Friday, December 18, 2009

Cleveland Orchestra: Christmas Concerts

I was once again impressed. This evening's concert lacked any form of ostentation and was just plain fun. It was at least as enjoyable as last evening's concert and I am currently fighting the temptation to return for at least one of the remaining concerts of this program.

The concert was a wonderful mix of well known and not so well known pieces; the Orchestra and chorus(es?) gave a wonderful new vibrancy to well-worn carols. Mr. Porco certainly knew how to work the house, and the there was a wonderful bit of timely humor courtesy of an unannounced visit from Santa-- bet you didn't know he took TARP funds and was running with only four reindeer as a cost-cutting and green measure!

Frequently the first piece on the program telegraphs the mood for the evening, and the Orchestra had me captivated from the first swell in O Come, All Ye Faithful... a feature I've not previously noticed. Marking the third time I've heard it preformed this week, tonight's Hallelujah Chorus was my favorite of the three. Carol of the Bells was also particularly lively; and this is probably a good moment to point out that there was a fantastic handbell group preforming prior to the concert.

In the second half, I wasn't the biggest fan of the audience participation shtick for The Twelve Days of Christmas -- it was fun, but it disrupted the flow of the piece which started wonderfully.

Overall, it was just a laid-back, fun evening of great music in a great hall. It's also worth noting that I shared Box 4 with a couple, pastor and wife, celebrating their 42nd wedding anniversary (though they certainly didn't look it!) by visiting Severance Hall for the first time. They enjoyed the concert and I hope they return to Severance in the future.

I look forward to making this a new holiday tradition.


The Program:
Robert Porco, Conductor; with The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, and members of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus.
Traditional, arr. Wilberg: O Come, All Ye Faithful
Bach, arr. Stokowski: Sheep May Safely Graze from Cantata No. 208
Traditional, arr. Dragon: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
Traditional, arr. Brdaford: Carol of the Bells
Humperdinck: Dream Pantomime from Hansel and Gretel
Rutter: What Sweeter Music
Rutter: Donkey Carol
Tchaikovsky: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Chocolate, Coffee, and Polinchinelle from The Nutcracker.
Traditional, arr. Rutter: Joy to the World
Handel: Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah
Traditional, arr. Wilberg: Fum, Fum, Fum
Bizet: Farandole from L'Arlesienne
Bernard, arr. Miller: Winter Wonderland
Jessel, arr. Gould: Parade of the Wooden Soldiers
Rutter: The Twelve Days of Christmas
Anderson: Sleigh Ride
With three announced encores: White Christmas, Silent Night, and We Wish you a Merry Christmas

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