Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cleveland Orchestra: The Pines of Rome (With the Kent/Blossom Chamber Orchestra

Mendelssohn: Overture to The Hebrides ("Finigal's Cave") , Op. 26*
Beethoven: Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21*
Rossini: Overture to William Tell**
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 (Karen Gomyo, violin) **
Respighi: The Fountains of Rome (Fontane di Roma) **
Respighi: The Pines of Rome (Pini di Roma) ***
at the Blossom Music Center
* - The Kent/Blossom Chamber Orchestra, James Feddeck, Conductor
** - The Cleveland Orechastra, Andrew Grahms, Conductor
*** - Both orchestras, Andrew Grahms, Conductor

A attended this evening's concert with a friend, and but for a scheduling conflict for my friend, the possibility exists that I would have attended last night's performance (I was on the fence but tipping to Saturday)... I am wonderfully happy to have attended tonight's concert featuring the culmination of the 6-week Kent/Blossom summer music institute along side the Cleveland Orchestra.

Rich in texture from the first note, this concert brought a variety of sounds and emotions into the pavilion and there truly wasn't a piece that I didn't enjoy to some extent; even Beethoven's first symphony, which was certainly not my favorite piece from the program proved pleasing to the ear.

Both overtures on the program, Mendelssohn's from The Hebrides and Rossini's William Tell were as evocative as one would expect from an overture. The timidness with which I was struck by at the beginning of The Hebrides quickly done away with. Though galloping ending of the William Tell Overture is best known as the theme song for The Lone Ranger, there was an excerpt just before that that seemed equally as familiar.

In the middle of the program was Mendelssohn's amazing Violin Concerto featuring Karen Gomyo and the stunning clarity pulled me in and all but insisted that I close my eyes to soak in the beautiful melodies. This combined with last week's performances, it seems my anti-concerto streak may be ending.

Rounding out the program were Respighi's The Fountains of Rome and The Pines of Rome. My friend named The Fountains of Rome as her favorite piece of the program, and with the context of Blossom it's hard to disagree: In addition to beautiful music from on stage, at nearly the instant the piece began, a heavy rain started: From the comfort of the pavilion the sound of water falling couldn't help but to enhance the feeling if being near -- or in -- a fountain. Likewise, a well-timed thunderclap contributed to music in the way only Blossom can present it.

The final piece on the program, was likewise enjoyable, and I think the bold and playful first movement of The Pines of Rome ("The Pines of the Villa Borghese") was my favorite single movement from tonight's program. For third movement, The Pines of the Janiculum, the program notes interpret "There is a thrill in the air. The full moon reveals the profile of the pines of Ginicolo's Hill. A nightingale sings." -- Now I do not think that they were nightingales, but several birds taking up refuge along with the lawn patrons under the cover of Blossom's pavilion seemed to pick perfect moments to begin and end their song, mixing beautiful natural music with beautiful orchestral movement. The fourth and final movement, The Pines of the Appian Way, ended with a burst of orchestral energy to rival the cannon fire from the Fourth of July concerts.


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