A recording with impact
January 14, 2002
Göteborgs-Posten
Håkan Dahl

GOTHENBURG SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Conductor: Neeme Järvi
Soloist: Leonidas Kavakos, violin
Gothenburg Concert Hall, Main Hall, Friday

As part of the major, prestigious recording project that encompasses all of Sibelius’symphonies, last Friday it was time to attempt to make a live recording of the seventh symphony.
Sometimes an uninterrupted recording in front of a live audience generates an extra warmth that more than compensates for any unavoidable technical shortcomings and the disruption that an audience of more than a thousand necessitates. And in such instances live recordings can be worth their weight in gold.

Particularly Suitable Symphony
We will have to wait and see how Friday’s tapes turn out. Anyhow, Neeme Järvi’s interpretation had a full impact on the music that resonated around the hall. And with Saturday as a reserve date they may just succeed. With its single movement, the seventh symphony is particularly suitable due to its clearly defined lines. The passages with abbreviated, strident motifs contrast with the drawn out, underlying theme to create an incredibly intense atmosphere.
This is music that really needs living people, not digital equipment.
The same can be said of Karol Szymanowski’s second violin concerto.
There is a hint of harshness in the structure that means that the concerto surely has to be etched into the mind in the form of direct contact between the soloist and the orchestra, especially if you want to bring out all of the subtle details that Leonidas Kavakos brings to the solo part. Sometimes almost brutal, yet at the same time his playing had an almost studied elegance.
A result of Kavakos producing a violin tone that can reach almost unimagined amplitudes while at the same time whispering secrets into everyone’s ear.

Phenomenal Duets.
In terms of interplay there was room for improvement, hardly surprising with a piece of music that must be new to most members of the orchestra.
However, this was not the case for Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien and definitely not the suite from Sleeping Beauty.
The first piece resounded with fresh confidence in the time-honoured Järvi style. Phenomenal instrumental duets could be discerned, combined with a zest that was above the usual.

 

Music without resistance
January 19, 2002
Göteborgs-Posten
Magnus Haglund

GOTHENBURG SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Conductor: Neeme Järvi
Soloist: Claes Gunnarsson, cello
Music by Fernström, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky

When the music itself is of limited interest, the classical interpreter is faced with a difficult dilemma. How do you create something personal from material that does not seem to go anywhere in particular, that has little tension and lacks individuality? Unfortunately this applied to two of the three pieces presented in this concert, John Fernström’s orchestral overture Symphonic Prologue from 1950 and Peter Tchaikovsky’s first symphony, subtitled Winter Dreams, from 1866. Of course it can be maintained that the music is attractive in very general terms, but this hardly increases the degree of urgency. Beauty without obligations, music without resistance.

Neeme Järvi adopts a cautiously reverential approach to both pieces. No sweeping gestures, no romantic overstatement. And it does indeed sound fine when the orchestra, as in slow second movement of the Tchaikovsky symphony, allows the woodwind and horn sections to create a sound consisting in equal parts of detailed precision and melodic dreaming. But in musical terms, not much happens. The orchestra plays and the notes are produced without any deeper layers of significance. Perhaps they should follow the example of Glenn Gould’s Mozart interpretations, and move directly against the music’s intentions and destroy what is far too balanced and regular?

The great triumph of this concert was instead the performance of Shostakovich’s first cello concerto, composed for Rostropovich at the end of the 50s, on this occasion with the solo cellist Claes Gunnarsson to the fore. And how he plays - in a matter-of-fact, biting way, with a perfect feel for the music’s hysterical, burlesque aspects, without at any time ever overdoing it and becoming introspective. The long solo cadences become a journey into a private landscape, where the silence is filled by the strongest forces and where the virtuoso handling of the music collides with the inner fury.

 

DSO brings fun to Mahler’s magic
January 26, 2002
Detroit Free Press
Mark Stryker

With this week’s performances of Gustav Mahler’s Seventh Symphony, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and music director Neeme Järvi have reached the halfway point in their Mahler cycle. The Fifth, Ninth, Second, First and Seventh symphonies have been checked off the list (in that order), and the monumental song cycle “Das Lied von der Erde” will be heard in May.

The series is deepening in expression and nuance as Järvi and the DSO travel further into Mahler’s sprawling universe of emotion and sonority – nostalgia and nightmare, soulfulness and satire, orchestral rocketry and calm are all but a heartbeat apart.

The Seventh, the most delphian of Mahler’s symphonies, is the least programmatic, philosophical or autobiographical. Its five movements do trace a path of darkness to daylight, but this is as close as Mahler came to absolute music. The work’s lack of cosmic implications played to both the strengths and weaknesses of Järvi’s intuitive approach on Thursday.

With no specific tale to tell, Järvi could indulge Mahler’s fantastic playground of color and character. Järvi almost whipped the marches into muscular dances. He italicized the skirls of woodwinds and dreamlike atmospherics in the night music. He leaned into the humorous scherzo and cast a seductive gaze on the exotic music of violin, harp, guitar and mandolin. The DSO played at its most expressive; solos percolated with personality.

So much was so good, in fact, that it was a shame Järvi never quite took the final interpretive step to reconcile all the dislocations of texture and feeling into a single arch – a task less obvious in the Seventh but no less required. Järvi meandered, but, oh, what a fun ride it was.

The concert opened with the 18-year-old German violinist Julia Fischer playing Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3, K. 216. She is a promising talent, with a meticulous technique, intense tone and mature musicianship.

 

Neeme Järvi brings verve to Mahler’s complex Seventh Symphony
January 26, 2002
Detroit News
Lawrence B. Johnson

Conductor Neeme Järvi, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s own comeback kid, confirmed his return to health and form Thursday by tackling yet another formidably difficult and elusive work, Mahler’s Seventh Symphony.
Just as he did with Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring in November, in his first appearance with the DSO since suffering a stroke in July, Järvi shaped a performance of Mahler’s huge, often bizarre symphony that managed to illuminate the work without sacrificing its wildness or its ambiguity.

The Seventh Symphony, which Mahler completed in 1908, bears comparison with Stravinsky’s notoriously challenging Rite of Spring ballet of 1913. Perhaps it’s the combination of Mahler’s demonic syncopations and the work’s crazy mood swings that has kept the Seventh from winning the public affection lavished on his other symphonies.
But the roaring ovation at Orchestra Hall attested to the magnetism of the Seventh in the right hands.
Reminiscent of the Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, the Seventh is laid out in five movements, with an eloquent adagio setting up a madcap finale of spectacular counterpoint. But where the Fifth is dark and wistful, the Seventh is ghostly and, for all its brilliance, psychologically fragile.

Such was the evocative picture painted by Järvi and a thoroughly prepared orchestra. Järvi, who prides himself on whipping through Mahler’s symphonies at record speed, indulged more conventional tempos here, and to invariably successful effect. In both the broadly drawn opening movement and the finale, Järvi caught Mahler’s surging conflict between optimism and the unpredictable arrows of fortune.

But it was in the three middle movements – the heart of the work, by turns angular, shadowy and songful – that Järvi and the DSO made the most powerful impression. This was chamber music writ large: disciplined, poetic, mesmerizing.
As preface to the Mahler, the 18-year-old German violinist Julia Fischer offered a technically refined account of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3. One might have wished for more warmth, more reflection. No doubt those things will come with more years.

 

Järvi and DSO have fun with a work by an old friend
February 2, 2002
Detroit Free Press
Mark Stryker

Composer Olly Wilson, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and music director Neeme Järvi have become fast musical friends in recent seasons. Järvi gave the world premiere of Wilson’s “Shango Memory” with the New York Philharmonic in 1997 and later performed and recorded the work with the DSO. Wilson, 64, has been appointed the DSO’s African-American composer-in-residence for the second time since 1998, and this weekend Järvi and the orchestra are giving the world premiere of the DSO-commissioned “Episodes for Orchestra.”

Like many composers, Wilson often draws upon jazz and other African-American vernacular influences, but what distinguishes Wilson is how deeply and individually these ideas have been assimilated into an unabashedly high-modernist aesthetic. Stravinsky, Berio, Lutoslawski, serialism, the polyrhythmic complexities of jazz and an inventive palette of sonorities are all embedded in Wilson’s music like a painter’s ground.

“Episodes for Orchestra,” a 14-minute rhapsody of seven organic sections, is typical Wilson – energetic, colorfully orchestrated, percussive, full of drama, abstract but crystal-clear in its formal design and emotional trajectory.

A thwack of timpani and vibes launches the work with a tone cluster that fragments immediately into a rush of pulsating music. Wilson gets much mileage from the play of stasis and motion; oscillating violins seem to run in place; quick flashes of woodwinds, stuttering brass riffs and flurries of marimba and vibes percolate into dizzy syncopations on top of ever-shifting meters.

After such bristling music, the work’s long middle passage, a strikingly tonal cantabile for violins, comes almost as a shock. But as the melody rises in stair steps, dissonance slowly creeps back into the score. The climactic episodes find the strings engaged in obsessive stop-and-go rhythms. The ghost of Stravinsky’s "Rite of Spring" appears, only to recede into vague blues allusions. A long glissando and crescendo in the strings ends the piece in a final orchestral punch.

It’s difficult to imagine a conductor more attuned to Wilson’s sound world than Järvi. Friday afternoon he easily untangled the rhythmic knots and shaped a dynamic but relaxed performance. The DSO musicians, many of whom seemed to enjoy the technical challenge of the piece and appreciate the reward of Wilson’s craftsmanship, played with expressive athleticism.

Max Reeger’s Piano Concerto in F minor – bloated and Brahmsian – made a bizarre pairing with Wilson’s “Episodes”. Soloist Alexander Markovich’s thunderous approach was astonishing in its way but left whatever sublimity is in the score waving a white flag of surrender.

Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony could have brought more of the same. But Järvi, whirling on his heels to give the downbeat before the applause died, led a breathless performance full of sunny vitality: fast, furious and fun.

 

Olly Wilson’s “Episodes” gets a delightful debut with DSO
February 2, 2002
Detroit News
Lawrence B. Johnson

The perfect expression of eclectic music is the work that transforms familiar signposts into a billboard splashed with ideas that seem completely fresh. Such is the beguiling delight of Olly Wilson’s Episodes for Orchestra, which received its world premiere by the Detroit Symphony Friday afternoon at Orchestra Hall.

Not unlike Mozart, the paragon of eclectic composers, Wilson has pulled together rhythms and colors and melodic gestures from a wide range of popular and formal musical styles to forge a highly personal and thoroughly engaging work for large orchestra. The gamut here runs from African drumming and the blues to jazz and Stravinsky.
The 64-year-old Wilson, who teaches at the University of California Berkeley, is this year’s composer-in-residence with the DSO, which commissioned Episodes.
Fashioned as seven tightly integrated sections compressed into a single movement of about 14 minutes’ length, Wilson’s constantly evolving essay displays great structural finesse. It’s also an elegant exercise in orchestration, with fine touches of brass and woodwinds used in often pointillistic style against fluid strings.

