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by James Flood

WEISS-OrionFriday marked the second installment of the Cleveland Orchestra’s very new Summers @ Severence series with an all-Beethoven program under the baton of Jahja Ling. The evening included light food and drink before and after the 7:00 pm performance, with dance music piped through both the hallways and the terrace afterward to add to the more casual ambiance.

Apparently to lighten the evening, the program itself was downsized a little from the Orchestra’s typical offering, placing Beethoven’s modestly-sized 4th Symphony between the four-minute “Overture to the Creatures of Prometheus” and the 20-minute “Choral Fantasy” and excluding an intermission.

The opening overture boasted crisp, clean and energized 16th notes in the strings, generating a quick burst of excitement that was the perfect start for a summer evening at Severance Hall. Read the rest of this entry »

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by Nicholas Jones

MA-Yo-YoYo Yo Ma is as close as the classical world is likely to get to a rock star. On Saturday night, the near-sellout crowd at Blossom was certainly rocking as Ma took the stage, strutting like a winning prizefighter with his cello triumphantly raised above his head.

But antics gave way to artistry almost immediately as Ma took his seat and launched into the Elgar cello concerto, stamping its opening chords with a ferocity that would alternate with lyricism throughout the performance.

In 1919, Elgar’s cello concerto suffered from a disastrous first performance, and for almost half a century it was barely played. A key figure in its rediscovery in the late 1960s was the charismatic young cellist Jacqueline du Pré, who reinterpreted it as a document of introspection and anxiety for a world newly tossed by war and social change. One of the cellos that Yo Yo Ma regularly plays is the Davidov Stradivarius on which du Pré also performed. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

3-Finalists

Out of an initial field of 28 competitors in the Thomas and Evon Cooper Oberlin International Piano Competition, three young pianists, having survived semi-final, concerto final and recital final rounds at the Oberlin Conservatory earlier in the week, won the opportunity to appear on the stage of Severance Hall on Friday evening, July 25 to play concertos with Jahja Ling and The Cleveland Orchestra.

The impressive audience that turned out to hear Sae Yoon Chon, Zitong Wang and Tony Yike Yang in concertos by Beethoven, Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky was full of young people — largely made up of friends, relatives and colleagues of the Cooper participants, no doubt. Palpable energy was in the air, and each of the three finalists was greeted with whoops and cheers both before and after they played. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

CHEN-RaySometimes everything works together for the good. On Sunday evening, perfect weather, a gifted young soloist, an engaging program and an energized conductor all conspired to create a memorable evening at Blossom. The soloist was violinist Ray Chen, his vehicle was Vivaldi’s popular quartet of concertos, The Seasons (teamed up with Rossini’s irresistible La gazza ladra overture and Mendelssohn’s scenic Scottish symphony), and the podium was commanded by an old Blossom friend, the estimable Jahja Ling. A large crowd assembled on the lawn and the pavilion was two-thirds full.

Though Chen, who is Australian, playfully suggested beforehand that he might start with Winter and play The Seasons in Down Under order, he began with Spring, as is customary, immediately creating synergy with concertmaster Jung-Min Amy Lee and principal second violinist Stephen Rose in a delightful series of bird calls. Read the rest of this entry »

Oberlin, OH, July 29, 2010

The finalists (l-r): George Li, John Chen, Kate Liu (photo: Roger Mastroianni)

Following the solo rounds in Warner Concert Hall at the Oberlin Conservatory on Wednesday evening, July 28, WCLV president Robert Conrad announced the audience favorite, 4th, 5th and 6th place winners and the three finalists in the 2010 Cooper International Piano Competition. Here is the list with prize money indicated:

Audience Favorite ($500)

Tristan Teo (13, Canada)

6th Place ($1,000)

Tristan Teo (13, Canada)

5th Place ($1,000)

Anna Han (14, Arizona, USA)

4th Place ($1,000)

Sahun Hong (16, Texas, USA)

Finalists

The following contestants (listed here in alphabetical order) will play concertos in the finals with Jahja Ling and The Cleveland Orchestra on Friday evening at 8 in Severance Hall in a concert to be broadcast live over WCLV, 104.9 FM (and streamed on the Internet):

John Chen (16, Virginia, USA) — Tchaikovsky Concerto No. 1
George Li (14, Massachusetts, USA) — Chopin, Concerto No. 1
Kate Liu (16, Illinois, USA) — Prokofiev, Concerto No. 3

Tickets for the Severance Hall finals may be ordered through the box office at 216.231.1111.

SH2903Inevitable comparisons: in a competition, you want to listen to every performance as if you’re hearing both the piece and the performer for the first time, but with two versions of Rachmaninoff’s second concerto scheduled on two adjacent nights, what’s a listener to do but think about each of them in relation to the other. Both are still ringing in the ears.

Croatian pianist Martina Filjak made an immediate impression with her carefully wrought crescendo and intensifying coloration of the famous opening chords and bass punctuation that begin Rach 2. Same conductor, same orchestra, but when the other hundred or so musicians on the stage joined Filjak in her musical odessey through this engaging score, it was clear that the soloist was seeing it through a different lens.

Read the rest of this entry »

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STAFF
Daniel Hathaway
founder & editor
Mike Telin
executive editor
Jarrett Hoffman
assistant to the editors

CORRESPONDENTS
James Flood
J.D. Goddard
Jarrett Hoffman
Nicholas Jones
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Robert & Gwyneth Rollin
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