Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cleveland Orchestra: Stravinsky's Petrouchka

Stravinsky: Petrouchka (complete ballet music, 1947 revision)
Paulus: Violin Concerto No. 3 (World Premiere, William Preucil, violin)
Ravel: Rapsodie espagnole
Giancario Guerro, conductor

I've sat in many of the boxes at Severance, and while the lower numbers (closest to center) are undoubetely my favorites, thus far Box 1 has eluded me. Tonight through good fortune I found my way to Seat F in that elusive box -- dead center in the hall for what was without reservation my favorite concert so far this season -- and the polar opposite about what I felt towards last week's concert.

Opening with the complete ballet music to Petrouchka in four scenes; and it was one of those glorious pieces where I just got lost in the music without needing to look any deeper -- the piece had energy, it had texture. It was bright and focused -- exactly the characteristics that got me got me hooked on the Orchestra and live classical generally. Every section sparkled but worthy of particular note were Joella Jones stunningly fresh statements from the piano.

The story behind Violin Concerto No. 3 was almost as fascinating as the piece itself; Mr. and Mrs. Hoeschler and Mr. and Mrs. Dahlen, all of Minneapolis, commissioned the piece that received its world premiere with this weekend's concerts. This is the latest in a series of commissions and it was interesting to hear their thoughts and goals attached to each commission. Following a tradition repeated every five years since the Hoeschler's 15th wedding anniversary, Violin Concerto No. 3 was commissioned to celebrate their 45th (If I ever get married I may have to steal this wonderful idea). As for the piece, many people have modern music stereotyped as atonal -- this was very musical, though without a forced program.

Listening to the first movement, I had the impression of Mr. Pruecil's violin as a driver rushing down the street trying to make a date with the sounds of the orchestra as the sounds of a busy city outside. In the second movement, the tender romantic sounds from Mr. Pruecil's violin with the gentle bed of the orchestra made me imagine a serenade by musician-as-romancer outside the romancee's window--on the edge of tears beautiful, while the third movement was unsettled and agitated.

The desert on the three-course (I almost wrote chorus) evening at Severance was Ravel's Rhapsodie espagnole, a quick fifteen minutes trip to Spain with sounds randing from a restrained and a kind of cautious mystery to a fiery explosion of festive music.


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