But what makes Episodes even more appealing is its warm persona – its vibrancy, lyricism and sly wit. And none of this was lost on conductor Neeme Järvi or the DSO in a performance that captured the music’s spirit as well as its intricacy.
Wilson was on hand to share the applause. A more fitting tribute would be to program Episodes again – and to share other works from the archive of this sure-handed composer.
In another “premiere”, the DSO belatedly got around to Max Reger’s 1910 Piano Concerto in F minor. Alexander Markovich was the soloist in a grand-scaled reading equal to the work’s virtuoso demands and its passion alike.
Järvi and company capped the concert with a sunny, mercurial tour through Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A (Italian).

 

DSO sings in riveting “Sonnets”
February 9, 2002
Detroit News
Lawrence B. Johnson

In the last months of a life endured under Soviet control, Dmitri Shostakovich set to music a collection of verses by the Renaissance painter and poet Michelangelo that surely reflected the composer’s perspectives on truth, beauty, alienation and death. These 11 somber, and yet luminous, songs for bass-baritone and orchestra, known informally as the Michelangelo Sonnets, formed a riveting centerpiece in the Detroit Symphony’s concert Thursday night.

Baritone Sergei Leiferkus and conductor Neeme Järvi were ideal collaborators in framing Shostakovich’s liquid vocal lines within the lean, often stark orchestration.
In a poem called Morning, which likens a dawning day to a young girl’s beauty, Leiferkus evoked a tenderness that turned to rapture in the sonnet titled Love. In Creativity, Leiferkus neatly sculpted the humbling comparison between a great artist’s inspiration and the shattering greatness of divine craftsmanship.
Järvi drew alert playing from an orchestra that matched the composer’s restraint and finesse with its own.

Almost as successful was a turn through Stravinsky’s 1911 ballet Petrouchka.
Järvi delivered a stylish, deliciously droll Petrouchka. Except for some unfocused woodwind playing in the Shrovetide Fair music that opens the work, the DSO dispatched Stravinsky’s vivacious, colorful and formidably difficult score with confidence and flair.

 

DSO, Järvi at peak for all-Russian concert
February 9, 2002
Detroit Free Press
Mark Stryker

The “Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti” by Dmitri Shostakovich was written just a year before the composer’s death in 1975, when he knew he was dying and in the wake of a string of profoundly moving late works, among them the 14th and 15th symphonies and the 13th, 14th and 15th string quartets. These are works of quiet desperation, inward cries of disillusionment that dance with despair yet avoid self-pity; gone are the jackhammered banalities and repetitions of earlier works.

The “Verses” – a sobering, 45-minute group of 11 orchestral songs, based on Michelangelo’s ruminations on spiritual but earthly matters like truth, love, anger and death – makes significant demands on the concentration of everyone: conductor, orchestra, bass voice soloist and audience members. This is not music for everyday consumption, but it’s a powerful and important work. It’s to the credit the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and music director Neeme Järvi that room has been made for it on this week’s all-Russian program.

The songs are declarative, with lyric vocal lines underscored by spare but effective orchestration: muted horn and hushed strings in “Night”; hovering clouds of terse harmony in “Separation”; sharp snaps of percussion and wild orchestral shrieks in “Creativity”.

Gloom is the dominant mood, but it is not exclusive: The erotic imagery of “Morning” finds reflection in a sweet orchestral caress, and the bizarrely upbeat finale, “Immortality”, revels in fairy music for flute, piccolo, clarinet, harp and glockenspiel.

The Russian bass Sergei Leiferkus sang Thursday with a restrained expressivity in which his resonant voice colored the drama with subtleties that whispered rather than shouted. Järvi, too, seemed taken with the music’s introversion, shaping a deeply affecting and intense performance, particularly in the strings.

Lest anyone think the entire program is a downer, the intermission is followed by Stravinsky’s “Petrushka” that in Järvi and the DSO’s hands becomes a wild ride of color, humor, brazen but bouncy rhythm and sheer virtuosity. On Thursday principal trumpeter Ramon Parcells earned special praise for his trumpet solo, and kudos go to principal flute Ervin Monroe and pianist Robert Conway.

But the overall feeling was of a glorious team, with Järvi’s off-the-cuff personality fusing more and more with deeper interpretive insights, and the players finding new means of expressing their own personalities within the collective play of the ensemble. A few loose ends here and there could not dampen the impression that Järvi and the DSO have reached a new artistic peak in the last year. These are concerts not to miss.

 

Orchestra gives Gliere symphony a rich treatment
February 15, 2002
The Inquirer
Peter Dobrin

What bothered the young man in the crowd about the Glière Symphony No. 3, he explained to companions after Wednesday night’s concert, was that it sounded as if it was never going to resolve itself.

It did, of course. Eventually. It takes a long time – 70 minutes – and that feeling of sustained tension is at least half the fun of the piece. But Glière’s crowning achievement, subtitled “Ilya Muromets” after the Russian warrior, is really a bargain, giving you most of the Russian symphonic tradition in one tidy package - a little Rachmaninoff and Borodin, shades of early Stravinsky, and a last movement that recalls Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini.

Philadelphia audiences think they know this 1909-11 piece, since the Philadelphia Orchestra has a tradition with it, or at least parts of it. Stokowski led it, and Ormandy trimmed it to suit his needs. But the version Neeme Järvi conducted Wednesday with the orchestra in Verizon Hall was with no cuts, and for those who surrendered to its perfumed atmospheres, the work sped by. For the man in row S who fumbled with his M&Ms so noisily that he spilled them on the floor, there was no hope.
Few symphonies are so explicitly programmatic as this one, telling the journey of Ilya Muromets from knighthood to his sad end as the object of petrification. But you need not follow the narrative in the score to get the essence. Glière was an astonishingly good theater man, and from the ancient Russian tunes in the first movement, to the bird calls in the second, the onion-dome expansive melodies of the third, and the apocalypse of the fourth, the music is more fascinating than a literal story.

No wonder this piece appealed to Stokowski; it’s got every fairy-tale trick in the book except the hero chopping off the head of a monster. Oh, it has that, too.

The musical language: That’s the magic in this piece. There are lots of whole-tone melodies (can you say dark and mysterious?), proud Russian anthems, Scriabin-like harmonic ambiguity to sustain a shroud of fear, and sensuous murmurings of nature. And how many pieces do you know that turn the contrabassoon into a star soloist? Järvi, music director of the Detroit Symphony and one of the most recorded conductors of his time, knew he didn’t need to create a lot of visual theatrics to make the piece go. He was just a solid authority figure keeping everything in order. Even in the second movement, a poem of ecstasy in itself, Järvi was not tempted to do elaborate choreography. The orchestra, bloated with extra musicians, did an admirable job in pumping out brilliant colors.
Even retroactively, the piece dwarfed the first half of the concert, in which Thomas Zehetmair performed Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major, K. 218, with an ensemble scaled down to about 40 players. Zehetmair is a wonderful musician, not flashy or bold, but technically solid with a sense of style. He was especially appealing for his ability to make the Mozart ring with a balanced light-resonant touch.

 

Concert: Japan PO/Järvi Festival Hall
March 11, 2002
John Allison

FOREIGN orchestras hardly ever visit without packing something from their national repertory in their suitcase. But until the first encore on Friday night, an exuberant fantasy on Japanese themes that featured some exotic percussion, it seemed that the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra was doing just that. True, they were joined by a Japanese soloist, the outstanding violinist Akiko Suwanai, but the programme appeared to reflect more of the Baltic heritage of their principal guest conductor, the Estonian Neeme Järvi.

Even if the focus on Pärt and Sibelius made this a less than obvious touring programme, nobody could accuse these visitors of doing anything deliberately obscure: Suwanai was there to play Everyone’s Favourite Violin Concerto. Yet in spite of the over-exposure that Bruch’s Concerto No 1 in G minor receives, Suwanai managed to find fresh things to say. Her opening statement was typically bold, memorable for the depth and projection of her tone.

But at first the orchestra failed to match her impact. The Prelude was workmanlike, with little sense of anticipation of what was to follow. And, once the orchestra got into its stride, the powerful upper strings, notable for their brightness and bite, overbalanced the less forceful lower voices. Things improved in the finale, where the soloist’s spiky articulation of the dance rhythms had an animating effect on everyone.

Wherever one stands on the so-called “holy minimalists”, and however manipulative some of these figures may seem, there is no denying the genuine originality of Arvo Pärt’s key works. The Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten is one of these, in which a tolling bell and falling strings build up a rich, hypnotic pattern. It received a diaphanous performance here, but something more ethereal or even mystical was required in Fratres, heard in the version for strings and percussion. This uses similar building blocks, but with less interesting results, and the air of solemnity seemed superficial.

Sibelius’s Second Symphony was the highlight of this concert, with Järvi shaping an impassioned account that breathed with all the flexibility required. His opening had welcome propulsion. Outstanding contributions from the principal oboe, pungent in the best sense, lent extra distinction to this performance; indeed, piquant winds and incisive brass helped to create an “authentic” tone. With the brooding slow movement encompassing not just mystery but something rather tragic and even grim, the surging finale and ultimate blaze of affirmation seemed unusually stirring.

 

There’s more to Manchester than meets the eye
March 13, 2002
Manchester Online
Philip Radcliffe

THE first-ever visit of a Japanese orchestra proved to be an exhilarating finale to the year-long Japan 2001 festival. Under their chief guest conductor, Neeme Järvi, the 100-strong Japanese Philharmonic Orchestra showed discipline, technical excellence, emotional warmth - and a sense of humour. It may have been a well-tried Scandinavian programme, with Grieg’s Piano Concerto and Sibelius’s Second Symphony, but there was nothing easy-going about their playing. Indeed, I have not heard the Sibelius played better, even in Helsinki, the city where it was premiered 100 years ago to the day. Järvi is a conductor of the minimalist school, not a man to break sweat. But he certainly knows how to get the musicians stirred up. The speed, precision and yet light touch of the scherzo was spellbinding to hear - and to watch. In response to a cheering audience, Järvi gave us two deserved encores.

 

DSO to host flutist Järvi
April 21, 2002
Free Press
Mark Styker

Metro Detroit concertgoers have met the two boys belonging to Neeme Järvi, music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. But this week the lone girl in the Järvi brood finally makes her Detroit debut.

Unlike her brothers, Paavo, music director of the Cincinnati Symphony, and Kristjan, leader of the New York-based Absolute Ensemble, Maarika Järvi did not follow her father’s footsteps into a conducting career. She wields a different baton – a flute.

Maarika joins the DSO and her father to give the North American premiere of “Chant of the Celestial Lake”, an evocatively titled flute concerto by the Järvis’ fellow Estonian, Peeter Vähi, who wrote the piece for Maarika.

