Lindberg: Gran Duo
Stenhammar: Serenade in F, Op. 31
Haydn: Cello Concerto in D major
Ravel: Rapsodie espagnole
The Cleveland Orchestra
Alan Gilbert, conductor – Jian Wang, cello
This wonderful selection of a variety of works was quite entertaining, especially when seeing it performed live in Severance Hall of all places. Although I was sitting in the nose-bleed section, and the orchestra looked like a bunch of G.I. Joes, the performance was quite moving and the sound quality was surprisingly better than I expected. I have only been in Severance Hall for a few other concerts, and for all of them I was either on the main level or near the front, lowest part of the balcony.
I had never knowingly heard any pieces by any of these composers before, and now I would say I regret never listening to their work sooner. One of the pieces that definitely stood out was Ravel’s Rapsodie espagnole. The piece starts out mysterious, with a slow pace and usually quiet. The same short phrase is repeated on different instruments throughout almost the entire piece, providing uncertainty and adding to the mystery. The rest of the orchestra accentuates this short phrase, adding to the nuances of emotion. The piece really explodes after that, and a variety of different emotions and motives are explored. It returns to the original short phrase at several points, though. Ravel seems to like leaving the audience hanging and waiting for certain notes or phrases to be resolved. The whole piece was completely full of wonder and surprise, and is definitely worth hearing again.
Another entertaining piece was Haydn’s Cello Concerto in D major. I’ve been a fan of pieces focusing on the cello, and this was certainly a great performance. The tempo varied from slow to a comfortable walking pace. The orchestra considers a wide range of motives and emotions throughout. It always returns to a feeling of joy and light-heartedness, though. The third movement is probably the most interesting, with a nice melody that is repeated throughout. The cellist gets to show off his virtuosity and sensitivity of expression in this movement as well. Overall, this concert was quite impressive, and easily worth the walk up three flights of stairs to my seat.