Review: Cleveland Orchestra program of Korngold, Josef Strauss, Walker

Posted on: October 27, 2021

“It’s just the second week of the season, but already the Cleveland Orchestra is engaged in some of its boldest work in some time,” writes Zachary Lewis in Saturday’s (10/23) Plain Dealer. “The orchestra and music director Franz Welser-Möst grabbed attention with a program stocked entirely with local premieres [by] Josef Strauss, George Walker, and Erich Korngold…. All three works were inspired in part by traumatic events and are imbued with a sense of yearning for better times. The heaviest hitter Thursday was Korngold’s Symphony in F-Sharp, a work completed in 1952 after the Jewish-Austrian composer’s return to a war-ravaged Vienna…. George Walker’s Sinfonia No. 5, titled ‘Visions,’ … penned in 2016, near the end of the composer’s life and shortly after a mass shooting at Emanuel church in South Carolina, … gripped the house in a firm but vague trance…. People have always treated each other horribly, he seemed to say, and yet beauty and humanity endure…. A set of waltzes by Josef Strauss titled ‘Heldengedichte’ (‘Heroic Poem’) … ended up fitting the conflicted but optimistic bill. The waltzes were composed in honor of a victory by Austria’s Archduke Charles over Napoleon.”