Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cleveland Orchestra: Bruckner and Adams

Adams: Violin Concerto (Leila Josefowicz, violin)
Brucker: Symphony No. 9 in D minor
Franz Welser-Most, conductor.

Following the media night event (see this post), Rachel and I settled in for the concert. First up on the program, John Adams's Violin Concerto, with the talented Canadian violinist Leila Josefowicz playing the solo part. This past week, after walking Rachel home at night I took a shortcut through a dark and somewhat densely wooded park on my way back to my house. As the music started to surround us, the eeriness of the first movement, quarter note = 78, reminded me very much of the uneasy, hair-on-the-back-of-the-neck feeling of that walk. I noticed that the section violins -- spent the majority of, if not the entire movement, relegated to pizzicato.

For the second movement (Chaconne: "Body through which the dream flows") I'll borrow Rachel's description of "sorrowful dirge" however, as sorrowful as it may have been, it was not without moments where the strings truly sung and the orchestra sounded almost like a muted choir singing to the heavens behind Ms. Josefowicz's violin. Closing out the piece, Toccare, the third movement, was my favorite from the evening -- very excited, and energetically played, one had the feeling of a joyful pronouncement toward the end, leaving the sorrow and unsettledness of the earlier movements behind.

Following an intermission reception, we returned to the pavilion for Bruckner's 9th...while I don't hate Bruckner, he's certainly not my favorite composer with his works being a bit heavy and seeming to hit the Orchestra's programs with disproportionate frequency lately. True to the movement's indication, the first movement Feierlich, misterioso was solemnly mysterious with the occasional triumphant horn statement; the scherzo was animated and seemed to let the firm grip on civilization loose a little. Finally the third movement adagio was wistful with soaring strings.

Though I'm not Bruckner's fondest fan -- and his music has been described as a "wall of sound", that wall is not impenetrable; as the piece was played the chipper chatter of the birds that inhabit the Blossom pavilion could also be heard--and they seemed to fit in beautifully with the 9th Symphony, and I couldn't help but feel the blend was more harmonious between Birds and Bruckner than it would be with the music of some other composers.


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