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Do, Re, Mi at the Pops

    Posted: Dec 9, 2006 - 12:00:00 AM in: reviews_2006
Music Hall was filled with reds, greens and genes Friday night. The colors were the work of Stephen Beacock and Gary Kidney, whose lighting transformed the hall into a holiday paint box. The genes belonged to Sofia, Melanie, Amanda and Justin von Trapp, great-grandchildren of the storied Captain von Trapp, who fled Nazi-occupied Austria and entered music history as a member of the traveling von Trapp Family Singers immortalized by Rodgers and Hammerstein on Broadway and in the film "The Sound of Music." The four children, ages 12 to 18, bowed in with Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops in the first of four weekend concerts.
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Antares Quartet Ensemble of the First Magnitude

    Posted: Dec 7, 2006 - 12:00:00 AM in: reviews_2006
They have the same name as one of the brightest stars in the sky, 600 light-years from Earth. The Antares Quartet – violin, clarinet, cello and piano – drew considerably closer Tuesday night in Corbett Auditorium at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Presented by Chamber Music Cincinnati, the concert offered more than just another Beethoven, Debussy, or even Bartok experience. Titled “War and Peace,” the program comprised Stravinsky’s “L’Histoire du Soldat” (piano trio version), Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No. 2 and Olivier Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time.” All were composed during the 20th-century’s frequent preoccupation with fighting,   - [Read more]

Currie, Ryan Rock with the CSO

    Posted: Dec 4, 2006 - 12:00:00 AM in: reviews_2006
To say that the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra ended 2006 with a bang would not be just a metaphor. They did it literally Saturday night at Music Hall with percussionist Colin Currie and American composer Christopher Rouse's "Der Gerettete Alberich" ("Alberich Saved"). The program marked the CSO premiere of Rouse's piece. It also marked the CSO debuts of Currie and guest conductor Kwame Ryan, incoming music director of the Orchestre National de Bordeaux Aquitaine. Rouse's 1997 percussion concerto, named for the villainous dwarf in Wagner's four-opera "Ring" cycle, was played out on a raft of instruments that rose from the pit like a vision from Nibelheim.
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Noseda, McCawley Serve Up Tasty Musical Menu

    Posted: Nov 17, 2006 - 12:00:00 AM in: reviews_2006
Choice Mozart, a generous helping of Respighi and a garnish of Alfred Schnittke made a delectable spread for the opening concert of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s early evening buffet series led by guest conductor Gianandrea Noseda Thursday at Music Hall.  Listeners may have been puzzled by look of the stage as they entered the hall -- a scattering of music stands, no chairs and a podium. Welcome to Schnittke’s delightful “Moz-art a la Haydn,” an eight-minute spoof of Mozart in the context of Haydn’s “Farewell” Symphony. British pianist Leon McCawley, whose Mozart reputation preceded him, did not disappoint. His performance of Mozart’s great D Minor Piano Concerto, K.466, was polished to a high sheen. There was a focused solidity to his tone and he laid out the most strenuous passages like strings of pearls.

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Jarvi and the Cincinnati Symphony Go Beyond Excellence

    Posted: Nov 11, 2006 - 12:00:00 AM in: reviews_2006
It's not often that a conductor can command such concentration from an orchestra and have his wishes as perfectly expressed in the music as Paavo Järvi did Friday night at Music Hall. The Cincinnati Symphony music director has what it takes to make the CSO not only the best it can be, but to take it beyond excellence into truly inspired music-making. So it was with Mahler's Ninth Symphony. As the violas sounded the last four notes of the Adagio finale, communication with Järvi was total. Each note had a special meaning, and he lingered over them, giving the next-to-last an achingly gentle touch as it yielded to the valedictory chord.
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Jarvi Inaugural Shone in the Shadow of 911

    Posted: Nov 9, 2006 - 12:00:00 AM in: reviews_2006
This fall is the fifth anniversary of 911. It’s been five years, too, since Paavo Järvi became music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Oddly enough, the anniversaries are related. On Sept. 11, 2001, Järvi, 38 at the time, led his first rehearsal as CSO music director. His inaugural concerts were Sept. 14 and 15 at Music Hall. The CSO has released a commemorative DVD in observance of Jarvi’s fifth anniversary season. Entitled “The First Concert: September 2001,” it includes the entire two-hour program, including Barber's Adagio for Strings, a last-minute addition in memory of the victims of 911, not just the 90 minutes aired nationally by PBS in 2003.
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Friends Make Music at the Linton Series

    Posted: Nov 6, 2006 - 12:00:00 AM in: reviews_2006
A new birth? Linton Chamber Music Series artistic director Richard Waller thinks he sees one in pianist Orli Shaham, violinist Alexander Kerr and cellist Eric Kim.
The three, performing together for the first time Sunday afternoon at First Unitarian Church in Avondale, made a good case for Waller’s enthusiastic pronouncement. The concert was a reminder also that Linton’s motto, “Music Making Among Friends,” is an enduring one. Kerr, former concertmaster of the Cincinnati Symphony and Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, has returned to the Linton Series several times since leaving Cincinnati in 1996. Kim, principal cellist of the CSO, is a regular Linton participant. Shaham (sister of violinist Gil Shaham) made a return visit to the series Sunday.
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Spirit of Mahler Informs Järvi's Shostakovich

    Posted: Nov 4, 2006 - 12:00:00 AM in: reviews_2006
There was a special person in the audience Friday morning at Music Hall when music director Paavo Järvi led the Cincinnati Symphony in a stunning performance of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 7, the "Leningrad." Yuri Maizels of Mount Washington was 6 years old when his grandfather, David Katzman, played piccolo in the premiere of the symphony in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). It was August 1942 and, as payment for the concert, each musician received "one piece of bread," said Maizels. Katzman died in 1943, one of the hundreds of thousands who perished during the 900-day siege by the German army.

