Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra
Jane Moss, Artistic Director
Louis Langrée, Music Director
Paavo Järvi, Conductor
Martin Fröst, Clarinet
At David Geffen Hall
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 6, 2016
Arvo Pärt (b. 1935): La Sindone (2005, rev. 2015).
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791): Clarinet Concerto in A major, K. 622 (1791).
Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827): Symphony No. 4 in B-flat major, Op. 60 (1806).
Tonight’s thoroughly satisfying Mostly Mozart concert, celebrating its 50th Anniversary Season, was conducted by Paavo Järvi, renowned as chief conductor, music director, artistic director, and co-founder of numerous orchestras, ensembles, and annual festivals. The Estonian conductor has been awarded the Order of the White Star by the President of Estonia, as well as two Grammy Awards. This maestro also has a sense of humor, as he held back his baton, until a few latecomers in the audience were seated, greeting them with a warm gesture. Arvo Pärt’s La Sindone, composed by the Estonian for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, the title of which refers to Turin’s showcased ancient shroud, believed to be Christ’s burial shroud, opened with quiet atonal strings. Individual notes hang in the air, reminiscent of the composer’s Spiegel im Spiegel, the score of the ballet After the Rain. Soon horns and percussive cymbals appear, along with muffled timpani. When the all too brief work ends, Mr. Järvi’s encircled hand slowly closes and remains immobile, as the audience is bathed in silence, before he makes time for applause.
When the Swedish clarinetist, Martin Fröst took the stage, he brought his basset clarinet, made longer to maximize the lower bass notes in Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A major. Mozart had been inspired to write this Concerto, only two months before he succumbed to illness, after becoming acquainted with a celebrated clarinetist, Anton Stadler, who performed on an extended basset horn, in his time. Tonight, the orchestra introduced the “Allegro” briefly, before Mr. Fröst joined in harmony, then in a lively, upbeat solo, swirling within and about the string section, enhanced with the orchestra’s billowy bassoons and resonant cellos. The renowned “Adagio” middle movement, also heard in the sound track of “Out of Africa”, showed Mr. Fröst’s virtuosity, as he plays his basset clarinet beyond the orchestra, allowing notes to disappear in the air. The effect was feathery and surreal. But, the movement’s highlight had been Mr. Fröst’s cadenza, masterful and entertaining. The final “Rondo: Allegro” movement exuded pulse, regality, and waltz-like tempos. The cellos were spotlighted among the echoing themes. A working chemistry was apparent between Maestro Järvi and Mr. Fröst, during and after the Concerto, with both artists returning for extended bows. Mr. Fröst thrilled the packed Hall with an encore, composed by the clarinetist’s brother, “Klezmer Dans”, for clarinet and strings. Mr. Järvi seemed delighted to share in the festive interlude. This is a must-perform-again work for another event.
The Beethoven Symphony No. 4 in B-flat major, thick in emotionality and heft, opens with solemnity, but expands powerfully in the “Adagio-Allegro Vivace” first movement. The “Adagio” second movement was exquisite, with repetitive string chords and punctuated timpani. Flutes lingered above the echoing orchestral theme. The “Allegro Vivace” third movement, replete with orchestral refrains, first sounded like waves of swirling musicality, imploding in volume against a more bucolic, folkloric motif. Bassoons, flutes, and Jon Manasse’s (lead clarinetist) clarinet joined the violas in fanciful flourish. The final “Allegro ma non troppo” movement was a frenzied, fused sound, waltz-like and balletic, with swirling strings, rapid and ravishing.
Kudos to Paavo Järvi for conducting tonight’s three complex works and spirited encore with such graciousness, mastery, and nuance. Kudos to Martin Fröst, tonight’s soloist, for an impassioned performance and generous encore, and kudos to the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra for such a magnetic and mesmerizing musical experience.