At 38, Maarika (MAR-ick-ah) has entered a new phase of her life. In 1999, she left her steady job as an orchestral musician in Madrid for a riskier but more liberating existence as a freelance chamber musician and soloist with a special interest in 20th-Century and contemporary repertoire. She moved to Paris, married a Frenchman, and now lives in Geneva, Switzerland.

Her solo career is picking up steam. She plays the Vähi concerto and a contemporary Estonian work by Urmas Sisask on a new CD on the CCn’C label, with Kristjan Järvi leading the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra. Another all-Estonian disc will be released next month on the Finlandia label. She plays recitals and chamber music and has formed an unusual duo with a bassoonist friend. As an orchestral soloist, she has performed with the Gothenburg Symphony and groups in Estonia, Spain, Turkey and Canada.

Among her siblings, Maarika has the ability to collaborate with her father; podiums do not accommodate more than one conductor. But though it hasn’t happened often, Maarika has worked under her father’s baton as a soloist and as a principal flutist. In both cases, the music-making has been special.

“It’s an incredible feeling of familiarity,” she said last week from her home in Geneva. “I know exactly what he’s trying to say with his hands. When a conductor comes in front of an orchestra, 100 people are guessing. But with him, every single gesture I get.”

Neeme Järvi says accompanying his daughter is the same as working with any other top-flight soloist, except sometimes “father feelings” do intrude. “A father gets a little bit nervous sometimes,” he says. “But it’s not the case. She’s such a professional player it’s no problem.”

Like her brothers, Maarika was born in Tallinn. Because she and Paavo (PAH-vo) are so close in age – he is 13 months older – their parents treated them almost like twins, even starting them in school at the same time. The house was saturated with music and they spent their childhoods going to rehearsals, playing backstage at the opera house where their father was working.

Maarika took piano lessons but was never serious about them, and an experiment with the violin ended in tears. She became more interested in languages than music, starting English in the second grade after learning Russian and her native Estonian. Today, she also speaks French, Spanish and German and can get by in Italian and Catalan.

When she was 12, her parents gave her a recorder. Soon a teacher replaced it with a flute. Something mysterious about the sound of the instrument appealed to her, a metallic quality she can’t quite identify.

“I had a good result immediately,” she says. “Flute players in the beginning usually hate the way they sound. But I remember being proud for myself for eliminating that airy tone and making a beautiful tone.”
Maarika was 16 when the family immigrated to the United States. She studied at the Boston and New England conservatories with members of the Boston Symphony and received a master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon, where she studied with New York Philharmonic flutist Julius Baker. When she finished school, she began the audition gauntlet, even competing in New York for an orchestra she wasn’t even sure the name or location of.

It turned out to be the Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia in La Coruna, Spain. She won the job, later adding other Spanish orchestras to her resume, enjoying the polyglot cultural life of Europe and the opportunity to indulge her childhood love of languages. Still, the urge came to strike out on her own.

Among her biggest hurdles is the twin resistance among orchestra managements and concert presenters to wind instrument soloists and modern repertoire. The Mozart Flute Concertos have been played enough, she says. “My little brother (Kristjan, 29) is influencing me in terms of doing new music, searching for different styles and sonorities.”
Still, she is less interested in self-consciously avant-garde music based on extended techniques than scores like Carl Nielsen’s oft-ignored 1926 Flute Concerto or the Vähi concerto – fresh tonal music that she relates to emotionally.

“I agree with my father. He plays music that he likes. It doesn’t matter what style. The 19th Century is dated for me, but music doesn’t have to break more limits; there are no more limits to break. I think you can find a middle ground.”

 

Järvi to Retire in Three Years
May 3, 2002
MusicalAmerica.com
Susan Elliott

Neeme Järvi has signed a three-year contract extension as the Detroit Symphony’s music director, after which he will step down and become Conductor Laureate. Järvi turns 65 next month.

“I am at the age now where I want to cut back on my schedule and spend more time with my family,” he said in a statement. “he demands of a music directorship are great, and during my tenure with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra we have accomplished much. [But] in 2005, it will be time for me to slow down.” At that time, Järvi will have been the orchestra’s music director for 15 years.

Emil J. Kang, the DSO’s president and executive director, expressed satisfaction that Järvi would be with the orchestra at the time of the scheduled opening (October ’03) of its expanded facilities at the Max M. Fisher Music Center. Kang said a search committee would be formed presently; in addition to musicians, board members, and key staffers, the search process will utilize input from the community.
Järvi, who suffered a stroke in July but is said to be in stable health now, earlier announced his intention to step down from the Gothenburg Symphony at the end of next season. He has been that orchestra’s principal conductor for two decades and will become its Principal Conductor Emeritus.

The Estonian-born conductor is credited with bringing the Detroit Symphony back to the glory days of Paul Paray, its music director from 1952-’63, and into the international limelight. He has made 38 recordings with the orchestra, and the DSO is among the only orchestras in the U.S. to still have its own radio presence. The orchestra claims its “Mark of Excellence” broadcast is heard by over one million listeners weekly.

Järvi’s two sons, Paavo and Kristjan, are also conductors. The former is the new music director of the Cincinnati Symphony and onetime principal conductor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Kristjan is music director of the Absolute Ensemble. Daughter Maarika is principal flute in the Madrid Radio Symphony.

 

Järvi’s role crucial to DSO’s success
May 3, 2002
Detroit News
Lawrence B. Johnson

Neeme Järvi’s musical stewardship will extend to 15 seasons by the time he steps down in 2005. He’s played a crucial role during those years in bringing the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to the most robust financial health in its history and, one might well argue, to its all-time peak of artistic achievement.
When Järvi took the helm in 1990, the DSO had just concluded six years under the hand of German conductor Gunther Herbig. Attendance was down, and the orchestra was burdened with more than $8 million in debt that dated back to the directorship of Antal Dorati (1977-’81).

Today, the DSO is debt-free, playing to good houses at Orchestra Hall and building the Max M. Fisher Music Center, a four-story annex scheduled to open in the fall of 2003.
While it has taken a strong DSO board of directors to realize the $60 million Orchestra Hall renovation and expansion, that success ultimately reflects community belief in the relevance of the DSO itself. Järvi stands squarely at the center of that hard-won faith.

The conductor also has simply made the DSO better. The musicians put their hearts on the line for him. Week in and week out, the quality of that relationship resonates through Orchestra Hall.

 

Conductor Neeme Järvi gives DSO 3-year notice
May 3, 2002
Detroit News
Lawrence B. Johnson

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Neeme Järvi says he will lower his baton after the 2004-05 season.

Who will succeed Järvi?
The season is now open for speculating on who will succeed Neeme Järvi as music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Here are some thoughts on the potential of recent guests on the DSO podium.
* Alan Gilbert. Can a fellow with a plain American name lead a major American orchestra? In music of Bartók and Richard Strauss, Gilbert gave the impression of excellent schooling and command.
* Libor Pesek. Here, the Czech conductor did only music of his countrymen Janacek and Smetana, but he did it with real distinction. Can he pull off Brahms? Does he have any interest in American composers?
* Leif Segerstam. The Finnish conductor with the Brahmsian beard stood in for Järvi on the DSO’s European tour last fall. His Sibelius First Symphony here was thrilling, and the orchestra loved him. He’s also a composer and a rugged individualist. Could be interesting.
* Yan Pascal Tortelier. A major conducting talent with no permanent post just now, Tortelier has appeared with the DSO on several occasions, and he’s been impressive every time. This witty Frenchman is a complete musician.
-- Lawrence B. Johnson

DETROIT--Neeme Järvi, music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, announced Thursday that he will step down after the 2004-05 season to become the DSO’s conductor laureate.
DSO board chairman Peter D. Cummings said a search for Järvi’s successor would begin in the next few months.

Järvi, who turns 65 next month, will return for annual guest-conducting appearances as conductor laureate. He also signed a new contract to continue as music director for the next three seasons, extending his tenure with the DSO to 15 years. Of the 11 conductors who have served as DSO music director, only Ossip Gabrilowitsch, the celebrated Russian whose stint from 1918-36 first put the orchestra on solid artistic footing, served longer than Järvi.

“Fifteen years is enough,” says Järvi, who has bounced back, apparently to full strength, after suffering a stroke last summer that caused him to miss the beginning of the current season. “I feel very well indeed, but I have to be careful. Now there is a new generation of conductors.”

One member of that generation, Järvi’s son, Paavo, is the newly installed music director of the Cincinnati Symphony. A second son, Kristjan, is also a conductor.
A daughter, Maarika, is a concert flutist who last weekend performed with the DSO under Järvi’s direction.
“I will take it a little slower,” Järvi says. “I don’t want to run around the way I used to.”
A daughter, Maarika, is a concert flutist who last weekend performed with the DSO under Järvi’s direction.
“I will take it a little slower,” Järvi says. “I don’t want to run around the way I used to. We saw the disastrous result of that. But I will always come back to Detroit and maybe a week in Chicago and Boston and Philadelphia.”

Järvi’s three-year notice gives the DSO some maneuvering space in what will be a competitive quest. These are volatile times on the nation’s symphony orchestra scene. Several major ensembles – Boston, Atlanta, Minnesota and Philadelphia among them – have recently appointed new music directors, and the DSO now finds itself in the same hunt with the Montreal and St. Louis Symphonies.

The role of music director is complex. Typically conducting roughly half the classical programs in a season, the music director shapes an orchestra’s personality and sets the tone of discipline. But also critical in the modern American community is the chief conductor’s role as the orchestra’s ambassador to the people. Charm counts, and it’s one of Järvi’s strengths.
“He’s formed a lot of friendships here that will continue for the rest of his life,” Cummings says. “He’s also had an enormous impact on our orchestra, and we’re glad to be able to walk together through these final three years. The time he has given us to find a successor is a great luxury that not every symphony orchestra has enjoyed.”
Beatriz Budinszky, a 38-year member of the DSO violins, praised Järvi’s congenial style.

“Neeme is proof that a conductor can be a gentleman,” she says, referring to the recent flap in Montreal, where the music director resigned after players accused him of being an autocrat. “He (Järvi) has that charisma, that contagious enthusiasm.”

 

DSO music director Järvi times swan song for ’05
May 3, 2002
Detroit Free Press
Mark Stryker

There was something about the number 15 that appealed to Neeme Järvi’s impeccable sense of timing. Fifteen seasons at the helm of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra would be perfect – enough time to cap an extraordinary tenure without the risk of wearing out his welcome.
1983: Neeme Järvi guest-conducts the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for the first time, at the Meadow Brook Music Festival in August. 1988: Järvi guest-conducts the DSO at Orchestra Hall for the first time. 1990: Järvi is appointed the DSO’s 11th music director, beginning his tenure in September. 1991: Järvi and DSO perform at Carnegie Hall in New York; performances there would follow in 1994 and 1996. Järvi’s first CD with the DSO, music by Samuel Barber and Amy Beach, is released on Chandos; 37 more CDs will follow. 1992: Järvi appears on the covers of four international magazines. 1994: The DSO and Järvi perform for President Bill Clinton and other world leaders at the G7 summit in Detroit. The DSO also performs at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. 1995: Järvi conducts the DSO in Europe, at Switzerland’s Lucerne Festival. 1996: Orchestra Place expansion announced. 1998: The DSO tours Europe with Järvi, giving 17 concerts in eight countries. Financial support for the tour comes from Järvi’s friend, Detroit Pistons owner Bill Davidson. Järvi also leads the DSO on its first tour of Japan. 1999: Michael Daugherty appointed DSO composer-in-residence. 2001: In January, Järvi and the DSO tour Florida. In July, Järvi suffers a stroke in Estonia; the DSO is forced to tour Europe without him in October. A recovered Järvi returns to the podium in Detroit in November.

