Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cleveland Orchestra: Strauss, Ades, Brahms

Strauss: Don Juan, Tone Poem for Orchestra, op. 20
Ades: Violin Concerto: Concentric Paths (With Leila Josefowicz, Violin)
Brahms: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, op. 73

The concert was down to "standing room only" availability, yet until the second piece on the program I was sticking out like a sore thumb as the only person in Boxes 9 and 11.

Before the concert began the members of the orchestra distributed fliers to members of the audience; I'm still not sure how I feel about the professionalism of the stunt but it did provide an interesting interaction between the audience and the orchestra. "Don't worry, we won't bite" in the words of Mr. Sherwin. For reasons that should not be blogged about, of all 105 members of the orchestra, I found it particularly...amusing? ironic? awkward? that Mr. Cohen was the musician who popped into Box 9.

Strauss's Don Juan had a wonderful texture and it was impossible to miss the implicit bravado and "delirious flight" referenced in the program notes, though I had a bit of a hard time focusing on the music.

Ades's Violin Concerto is a modern composition that while having all of the hallmarks of a modern composition didn't throw out the classical tradition. Ms. Josefowicz played the piece well and had my nearly undivided attention. During intermission one of the ladies in the adjoining box remarked to me that she thought Ms. Josefowicz was "half naked"... While she was attractive, I honestly have no particularly recollection of her clothing because I was engrossed by her fingering. I enjoyed the first movement, aptly titled Rings. The melodic third movement was my favorite of the piece.

It wasn't until I was reading the program that I realized that I was in for Brahms's Symphony No. 2 after hearing his Piano Quartet last night. It was an interesting contrast. While the symphony was no less expressive, it was significantly lighter and generally I derived more enjoyment from it. The piece was entirely captivating, the repetitive three note melody in the first movement first caught my ear, and its building repetition in the fourth movement held it until the fantastic coda ending the piece.

At the beginning of December I wrote that Rachmananioff's second symphony earned its place as my favorite concert. While that concert still holds the #1 position in my mind, this was made for a close second.


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