Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cleveland Orchestra: Vivaldi's Four Seasons

Rossini: Overture to La gizzar larda [The Thieving Magpie]
Vivaldi: The Four Seasons violin concertos Op. 8 No. 1-4 (Ray Chen, violin)
Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 3 ("Scottish") in A minor, Op. 56
Jahja Ling, conductor.

It was a positively beautiful evening at Blossom. Before the cancer began it was possible to survey the lawn where picnicking families clearly dominated, and a sea of people managed to marks the majority of the green lawn. As the music started, the sea of pavilion latecomers Behring held back by the ushers was likewise impressively immense.
The appetizer for tonight's concert was Rossini's 10-minute overture to La gazza ladra which mixed a military march and a dance -- the piece was enjoyable and reminded me of something but I couldn't -- and can't -- put my finger on what that was.

The main course, if you will, was Vivaldi's Four Seasons...and it was, if you'll pardon the metaphor delectable. While the electric quartet interpretation by the group Bond is a staple on my iPod, I don't think I've ever heard the complete piece played live.

The program notes include a short poem or, perhaps better stated as a  visualization for each of the three movements for each season. Though translations were in English, the program indicates the original Italian was inserted into the score by Vivaldi himself. The execution by both The Cleveland Orchestra and soloist brought those words to life for example the first line in Spring -- my favorite season from the piece -- "...and joyously the birds now welcome her return..." was brought to fluttering, chirping life by Mr. Chen.

The final piece of the program, Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 3 was the closest I've ever come to turning around and flat out telling a patron to shut up and let the people around him enjoy the piece (glaring was ineffective). Indeed, those in the area of the 400 boxes may have thought they were tuned into a baseball style  play-by-play broadcast. While he was obviously very taken by the music -- I'd be tempted to make comparisons to certain, *ahem* adult activities if this weren't a family blog -- it did not help the enjoyment of those around him.

While the first and fourth movements were the most substantial, I found the greatest satisfaction in the second and third movements. The second movement had a distinctly 20th century flavor (despite the piece having been composed in 1829) and what I would describe as hints of a Western film score. The third movement, on the other hand had the sense of tiptoeing through a garden very delicately and with an elegant flair.


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