Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cleveland Orchestra: Love and Mozart

Mendelssohn: Four Entr'actes from A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61
Mozart: Bassoon Concerto in B-flat major, K.191 (John Clouser, bassoon)
Berlioz: Love Scene from Romeo and Juliet, Op. 17
Ravel: Daphnis and Chloe Suite No. 2 (Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, Robert Porco, director)
James Feddeck, conductor.

Mediocre is not a word I commonly associate with the Cleveland Orchestra, yet, with tonight's concert I can't offer any higher prase. Going into the hall tonight something felt a little off but I couldn't -- and still can't put my finger on it. Once the concert started (after a well-deserved award recognition to Milton and Tamar Maltz) I found myself craving for each piece to end. I had contemplated leaving during intermission, but convinced myself to stay hoping to be blown away by the second half. I was not.

I was inclined to blame it on my seat -- a bit further to the left than I prefer. But I've had this seat before, and wasn't as put off. I thought it may be the conductor, but I've heard Mr. Feddeck before. While he's not my favorite conductor, I've never had this negative a reaction. In any event my chief complaint -- aside from the aforementioned "something feeling off" -- was that the entire concert, from the opening note of the Mendelssohn up until the last few pages of the Daphnis and Chloe it felt flat and disengaged -- like looking at a photograph of a painting rather than standing in the room with it and admiring the texture (the reason I love live classical and can't stand recordings).

There were a few highlights, namely the Wedding March from Four Entr'actes from A Midsummer Night's Dream -- which although flat trumps any performance I've heard at an actual wedding and had me briefly wondering how much it would cost (logistical issues aside) to have The Cleveland Orchestra perform the Wedding March at an actual wedding. The other highlight came in the last few bars of the Daphnis and Chloe suite where both The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and the Orchestra itself came to full power and delivered an impressive and slightly eerie chant. But even this felt a bit overly rounded at the edges.


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