Saturday, January 31, 2015

Cleveland Orchestra: Tchaiovsy's Fifth Symphony

Sibelius: Pohjola's Daughter, Op. 49
Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 63 (Vadim Gluzman, violin)
Unannounced encore for solo violin (Vadim Gluzman, violin)
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64.
Hannu Lintu, conductor.

Approaching the box office this evening -- a full 90 minutes prior to the concert start time -- I was a little surprised to find a completely full house -- not even a single standing room ticket to spare. Luckily, I already had a ticket though far from my "usual" (low-numbered) boxes. I was in Box 22, Seat F for tonight's concert, on the right side of the house, practically on stage [only one box sits closer].

I was a little apprehensive because the sound in Severance Hall changes dramatically based on where you are in the hall and while I've never been in Box 22, I'm not fond of the way the orchestra sounds when heard from boxes 16 or 18 and I feared the effect would be worse. That was most certainly not the case with tonight's concert where the orchestra sparkled with a resonance I can't recall from recent performances.

With the extreme intimacy -- being practically on stage -- I found myself with a view of the conductor's face and facial expressions (in profile) while shaping the sound of the orchestra that I've not been able to see from the more traditional seating locations, and honing in on the movements and indeed sounds of individual musicians. My only problem with tonight's concert was entirely my fault, to borrow a cliche "I couldn't hear the orchestra for the musicians".

To that end, the resplendent pizzicato of the second movement of the violin concerto and the delicious entirety of the unannounced encore played by Mr. Gluzman were certainly highlights.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Cleveland Orchestra: Franz Welser-Most Conducts Mozart and Ravel

Mozart: Symphony No. 41 ("Jupiter") in C major, K.551
Ravel; Daphnis and Chloe: Choreographic Symphony In Three Parts (with the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, Robert Porco, director)
Franz Welser-Most, conductor.


2015 will be the year where I become far more opportunistic regarding which Cleveland Orchestra concerts I choose to attend, primarily due to a number of unfortunate changes artistically and administratively -- the most unfortunate of which being the extension of Franz Welser-Most's contract with the Orchestra -- as well as a number of resignations and retirements from within the artistic and administrative staffs, and a increasingly demanding professional workload -- I no longer feel the level of engagement with the orchestra that I once did.

Tonight's performance of Mozart's Symphony No. 41 left me sitting thinking of all of the things that I could have been doing with the time I had set aside to attend the concert, not to mention the money used to purchase the ticket. Running down I think any of them -- including changing the oil on my car -- would have been a better use of my time. Mr. Welser-Most's rendition was un-engaging and dispassionate that rather than taking me to a different world, as a great concert will do, I had to struggle to keep my attention on the piece rather than, say, the laundry I could be doing.

I've often said that the reason I enjoy live classical and detest listening to recorded classical is the dynamic range and exchange of energy that you get from the live orchestra -- I got neither of those tonight.

During intermission I pondered my predicament -- I generally like Ravel whereas I tend to lean indifferent to Mozart -- I decided with how miserable I was feeling toward the first piece and despite the investment in the ticket, I would be far better off just heading home to do laundry. And I feel good about that decision.

I think the lesson learned from tonight, and in the spirit of being more opportunistic (with the side benefit of saving some money for our trip to Paris in March) I will not be attending next week's concert -- nor, do I expect, other concerts conducted by Mr. Welser-Most in the near future. I am optimistic about the concert on January 24th (including Pictures at and Exhibition)