Saturday, March 8, 2014

Cleveland Orchestra: Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody, Britten's Spring Symphony

Sibelius: Lemminkainen's Return, No. 4 from Legends, Op. 22
Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43 (Rudolf Buchbinder, piano)
Wigglesworth: Locke's Theatre
Britten: Spring Symphony, Op. 44 (Kate Royal, soprano; Jamie Barton, mezzo-soprano; John Tessier, tenor; The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, The Cleveland Orchestra Children's Chorus)
Brett Mitchell, conductor

Though I do not wish Mr. Welser-Most any ill, I would be lying on an epic scale if I were to claim I look forward to hearing him conduct a concert -- so I must admit my mood was significantly lightened when I found the (admittedly unknown, to me) Brett Mitchell would be conducting the performance.  

Opening the program, the short fourth movement from Sibelius's Legends, (name) had a cinematic energy of a ship rising and falling while charging forward on the waves, culminating in a triumph was easy to get pulled into. On the other hand I found it difficult to get into the second piece on the program initially--that is until an extended piano solo wherein my eyes fixated on Mr. Buchbinder's fingers waltzing across the keyboard and stayed so fixated until the signature soaring strings broke my attention free and herald it through the end of the piece -- romance, anticipation, excitement. A musical summation of all of my feelings for Rachel and my upcoming trip to London next week, celebrating our third anniversary. 

On the basis of the first half of the program alone, this one of the most enjoyable concerts at Severance this season. On the basis of the titles of the second half I was hoping that feeling would increase. While there was nothing wrong with the final two works on the program I didn't find them at all as compelling or engaging. 

Ryan Wigglesworth's Locke's Theatre, receiving its United States premiere at this evening's concert was far more musical than many of his contemporaries atonal works--and nicely succinct with three movements in about 10 minutes. Except for basses clearly conveying the sound of gathering storm clouds in the third movement, there were no real themes that sparked the imagination or captured my interest. 

Likewise, Britten's Spring Symphony was well done -- particularly on the part of the at times ethereal Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and Cleveland Orchestra Children's Chorus, but for most of the twelve movements the piece, the music was used to punctuate the verse or vice versa, not really leaving many opportunities to just sit back and enjoy either the music or the verse. 



  1. This WAS Welser-Most conducting. What is the matter with you? I was there, I saw the open rehearsal and the concert.

  2. I believe Welser-Most may have conducted the earlier concerts in that weekend, however he most certainly was not conducting the Saturday evening concert -- and it was eminently enjoyable.