Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cleveland Orchestra: Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring

Takemitsu: Dream/Window
Bach: Mass in F major, BVW233
Debussy: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring, Scenes from Pagan Russia in Two Parts.

Summer has officially ended; the Cleveland Orchestra has returned to it's beautiful* Severance Hall home. Though Thursday is not my normal concert night** and many of the ushers and patrons I had become used to greeting on Saturdays last season weren't present it was great to settle into the hall.

The orchestra opened the 2010-11 season with Takemitsu's Dream/Window. This is the fourth Takemitsu piece I've heard since I started blogging and in general his works are just not music that I enjoy listening to making it an inauspicious start to the program.

What that lead, Bach's Mass in F Major had me worried: The last Bach Mass I heard was at a concert presented by another organization so disappointing as to be described as nothing more than "Blugh" -- that was Bach's B minor mass -- this however, was quite a pleasant excursion. While the first movement did little for me, the second (Gloria) and sixth (Cum Sancto Spiritu) were almost spiritual experiences in themselves, with the intervening movements holding my attention.

Following intermission was the leisurely Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. Though the program notes draw an explicit comparison between the Prelude and Dream/Window, I didn't hear the similarity in soundscape. I closed my eyes through much of the piece and had no problem visualizing an early fall landscape on cool afternoon.

Finally, the program concluded with Stravinsky's groundbreaking The Rite of Spring. Listening to the wonderfully textured with a full palette of orchestral color, at times primitive piece it's not difficult to understand why it provoked riots upon it's 1913 debut. As when I first heard this piece I strongly preferred Part One (The Adoration of the Earth) to Part Two (The Sacrifice), from the opening solo bars to the particularly biting and wonderfully pulsating string staccato (I believe this is the Dances of the Young Girls, however, I'm far from positive)

*- Not to mention far more convenient for me. I love having the Cleveland Orchestra and CIM both within walking distance.
**- This week only because I have an Opera Cleveland ticket for Saturday; next week because I'm flying out to meet my dad in Las Vegas that Friday--but I haven't bought a ticket yet, and depending on when I get back from Columbus I may have to forgo that concert.

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