Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cleveland Orchestra: Handel's Royal Fireworks

J.S. Bach: Suite No. 1 in C major, BWV1066
Handel: Music for the Royal Fireworks
Haydn: Symphony No. 104 ("London") in D major
Ton Koopman, conductor.

I've found that Baroque is a particularly acquired taste -- something that Apollo's Fire (The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra) has been slowly helping in that regard, but I have to confess particularly on the heels of the last couple concerts, that I wasn't overly excited about hearing the Cleveland Orchestra's foray into the sub genre.*

With me tonight I had my lady friend, hearing the Cleveland Orchestra in Severance Hall for the first time since a class trip while she studded at Case, and also for her first time on the box level. We were in Box 1, Seats E and F, and there are only a handful of seats that I would personally rank above these two.

My apprehension about The Cleveland Orchestra's Baroque Festival faded as the effervescent Mr. Ton Koopman took the stage and the podium with surprising enthusiasm and launched into Bach's Suite No.1 -- a suite of eleven movements with a variety of textures and emotions. I quickly lost track of which movement I was listening to. Thus my comments are general: I enjoyed the variety of textures, particularly the dance movements, though at times the harpsichord seemed a touch loud in relationship to the rest of the orchestra.

Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks was, by far, our favorite from the evening, though we were both confused about the sequencing of movements -- the piece concluded at what I had thought was the end of the 3rd movement and what my friend had thought was the end of the 4th movement... so the reactions I had associated with particular movements were likely not actually for those movements after all. I loved the energetic and celebratory feeling of the opening, and the energy of the conclusion, but even the middle -- which had the air of a dignified procession -- was fantastic to listen to.

Following intermission, Haydn's Symphony No. 104 ("London") didn't quite inspire the same feelings of wonder as the Fireworks, but nonetheless was still very well done; of particular note were the opening statements as awell as the theme in and enthusiasm of the fourth movement finale.

*- Though every time I hear the word "baroque", or the output of a harpsichord I think of Perrey and Kingsley's Baroque Hoedown, the theme for Disney's Main Street Electrical Parade. Though it is one of the early synth pieces, I'd love to hear the Cleveland Orchestra try it... it's hard not to smile listening to it

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