Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Cleveland Orchestra: All-French - Ravel's Bolero

Ravel: Le Tombeau de Couperin, op. 35
Saint-Saens: Cello concerto no. 1 in A minor, op. 33 (Gautier Capucon, cello)
Schmitt: La Tragedie de Salome symphonic suite.
Ravel: Bolero.
Lionel Bringuler, conductor.

As you may have noted, I've become far more selective with my Cleveland Orchestra attendance -- and bank account has certainly reaped the rewards but the side effect is it felt a little weird coming back to Severance tonight.

As of intermission, though, I was quite satisfied with my choice, and this was the most enjoyable Cleveland Orchestra concert from recent memory. On the beginning of this Ravel-sandwich of a program, his Le Tombeau de Couperin (Memorial to Couperin) was pure delight from the first movement that evoked the energy of an bustling European city with an art deco lens, while the second and third movements captured a more suburban spring feeling, perhaps with the stereotypical 50s housewife and children, before the festive and insistent final movement.

The clear imagery of the first piece on the program was countered by the second - Saint-Saens first cello concerto. While it was musically unobjectionable (and for the first time I found myself thinking, "Wow, this piece sounds French" [after having forgotten the "All French" title attached to the program) it didn't make a strong connection with me as far as emotion or imagery.

Likewise, Schmitt's symphonic suite from La Tragedie de Salome struck me as distinctly French and and a nice energy to it but didn't really connect with me.

As we reached the bottom of the Ravel sandwich the impossible-not-to-love Bolero closed out the program and as much as I tried to sit still I couldn't help tapping my fingers or toes (once I stopped one, I involuntarily started doing the other before finally admitting defeat and letting go to the musical pulse.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Cleveland Classical Guitar Society: Vladmir Gorbach

Llobet: Variaciones Sobre
Scarlatti: Sonatas K. 239, K.87 and K.27
Bach: Suite BVW 997
Aguado: Andane and Rondo No. 3
Piazzolla: Cuatro Estaciones Portenas
Gianastera: Sonata Op. 47
At Herr Chapel, Plymouth Church UCC, Shaker Heights

Rachel and I are back from Paris, and I'm just back from a trip to Orlando and I'm delighted to see that Spring is finally arriving in Cleveland. With the beginnings of spring, comes the last concert of Cleveland Classical Guitar Society's final concert of the 14-15 Intentional Series. Tonight's concert rook place in Herr Chapel, a more intimate venue than the main sanctuary that has hosted the previous concerts.

The first piece on the program, Variacones Sobre, was also one of my favorites with a light and soothing air where I just closed my eyes for the majority of the piece and let the notes settle on my ears, perfect as the daylight faded. Following were three sonatas  composed b Scarlatti; the first reminded me of a busy European street scene, while the later seemed more somber and lonely. The Bach Suite, the last before intermission, though musically interesting, unlike the earlier pieces was more abstract and difficult for me to relate to specific emotions.

Following intermission, Aguado's Adante and Rondo No. 3 was inspired by the musical themes of the day in the early 19th century, but like the piece that preceded it, I had a hard time forming a specific relationship to it.

The next piece though, Cuator Estaciones Portenas with four movements and originally for a five piece band, was delightful and relatable, though somewhat muddy early in the piece, it took on a marching, almost militant feeling in the middle and a lively feeling with a good beat at the end of the piece.

The last piece on the published program, Ginastera's Sonata Op. 47, featured what seemed to be a quite a bit of unusual technique and skill, but didn't really captivate me.

The encore, on the other hand, "Carillon" (I didn't catch the Italian composer's name) had a heartbeat combined with amazing subtlety, and Rachel commented that the sound reminded her of a hammered dulcimer.