CLEVELAND, Ohio – Musical reunions merely do not get any sweeter than the one now happening at Severance Corridor.
Not solely is the Cleveland Orchestra house after an extended haul in Europe. Two distinguished members of the group’s inventive household, Vladimir Ashkenazy and Emanuel Ax, are additionally again on the town, on the rostrum and on the piano. For music lovers right here, it is one thing of a trifecta.
Make that a superfecta. The orchestra Friday night welcomed Ashkenazy like a favourite uncle, treating their visitor, a daily since 1968 however absent since 2010, to 2 uniformly stellar performances of works by Elgar, and supported Ax with affection in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1.
After the primary work on this system, one can solely ask: the place has Elgar’s Serenade for Strings been since 1996?
Perhaps Ashkenazy, the one who carried out it then as nicely, is the important thing, the one uniquely able to unlocking the work’s magnificence and supreme tenderness of feeling. Perhaps he is the one one who can elicit from Cleveland’s strings such readability and tonal sheen.
In that case, make it but one more reason to host Ashkenazy extra typically. This Serenade must be a normal, not a rarity.
Totally different, far more well-known work by Elgar after intermission. Similar electrifying impact by Ashkenazy.
You’d assume, after so many performances through the years, that the Cleveland Orchestra could not get higher within the “Enigma Variations,” that inside these 14 musical portraits, there would not be something left to disclose.
You’d be incorrect. With Ashkenazy on the helm Friday, the orchestra made the favored rating sound virtually new. With him, the piece was once more the virtuoso showcase it truly is, the treasure-trove of melody and sensible orchestration.
An particularly poignant account of the “Nimrod” variation was simply certainly one of many highlights. At each flip, the orchestra with Ashkenazy pranced somewhat extra frivolously, dug in somewhat extra deeply, or sang with higher refinement than ordinary. Even the soloists on clarinet, cello, and viola responded, treating their passages in these moments like the one issues that ever mattered.
Ax, too, turned his properly-recognized work into an important day.
Within the grand first motion of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, he took benefit of the leisurely tempo set by Ashkenazy and enunciated each observe, even these in trills, with good precision. All of the whereas he stored an eye fixed on the bigger drama, holding again with equanimity till the cadenza, whereupon he opened the floodgates.