Järvi, 64, has decided to step down as music director of the DSO at the close of the 2004-05 season, leaving a 15-year legacy that will be remembered as one of the orchestra’s most important eras. Järvi – who says he has fully recovered from the ruptured blood vessel he suffered at the base of his brain last July – announced his plans to the orchestra at Thursday’s rehearsal at Orchestra Hall.

“I like very much the round number 15,” Järvi said after the rehearsal. “It’s a good time. My health was in danger this summer, but I’m recovered. “I’ve had a wonderful relationship with the musicians. I’ve enjoyed them and they’ve enjoyed me. And I don’t want it to become a bad mood in my 29th year or something. It’s sad to end it now, but this is a time to be proud.” At Järvi’s request, he and DSO management negotiated a 3-year contract that will end with the Estonian-born conductor assuming the post of conductor laureate, returning to conduct about two weeks a season. Järvi’s 15-year tenure will be the second-longest in DSO history, after Ossip Gabrilowitsch’s 18 years, from 1918 to 1936. DSO leaders must now begin the lengthy process of finding a successor. The first step will be to form a search committee of musicians, board members and staff. Conductors identified as candidates will guest-conduct the DSO. Järvi’s timing gives the DSO a generous window to conduct an unpressured search. Orchestras are not always this fortunate. Last month, at the Montreal Symphony, conductor Charles Dutoit quit unexpectedly when his contentious relationship with the musicians hit rock-bottom, and conductor Hans Vonk resigned his post at the St. Louis Symphony because of illness. Both orchestras are now in crisis mode.

“The fact that Neeme set it up this way is a gift,” said DSO president Emil Kang. “We can plan for his successor, and we want to celebrate everything he has meant to the DSO.” It is difficult to overestimate Järvi’s impact on the DSO and musical culture in Detroit. The orchestra was aesthetically dormant by the close of Günther Herbig’s tenure in 1990. An $8-million deficit threatened to bankrupt the orchestra, and internal relations were still sour from two musicians’ strikes in the 1980s. Järvi sparked an artistic renaissance at Orchestra Hall through his vital and spontaneous music making, impish personality, 38 recordings, three international tours and eclectic repertoire. Järvi raised the DSO’s profile to its highest point since Paul Paray’s tenure in the 1950s. At the close of his 12th season – long after most orchestras have grown weary of their conductor – Järvi remains a beloved figure among DSO musicians. Järvi is wildly popular with DSO audiences, who hang on his every animated gesture and won’t leave the hall until he treats them to one of his trademark encores. Järvi’s friendship with Bill Davidson, owner of the Detroit Pistons and Guardian Industries, led directly to the multimillion-dollar fund that has allowed the DSO to tour regularly for the first time. Järvi’s charisma became a rallying point for the DSO institutionally. Visionary management turned the orchestra around financially and led to the ongoing $125-million Orchestra Place renovations. Järvi’s infectious enthusiasm – particularly the synergy he created among the musicians, management and board – was the catalyst.

“We’ve been through some difficult times in the last 12 years, but the one key strength all along has been our music director,” said Kang. DSO violinist Beatriz Budinszky said that at the heart of the relationship between Järvi and the musicians has been his utter joy in making music. “It’s his love of music, his enthusiasm for what he’s doing. It’s contagious. You get caught up with that.” Järvi has always been known as a workaholic, shuttling between conducting posts in Detroit and Gothenburg, Sweden, and juggling worldwide guest-conducting duties. But he has already scaled back his duties in Sweden and now he says it is time to slow down further and spend more time with his family. Still, he is looking forward to three more years with the DSO, and Thursday he talked enthusiastically about diving into the profound symphonies of Anton Bruckner, exploring other repertoire he hasn’t performed with the DSO and the possibility of a Far East tour. “There will be interesting stuff the next three years.”

 

DSO, chorus rise with Beethoven’s “Missa Solemnis”
May 11, 2002
Detroit News
Lawrence B. Johnson

Listening to an energetic, impassioned account of Beethoven’s epic Missa Solemnis Friday night at Orchestra Hall, one couldn’t help but reflect on how fortunate the Detroit Symphony Orchestra has been in its association with the Choral Union of Ann Arbor’s University Musical Society.
Without a rock-solid, indeed fearless chorus, Beethoven’s grueling Mass shouldn’t even be attempted. It is the chorus, singing almost nonstop through 80 minutes of formidably difficult music, that determines whether the Missa Solemnis flies or fails; and this one, with DSO music director Neeme Järvi at the helm, rose like a prayer.

What makes Beethoven’s setting of the Mass so imposing for the singers is the same transcendent expressivity that makes it so compelling for the listener. The ethereal beauty of the Benedictus, the driving power of the Credo, the many fugal harangues of devout faith – all challenge the choristers’ technical wherewithal, preparation and sheer determination. The Ann Arbor choir, brought to peak form as usual by its director, Thomas Sheets, made this uncompromising music – the unearthly vision of a deaf composer – sound at once sublime and altogether manageable.

But then when was it ever otherwise with Sheets’ fine choir in its collaborations with the DSO? Yet it appears the orchestra may be inclined to part company with the Choral Union. Except for one appearance by the women, Sheets’ singers are not in the DSO’s plans for next season. An ad hoc chorus will sing in the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony to open the season. No ad hoc group of singers in the world could have delivered this Missa Solemnis, and the Ninth Symphony, if not so voluminous for the choir, is scarcely less difficult.

Järvi, who showed his familiar flair for working with choruses, also pulled together a first-rate group of vocal soloists for this occasion. Perhaps vocal quartet would be more accurate, for Beethoven conceived of the foursome as an ensemble and eschewed the usual sprinkling of solos and duets.

Even when singing toe-to-toe against the full choir, mezzo-soprano Nancy Maultsby, tenor Richard Clement and bass Eric Owens brought distinctive character to their music. One would have expected that much and more from soprano Marvis Martin, an accomplished veteran equal to Beethoven’s brutally demanding assignment. But Martin could hardly sing at all, and probably should have been elsewhere drinking hot tea. Her upper register, where the heart of this music lies, constantly came out pinched and foreshortened.
Järvi, presiding over the first Missa Solemnis in his 12 seasons as DSO music director, provided clear and purposeful leadership. The orchestra’s smartly focused playing was capped by concertmaster Emmanuelle Boisvert’s radiant solo woven through the Benedictus.

 

Kristjan Järvi Leaves Berlin Breathless
June 7, 2002
MusicalAmerica.com
Paul Moor

BERLIN - Oh, the agonies of choice in this musically almost excessively refulgent city!

At the same hour on the same afternoon (June 2), both the Philharmonie and the Konzerthaus offered exceptionally promising concerts both of which especially attracted me. At the Philharmonie, Marc Minkowski, celebrated in his native France but not yet very well known in Germany, would make his local debut with Kent Nagano’s Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester in an imaginative program offering Ernest Chausson’s Symphony, a favorite of mine almost never available anywhere in live performance, and ending with the rare cantata “Faust et Hélène” by Nadia Boulanger’s fabulously gifted younger sister Lili, who died in 1918 at the age of only 25.

The Konzerthaus offered two other promising Berlin debuts, with Neeme Järvi’s younger son Kristjan, 29, conducting the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin in another uncommonly interesting program: Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements (1942-45), Prokofiev’s 1935 second Violin Concerto (featuring yet another local debut, by England’s Menuhin protégé Daniel Hope, 28), and John Adams’ “Harmonielehre” (1985). Torn, I mentally flipped a coin and wound up at the latter – which turned out brilliantly, a resounding audience and critical success.

And the headline of the Morgenpost review of Minkowski’s debut with the DSO called it no less than “sensational”, a term almost never applied here to such events. Well, you win some, you lose some. I will definitely not miss Minkowski’s next Berlin appearance.

As quoted in a Morgenpost interview, Kristjan Järvi, whose father has conducted the Detroit Symphony since 1990, left his native Soviet Estonia at the age of seven with the entire five-member family carrying one suitcase and 200 American dollars to start a new life in an unknown alien land. Today his elder brother Paavo Järvi heads the Cincinnati Symphony. About 16 months ago Kristjan Järvi became musical chief of Sweden’s Norrlands-Oper in Umea. Their comparatively aberrant sister Maarika, who settled in Paris, decided against the baton in favor of the flute.

Kristjan grew up in New York, and his podium manner exudes that quality; he whipped up the Stravinsky to its culmination with a jubilant physical exuberance one could only term American, in the most admirable sense. That, like his music-making overall, derives at least in part from his activities with the New York crossover group he founded and heads, the Absolute Ensemble, which has always reveled in a gamut ranging from Bach to Zappa.

Kristjan Järvi’s uncompromisingly contemporary Berlin program did not prevent the Konzerthaus from selling out – and both young artists won the audience over hands down. Not even the trickiest asymmetrical rhythms in all three works, frequently changing bar by bar at breath-taking tempi, gave Järvi the slightest pause, any more than the Prokofiev caused Hope the least problem in razor-sharp reciprocal accuracy, both with each other and together with the orchestra. Only rarely does one have the pleasure of such completely unblemished rhythmic security as characterized this entire concert.

Kristjan Järvi energetically revved up this not always most responsive of orchestras to a pitch of rare excellence. It will not surprise me if one Berlin critic’s confident prediction – “In ten years [at the latest], Järvi will have the orchestra eating out of his hand” – should prove true.

 

Neeme Järvi at his best
June 14, 2002
Göteborgs-Posten
Håkan Dahl

GOTHENBURG SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Conductor: Neeme Järvi
Soloist: Nikolai Luganski, piano
Stora Sal, Konserthuset, Wednesday

There was a feeling of exam day in the air last Wednesday, when the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra came to round off this year’s concert season. Perhaps the high averages over the year had indicated that something special was going to happen in this, the final concert of the year? Or were people expecting great things from seeing Neeme Järvi in concert again? He had had to cancel his previous concert, to be sure.
Well, whatever it was, people’s instincts were quite right.

