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by Daniel Hathaway

GOMYO-Karen“A Taste of Spain” at Blossom on Saturday July 19 featured The Cleveland Orchestra and guest conductor Bramwell Tovey in Iberian-inspired music by two Frenchmen and one authentic Spaniard who went into self-exile in Argentina after Franco won the Spanish civil war. Sunny as the music was, the weather in Cuyahoga Falls was damp and chilly: in his jovial remarks at the beginning of the second half, Tovey welcomed the audience to what indeed felt like a Spanish winter.

Tovey’s own selections from the two suites that Georges Bizet’s friends fashioned from the music from Carmen opened the program with familiar scene-setting tunes and arias sans singers. The March of the Toréadors; Prélude and Aragonaise; Intermezzo; Dragons d’Alcala; Habanera and Danse Bohème were all treated to colorful, characterful performances, with splendid solo work by oboist Jeffrey Rathbun, flutist Marisela Seger, and wonderful section solos from the bassoons. If the percussion got a bit frisky in the last selection, that only added to the excitement. Read the rest of this entry »

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by Nicholas Jones

KosowerIt was no doubt the beautiful weather that drew many of the ample lawn crowd to Sunday evening’s Blossom concert with the Cleveland Orchestra and guest conductor Bramwell Tovey. The musical appeal, though, was surely the evening’s featured work, Gustav Holst’s justly famous suite The Planets.

Though there were no projected visuals to accompany this early “space music,” Cleveland’s NASA Glenn Research Station – many of whose employees were in attendance – installed a mock-up of the Mars rover and other astronomical displays near the entrance.

Holst’s suite, written over several years during and just after World War I, is actually less about the planets as NASA knows them than about their supposed astrological qualities. As in a baroque suite, each of the seven movements is a mood piece of its own. We encounter at each new turn a different affect – bellicose (Mars), delicate (Venus), officious (Mercury), expansive (Jupiter), exhausted (Saturn), bizarre (Uranus), and finally mystical (Neptune). Read the rest of this entry »

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