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by Daniel Hathaway

WelserMostBlossomAs the normally-resident birds gave way to the end-of-summer locusts, The Cleveland Orchestra bade farewell to Blossom on Sunday evening in a season closer that also served as a send-off for the ensemble’s forthcoming European tour. Like Friday evening’s Summers @ Severance performance, the repertoire was a condensed version of what audiences in London, Lucerne, Berlin, Linz, Vienna, Paris and Amsterdam will enjoy in thirteen performances from September 7-22: works by Johannes Brahms and Jörg Widmann, the orchestra’s former Daniel R. Lewis Young Composer Fellow (an entire concert in Berlin’s Philharmonie on September 11 will be devoted to Widmann’s music).

Widmann’s Con brio: Concert Overture began Sunday evening’s concert on many witty notes. Commissioned by conductor Mariss Jansons to headline a concert of Beethoven’s seventh and eighth symphonies and scored for those orchestral forces, the overture was first performed by The Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall performances led by Christoph von Dohnányi in January of 2011. Read the rest of this entry »

by Timothy Robson

Smith & Welser-MostAs a prelude to its three-week European tour, Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra previewed some of their tour repertoire in the third of the 2014 Summers @ Severance concerts on Friday, August 29. This was no summertime “orchestra-lite” concert, but featured two demanding and arresting works by Jörg Widmann, the orchestra’s former Daniel R. Lewis Young Composer Fellow, as well as that monument of the orchestral repertoire, Johannes Brahms’s Symphony No. 1 in C minor, op. 68. Severance Hall was well filled with a very diverse audience of Cleveland Orchestra fans.

Jörg Widmann’s music brilliantly combines skillful use of orchestration with modernist compositional techniques, at the same time retaining just enough references to recognizable musical styles to make his music appealing to a wide audience. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

hereFor the second of his January homestand weekends before the orchestra travels to Miami for its residency, Franz Welser-Möst gave Severance Hall audiences a Mozart symphony, a Beethoven piano concerto and the United States premiere of a substantial and brilliant new work that has been making the rounds of European and Asian concert halls.

Replacing Radu Lupu, the superb pianist Yefim Bronfman returned to Severance Hall on Thursday for a memorable reunion with the orchestra in Beethoven’s fourth piano concerto. Playing calmly and with a perfect sense of proportion and scale, Bronfman made this most engaging of concertos sound like an easy piece of work (which it really is not).

Welser-Möst and the orchestra provided a warm cocoon of sound around the soloist and arrived at tricky meeting points with pinpoint timing. The wind section achieved a particularly impressive blend. Read the rest of this entry »

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