Cleveland Orchestra enjoys artistic, financial success on gala evening with Emanuel Ax (review)

Cleveland Orchestra enjoys artistic, financial success on gala evening with Emanuel Ax (review)

By Zachary Lewis

Cleveland.com

3 October 2016

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Consider the Cleveland Orchestra’s American deficit reduced. After a heavily American subscription season opener, the group Saturday followed up with a gala stocked with even more of the same.

What an invigorating twist it was. No offense to Beethoven, whose Piano Concerto No. 2 was also on the program, but Harbison, Copland, and Bernstein were nothing if not welcome and overdue breaths of fresh air on a night that generated $1.1 million for the orchestra’s educational initiatives.

Start with Harbison’s “Remembering Gatsby: Foxtrot for Orchestra,” a short dance sequence from a later opera. True to its name, the score saw the orchestra in big band mode, belting out a catchy, lilting tune with saxophone, trumpets, and drum-set. Even director Franz Welser-Most seemed to enjoy the frolic in an exotic musical language.

Conductor and orchestra also seemed fully attuned to Copland’s Suite from “Billy the Kid.” Everywhere in the score, from its evocations of wide-open landscapes to the Mexican Dance and percussive gun battle scenes, both parties delivered vigorous, fully-engaged performances. Particularly savory was the expressive solo by principal trumpet Michael Sachs in “Prairie Night (Card Game).”

Bernstein’s “Candide” Overture, by contrast, is a perennial Cleveland favorite, and reappeared Saturday as an encore. That this orchestra can do just about anything was clear from a blazing, truly virtuoso performance.

Noteworthy as the musical selections were, the star of the night was pianist Emanuel Ax, who joined the orchestra for a sparkling account of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2. A work Ax and Welser-Most have surely played 1,000 times received Saturday at Severance Hall another sweet, insightful reading.

This one stood out for its contrast, for its gentle tug-of-war between playful or fiery zeal and probing, supple elegance. Muscle and effervescence, along with animated support by the orchestra, defined the Allegro and Rondo, while in the Adagio, Ax spun out his tender lines with wondrous, bell-like clarity.

More of the latter was also what made his encore a treat. Coming from Ax, “In the Evening” from Schumann’s “Fantasy Pieces” Op. 12 served as the perfect nightcap, a fond, tender farewell.

Leave a Reply

NY Phiharmonic

Artist-in-Residence: Emanuel Ax 2012/13.
Read more »

WATCH

Next Concerts

    October 21, 2017

    Budapest Festival Orchestra Tour

    Béla Bartók National Concert Hall

    Budapest, Hungary

    BACH Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068
    MOZART Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466
    TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4 in F minor

    October 23, 2017

    London Symphony Orchestra

    Auditorio Nacional de Música

    Madrid, Spain

    BRAHMS Symphony No 3
    BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No 5, ‘Emperor’

     

    November 3, 2017

    The Cleveland Orchestra

    Severance Hall

    Cleveland, OH

    ELGAR Serenade in E minor for String Orchestra
    BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1
    ELGAR Enigma Variations (Variations on an Original Theme)

    November 4, 2017

    The Cleveland Orchestra

    Severance Hall

    Cleveland, OH

    ELGAR Serenade in E minor for String Orchestra
    BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1
    ELGAR Enigma Variations (Variations on an Original Theme)

    November 5, 2017

    The Cleveland Orchestra

    Severance Hall

    Cleveland, OH

    ELGAR Serenade in E minor for String Orchestra
    BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1
    ELGAR Enigma Variations (Variations on an Original Theme)

    November 10, 2017

    Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich

    Tonhalle

    Zurich, Switzerland

    DEAN
    GRUBER
    DUTILLEUX

    November 16, 2017

    Royal Stockholm Philharmonic

    Konserthuset

    Stockholm, Sweden

    STRAUSS JR/GRUBER Perpetuum mobile/Charivari
    GRUBER Piano Concerto 23 min
    GRUBER Dancing in the Dark 24 min
    STRAVINSKY Symphony in Three Movements

    November 18, 2017

    Royal Stockholm Philharmonic

    Konserthuset

    Stockholm, Sweden

    STRAUSS JR/GRUBER Perpetuum mobile/Charivari
    GRUBER Piano Concerto 23 min
    GRUBER Dancing in the Dark 24 min
    STRAVINSKY Symphony in Three Movements

Audio Player


Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4
Brahms: Music For 2 Pianos
Haydn: Piano Sonatas
Liszt: Piano Sonata in B Minor
Mendelssohn: Piano Trios
Strauss: Enoch Arden

LISTEN

Video Player

Extract from masterclass given by Emanuel Ax on Beethoven Piano Sonatas and Variations. The student is Nicolas Van Poucke. The full masterclass is available on DVD from www.masterclassfoundation.org

WATCH

Twitter