This time Järvi, that unsurpassed provider of inspiration, stood in front of the orchestra. This is the man who almost magically fills his musicians with courage, and who builds his music using equal parts of technical brilliance and emotion.
And if Tchaikovsky’s fifth symphony is in the programme, Järvi’s job is quite an obvious one: to inspire fire in the hearts and souls of every one of us listening to the music. But this does not happen if the orchestra just plays strongly, quickly and perfectly. Other things also have to be added to the equation. To draw out the phrases and extract everything you can within the bounds of good taste. This is not easy to define, but in a way it is all a matter of clarifying what the composer set out in his score. In a positive sense, to simplify, explain and illuminate a musical course of events so that it comes across as substantial, exciting, logical.

Järvi at his best is the master when it comes to achieving this.
What is so fascinating when this wonderful situation occurs is that you get so many other things into the bargain. A sound from all instruments which feels completely free of tension or impurity. The famous horn solo serves well as an example; although this point could be illustrated using other parts of the programme from this memorable evening. The burning sound of the strings in Romansen, The Romance, from Lars-Erik Larsson’s Pastorale suite, for example.
Or - why not - the unusually airy performance of Mozart’s twentieth piano concerto which accompanied pianist Nikolai Luganski. And when this soloist also proved himself to be entirely devoted to teamwork in the sense of chamber music, there was absolutely no doubt that we had witnessed something truly great.

 

Neeme Järvi oma parimas hiilguses
14. juuli 2002
Göteborgs-Posten
Håkan Dahl

Enne Göteborgi Sümfoonikute hooaja lõppkontserti möödunud kolmapäeval oli tunne nagu eksamil. Üldiselt kõrge tase aasta jooksul lubas ka hooaja lõpuöögilt midagi erakordset oodata. Või ootas publik hoopis suuri tegusid nähes Neeme Järvit juhatamas, kes paraku oli sunnitud eelmise kontserdi ära ütlema. Ükskõik mis põhjusel, olid rahva ootused õigustatud.

Seekord seisis ületamatu inspiraator Järvi orkestri ees. Järvi on mees, kes maagiliselt suudab täita muusikud julgusega, kes ehitab muusika üles kasutades võrdselt nii briljantset tehnikat, kui ka tundeid.

Ja kui kavas on Tshaikovski viies, on Järvi ülesanne ilmselge: sütitada igaühele kuulajaist tuld südamesse ja hinge. Aga see ei juhtu ainult seepärast, et orkester mängib kõvasti, kiiresti ja perfektselt. Ka teisi asju peab lisama, et laiendada fraase ja välja tuua kõik mis võimalik hea maitse raamides. Ei ole kerge selgeks teha, mida helilooja partituuris mõtles ning kuulajaile teha arusaadavaks muusikas väljendatud sündmusi nii, et need tunduksid põnevad ja loogilised.

Järvi oma meisterlikkusega andis parima, et seda saavutada.
See on nii vaimustav, et palju asju saab peale kauba. Kõla igalt pillilt, mis tundub täiesti vaba pingest või ebatäpsusest. Tuntud metsasarve soolo teenib hästi näitena; kuigi seda kirjeldaks ka teised osad selle unustamatu õhtu kavast. Näiteks keelpillide põlev kõla Romansis Lars-Erik Larssoni Pastoraal süidist. Või - miks mitte - ebatavaliselt õhuline ettekanne Mozarti 20. klaverikontserdi saates, pianist Nikolai Luganskit. Ja kui ka solist näitas ennast täielikult pühendatuna koostööle, ei jäänud mingit kahtlust, et olime osa saanud millestki tõeliselt suurest.

 

Maestro pani festivalile efektse punkti
15. juuli 2002
Pärnu Postimees

Pärast õpilaste etteasteid lõpetas tippvormis maestro Neeme Järvi pühapäeval Eliisabeti kirikus Oistrahhi-festivali Joseph Haydni efektse „Lahkumissümfooniaga”, publik tänas dirigenti pika aplausiga. Lõppkontserdil astusid üles Järvi meistrikursuse parimad õpilased, keda maestro jälgis vägagi teraval pilgul. Kaks nädalat väldanud dirigentide meistrikursus karismaatilise maestro käe all avaldas noortele eri rahvusest muusikutele tugevat mõju: kui esimesel tööpäeval oli enamik noori muusikuid veel lihtsalt pabinas õpilased, siis lõppkontserdil lõi kõigis läbi noor Järvi. Selleks, et hiljem isikupärast dirigeerimismaneeri kujundada, on Järvi kool väga hea alus. „Palju õpitust noortele meelde jääb, eks seda näitab elu,” kommenteeris Järvi reipalt. Järvi lisas, et tundis end Pärnus suurepäraselt ning viis kursusi läbi rõõmuga.

„Tore oli õpilastega koos olla. Tahaksin kiita Pärnu Linnaorkestrit, kes ei teinud lihtsalt tööd, vaid nautis seda,” ütles Järvi. Järvi suveakadeemia kätkes mitut meistrikursust, mis olid sulatatud ainuomaselt Oistrahhi-festivali programmi ja teenistusse ning aitasid kujundada loomingulist õhkkonna. Meistriklasse juhendasid Jorma Panula, Michel Lethiec, Viktor Pikaizen ja Kalle Randalu. Järvi lisas, et Oistrahhi-festival aitab viia Pärnut maailma. „Sest just siin toimuvad rahvusvahelised sündmused kultuuri ja muusikategemise vallas,” märkis Neeme Järvi.

Festival pakkus palju erinevat muusikat
Oistrahhi-festivali võib võrrelda kõrge mäeahelikuga, kus kõik tipud on millegipärast ühekõrgused: professionaalselt ei saa neid võrrelda, sest mängiti nii paljudel erinevatel pillidel ja eri ajastute muusikat. Eesti väärtmuusikafestivalide seas paistab Oistrahhi-festival silma kõige laiema repertuaari ja esitajate valikuga, paljude ajastute ja stiilide muusikaga. Kuigi iga kuulaja võis valida lemmiku, kattusid muusikasõprade arvamused selles, et Bella Davidovich ja Dmitri Sitkovetski olid need kõige tipumad esinejad. Koorimuusika armastajad sattusid vaimustusse Läti Raadio koori ja Moskva patriarhaadi koori kontsertidest, samuti kiideti festivali avakontserti, kus dirigeeris Paavo Järvi ja Eesti filharmoonia kammerkoor laulis Wolfgang Amadeus Mozarti missat c-moll. Loo autor jäi kõige rohkem rahule Olivier Messiaeni kvartetiga „Aegade lõpust” ja Kristjan Järvi juhatatud kontserdiga, kus võrratult mängis Coplandi klarnetikontserti Toomas Vavilov.

Suurt osa festivali muusikavalikust kandis Kuldar Singi looming, see on muusika, mis tuleb maailma viia ja ükskord jõuab ta sinna niikuinii. „See peab saama meie kõikide pillimeeste missiooniks,” lausus pianist Kalle Randalu. Neeme Järvi dirigendist poeg Kristjan Järvi oli seda meelt, et tänavune Oistrahhi-festival kujunes fantastiliseks. „Tundub, et kõik on võimalik ja kõik ideed saavad rakenduse. Ideid on nii palju, et ajab lausa hulluks. Minul, Allar Kaasikul ja isal,” märkis Kristjan Järvi. Enim lõi inimlikkus ja mõistmine välja Oistrahhi-festivali lõppkontserdil, kus silmad olid vees Neeme Järvil, kontsertmeister Maano Männil, orkestril ja kuulajatelgi. Oistrahhi-festivali kunstiline juht Allar Kaasik ütles, et kavatseb ka järgmisel aastal festivali korraldada. „See tuleb natuke suurem ja parem, sest järgmine aasta tähistame David Oistrahhi 95 aasta juubelit ja selleks ajaks on valmis uus kontserdimaja,” rääkis Allar Kaasik.

Dirigendiks poolvägisi
Teatavasti koolitatakse Pärnus juba mitmendat suve noori dirigentideks. Nüüd selgus aga, et poolvägisi. „Ühel õhtul tulid neli paksu meest mu korteri ukse taha,” rääkis pärnakas Mait Laika. „Üks, neist kõige jämedam, tutvustas end nimega Neeme ja andis mulle kümme minutit aega asjade pakkimiseks. Teatas, et nüüd tehakse minust dirigent.” Laika üritas tülitajatele selgeks teha, et ilmselt on tegu eksitusega, sest tema pole kunagi soovinud dirigendiks saada. „Ütlesin neile, et minu salasoov on lapsest saati olnud kosmonaudiks saada. Aga see ei huvitanud neid.” Laikal seoti trepikojas silmad kinni ning topiti maja ees seisnud autosse. „Kui side silmilt ära võeti, olin ma mingis kirikus,” jutustas Laika. „Mulle anti taktikepp ning kästi sellega vehkida. Neeme ütles, et kui ma korralikult ei vehi, panevad nad mind soolaputkasse.” Laika ja teisedki kirikusse toodud pidid Neeme juhatuse järgi mitu päeva pausideta taktikepiga vehkima. „Lõpuks, kui seal kirikus korraldati kontsert, õnnestus mul rahva sekka põgeneda,” sõnas kurnatud olemisega Laika.

 

USA hiigelandmebaas kiidab Eestit
18. juuli 2002
Eesti Päevaleht
Romi Erlach

/--/ Eesti klassikud esindatud.
Korralikult on All Music Guide’is aga esindatud eesti klassikalise muusika tipud. Põhjalikku infot leiab helilooja Arvo Pärdi kohta, keda nimetatakse „võib-olla oma aja enimtuntud koori- ja kirikumuusika kirjutajaks”. Pärdi 1996. aasta plaadi „De Profundis” hindab andmebaas maksimaalse võimaliku punktisumma ehk viie tärniga.

Detailselt tutvustab All Music Guide dirigent Neeme Järvi tegemisi, Järvit nimetavad ameeriklased „üheks tihedaima graafikuga rahvusvaheliseks dirigeerimistäheks, kes on salvestanud imetlusväärselt laia repertuaari”.

Ühe plaadiga on andmebaasis Erkki-Sven Tüür, viiteid leiab ka Tõnu Kaljuste dirigeeritud albumitele, andmebaasis on olemas ka Veljo Tormise biograafia, tõsi küll, helilooja nimi on pealkirjas ekslikult „Veljo Tormin”.

 

Myaskovsky: Symphony No. 6
July 19, 2002
The Guardian
Tim Ashley

“Constructivist” is an adjective often flung at both Myaskovsky’s Sixth Symphony and Prokofiev’s Second, falling wide of the mark in each case. Prokofiev’s pile-driving score dates from his enfant terrible years in Paris. Myaskovsky’s Sixth, written in 1924, is rooted in post-Romanticism, while its stance, equating the Revolution with the biblical apocalypse, links it to the Russian symbolists of the previous decade. Avoiding frenzied overdrive in Prokofiev’s Second, Valeri Polyansky errs on the side of lightness, and the Chandos disc’s principal attraction is the Sinfonia-Concertante for Cello and Orchestra, given lean coherence by cellist Alexander Ivashkin. On DG, meanwhile, Järvi and the Gothenburg Symphony can’t disguise the longueurs in Myaskovsky’s epic, though the playing is to die for and the recording outstanding.

