat of tonight's concert; rereading those notes I'm inclined to merely say "Ditto". Relatively early (for sake of comparison, this adagio, on its own has a longer running time than many television shows) in the third movement adagio, there were some passages featuring the harp that absolutely buoyed the soul.

*- I was too busy noting the previous comment to even pretend to have an exact quote.

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