Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cleveland Orchestra: Mozart Under the Stars (at Blossom)

Mozart: Symphony No. 36 ("Haffner") in D major, K385
Mozart: Clarinet Concerto in A major, K622 (Franklin Cohen, clarinet)
Mozart: Overture to The Abduction from the Seraglio
Mozart: Symphony No. 41 ("Jupiter") in C major, K551
James Feddeck, conductor
at Blossom Music Center, Cuyahoga Falls.

There are a relatively few musicians who I follow passionately enough to influence my decision to attend a concert -- virtually all of them are members of The Cleveland Orchestra. Franklin Cohen, the Orchestra's long-time principal clarinet and tonight's soloist is one of those few. In all honesty single-composer programs tend to be much less appealing to me -- had Mr. Cohen not been on the program, I probably would have gone for Sunday's concert instead.

But had I skipped tonight's concert I would have missed a sublime summer sunset with the orchestra and  four wonderful pieces  from Mozart.

It was a pleasantly warm -- but not  hot -- evening, the lawn was  full and everything was in the right place when the orchestra started out with Mozart's Haffener symphony. The program note mentions that "...the symphony had originally been intended as a second 'Haffner' serenade to be performed outdoors."and it certainly glistened in Blossom's outdoors. The first movement was festive and energetic with a feeling of an refined outdoor party while the second movement was more subdued and had a more refined feeling of an elegant affair. The final two movements of the piece moved quickly and had an excited punctuation to them.

Second on the program but the star of the show, Mozart's Clarinet Concerto with Franklin Cohen playing the solo part. It was so beautifully and cohesively played that at some point I just let my eyes drift out of focus and listened to the beautiful notes coming off  the stage. Though the resident birds kept quiet through most of the concert they added quick cheeps as accents for color. The second movement was a particularly sweet embrace between orchestra and soloist and almost brought water to my eyes. During a long pause before the third movement there was an awkward, if enthusiastic, burst of applause from the back of the pavilion. The third movement reminded me of my weekly walks with no set route in mind -- confidently striding along for a while before reaching a possible fork in the road and pondering the options before surging forward again.

Following intermission, the Overture to The Abduction from the Seragilio may be the shortest piece by Mozart that the orchestra has played at just about five minutes in performance, but it was a pleasant palate cleanser.

The last piece on the program, Mozart's Jupiter symphony was beautifully played but I had a hard time really getting deep into the music. During the second movement, though, I fell in love with the grace of the orchestra's performance acoustically, while watching a moth gracefully fluttering above the strings.

Everything came together and this is what a Blossom concert can and should be.


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