Cleveland Orchestra at the Mondavi Center

Have you been to a concert somewhere in the world recently? Share your thoughts with us about the performance, the more details the better!

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Cleveland Orchestra at the Mondavi Center

Post by DavidRoss » Tue Jun 07, 2005 9:26 am

June 6, 2005

Mozart: Symphony No. 36 ("Linz") in C major, K. 425
Ingolf Dahl: Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble

Dvořák: Symphony No. 5 in F major, Op. 76


The performance last night was probably--no, no probability about it--was certainly the finest classical orchestral performance I have ever witnessed: Passionate professionalism unrivalled in my limited experience; gorgeous tone, impeccable precision, palpable rapport among the orchestra and between them and Welser-Möst, and sheer joyous, infectious enthusiam for the music they were playing. Aside from one slightly flat entry by a clarinet in the 2nd or 3rd movement of the Dvořák 5th, there were no flaws whatsoever. (Well, there was a moment in the 3rd movement of the Dahl concerto where the soloist and the other winds might have gotten slightly out of sync, but the piece was new to me and the rhythms were rather daring, so I'm hardly sure of that.)

Speaking of Ingolf Dahl's Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble, it was the highlight of the evening for me and my companions (a flute player, an oboeist, and a jazz alto sax player). What a passionate, colorful, exuberant, work! And what a showcase for the soloist! Joseph Lulloff was more than equal to the challenge, playing with a controlled abandon that one rarely sees in the concert hall but more often in a jazz club, yet with a beautiful, sweet, lyrical tone throughout. If there were more saxophonists and more orchestral wind and percussion sections (the snare drum at times is like something out of Nielsen!) capable of performing this piece as brilliantly, I think Dahl's concerto could find a place in the standard repertoire.

It didn't hurt to have great seats, front center, just a few rows back. I've never been so impressed by the tone and playing of a viola section before, but that might be due to our vantage point as much as to the extraordinary quality of Cleveland's violas. And it was great fun to watch the physical expressiveness of William Preucil, the Concertmaster, and Stephen Rose, the Principal 2nd violin, in the Mozart & Dvořák works. No cold precision here, just passionate, involved music making of the highest kind. In fact, Preucil was so much into it at the finish of the Linz, bowing furiously from the soles of his feet, that I almost expected him to leap out of his chair at the end. If this is typical of what Welser-Möst can get out of this virtuoso orchestra, then it's no stretch to say that the Cleveland might not only be the finest orchestra in the U.S.A., but as good as any in the world.

They tour rarely, so I'm grateful for the opportunity to have heard them in my back yard. Had we known just how great they would be, we'd have bought tickets for their other Mondavi performance the previous night, and maybe for their San Francisco engagement, too. In fact, we might just have to add Cleveland to some future travel itinerary!
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

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Post by jserraglio » Tue Jun 07, 2005 3:20 pm

And they most always play exactly like that at home. Preucil especially reminds me of the proverbial kid in a candy store.

Love of music aside, who wouldn't want to be in Welser-Most's orchestra? From what I've seen and heard, this guy is open to other people's ideas, generous to younger musicians, disarming and funny. In a talk I was at once before a concert, Samuel Ramey looked embarrassed after he blurted out that he loved singing in Severance Hall b/c it was just like singing in the bathroom. Welser-Most came back and joked that opera singers are just like everybody else--we all think we sound wonderful when we're singing in the shower.

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