Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cleveland Orchestra: Salute to John Williams

[The complete program for this concert follows this post]

There are some concerts that I'm predisposed to like -- and this concert, featuring the music of John Williams, scores high as far as predispositions goes. Thus, it's particularly surprising when I left tonight's concert barely mustering a "meh". It's not that it was bad, it just wasn't Cleveland Orchestra good; more Long Beach Pops acceptable.

While I don't think it would have changed my impression of the concert, it's worth noting that the evening got off to a rocky start when another patron tried claiming my seat while I was settling in (The tickets were for the same box and seat; I stood my ground, er, chair, the usher just kind of shrugged, and the other patron moved on to another empty seat but it still dented the evening)

I long ago came to the conclusion that it is unreasonable to expect a "John Williams Concert" without music from Star Trek, but tonight's program was heavily loaded with cliched works, and left out all of my favorites (save for the encore) and Mr. Williams lesser known pieces.

Just because the selections were cliched doesn't necessarily mean I wouldn't enjoy it, but the performance  tonight -- perhaps just from my seat location as I was further house right than I prefer -- seemed really two-dimensional and lacked the musical depth-of-field that makes attending live orchestral concerts special; as  performed I might as well have been listening to them on  my iPod. After a while, most of the pieces pretty much sounded the same.

Nothing really stood out as superior but a few pieces deserve mention:
Sayuri's Theme from Memoirs of a Geisha was more subdued and restrained than I typically associate with Williams's works. The Olympic Fanfare and Theme from the 1984 Olympics embodied the Olympic Spirit.

Yoda's Theme from Star Wars was more delicate and combined with the vivid sounds of children playing on the (packed) lawn and a few quiet chirps from birds made what was probably the most serene piece on the evening's program.

Adventures on Earth from E.T. had a beautiful violin section and quite possibly could have been the piece so many years ago that subliminally made the violin my favorite instrument

March from 1941 served as the encore, and the only of my favorite John Williams pieces  that was heard at Blossom this evening and did not disappoint (for those building programs: Other favorite Williams pieces that don't get done: America: The Dream Goes On; The Main Theme from The Patriot; Main Title from The Towering Inferno, and I could go on...)


The Program (as published and performed), all by John Williams: Superman March from Superman; Main Title and Theme from Jurassic Park; Sayuri's theme from Memoirs of  a  Geisha; [1984]Olympic Fanfare and Theme; Suite from Close Encounters of the Third Kind; Suite from Star Wars (The Imperial March, Yoda's Theme, Main Title); March from Raiders of the Lost Ark; Harry's Wonderful World  from Harry Potter; Selections from Hook (The Face of Pan, Flight to Neverland); Selections from Jaws (The Shark ThemeOut to Sea, and The Shark Cage Fugue); Adventures  on Earth from E.T.; March from 1941. Richard Kaufman, conductor.

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