There is probably no outdoor venue in the country that matches Blossom for sheer beauty and musical delight. Wolf Trap in the Virginia countryside near DC, and Tanglewood, home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra are fine, but when you throw in the Blossom setting, and add the Cleveland Orchestra, nirvana has been reached.
Blossom, now in its 48th season, was founded not only to act as a summer venue for audience entertainment, but to insure that the Cleveland Orchestra could attract some of the world’s great musicians by offering full-year, rather than seasonal contracts. Obviously, both goals have been reached.
By Blossom also opening itself to not only classical concerts, but classic rock, country, pop, and Broadway concerts, and ballet performances, it has broadened its traditional mature audiences, to a younger attendance base. Twenty percent of the Orchestra’s audience at Severance Hall and Blossom percent is age 25 and younger. This is an achievement that is the envy of the world’s orchestras, many of which are facing financial problems.
The concert on August 8 delighted the large audience with a program consisting of Beethoven’s “Lenore Overture No. 2, his “Piano Concerto No. 5” (“Emperor”), Opus 73, and Dvorak’s “Symphony No. 8.”
“Lenore” is a segment of Beethoven’s only opera, “Fidelio,” which highlights the writer’s belief in freedom from political oppression and the boundless power of human love. The segment presented is one of three versions of the overture crafted by the writer. The composition is so strong, some believe that it dwarfs the rest of the opera, thus making the remaining segments “superfluous.”
The musicians flowed through the composition, with Gustavo Gimeno leading the assemblage with an extended hand and flipping wrist. He highlighted emphasis by leaning forward and thrusting his baton at the appropriate instrumentalist(s). The finely crafted piece ended to extended applause.
The highlight offering was the forty-minute “Piano Concerto no. 5 in E-flat major, Opus 73,” commonly referred to as “The Emperor Concerto,”
because of its grand sound. Consisting of three movements—the first with large orchestral chords and piano flourishes, the middle with melding the piano with the orchestra, and filled with lingering phrases, and the third, which included one of the most familiar tunes in classical music.
Pianist Garrick Ohlsson, a Grammy Award recipient, was the winner of the Chopin International Piano Competition. He has been hailed for his technical prowess and artistry. The accolades were proven well deserved in this concert. He blended well with the orchestra when that was required and also played compelling solo segments.
“The Emperor Concerto” ended with a well-deserved standing ovation.
Though music during the 19th century, moved from symphonic tones that were happy, toward sounds that had darker musical colors, Antonin Dvorák did not follow that trend. He, much like Brahms, his friend and mentor, tended to avoid grappling with grave questions about fate and human life, and instead gave the audience happy feelings while still creating “serious” music. “Opus 88,” the concert’s last piece, was a joyful music example of his style.
The Orchestra played with energy and successfully carried the audience to the piece’s masterfully strong abrupt finish.
Beethoven once stated, “Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. It is the wine of new creation.” Listening to the Cleveland Orchestra one quickly realizes what he meant!
Future pop Blossom presentations include:
Aug 15-8PM–TCHAIKOVSKY’S VIOLIN CONCERTO, James Feddeck, conductor, Simone Lamsa, violin, playing Weber, Tchaikovsky, & Sibelius.
Aug 16-7PM—THE BRITISH INVASION, Michael Krajewski, conductor, an evening of great British hits…the songs of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who and more.
Aug 22-8PM—BACH AND MOZART, Nicholas McGegan, conductor, Mark Kosower, cello—Back, Haydn, Mozart.
Aug 29—8PM—JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER ORCHESTRA WITH WYNTON MARSALIS, the noted NY Lincoln Center musical group joins the Cleveland Orchestra, for an evening of Jazz
Aug 30—7PM—GIL SHAHAM PLAYS BRUCH. Edo de Waart, conductor, Gil Shaham, violin, join to play Bruch and Mahler.
Sept 5 & 6—8 PM—THE MUSIC OF JOHN WILLIAMS, Richard Kaufman, conductor, tribute to Hollywood’s most legendary composer…”Star Wars,” “E.T.,” “Harry Potter,” “Jaws,” and Schindler’s List.”
For tickets to these and other Blossom concerts call 216-231-1111 or 800-686-1141, go the Severance Hall Ticket Office, or Blossom Box Office, or go online to http://www.clevelandorchestra.com