Wednesday, October 19, 2011

CIM Orchestra: CIM@Severance - Daughtery, Stravinsky, Ravel

Daugherty: Red Cape Tango from the Metropolis Symphony (1988-93)
Stravinsky: Violin Concerto in D Major (Emily Nebel, Violin)
Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé Suites Nos. 1 and 2
Carl Topilow, conductor
at Severance Hall, Cleveland

For the second time in relatively recent history Rachel and I found ourselves at Severance Hall, not for a Cleveland Orchestra concert (they're currently touring Europe, leaving me a bit envious) but for the able Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra -- the second in their series of free concerts at Severance Hall.

We were seated at about 3 o'clock in the house -- the furthest house right I've been in Severance and I was a bit concerned about what the sound would be (previously, I've noted in that in Box 16 the violins sound particularly strong compared to boxes 1-12, and I was wondering if that would intensify further afield -- it doesn't) but I was also interested by the view afforded -- virtually straight on to the violinists and over-the-shoulder for the cellists.

The program opened with Michael Daugherty's Red Cape Tango, which playful and remained my favorite from the evening. Starting with a horn call echoed off-stage by an instrument that could have just as easily been miles away, then each principal slowly built before arriving at a full-bodied and delicious dance. That dance is interesting, but periodically and chaotically interrupted for varying--and significant periods of time--at one point a an amusingly sour trombone note is answered by solo violin.

Next up on the program was Stravinsky's Violin Concerto. Stravinsky and I haven't been having the best run of late. Tonight's performance, with Emily Nebel playing the solo violin part, was infinitely more enjoyable than the Agnon heard just five days ago, but it still left me more than a little wanting, and the general mood was more depressing than not (the emotions I associated with each movement were "Restrained Excitement"--"Melancholy"--"Crying Woman"--"Lively"). The fourth movement, Capriccio, was my favorite from the piece both with the generally more lively disposition and some particularly impressive playing from Ms. Nebel -- not the least of which was a bit of ricochet.

After intermission the program finished with Suites 1 and 2 from Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe, each consisting of three movements played without pause. The first suite, Nocturne--Interlude--Danse Guerriere, was indisputably nocturnal and lingered in that mood with a few erie overtones, and a wind machine, until an explosive and slightly jarring arrival at the Danse Guerriere. The second suite, Daybreak--Pantomime--General Dance, begin with the musical equivalent of a slowly rising sun, complete with a twinkling harp and happily chirping birds. The energy of daybreak gave way to a midday siesta, before winding up with a light dance led by flute and sting pizzicato.


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