Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cleveland Orchestra: Franz Welser-Most Conducts Dvorak's Sixth

Shepherd: Tuolome (World Premiere Performances)
Shostakovitch: Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 77 (Frank Peter Zimmerman, violin)
Dvorak: Symphony No. 6 in D major, Op. 60
Franz Welser-Most, conductor.

Today is my last day in Cleveland before departing on the "Two (if) by land" legs of my travel schedule. Since I won't be in Cleveland on Saturday I wanted to sneak in a concert before I left.

The first piece on the program was the world premiere of Sean Shepherd's Tuolume influenced by Ansel Adams photographs of the eponymous location in Central California not far from where I was born. While I'm not a fan of most new music and this was no exception, I did enjoy it significantly more than his last endeavor presented by the Orchestra, and particularly in the first movement I had the sensation of slowly panning across a particularly vivid landscape photograph.

Coming to the Orchestra straight from a violin lesson wedged into my schedule (yes, despite reprehensible lack of practice time, I am still attempting to learn the instrument) my appreciation for the talents of the Orchestra and Mr. Zimmerman particularly were heightened in Shostakovitch's Violin Concerto -- it is nowhere near as effortless as they or he make it look. The first movement is dark and somber, as if the soloist is wandering alone on the dark and scary streets of a large and unfamiliar city. The second movement -- my favorite from the piece -- released the tension had had a fun, nervous energy in the solo violin that was responded to by the Orchestra. The third movement wasn't as dark as the first, but was a bit more mournful with an extraordinarily impassioned solo.

While Shostakovitch is one of my favorite composers, Dvorak slightly edges him out and so I was delighted that the concert ended with his Symphony No. 6. While the first two movements were delightful, to my ear they didn't sound particularly Dvorak-esque, clearly coming earlier in his career than the "From the New World" (Symphony No. 9) for which he is best known. The third movement, though featured the dance rhythms that are part of the composer's signature and one of the aspects I find most compelling in his music.

It's also worth noting that last week's Carmina Burana was still the talk of the hall with not a bad opinion to be heard.


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