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By Daniel Hautzinger

Stephen HoughThe environment in which you hear music has a potent influence on a concert experience. Obviously, the acoustics and size of a hall impact the sound, but physical surroundings can also intrude upon the music or affect the way you perceive a work. This is especially true at outdoor venues like Blossom Music Center, where nature decided to take a role in the music on July 26, when the Kent/Blossom Chamber Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, pianist Stephen Hough, and conductors Brett Mitchell and John Storgårds presented a three-part concert there.

The elements made their most obvious appearance during Liszt’s First Piano Concerto, which Hough brilliantly performed with Storgårds and The Cleveland Orchestra. Read the rest of this entry »

By Daniel Hautzinger

MITCHELL-BrettCleveland Orchestra assistant conductor Brett Mitchell has had an eventful summer. He just got married and moved into a new house, and last weekend he made his debut at the Blossom Music Center, stepping in for Stanislaw Skrowaczewski to conduct The Cleveland Orchestra (TCO) after Skrowaczewski cancelled shortly before the concert because of illness. And on July 26, Mitchell returns to Blossom for what he thought would be his debut there, conducting the Kent/Blossom Chamber Orchestra in a prelude concert at 7:00.

That concert will be followed at 8:00 by John Storgårds conducting TCO in Beethoven’s Fidelio Overture and Liszt’s First Piano Concerto with Stephen Hough. Finally, the jam-packed night will end with the Kent/Blossom Chamber Orchestra, who are students at the Kent/Blossom Music Festival, and TCO in a side-by-side performance of Sibelius’s Second Symphony led by Storgårds.

Things have come full circle for Mitchell, whose first time working with TCO “was back in the summer of 2009, when they hired me to be a cover conductor for a couple of their guest conductors at Blossom,” he said last week over the phone while on the way to lunch in between rehearsals. So a debut at Blossom is fitting. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Tiberghien-CedricThe most fascinating paragraph in the program booklet for last Saturday’s Cleveland Orchestra concert at Blossom was in the sidebar summing up salient facts about Camille Saint-Saëns’s second piano concerto: “The Cleveland Orchestra first presented this work in November 1919, with a piano playing from a mechanical roll recorded by Harold Bauer.”

That was a marketing ploy by the Aeolian Piano Company which evidently helped fund a nice chunk of the orchestra’s second season, while nearly driving conductor Nikolai Sokoloff to distraction. Happily, on July 27, 2013 there was nothing whatsoever mechanical about French pianist Cédric Tiberghien’s thrilling progress through the piece in tandem with French conductor Stéphane Devène, which was at times expansive and lyrical, and at others positively seismic.

The first movement became a vast cadenza with dramatic orchestral punctuation that Tiberghien seemed to be creating on the spot — like a ruminative improvisation by an organist (a role Saint-Saëns filled for 19 years at L’église de la Madeleine). Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

FEDDECK-James2After four weeks of immersing themselves in the wonderful world of chamber music, this week the participants at the Kent/Blossom School will turn their focus to orchestral music. On Saturday, July 27 beginning at 7:00 pm, the Kent/Blossom Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of James Feddeck, will perform Debussy’s Clair de lune and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 in F major.

I think the opportunity to study at a summer festival like the Kent/Blossom School presents a unique intensive period of real saturation into one’s study,” James Feddeck told us by telephone. “So the opportunity to take a few weeks — relocate and have an intense experience is of enormous benefit. And in this case the students at the festival have a great deal of contact with Cleveland Orchestra members.”

Following the 7:00 pm concert by the Kent/Blossom Chamber Orchestra, the students will have a side-by-side experience with The Cleveland Orchestra in a performance of Ravel’s La Valse. The 8:00 pm concert also features the Overture to Les Francs-juges of Berlioz, the Piano Concerto No. 2 of Saint-Saëns and Debussy’s La Mer. Read the rest of this entry »

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