 

BSO opens Tanglewood with stunning success
August 13, 2002
BostonHerald.com
Keith Powers

Gil Shaham with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Neeme Järvi conducting, at Tanglewood, Sunday.

Call it classical music, arena-rock style. That’s what we got in the Shed at Tanglewood on Sunday afternoon at the Koussevitzky Memorial Concert, when the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Neeme Järvi conducting, coupled Tchaikovsky’s explosive violin concerto with Prokofiev’s gigantic fifth symphony.

Soloist for the Tchaikovsky was Gil Shaham. Shaham’s close relationship with the BSO will survive the end of the Ozawa era, and that’s a good thing. The infectious Israeli is one of the most compelling soloists on any instrument. The concerto, indispensable to violinists, is one of the summits of the repertory. Liquid, electric, it’s replete with gorgeous interwoven melodies. Tchaikovsky gives the soloist fearful moments, including amazing runs, double stops, pizzicato in both hands, and shimmering glissando. You’d figure Shaham would saw the violin in half with all the hacking. Interest from the orchestral part comes from the winds, and Järvi made sure they got a bow of their own afterward.Shaham shows his enjoyment readily and self-effacingly, charming everyone onstage and off. He is a wonder of tone, spot on at every juncture, and athleticism, moving about the stage, interacting with intelligence and persuasion.

Järvi opened the program with a bumpy ride through Tchaikovsky’s “Capriccio Italien”. The conductor, exasperated by too fast and too loud playing during some of the quieter moments, put both hands down and glared at his troops at one point. But the boisterous, Spanish-tinged waltz eventually won over both maestro and audience, concluding gloriously. Fittingly for the annual Koussevitzky memorial, the program ended with Prokofiev’s wonderful fifth symphony, which Koussevitzky had commissioned and premiered in 1945. It is one of the most unusual works in the symphonic repertory, and benefited from Järvi’s unique style. I’ve never seen a conductor shake the hip and wiggle the shoulders as much as our Estonian guest. The orchestra seemed to dig it. The first movement bears the slowest metronome marking of any major symphony, although Järvi, like most conductors, ignored the rules and pushed the pace a bit. That helped, but the succeeding scherzo might have needed a little more rehearsal time. All was repaid in the final two movements, full of fun, a certain sense of triumph (it was 1945, and Russia was emerging from years of occupation) and the folkloric, impassioned energy the best Russian music always has. The finale, its principal melody based on a randy Russian vulgarism, positively beamed with optimism and hope.

 

Dynamic duo highlight concert at Saratoga
August 13, 2002
Globe Staff
Richard Dyer

Violinist Ida Haendel and pianist Martha Argerich represented two-thirds of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto at Saratoga Friday night, and the simultaneous presence of two of the world’s most elusive, individual, and charismatic musicians was a great lure to play hooky from Tanglewood for a night.
The women were joined by a pair of Argerich’s favorite musical partners - cellist Mischa Maisky and conductor Charles Dutoit, to whom the pianist was once married - not to mention the superb Philadelphia Orchestra.
The performance was certainly an event, and it was a pleasure to watch and hear the interaction of these strong personalities. This may even have been a great performance as well - the acoustics at Saratoga are tricky, and the soloists may have been amplified; that’s how they sounded. Timbres were distorted and balances sometimes slipped askew.

Maisky always looks as if he is playing with complete inspiration and abandon, but for all the Rape of the Cello theatricality, his work becomes predictable. That’s something you could never say about the others. Argerich, often wild, played with impeccable style and control and fabulous musical and pianistic imagination; with a slight emphasis on one note of a fast arpeggio, she can create magic. Her accelerando at the very end was thrilling. Haendel had a couple of moments of dicey intonation, but apart from that, she played with awesome assurance and command, and although she has been before the public since the mid-1930s, she is still totally spontaneous. Haendel’s piquant phrasing of the polonaise theme in the finale, with its elegant dynamic shadings, obviously delighted Argerich.

Dutoit, facing a situation that would have thrown most conductors into a panic, conducted with suave assurance, and the orchestra members seemed to be having the time of their lives.

If this performance had taken place in New York City, it would have been sold out months in advance. The Saratoga Performing Arts Center was not full, but the audience went crazy. The program opened with a stirring performance of Beethoven’s overture “Leonore, No. 3”, which displayed both the sumptuous “Philadelphia Sound” and a Beethovenian litheness. Outgoing music director Wolfgang Sawallisch has left the orchestra in superb shape.

The program ended with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, which I didn’t hear because I decided to listen to another Fifth Symphony, Shostakovich’s, in a lowering performance by the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Neeme Järvi, broadcast live from Tanglewood.

Sunday afternoon’s BSO concert in Lenox brought an opportunity to hear Järvi live. The Estonian music director of the Detroit Symphony first conducted the orchestra in 1981, and over the last two decades he has matured into a distinguished elder statesman of music. Despite a history of health problems, he remains a dynamic and vital figure on the podium.

Sunday he and the orchestra delivered a vivacious performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Capriccio italien” and a compelling, idiomatic, dark-hued performance of Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony. The afternoon’s soloist was violinist Gil Shaham, who chose the Tchaikovsky Concerto. He has become a very aggressive stage performer, prowling the stage like a caged animal; one feared for Järvi as Shaham bore down on him. But the violinist played with his usual refinement, sensitivity, and insouciant brilliance. A conflicting assignment made it necessary to listen to the finale of the Prokofiev on the lawn in order to make a quick getaway. The side lawn is to be avoided because the sound is distant and there is a messy mixture of live and amplified sound. On the main lawn, however, one was struck by the clarity and projection of the speakers; you could really hear what was going on inside.

 

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9
August , 2002
www.pbs.org

What if Ludwig van Beethoven hadn’t gone deaf before completing his magnificent Symphony No. 9? Or what if he had had a modern orchestra, with all its tonal strength, to work with? Those were two of the considerations that led composer Gustav Mahler in 1895 to re-orchestrate Beethoven’s final symphony. MAHLER’S BEETHOVEN: THE DETROIT SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, hosted by musician and poet Patti Smith, features the DSO, led by music director Neeme Järvi, in its first public performance of Mahler’s orchestration of the Ninth Symphony. The 90-minute program airs on PBS Wednesday, December 13, 2000, 10:00 p.m. ET.

This edition of one of the great landmarks of the orchestral repertoire provides audiences with insight into a musical tradition that has vanished – the re-orchestration of important works to satisfy current tastes or, in the arranger’s mind, clarify the composer’s intentions. Gustav Mahler, who served as music director of the New York Philharmonic from 1909 until 1911, attempted to do just that with Beethoven’s “Choral” symphony by doubling the woodwind complement, extending instrument parts, muting or adding horns and adding a tuba, which had not yet been invented at Beethoven’s time.

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s second music director, Ossip Gabrilowitsch (1918-1936), one of the most celebrated pianists of his day (he was the soloist at the first concert played by the Philadelphia Orchestra), was a close friend and staunch supporter of Mahler. Following Mahler’s death, Gabrilowitsch borrowed the score of the re-orchestrated Symphony No. 9 and paid the orchestra’s librarian to copy Mahler’s changes to the symphony into his own score and to make the same alterations to musicians’ parts. That score and parts have remained in the library of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra since 1924.

MAHLER’S BEETHOVEN: THE DETROIT SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA tells the story of Mahler’s re-orchestration, the friendship between Gabrilowitsch and Mahler, and how the score came to be in Detroit. The special includes interviews with the orchestra’s music director, Järvi, University of Michigan musicologist Stephen Whiting and others. Joining Järvi and the DSO for the performance of the Symphony No. 9 are soprano Camellia Johnson, mezzo-soprano Eleni Matos, tenor Frank Poretta III and bass-baritone David Pittman, as well as University Musical Society Choral Union of Ann Arbor.

Patti Smith has a long association with Detroit, where she lived for many years and regularly attended concerts of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra with her husband, the late Fred “Sonic” Smith. As a songwriter and performer, she brings both a keen understanding of what it means to alter someone else’s artistic composition and a fan’s passion for Beethoven’s music. Smith has released six albums and numerous volumes of poetry.

 

Far from routine
September 9, 2002
Göteborgs-Posten
Magnus Haglund

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Neeme Järvi
Soloist: Nikolaj Znaider, violin
Music by Paula af Malmborg Ward, Sergej Prokofiev, Jean Sibelius
Concert Hall, Wednesday
* Rating = 4 out of 5. *

Perhaps it is the live recording for Deutsche Grammophon’s upcoming Sibelius box set (release date 2004) that raises the temperature. But after the break the orchestra really takes off, in true style. The interpretation of Sibelius’ First Symphony, conducted by Neeme Järvi, is quite simply brilliant. A high, high tempo and something of a nervous, verging on the hysterical, energy in the approach. Not the self-absorbed, reflective Sibelius, but the exaggerated romantic who charges headlong into the confusion of the 20th century and confirms that what was once whole now lies before us in shattered fragments. This gives the beauty and the layers of sound an almost mystical lustre, and what is the Symphony Orchestra’s strength - a combination of warmth, fragility and shy longing - becomes a defence against what is heroic. A precision in the lyrical aspect and at the same time a frenzy and an intensity that means that the performance is not in least routine. So: yet another stroke of magic from Neeme Järvi. Two pieces were played before the break.

First of all the premiere of Paula af Malmborg Ward’s brand new Sambal Dente, a piece that the orchestra played with obvious pleasure. I enjoy that lack of fear in af Malmborg Ward’s way of writing and arranging and, for example, letting a passage that is reminiscent of an old-time music hall orchestra collide with the rhythmical sharpness and a fascinating air of expectation in the percussion section’s contributions. But nothing much comes of the samba rhythms, and as a whole the piece feels a little unfocussed. Then came Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto, with the wonderful Nikolaj Znaider as soloist. What a sound he creates, shimmering and crystal-clear, what rhythmical vigour in his playing. Znaider wipes the floor with most other international virtuosos in the younger generation, by virtue of the sheer nerve of his interpretations, which also includes the Prokofiev concert. In this instance, however, the orchestra was not quite on its toes, and could not match the rhythmical complexity of Znaider’s performance.

