CityMusic Cleveland commences new season, ‘Mozart Violin Concerto Tour’ in dynamic fashion (review)
By Zachary Lewis, The Plain Dealer
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on October 24, 2013 at 10:00 AM, updated October 24, 2013 at 4:16 PM
Violinist Rachel Barton Pine commenced her “Mozart Violin Concerto Tour” Wednesday, performing Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 with CityMusic Cleveland at Fairmount Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights. Andrew Eccles
If this is how things continue with Avner Dorman, the future of CityMusic Cleveland is bright indeed.
Kicking off the group’s 10th anniversary season Wednesday, the group’s new music director presented a program both charming and well-conceived, one that sounded every bit as good in person as it looked on paper.
What’s more, it’ll never get stale. Thanks to Rachel Barton Pine, the gifted and generous violinist performing a different Mozart Violin Concerto on each of this week’s five concerts, each evening truly qualifies as unique.
Wednesday’s concert was certainly special, in any event. Exploring lesser-known pockets of the 18th and early 19th centuries, and featuring a work by Dorman himself, the performance at Fairmount Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights spotlighted talent all over the orchestra.
Pine, for her part, had a brilliant first stop on her “Mozart Violin Concerto Tour.” Playing Concerto No. 4, the violinist embodied the highest of Classical virtues, imbuing the familiar work with vigor and animation.
Like a master orator, Pine delivered Mozart’s opening lines and a feisty cadenza with forceful, declarative strength. As the composer lightened in spirit, however, so did the violinist transform into an amusing wit, enticing listeners with shapely phrasing and poignant timing. She also chose the perfect encore: Brahms’ Lullaby, on an instrument selected by the composer himself.
What: Avner Dorman conducts Mozart, Vivaldi, Dorman and Schubert.
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 24-26; 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27.
Where: Elyria (First United Methodist Church, 312 3rd St.), Lakewood (Lakewood Congregational Church, 1375 W. Clifton), Cleveland (Shrine Church of St. Stanislaus, 3649 E. 65th St.) and Willoughby Hills (St. Noel Church, 35200 Chardon Road).
Tickets: Free, no tickets required. Go to citymusiccleveland.org or call 216-321-8273.
Everything we love about Schubert was similarly present in Dorman’s performance of that composer’s Symphony No. 3, the final and weightiest work on the program.
Buoyant melodies in the violins contrasted beautifully with the rich, forthright backbone provided by the lower strings. Folk-inspired passages, meanwhile, enjoyed robust, strongly lilted performances, and the concluding Presto represented the ideal compromise between speed and agility. Even as Dorman injected dynamism, lightness reigned.
Separated by intermission, the remaining two items on the program belonged together: Dorman’s own “Concerto Grosso” and a Concerto for Two Oboes, Two Clarinets and Strings by Vivaldi.
Rarely used in Baroque music, the clarinets played by Daniel Gilbert and Ellen Breakfield Glick made the brief, elder work both a novelty and a delight. That they were paired with oboists Rebecca Schweigert Mayhew and Daniel Rios only made the combination sweeter.
Dorman’s work, by contrast, straddled two centuries. Baroque in form but Minimalist in style, the piece placed harpsichordist Peter Bennett and four string soloists against an ever-shifting backdrop.
Humor, joy and serenity all resulted as the soloists led or followed the ensemble in musings alternately cordial and combative. But it was the final chord that registered most profoundly at the commencement of Dorman’s tenure. Radiant, harmonious, it called to mind a rising sun.