10/13/2011 - & October 15, 2011
Carl Maria von Weber: Overture to “Euryanthe”
Felix Mendelssohn: Symphony No.3 (“Scottish”) in A minor, Opus 56
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D major, Opus 35
Nikolaj Znaider (violin)
The Cleveland Orchestra, Franz Welser-Möst (conductor)
N. Znaider (© George Lange)
The Cleveland Orchestra is taking off on a European tour this coming week and Maestro Welser-Möst has been using the early weeks of the season in Severance Hall as an opportunity to fine tune some of the works the group will be playing in Spain, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Austria. Lucky Cleveland!
This program opened with Overture to Euryanthe. Although the opera itself quickly vanished into obscurity, the overture became a popular orchestral work. The woodwind section, which opened the work, was strong, and the augmented strings provided the needed support. Of special note was the exquisite Largo of the eight muted violins and the tremolando violas.
Mendelssohn’s Third Symphony was a work-in-progress for thirteen long years. It appears to have acquired its title from a trip to Scotland taken by the composer at the age of 20, although it has nothing distinctively Scottish about it. He wrote the opening musical phrase the evening after a visit to Holyrood House, inspired by the spirit of Queen Mary, created an outline for the entire symphony that same year and then went off in other directions. Once again, this is a work that suits Maestro Welser-Möst’s subtle style of conducting. He brought forth the sweeping waves of sound from the strings, driving them forward while drawing out the soft, lyrical solos from the various woodwinds. The composer wanted to create a feeling of cohesiveness so his directions call for the four movements to be played attaca, without break, and so it was here. Woodwind solos – Franklin Cohen on clarinet, Jeffrey Rathbun, oboe and Marisela Sager, flute – were outstanding, dancing through the sound of the strings and mixing in duet and trio. This was an impressive performance of a piece that deserves an orchestra of this caliber.
After intermission was Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto featuring the Danish violinist Nikolaj Znaider. A regular performer and now conductor worldwide, Mr. Znaider made his debut here twelve years ago and seemed quite at ease with the orchestra when he walked on stage. This hard-hitting concerto has been a staple of the concert circuit and has been recorded by all of the greats. Mr. Znaider played with quick, sure finger work and great passion, coaxing gorgeous tone from his “Kreisler” Guarnerius; perhaps his harmonics were not as secure and pitch-perfect as they could have been, but that was minor in the grand scope of the whole. He didn’t “subdue” the instrument, as is so often the case with this concerto, but played with a sense of security and style that brought the audience to its feet.
The Cleveland Orchestra’s 2011 European Tour