 

A real thriller
September 17, 2002
Dagens Nyheter
Martin Nyström

GOTHENBURG SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Gothenburg Symphonic Choir
Conductor: Neeme Järvi
Soloists: Christer Thorvaldsson, violin, Nina Stemme and Karl-Magnus Frederiksson, vocals
Main Concert Hall, Friday

20 years is an incredibly long time to be the conductor of an orchestra with an international profile and ambitions. Such a period of time is of almost “Berlin” proportions.
The major festival concert was launched yesterday, with a reprise today. With a programme that looks back in time while at the same time providing an indication that the potential of the art of music is certainly far from exhausted.
The combination of Neeme Järvi and Tubin was a natural one. Stenhammar too. Then there was a phenomenal new piece by Hans Gefors. The latter was a gift to the Gothenburg Symphonic Orchestra from the newspaper Göteborgs-Posten on the occasion of the orchestra’s elevation to a national orchestra.
Tubin’s Suite from the ballet Kratt was probably a surprise to many people. A spiritual, accessible piece with many rootlets in the topsoil of folk music.
Stenhammar’s Sentimental Romances was hardly sentimental in Järvi’s interpretation. His interpretation was more about sentiment in its wider sense. Christer Thorvaldsson was given the honour of singing the solo, a task that he naturally performed with great success.
But it was Hans Gefors’ major, magnificent song cycle Pleasure that will make sure that the 20th anniversary goes down in musical history.
Gefors works in a tradition that can with good reason be said to have its roots in Wagner or early Schönberg. Pleasure may sound sweet and innocent, but Gefors has produced lyrics that depict all aspects of the concept, from rapture and ecstasy to loneliness and exclusion.
With an almost late Romantic orchestral grandeur, Gefors challenges us with a musical range of expressions, the expanse of which is just as great as that of the lyrics.
Nina Stemme, Karl-Magnus Fredriksson and the Symphonic Choir performed their difficult tasks so expressively that the listener experienced a real thriller.

 

Unbridled joy and bravely breaking the barriers.
Two outstanding performances at the Gothenburg Concert Hall

Paula af Malmborg Ward

Venue: Gothenburg Concert Hall
Conductor: Neeme Järvi
Orchestra: Gothenburg Symphonic Orchestra
Soloists: Nina Stemme and Karl-Magnus Frederiksson

EVERY TIME I have any contact with the Gothenburg Concert Hall I get the feeling that this must be the happiest cultural institution in Sweden. The artistic successes of recent decades and the expansion from an orchestra of 85 to 109 musicians is something of a fairy tale. The fact that the concert hall’s director Sture Carlsson looks as though he is having to suppress a broad grin so that he can introduce the concert that rounds off the celebration of Neeme Järvi’s 20 years as head conductor with due solemnity is not surprising.
But it is not just a matter of boldness and spectacular visions, but of the retention of a certain continuity. A relationship between conductor, orchestra and audience that has developed its own distinctive nature. Neeme Järvi’s bold personality, a musician on the podium and a man of action, has of course meant a great deal. But the figures are also impressive: during these twenty years, Neeme Järvi has conducted the orchestra four hundred and thirty-nine times in four hundred and fifteen different pieces of music. Sibelius’ Second Symphony - which has become something of a signature piece for the orchestra - has been performed no fewer than sixty-five times.
The celebration included two new pieces, both of which made a tremendous contribution to the sense of joy. First up was Paula af Malmborg’s debut as an orchestral composer with “Sambal Dente”. A piece in which she puts her foot down and brings the full apparatus of the orchestra into a dance, which becomes something that I perceive to be a self-portrait. A rhythmical confession that culminates in a liberated, nakedly echoing samba rhythm, and which along the way calls upon the assistance of musicians, who recite in Portuguese an invocation to music that liberates. A disarming opening to the series of concerts.
Hans Gefors provided the finale with his new piece “Pleasure”. A wide-ranging piece in five movements for orchestra, choir and two vocal soloists (Nina Stemme, soprano, and Karl-Magnus Fredriksson, Baritone, were both excellent) to lyrics by the Renaissance poet Jan van Ruysbroeck, Tomas Tranströmer, Inger Christensen, Lars Forssell and Petter Bergman.

INSPIRED BY Roland Barthes’ “A Lover’s Discourse”, in the first movement Gefors creates a musical vision of intoxication beyond the imaginable. With ranging brass chords, violent cymbal clashes and sounds that build up to a white roar, an archaic, jazz-style melody intones a feeling that “exceeds imagined sensual pleasure at which desire has hinted”. It is a daring opening that stretches Gefors’ own limits to the full. But also runs the risk of you thinking: “now then, is that what the uncivilised unspeakable actually sounds like”? But Gefors is a dramatist, and uses this roar of sound as a provocative reflection or magnetic points in the following movements, where the tone is more “everyday”. And where pleasure appears as anxiety in the middle of love. As something that prevents it from knowing which way to turn.

“A piece in which she puts her foot down and brings the full apparatus of the orchestra into a dance.”

Here there are similarities with the excess energy in the young passion depicted by Gefors in “Lydia’s Songs”, the orchestral song cycle from 1997, and which “Pleasure” may be seen as a continuation of. This is particularly noticeable in the turn-of-the-century, romantic melody in the second movement. But perhaps it is here, as in the song melody in the fourth movement, that Gefors ends up for a while on far too safe ground. In an exquisiteness (he is a master of prosody) that threatens to put a frame around that which wants to break out.

IN THE FINALE’S MEANDERING duet, composed in an original follow-my-leader pattern (in which the gap between the voices becomes shorter and shorter), I sense an influence of Messiaen and his ecstatic opera “Saint Francis of Assisi”. Here Gefors takes a new movement with a melody that sounds like an abstract pop song for Petter Bergman’s “If not we”. And it chirrups like the devil!

 

Detroit Symphony Orchestra can be heard on Sundays
October 5, 2002
Compiled from Detroit News staff and wire reports

Did you know the DSO is the most widely heard orchestra on the nation’s airwaves? A new season of DSO radio broadcasts begins Sunday. Presented by General Motors and hosted by Dick Cavett, the 26-week series will air at 5 p.m. Sundays on WDET-FM (101.9) and 9 a.m. Sundays on CKWW-AM (580). Highlights include Neeme Järvi leading the DSO in Mahler’s Symphony No. 7 and the world premiere of “Episodes for Orchestra” by DSO African-American composer-in-residence Olly Wilson.

 

James Carter jazzes DSO audience
October 19, 2002
Detroit News
Lawrence B. Johnson

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra made a rockin’ return to its home roost Thursday night, unleashing the homegrown gifts of saxophonist James Carter in the world premiere of a concerto that sent the crowd wild.
If that doesn’t sound like a typical night in a classical subscription season, trust me – it wasn’t. And not just because the DSO was back at Orchestra Hall after a summerlong remodeling project.
You read accounts of premieres 150 years ago where the audience clamored to have movements repeated. In your lifetime, did you ever witness such a thing – the reprise of a new work, on the spot? Neither did I, until Thursday night, when Carter and conductor Neeme Järvi finally gave in to a storm that showed no signs of abating and recapped the last long stretch of Roberto Sierra’s brilliant “Concerto for Saxophones”.

Sierra, who teaches at Cornell University, was present to share in the exuberant applause. His three-movement concerto, which has the soloist switching off between tenor and soprano saxophones, is a delight and a thriller, idiomatic and challenging in its jazzy language, affecting in its bluesy-ballad turns, electrifying in its solo flights and as colorfully fashioned for the orchestra as it is for the man with the horn.

And make no mistake: Carter, the 33-year-old Detroit native who has emerged as one of the brightest stars in jazzdom, was the man. His performance was nothing short of a virtuoso clinic, a toe-tapping, heart-stopping, smile-making romp. He is the complete musician, a technician with no apparent limits and a poet of deep sensibility. Indeed, Carter’s eloquent turn through the concerto’s balladlike slow movement drew an early ovation.

It was the finale, however, that blew off the roof. Carter’s extended cadenza – more like a soulful, mercurial soliloquy – on tenor sax, midway through the movement, touched off a blazing, syncopated home stretch that had the DSO ripping like a jazz band, Järvi dancing on the podium and Carter merrily tossing off riffs that matched blinding speed with gorgeous colors.
The audience exploded. A glowing Carter took bow after bow as Järvi stood deferentially aside. At length, conductor and soloist consulted briefly, pages were turned – and Carter began spinning a gossamer little solo of – what? – “Seventy-Six Trombones”. Well, he needed something to cue up the band and get everybody back to that spot in the concerto’s finale where – bam! – they were all off to the races once more, blowing down the walls and sweeping several hundred normally rational folks to the borders of delirium.

 

Järvi, DSO take audience on a thrilling Mahler journey
October 21, 2002
Detroit News
Lawrence B. Johnson

While the Detroit Symphony Orchestra presses its search for a music director to succeed Neeme Järvi, who steps down in 2005, Järvi’s first appearance of the new season provided a ringing reminder of the good hands that now keep this increasingly impressive band.
Starting his 13th season as the DSO’s artistic and, it must be added, spiritual guide, Järvi has brought the orchestra to a remarkably and consistently high level. It has become an ensemble from which one expects not only expressive facility and technical prowess but also stylistic finesse and collective eloquence.

Nothing less could be said about the thrilling performance of Mahler’s gargantuan Symphony No. 3 that Järvi and company delivered Thursday night at the Detroit Opera House.
There are performances that leave you feeling you’ve witnessed a plausible accounting of a work, and others that take you straight to its heart. Järvi’s traversal of Mahler’s grand tapestry, this six-movement paean to the sublime essence of Nature, was such a revelatory journey.

Everything about the Third Symphony is huge – the orchestration with its nine French horns and supplemental choirs of women and children, the sweep of emotion from poetic night-music to sun-splashed marches, the sheer expanse of the first and final movements. And yet in his clear-sighted, sensitive and expansive approach to the music, Järvi managed to keep both its structure and its poetry in view while making the work feel almost concise in its 90-minute length.

The DSO responded with a radiant performance, from the strings’ warm and fluid playing to woodwinds and brasses that painted Pan and all his realm in vivid hues. As Mahler’s voice of the deep and mysterious night, mezzo-soprano Nancy Maultsby imbued Nietzsche’s solemn poetry with blazing majesty. Forming a suitably angelic choir, in Mahler’s chapter of divine commentary, were the women of Ann Arbor’s University Musical Society Choral Union and the Christ Church of Grosse Pointe Boys Choir.

 

Sax star’s DSO gig might get him back on CD racks
October 24, 2002
Free Press
Mark Stryker

The last time James Carter played at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, a crew from Atlantic Records taped the three nights of roaring music as the Detroit-born saxophonist matched wits with a slew of special guests, including the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.

But 16 months later, as Carter returns to Baker’s for a two-night stand, “Live at Baker’s” still hasn’t arrived in stores. But another Carter recording with a Detroit connection is moving to the front burner. Sony Records has expressed strong interest in Roberto Sierra’s Concerto for Saxophones, which was commissioned by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and written for Carter. The piece had its world premiere last week at Orchestra Hall.

A few months after the Baker’s sessions in June 2001, the depressed recording climate caused Atlantic’s corporate owner, WEA Records, to kill the venerable Atlantic Jazz label, drop a gaggle of artists and reassign others, including Carter, to Warner Bros.
But Carter and his manager, Cynthia Herbst, weren’t comfortable with that. The Atlantic executives Carter had grown close to had all left, and Warner Bros. already had a hot young saxophonist, Joshua Redman, under contract. Herbst negotiated Carter’s release from his contract under the condition that “Live at Baker’s” would still be issued.

