Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cleveland Orchestra: Ton Koopman Conducts Mozart

Locatelli: Introduzione teatrale, Op. 4, No. 4
Boccherini: Cello Concerto in D major, G479 (Mark Kosower, cello)
JCF Bach: Symphony No. 20 in B-flat major, HW.I/20
Mozart: Eine kleine Nachtmusik [A Little Night Music] Serenade No. 13 in G major for strings, K525
Mozart: Symphony No. 31 ("Paris") in D major, K297
Ton Koopman, Conductor

If you needed any reminder as to the genre of tonight's concert, the short (at about five minutes, perhaps the shortest I've heard the orchestra perfrom) Introduzione teatrale left no room for doubt that you were in for an evening of baroque. A sngle movement whith a tangy slow middle bookended by fast outer sections it was interesting -- and I realized that "tangy" is the sound I associate with the period.

Mr. Koopman is clearly not the kind of conductor to hold back, nor is he one who seems to leave doubt as to what he desires from the orcehstra and you would hope the sound of the ensemble benefits from both of those qualities -- but it seemed uncommitted

Next up, Boccherini's Cello Concerto featured orchestra principal Mark Kosower. I've had the pleasure of hearing him preform with small ensembles before and have loved his sound, but tonight something seemed just a little baroque-n (if you can excuse the inexcusable pun). During solo passages and when the cello was clearly in front of the ensemble it was delightful -- especially in the powerfully sweet second movement -- but when cello and ensemble were on a more even footing it seemed as if I was listening to two different pieces that weren't quite gelling.

The final piece before intermission finds us with JCF Bach's Symphony Number 20, which had a more modern sound than the first two, and the first movement was particularly lighter; the prominent sound of the flute made me imagine a small and agile bird fluttering over the orchestra, but the remaining three movements were less remarkable.

The highlight of the concert came following intermission with Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik, or the common English rendering, A Little Night Music, with the first movement passionately played and unmistakably familiar and fun to hear with a sense of celebration. Once we had departed the territory of the familiar we were taken into the realm of romantically lyrical before turning slightly festive.

The last piece on the program, Mozart's Symphony 31, Paris, was pleasant to hear but passed without making any lasting impression on my conscious (the extent of my notes are "(e)(1) ? (2) ? (3) ?") which was generally my feeling about the concert -- and based on the lackluster response from the audience I don't think I was alone.

As a scheduling note, since my dad will be in town for my birthday next weekend I'll be attending the concert on Thursday instead of my traditional Saturday outing -- with Stravinsky's Firebird I have high hopes.

(As a postscript, in conversations with various people both leaving the hall and since, I've heard an unusally high -- e.g. universal -- displeasure)

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