Saturday, August 24, 2013

Cleveland Orchestra: Beethoven and Schubert

Beethoven: Coriolan Overture, Op. 62
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15 (Martin Helmchen, piano)
Schubert: Symphony in C major ("The Great"), D.944
David Afkham, conductor

Where has this summer gone? While next weekend officially marks the end of the Blossom season (with Pixar in Concert), this weekend was the last classical concert -- as well as my last concert -- of the season. (While I am actually very intrigued by the Pixar program Rachel and I are heading up to Michigan to walk the Mackinac Bridge and possibly adopt a dog for Labor Day).

On one hand I'm sad to see the season end as it means cooler weather is soon to be on its way, on the other hand I am eager to return to Severance and will not miss the hour-long drive to and from Blossom (usually behind someone attempting to merge onto Route 8 [speed limit: 65] at 16 miles per hour).

Tonight's concert was particularly social including a pre-concert discussion with an orchestra staffer that was most enlightening, and at Intermission I was visited by an Engineering Professor who I've chatted with a couple times at Severance. What's a bit more remarkable is that he and his wife are such fans of the Cleveland Orchestra that they make the three-hour drive from their home in Ann Arbor several times each season to hear the Orchestra live.

Technically all three pieces on the program were great, musically none of the three pieces really compelled me to listen, instead I found my thoughts wandering -- largely to questions of dog logistics.

The ten-minute Coriolan Overture seemed much tamer and more subdued than the average overture but had a beautiful cello ending. The three movements of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 started with a pastoral gentile walk through autumn before a gentile and very tender hymn-like second movement and ending with what was to be my favorite movement from the evening centered around an energetic and very fun main theme.

Schubert's Symphony ("The Great") contrasted the somewhat relaxed "walk" of the first-movement Beethoven with a more austere and contemplative then turning impassioned and determined first movement. The adante con moto second movement was more unsettled and stormy and wandering off course. The third movement with a waltz encapsulated within and would prove to be my favorite from the piece. And by the fourth movement I was simply tired and ready to make a speedy exit from the pavilion to beat the throngs of concert goers to my car.


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