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Bravo Järvi Festival One

Concert Hall, Pärnu
08/04/2011 -  
Ernest Bloch: Concertino for Flute, Viola, and String Orchestra
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky : Variations on a Rococo Theme for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 33
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra in B-flat Major, K. 191
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92

Maarika Järvi (flute), Mikhail Zemtsov (viola), Teet Järvi (cello), Martin Kuuskmann (bassoon)
Estonian National Youth Symphony Orchestra, Neeme Järvi, Antoine-François López, Kaspar Mänd, Florian Donderer, Ruth Reinhardt, Rachel Grubb (conductors)

N. Järvi (© Tea Juhkur/Courtesy of J.F.)

The final concert of the inaugural Järvi International Summer Festival in Pärnu, Estonia was led by family patriarch Neeme Järvi and students from the annual Järvi Conducting Academy, held in tandem with it. The orchestra was the very accomplished Estonian National Youth Symphony Orchestra (principal conductor/artistic director Jüri-Ruut Kangur).

The scene, a bravo-inducing one, was Pärnu’s glittering, glass-walled Kontserdimaja (Concert House), located on the banks of the Pärnu River where it empties into the Baltic Sea. The hall was nearly full for Pärnu’s adopted son, who used to bring his young family here during the summer months before emigrating from Estonia in 1980. Adding to the celebrity, Järvi, who has been the standard-bearer for Estonian music worldwide, just returned to the Estonian National Orchestra (artistic director, effective in September), the ensemble he nurtured and brought to prominence during the years when Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union.

Two of the soloists were also Järvi’s, cellist Teet Järvi and flutist Maarika Järvi, Neeme Järvi’s nephew and daughter, respectively. Teet performed Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme. Maarika partnered with violist Mikhail Zemtsov in the Concertino for Flute, Viola and String Orchestra by Ernest Bloch. Bassoonist Martin Kuuskmann, a native Estonian now living in the United States, performed Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto. The evening concluded (not counting encores) with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.

Conducting Academy student Antoine-François López (Cincinnati, Ohio, USA) had the choice assignment of opening the concert with Teet Järvi and the Tchaikovsky Variations. He brought considerable skill to the job, working closely with Järvi, a powerful performer who is also powerfully expressive. Järvi’s statement of the theme was smooth as satin, and he imparted just the right spirit to each of the seven variations, quicksilver scales, parallel octaves and all. It was a derring-do demonstration of fireworks and finesse.

Composed in 1950, Bloch’s three-movement, neo-classically conceived Concertino for Flute and Viola flatters both instruments. Zemtsov, principal violist of the Hague Residentie Orchestra (whose chief conductor is Neeme Järvi) played with a rich, amber sound that complemented Maarika Järvi’s golden flute. It was a sunny, genial reading, with a scherzo-like finale that won plaudits from the crowd. They were led with skill and spirit by Järvi Academy student Kaspar Mänd of Estonia.

Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto was conducted successively and fluently by Järvi Academy students Florian Donderer, Ruth Reinhardt and Rachel Grubb. (Donderer, concertmaster of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, is German, as is Reinhardt. Grubb is from the USA). Kuuskmann, a popular figure with the crowd, played with great beauty and virtuosity, and he was called back for numerous bows and an encore. Neeme Järvi, who came to the stage to share a bow with his students, stepped in to lead Kuuskmann in a reprise of the slow movement of the Mozart Concerto.

Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony made a jubilant ending to the 2011 Järvi Festival and Neeme Järvi positively reveled in it. He drew an outstanding performance from the Estonian Youth Orchestra, which excelled in all areas, strings, winds and brass. They played their hearts out for him, responding to every trademark shrug of Järvi’s shoulder, turn of his hand or sweep of his arm.

Of course, the audience wanted an encore from Neeme Järvi, too, and he obliged with Bauern Polka by Johann Strauss, Jr. The Academy students, seated in the gallery to the right overlooking the stage, delighted the crowd with their lusty “La, la, la’s,” inserted at strategic moments. The second encore was also Bauern Polka, after which Järvi signaled adieu by leading the concertmistress off the stage.

The International Järvi Summer Festival and the Järvi Conducting Academy will take place during the last two weeks of July, 2012. Artistic director is Paavo Järvi. Information about the 2012 festival is available on their website.

Mary Ellyn Hutton



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