Wednesday, February 2, 2011

CIM Orchestra: Debussy/Prokofiev/Beethoven

Debussy: Nocturnes
Prokofiev: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 1 in D Major, Op. 19
Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67
Carl Topilow, conductor; Laura Ha, violin.

A park bench not far from CIM in University Circle is inscribed with the anonymous quotation "I come here to find myself, it's too easy to get lost in the world" -- in many ways, this is true of me and classical music, especially in the midst of a hectic week in the office (Looking at my calendar I now have free time somewhere around March 7th, possibly.)

Based on my recent streak with large ensembles audiences, it was so refreshing to attend a concert that suffered from no technical difficulties, an audience that was politely attentive without so much as a misplaced cough let alone a ringing cell phone, and generally without detraction.

Nuages (clouds) got the evening off to a rather slow start, capturing the blue skies and leisurely drivting clouds that Clevelanders can look forward to in a few hopefully short weeks. Fetes (festivals) struck me as more ominous than festive.

I'm befuddled by Prokofiev's Concerto; not so much the music but my reaction to it: There were parts where at the same instant I found myself oscillating between really enjoying the piece and eagerly waiting for it to end. I had no such qualms with Ms. Ha's performance, however, and her fingers seemed to effortlessly glide across the fingerboard of her instrument.

The hall had noticeably fewer occupants following intermission. Without qualification Beethoven's Symphony No. 5* was my favorite and the strongest of the evening. While the allegro con brio first movement opens with what are quite possibly the most well known notes in classical music--and they received a forceful treatment tonight--but the remaining three movements were breathtaking beginning with a beautiful introduction to the second (andante con moto) movement lead by the cellos and a theme in the high strings that was hypnotic.

*- Though I would be willing to swear that I've heard this symphony performed before in reviewing my notes it would seem that this was the first time I've heard it live.

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