Herbst says it hasn’t been released because scheduling conflicts have prevented the necessary touch-up recording. That work, including sessions with Franklin, is now scheduled for late November in Detroit. Herbst says she hopes the CD will be out by spring 2003.

“I definitely want to get the album out,” says Carter. “Baker’s personifies Detroit.”
Meanwhile, Carter, 33, has signed a new contract with Sony. Herbst says his initial project for the label will likely be a ballad album with strings.

Last week, Sony’s vice president for jazz, Yves Beauvais, traveled to Detroit and was so taken with the Sierra concerto, according to DSO officials, that he plans to pitch the project up the line at Sony. The concerto, conducted by DSO music director Neeme Järvi, was received rapturously by audiences and critics. It marries classical and jazz elements and showcases Carter’s virtuosity.

DSO vice president and general manager Stephen Millen says that, should Sony give the project a green light, the record company would either buy the rights to tapes of last week’s concerts or arrange to record the work again at Orchestra Hall under more controlled circumstances.

Though the DSO’s relationship with Sony would not extend beyond the Sierra concerto, a DSO appearance on Sony would be a coup, given that a severe slump in the classical industry in recent years has brought the recording of American orchestras to a near halt. The DSO has been without a recording contract since its deal with Chandos ended in 1996.

“We’re really excited about the potential,” says Millen.

 

DSO, Znaider breathe new life into two great works
October 26, 2002
Detroit News
Lawrence B. Johnson

On paper, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s concert Thursday night with Neeme Järvi and the Danish violinist Nikolaj Znaider looked like a season highlight. But as it turned out, paper, ink and promise couldn’t begin to do justice to the real deal – being at Orchestra Hall and hearing two great works brought to resonant life as truly and wonderfully as if they were being born before one’s eyes.

It was indeed a rebirth of sorts for Carl Nielsen’s finely crafted Violin Concerto, which in the 91 years of its life had somehow eluded a DSO debut until Thursday night. To judge from the loud and long audience response, however, this fascinating concerto, as elegant and lyrical as it is technically spectacular, will be revisited here before many more seasons have passed.
While Nielsen’s demanding concerto keeps the soloist in the spotlight almost nonstop, it seemed to pose no challenge at all for the composer’s 27-year-old countryman. In glittering, dramatically charged outer movements evocative of Brahms and through an intimate middle chapter that played out like an accompanied soliloquy, Znaider displayed an unfailingly beautiful sound, mature restraint and an unshakable technique.

He also enjoyed a savvy, responsive collaborator in Järvi and alert, poised playing from the DSO. But the orchestra was only warming up. Just ahead, in Shostakovich’s 10th Symphony, lay one of the DSO’s finest achievements in recent seasons.
Written in the months after Stalin’s death in 1953, the 10th Symphony holds up a mirror to both the public darkness and the personal hope of the awful, fear-shrouded years of Soviet Russia under Stalin.

At 45 minutes, the Shostakovich 10th roughly matches the length of Schubert’s “Great C major” Symphony. But the Russian work dwells on the far side of the universe from the “Great C major’s” confidence, affirmation, lyric poetry and spiritual repose. There’s more of Mahler’s angst here, the sudden leaps and turns of a soul besieged by the world and half expecting its precipitous end.
With unerring purpose and clarity, Järvi cast the shadows and pits of Shostakovich’s musical portrait against its patches of light and promontories of optimism. Inevitably, darkness, or at least a bitter irony, prevailed. Yet it was an eloquently inflected darkness – thoroughly musical in its pulse and rhythms and colors and flow. Or perhaps that only describes the half-light and the ineffable mystery of a composer’s search within.

 

Järvi makes Sibelius’ notes fall like fresh snow
November 7, 2002
Göteborgs-Posten
Håkan Dahl

GOTHENBURG SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Conductor: Neeme Järvi
Soloist: Hans Pålsson, piano
Main Concert Hall, Thursday
This symphony orchestra certainly knows its Sibelius. And when the director himself is responsible for the interpretation, the result is usually so good that it stands comparison with any orchestra in the world. Neeme Järvi stretches Sibelius’ melodic lines forever when required, and he makes the notes fall like fresh snow at just the right time.
I assume that Sibelius’ Fifth Symphony will be included in the upcoming tour. A selection that guarantees success, as our national orchestra has identified truths in it that seem eternal.
The strings are powerful and multifaceted, even if the darker tones tend to dominate. The wind section is constantly listening out for internal harmonisation. Two by two, the woodwind plays while the brass bides its time, waiting for the powerful entrance into the overall picture, which makes us stop, feel and think.
How Rolf Martinsson’s A. S. in memoriam sounds on tour I do not know, but this piece definitely has the impact to reach an international audience. A smaller, previous version has now been replaced by a larger one, which means that the tight vocal arrangement is given a depth that satisfies the demand of its origins in a Nordic tradition.
The contrasts provided by the other items in the programme could not have been greater.
Mozart’s Piano Concerto in A Major, K 414, does not even subconsciously attempt to be anything other than pleasant. I have previously described Hans Pålsson as a poet at the piano. There is no reason to reconsider that view after Thursday’s concert, but the prominent passages in this twelfth piano concerto are instead, as Pålsson quite correctly recognised, a kind of sales pitch for the piano, to show off Mozart’s talents as both a composer and a pianist.

Hans Pålsson is a poet at the piano
Hans Pålsson made an excellent job of advertising this fact very effectively and elegantly.
Neeme Järvi was happy to conduct the orchestra in the same spirit. He also provided evidence of his talents as a dancer, resulting in a polonaise that was more vigorous than Tchaikovsky could ever have envisaged.

 

Enchanted, lively programme for the tour
November 13, 2002
Göteborgs-Posten
Magnus Haglund

GOTHENBURG SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Conductor: Neeme Järvi
Soloist: Julian Rachlin
Main Concert Hall, Gothenburg, Wednesday 2002-11-13
The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra will soon be setting off on a tour of Japan, taking with it this late romantic programme comprising Sibelius’ Violin Concerto and Mahler’s First Symphony (as well as Grieg’s Piano Concerto and Mahler’s Fifth Symphony). The composition of the programme speaks not only of the orchestra’s identity and its roots in an age characterised by ambivalence and a zeal for beauty in equal parts. It also speaks of a musical release. This is because head conductor Neeme Järvi has in recent years developed into a masterly interpreter of Mahler. This renewal and intensification results in classicism, mildness and imagination. And unceasing wonder.

Restrained caution
As in the captivating version of the First Symphony, so lively and intimate, so loving and enchanted. From the crystalline to the ironically grotesque and back again, but always with a restrained caution. Giving the collage effects when the different worlds collide and blend together – Klezmer melodies and Viennese waltzes, psalms and echoes of Beethoven – a particularly special lustre. The funeral march has an unearthly beauty, while at the same time moving the listener with its intimate familiarity.

More than mere technique
The young soloist Julian Rachlin opens the concert with a light-fingered, virtuoso interpretation of Sibelius’ Violin Concerto. But it is only in the third and final movement that his playing gets under the tough surface of the music. This is where the resonant layers achieve a more precise structure and the organic, rhythmical nature of the piece comes to the fore. Suddenly we hear Sibelius’ unique shifts between heaviness and lightness, between the darkest melancholy and optimistic zest for life. The technical interpretation becomes more than mere technique.

 

Ongaku no Tomo”
November 25, 2002
Okuda Yoshimichi

The opening piece, “A.S. In Memoriam” by the contemporary Swedish composer Martinsson (1956- ), and the encore performances of “Andante Festivo”, “Karelia”, and “Alla Marcia” from the “Karelia Suite” were of exceptional quality. It is possible to regard these selected works as a mere greeting by the orchestra. Still, one cannot help being impressed by how they are able to create a rich color without being bland, and of the quality of the strings ensemble which possesses both a sense of texture along with a clearness of tone. While the orchestra expanded their repertoire under the shrewd leadership of Järvi, they also increased the range of their acoustics and form of expression. In a particular period of the mid 1990s, they tended to play a bit too freely, perhaps by being directly influenced by the conductor’s personality. However, the ideas of the two parties seem to have overlapped in a high level, with the strings at the core. Järvi also made his presence known with Sibelius’s fifth symphony. The orchestra gave a performance of a grand scale with emphasis on the framework of the piece, and they were able to keep the total image of the piece intact even when minor problems occurred. Personally, I was hoping for a more in-depth interpretation of the piece. In the violin concerto, Rachlin gave a lively performance of Sibelius that was rich in contrast, and made the most of his fullness of tone. He was successful in emerging from the temporarily shaky period of his career. The audience exploded with excitement hearing the assertive performance of Ysaye.

 

A Performance with a Sense of Vitality Different from Functional Beauty
November 30, 2002
Takaaki Aozawa

The universal always begins at home. “World class” and “international standard” are totally different concepts. Twenty years have passed since Estonian born Neeme Järvi has taken on the post of principal conductor at the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. In this present day, it is rare for an orchestra to be able to present a set of aesthetics based on a long-term relationship with a particular conductor, as seen in the tight collaboration enjoyed between Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic. The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, now the national orchestra of Sweden, was nurtured under the intensive leadership of conductor Neeme Järvi, and made its name in the world particularly with their excellent presentation of works by Nordic composers.
Returning to Japan after 5 years, the orchestra performed works by Sibelius, a composer close to their heart, with a natural ease that expressed their conviction towards the piece. The strings that resonate with a smooth and expansive sound, the nostalgic tone of the wind instruments, all maintain a sense of vitality and warmth differing from functional beauty. Speaking of the refinement of the ensemble, the orchestra seems not to seek a transparent and well-proportioned sound in a rigid way, but rather produces a rich texture linked to the images of the woods and earth. It is much like the crystal of the fallen snow, in that no two are completely alike in its figuration.
The program consisted of “A.S. In Memoriam” a work by Martinsson, a Swedish composer in his mid 40s, along with Sibelius’s “Violin Concerto in D Minor” and “Symphony No.5 in E Flat Major”.
In the first piece, which is a lyrical ode to Schönberg’s “Verklärte Nacht”, the deep and organic quality of the strings evoked a sense of quiet yearning. Then, Julian Rachlin, a spirited pianist born in Lithuania and educated in Vienna, presented a bold performance of the violin concerto. Rachlin’s passionate and rich violin soared against the sedate scenery provided by the orchestra, bringing forth an impressive contrast. The eloquence of this violinist who adopts both a flexible and vigorous way of expression is quite unique and magnificent. Rachlin’s sharp and bold expression can be caricatured as a bullfighter who stands up to an orchestra noted for its solid and stately nature.
In the fifth symphony, the orchestra did a thorough job of depicting the imagination and deep thoughts of Sibelius, a composer who gained his inspiration from nature. Through the convincing tempo and earthy sound possessing a unique texture, bountiful scenery and mysterious beauty filled the air. In the very end of the carefully laid out process, the final note in forte resonated with much brightness and force. This was achieved only through the consistent effort of the orchestra in speaking in its own well-thought-out language.

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