Friday, January 14, 2011

Cleveland Orchestra: Fridays@7: Heroic Strauss

Wagner: Overture to Tannhauser
Strauss: Ein Heldenleben ("A Hero's Life") (William Preucil, solo violin)
Franz Welser-Most, conductor
Post concert entertainment by Mango Blue

Tonight, it seems, was an evening of small-world connections: Before the concert I bumped into a friend of a friend whom I had met just a week ago (and her boyfriend); after the concert I met several people whom I've crossed paths with before and one whom I had not met before but with whom I share a common professional vocabulary ("Technical Theater", "DMX", "Extron", "Crestron", and the name of one of my clients). Such is the Fridays@7 program: A mix of the old and new, the familiar and unfamiliar converging for a delightful evening.

(Side note: the way-unconfirmed rumor mill has it that the neighbor/renter who's home was hit by last weekend's Over the Parking Lot and Through The Woods incident is a new member of the Cleveland Orchestra staff-- if you read this, stop by and say hi sometime!)

This weekend also forms a portion of the Orchestra's Subscriber Appreciation month; while my status as a subscriber is debatable (though I attend every concert weekend--more than is actually included in a subscription--for financial and scheduling reasons I purchase single tickets, but I am a Celebrity Series subscriber) I donned the "The Cleveland Orchestra Subscriber" blue ribbon next to my standard violin lapel pin -- I will seldom turn down the chance to show support for a Cleveland institution, particularly one so great as the Orchestra.*

For the tradional part of the evening both peices -- 0ne an overture, the other consisting of six movements played without pause -- semeed good choices for an audience that was a clear mix of first timers and seasoned veterens. First-timers often applaud between movements, a practice flooked upon with derision by many veterens and with this presentation the possibility for faux pas was completely avoided.

The Orchestra, though, did not pull any punches: Both pieces were played with the typical quality and enthusiasam, leaving a thoroughly enjoyable product. In the overture to Tannhauser, the opening seemed melencholy, yet the triumpent ending in the brass played over a still melancholy bed of strings seemed to signal a victory of confidence.

Likewise, in Strauss's A Hero's Life, it was not so much music that was pasively listened to but muisic that stuck and resonated within the body. I was particularly oved by the firt, second, and fourth movmenets (The Hero, The Hero's Adversaries, and The Hero's Battlefield, respectively), but William Pruecill's solo violin was stunning in its beauty, as was the play between the solo first and second violins. The remainder of the strings were solid, and received quite a workout. The coment by one menber that ot was the most notes that they've had to play in recent memory was not hard to fathom.

Following the formal concert, Mango Blue provided entertainment with a bit of spanish flair in the foyer that was toe-tappingly fun, and I stayed through the end -- with a growing number of couples dancing in Severance Hall's grand foyer.

Several hundred Groupons were sold for tonight's concert; with an experience like tonight it's not hard to imagine that there will be many repeat customers out of that group.


*- Speaking of which, does anyone know where I can get one of the "TCO" bumper stickers? I've looked for them in the Orchestra gift shop but haven't found them so far.

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