The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra presented a masterful concert under the direction of Musical Director Paavo Jarvi on Feb. 19 at Music Hall in Cincinnati.
The program consisted of Bohuslav Martinu’s “Frescoes of Piero Della Francesca,” a CSO premier, Tchaikovsky’s “Concerto in D Major for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 35,” featuring the violin virtuoso Midori, and Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring. ”
According to the program notes Martinu’s “Frescoes of Piero Della Francesca” doesn’t depict “each of the ten panels as a symphonic poem.”
“Rather it was the solemn frozen silence of the whole series that he tried to suggest, by approximating in musical terms the emotional state which is aroused.”
Maestro Jarvi’s minimalist gestures passionately evoked the solemn opening string section and the rising musical counterpoint in the lower voices.
The heavy orchestration was like a fresco itself, the lush sounds dripped like stucco onto the ground in front of a great master.
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra managed to wrench every piece of emotion out of this new piece.
The opening statement is in a mezzo-dynamic style very indicative of the style of Tchaikovsky.
Maestro Jarvi allows the tensions to build as the fuzzy sound of Midori’s violin begins to peek out from the thick orchestrations.
Midori is a virtuoso that is well known in the city of Cincinnati.
Her delicate interpretation of this piece is why she’s such critical acclaim.
The rising tension as well as the delicate interplay between the orchestra and the soloist showed that there was a real chemistry between these two entities and the man that conducted them both.
Midori was greeted by a rousing standing ovation, experiencing four separate curtain calls.
After intermission, the crowd gradually thinned out and the tension was present in the air as the orchestra walked onto the stage for Stravinsky.
A woman sitting beside me commented, “I think I might leave, this piece is weird.”
And it was.
The haunting English horn or oboe solo abruptly entered as the delicately textured low reeds played a small rising figure against it.
The walking bass line is the only presence of anything continuous. There is some quacking contrabassoon and trombone interplay after the bassoonist’s attempt at a rather difficult solo.
A grand pause meshed with the audience’s equilibrium.
The smash of a gong heralded the breaking forth of something so driving that it hurts to listen to it. An abrupt ending left the audience with an expectant buzz in their heads.
Listening to this piece was interesting and, judging the audience members’ reactions, was a rollicking good time.
Maestro Jarvi’s performance was splendid, and the orchestra performed equally well under his baton.
He’s brought this orchastra productivity, making it one of the best in the nation, and arguably the world.
Bravo, Paavo, Bravo.