Concert Review: Cleveland Orchestra finds common ground in Bruckner, Adams

Posted on: July 15, 2011

In Friday’s (7/15) New York Times, Anthony Tommasini writes, “Anton Bruckner had a steadfast circle of supporters, including some significant conductors and composers. But, as his obituaries in 1896 made clear, he was more widely seen as a strangely solitary Austrian church musician with oversized ambitions whose sprawling symphonies were earnest yet awkward and self-indulgent works. Bruckner faced setbacks and adversity, and feared that his music would never be appreciated. So it is hard to imagine what he would have made of the Cleveland Orchestra’s program at Avery Fisher Hall on Wednesday night, the first of four in the series Bruckner: (R)evolution, presented by the Lincoln Center Festival. It was not just that Franz Welser-Möst, the orchestra’s music director and a Bruckner champion, conducted a magnificent performance of the visionary 75-minute Symphony No. 5 in B flat, bringing the audience immediately to its feet. The symphony was preceded by, of all things, John Adams’s ‘Guide to Strange Places.’ Yet this unlikely pairing made surprising musical sense. … Mr. Adams’s ‘Guide to Strange Places’ and the Bruckner Fifth are concerned with shaping long structural spans of music. Both use repetition to generate momentum and tension. … [On the Adams] Mr. Welser-Möst drew crisp, organic playing from the great Cleveland Orchestra. But by not driving the rhythm too hard, he allowed the long structural (Brucknerian?) spans to emerge.”

Posted July 15, 2011