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Porco Leads Fitting Xavier Tribute

    Posted: Oct 30, 2006 - 12:00:00 AM in: reviews_2006
Three of the four works performed on Friday night's Cincinnati Symphony concert at Music Hall had not been heard on CSO subscription concerts before.
The fourth, J.S. Bach's Suite No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1068, though familiar enough, is rarely heard at Music Hall because of the hall's size. Thanks go to May Festival Chorus director Robert Porco, whose gifts are as well utilized on the podium as they are behind the scenes preparing his chorus for other conductors. The program, dedicated to Xavier University in honor of its 175th anniversary, included Benjamin Britten's rarely heard "Cantata academica" written for the 500th anniversary of the University of Basel in Switzerland, "Five Mystical Songs" by Ralph Vaughan Williams and Mass No. 2 in G Major by Franz Schubert.
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KSO Weighs in with Shostakovich

    Posted: Oct 16, 2006 - 12:00:00 AM in: reviews_2006
Hans and Franz were on site for the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra’s “Muscular Music” Saturday night in Greaves Hall at Northern Kentucky University. In a hilarious twist on the pre-concert “lecture,” music director James R. Cassidy and associate conductor/principal second violinist Tom Consolo appeared in sweats on a video screen behind the orchestra to introduce the program. Schwarzenegger accents, body-builder poses and all, the two offered pointers about the music to be performed – selections from “Spartacus” by Khachaturian, “Lex” and “Red Cape Tango” from “Metropolis” Symphony by Michael Daugherty and Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony.

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Andrey Boreyko Arrives under the Radar

    Posted: Oct 14, 2006 - 12:00:00 AM in: reviews_2006
There were some huge talents on the Music Hall stage Friday night. In addition to the Cincinnati Symphony, weekly tenant of the hall, there was violinist Hilary Hahn, already a household word in classical music circles, as evidenced by the many fans who lined up at intermission for a CD signing. Hahn, 26, fulfilled all expectations, and then some, with a stunning performance of Benjamin Britten's Violin Concerto (a CSO premiere). Coming in somewhat under the radar was guest conductor Andrey Boreyko in his CSO debut. A native of St. Petersburg and currently chief conductor of two European orchestras (Hamburg and Bern) Boreyko, 49, seems destined to rise to the top of the profession on both sides of the Atlantic.   - [Read more]

What is the Cincinnati Symphony Doing Here?

    Posted: Oct 7, 2006 - 12:00:00 AM in: reviews_2006
There was a moment during Mendelssohn's "Italian" Symphony Friday morning at Music Hall when the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra sounded completely dispirited. You couldn't blame them. It wasn't their fault or guest conductor James DePreist's. The look on one of the first violinists' faces (gazing out into the hall) said it best: "What are we doing here?" Although the CSO stopped releasing house counts long ago, there were surely fewer than 1,000 people scattered over the 3,500-seat hall for the concert. This might not have been that bad in an optimal 2,000-seat venue - CSO audiences could regularly fill concert halls in the nation's largest cities - but it couldn't help but sap the morale of Friday's players and listeners   - [Read more]

Bruckner in Flesh and Spirit

    Posted: Sep 30, 2006 - 12:00:00 AM in: reviews_2006
"A lot of people don't like Bruckner," said music director Paavo Järvi on the taped video shown before Friday's Cincinnati Symphony concert at Music Hall.
In fact, the silence during the Adagio of Bruckner's Symphony No. 6 and the collective exhalation that followed the softly brushed chords at the end were eloquent testimony that Järvi had kept his listeners spellbound.  Also on the program was the CSO premiere of Tubin's unfinished Symphony No. 11, a nine-minute Allegro vivace that lives up fully to its "con spirito" designation. And stepping in on just three days' notice for Norwegian cellist Truls Mork, was cellist Alisa Weilerstein, who picked up the traces with the previously announced Cello Concerto in A Minor by Robert Schumann.
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A for Azmari, Asset for Northern Kentucky University

    Posted: Sep 29, 2006 - 12:00:00 AM in: reviews_2006
The Azmari Quartet, Corbett string quartet-in-residence at Northern Kentucky University since 2003, has turned 180 degrees since the beginning of the year.
Informed in February that their contract would not be renewed due to lack of funding, the quartet was underwritten by the Amernet Society, a group of local chamber music supporters, who pledged $100,000 in annual support to keep them on NKU’s music department masthead.
Azmari violinists Christina Merblum and MinTze Wu, violist Meghan Casper and cellist Rebecca Merblum presented their first concert of the season Tuesday evening in NKU’s Greaves Hall with four selections from J.S. Bach’s Art of Fugue, Beethoven’s Quartet Op. 18, No. 3, and crowning work on the program, Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet in G Minor, Op. 57, with NKU pianist and artist-in-residence, Sergei Polusmiak.
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Durufle Steals the Show

    Posted: Sep 26, 2006 - 12:00:00 AM in: reviews_2006
Let’s hear it for organists. Two of the composers featured on Friday morning’s Cincinnati Symphony concert were organists (both French), Cesar Franck and Maurice Durufle. Franck’s Symphony in D Minor is a staple of the orchestral literature. Durufle’s Three Dances for Orchestra, Op. 6, is not, but judging from what I heard by music director Paavo Järvi and the CSO (it was a CSO premiere) it should be.   - [Read more]