Saturday, July 6, 2013

Cleveland Orchestra: Heroic Beethoven (at Blossom)

Beethoven: Grosse Fuge [Grand Fugue] in B-flat, Op. 133
Liszt: Totentanz [Dance of Death] (for piano and orchestra) (Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano)
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 ("Eroica") in E-flat major, Op. 55
Franz Welser-Most, Conductor.

My attendance at tonight's concert was anything but certain: My mother arrived in town Friday morning for a weekend visit, and I wanted to keep the schedule open. She had never been to Blossom and Rachel was able to wrestle the evening off so the three of us headed back out to Blossom Music Center for tonight's concert. (Incidentally, I've been assured that the chime issue I mentioned in my last post will be resolved quickly)

Beethoven pieces bookended the concert and I realized in listening to both pieces that while his music is beautiful musically, listening to it doesn't really evoke imagery, which makes it difficult for me to express my reaction to it. That said, Grosse Fuge immediately struck me as both sweet and deep and throaty, the sense of repetition made it very relaxing, though the hammering of an increasingly violent rain virtually drowned out (figuratively and almost literally) some of the quieter passages.

That rain also served to delay the beginning of the second piece (and the volume of water was forming and impressive waterfall off the pavilion roof), which was the unanimous favorite because we all found it particularly evocative -- "birds" said Rachel; "soundtrack to a horror movie" was my mother's take; "Pirates of the Caribbean" was my four-word take. The piece began with an ominous and intense funeral march--being literally hammered out on the piano, and you could almost see taunting skeletons dancing, before taking a lighter, almost fantasy air as  if passing through the gates to the after world. Darkness and light trade places again during the piece including a brief portion of "light" where the piano took on a but more of a baroque sound.

After intermission, Beethoven's Eroica (Symphony No. 3) finished out the program and, as with the earlier Beethoven was beautifully played, and still nice an throaty but not as sweet, but without imagery it didn't really hold my attention--but I did find it quite relaxing (and a nearby patron was lulled into a very relaxed looking sleep)

Overall a good exposure to my Mother of the Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom and a good "first" (for me, actually second) concert of the 2013 season.


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