Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cleveland Orchestra: Matthias Pintscher Reflects

Ravel: Alborada del graciosco
Pintscher: Reflections on Narcissus (concerto for cello and orchestra)*
Ravel: Mother Goose
Dukas: The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Matthais Pintscher, conductor; *- Alban Gerhardt, cello.

At tonight's concert I was joined by a friend. Though she's a fan of dance, tonight's concert was her first visit to Severance Hall and only her second time hearing The Cleveland Orchestra. I can think of few concerts that would have made a better introduction to the institution.

Opening with Alborada del graciosco, a "morning song in a comic style", the lively pizzicato set the tone for the evening: There was an undeniable joy in the music. The first Ravel piece on the program, this was light and playful. During the set change between this and the next piece, my friend commented that watching the orchestra was, in itself, like watching a ballet; I couldn't help but to agree.

That next piece was Matthas Pintscher's Reflections on Narcissus, a concerto for cello and orchestra; conducted by the composer and receiving its US Premiere at tonight's concert. Under the heading of "learn something new every day" I now know the origin of the word narcissism. As for the music, while "new music" is a decidedly acquired taste this piece stood in a beautifully striking contrast to the Alborada. The sound, particularly during the first few of the five reflections was so evocative of water dripping into a pool that I'm not ashamed to admit a few sideways glances to ensure that the hall had not sprung a leak.

Following an intermission where I showed my guest around some of the hall's public areas, the second half of the program began with Ravel's Mother Goose ballet; though a touch slow for my tastes at parts it was absolutely captivating and each section of the orchestra shined in this lyrical suite.

Closing out the program was Dukas's The Sorcerer's Apprentice [L'apprenti sorcier], based on a ballad by Goethe. It took me about a minute but as the piece reached full swing it was, if you'll pardon the obvious, spellbinding--as was the rest of the concert. Potentially best known from Disney's Fantasia, with Mickey as the apprentice the music conjured images of the frantic bucket and broom that obviated a need for visual accompaniment.

All-in-all it was an extremely satisfying concert and one that demonstrated the sports car-like handling of The Cleveland Orchestra: Dead stop to a controlled but frantic burst of energy in one bar; quiet enough to hear the buzz from a hearing aid four boxes to my right to loud enough to drown out the noisiest of thoughts. A shining example of what Cleveland has to offer the world during the Asian tour taking place over the next three weeks.


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