Conductor still driving in the international fast lane
January 8, 2004
Financial Times
Antony Thorncroft

“I’m the car-industry conductor” says Neeme Järvi cheerfully. The 66-year-old Estonian has arrived in Sweden to conduct the Gothenberg Symphony Orchestra, of which he is principal conductor, from the USA, where he is music director of the Detroit Symphony. In Gothenberg Volvo is the main sponsor of the band; in Detroit it is the motor industry, led by General Motors, which helps keep the orchestra afloat.

Järvi is one of those conductors who never quite made it to the leadership of one of the world’s great orchestras but who has made an essential contribution by bolstering symphonic music on the periphery. When he arrived at Gothenberg in 1982 the orchestra was decidedly second division; now its only rival as the leading Scandinavian orchestra is the Oslo Philharmonic, and on many counts it can claim superiority.

“When I came here in 1982 there were financial problems. But one of our most loyal concertgoers was the Volvo boss P.G. Gyllenhammar and I persuaded him to get Volvo to pay the salaries of five extra musicians a year for four years.” A full-sized orchestra solved one problem but getting the better orchestra more widely appreciated depended on recording contracts and international tours. Järvi’s main difficulty here was the musicians - or rather their union. He finally persuaded them to accept more modest payments for entering the studio and now the orchestra has well over 100 recordings under Järvi to its name. A third victory was nagging the government in Stockholm, which is not always sympathetic to its rival city on the west coast, into designating the Gothenberg Symphony as the National Orchestra of Sweden.

Next year Järvi retires from Gothenberg after 22 years to become conductor emeritus. He leaves the orchestra 116-strong and in fine musical shape, having forged a reputation as the leading interpreter on record of Scandinavian composers such as Sibelius and Grieg but also raising the international profile of Sweden’s leading composer, Wilhelm Stenhammar. It also tours regularly and is coming to the UK in January, including a rare visit to London.

Some things, however, remain unchanged. The musicians in Gothenberg remain overwhelmingly in control: they decide on new recruits rather than Järvi. Additionally, the audience is ageing and there is also another financial crisis, due mainly to a fall in sponsorship. To save costs, orchestra numbers have been frozen and jazz concerts have been added to the programme.

In addition a new musical approach is being attempted. Mario Venzago will be the new principal conductor but he will be supported by Christian Zacharias as principal guest conductor looking after the classical repertoire and Peter Eötvös, who will handle the modern and contemporary music. Audiences can expect to hear much more Mozart, and also more from the 20th century. In the past Gothenberg has been stuck firmly in the 19th-century romantic symphonic tradition.

Järvi remains very alive to the problems facing classical music. “Records are not selling. There is all this downloading [from the internet] and, apart from Naxos with its low prices and interesting repertoire, the big companies can’t solve the problem. Instead they make changes every day.”

He is also quick to point out the travails of a conductor. “It’s a myth that they live for ever. They might have in the days of Toscanini when an American tour included a seven day cruise crossing the Atlantic on a luxury liner.”

Despite a health scare two years ago, Järvi will only be taking life a little more gently. He will remain with the Detroit Symphony, which he has led for 12 years. As Järvi does not “want to be a conductor and not work”, he has also just accepted the leadership of another aspiring orchestra, the New Jersey Philharmonic, which is “just a 20-minute car ride from my New York home”.

In a way this is Gothenberg all over again – an orchestra of just 80 musicians trying to compete with big rivals in nearby Manhattan. But the relationship has been blessed with an extraordinary stroke of luck.
The widow of a local petfoods tycoon Herbert Axelrod has gifted the orchestra his collection of 30 Golden Age string instruments, with a market value of some $40m (£22m), including many violins and cellos by Stradivari and del Gesu, so the players will be performing on the finest instruments ever to fall into the hands of a classical band.

Järvi will also maintain his close links with two more orchestras, the Japan Philharmonic in Tokyo and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, where he was principal conductor for many years. And when the travelling finally ends Järvi’s influence on classical music, an influence far greater than his reputation, will continue to roll down the years. With more than 350 recordings to his name, he is among the most recorded of all conductors.

Järvi’s last appearance as principal conductor in Gothenberg is on May 15, when he will repeat his first concert of 1982. He will be back later in the year as principal conductor emeritus but in the meantime there will be even more recordings, more guest appearances, and the challenge to ensure that the New Jersey Philharmonic gives the New York Phil a run for its money.

 

Quietly ecstatic Prokofiev
Göteborgs-Posten
Magnus Haglund

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Conductor Neeme Järvi
Soloist Ilya Gringolts violin
Music by Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov
The Gothenburg Concert Hall, Wednesday 14th January 2004
What a bite there is to his playing, the young Russian violinist Ilya Gringolts. His reading of Prokofiev’s 1st violin concerto is quite exceptional. Quietly ecstatic but never straining after effect. There is an objective stringency, and an unfailing, virtuosic elegance, but also something both frail and coarse.

As in the introverted and expectant introduction where Gringolts allows the notes to grow from a feeling of vibrant indetermination. Somewhat like hearing Joseph Brodzky recite his own poems, that high pitch which is a combination of sincere feeling and the most acute self-irony. Gringolts brings forth something substantial in Prokofiev’s music. A dark humour that turns the longing feeling inside out, something roguish with a carnival revelry, and yet the performance is restrained throughout.

The concert is recorded for later release on Deutsche Grammophon, coupled with a recording where Gringolts together with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and Neeme Järvi perform the Sibelius violin concerto. If this latter reading is as strong as the Prokofiev performance, then it’s going to be a fantastic record.
After interval, the orchestra and Neeme Järvi make a fine contribution in the bittersweet 3rd symphony of Rachmaninov. There is an obvious enthusiasm in the reading, in the rhythmically driven parts as well as in the lyric lightness. And what a singing quality Sara Trobäck, the violinist, produces in the slow, central movement: the tone is delightful in a dizzying sense, beautiful without being ingratiating.

The reading of Stravinsky’s Jeu de cartes, which introduces the concert, leaves something to be desired. The precision in the rhythmic sequences is hardly what it ought to be, the quotations from Rossini and Beethoven don’t have the proper bite, and organic homogeneity is lacking. But it is still lovely music.

 

Airport’s leader driven to succeed
January 21, 2004
The Detroit News
Daniel Howes

He’s the new chairman of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, now gutting through one of the worst financial and leadership crises in its postwar history. He heads the Wayne County Airport Authority board, chairs the board of WTVS-Channel 56 and leads the Tourism Economic Development Council and all that means for the 2006 Super Bowl and a new downtown convention center. He’s also a leading Republican fund-raiser and onetime candidate for the U.S. Senate who still harbors some political aspirations.
Oh, and James B. Nicholson is CEO of PVS Chemicals Inc., a family-owned holding company headquartered on Detroit’s gritty east side. With annual sales of roughly $200 million, it makes and markets water treatment and chemical products and employs 1,000 here and in Germany, Thailand and the Netherlands. He is, in short, everywhere. Nicholson, 60, is the consummate business leader-cum-community player in a town where many of its business leaders are too consumed by the pressures of their own, often publicly traded, companies to step into the fray – and, often, controversy.

Why does he do it?
“This is not a dress rehearsal,” Nicholson told me during a long conversation in his office on Harper Avenue. “If the place is a minutiae better, then you’ve probably lived a good life. I really found the value in living is doing something for other people.” That’s a pretty standard response, actually. You hear it often from those who donate time to volunteer boards, pump their friends and acquaintances for contributions and lend their names to worthy causes. But Nicholson’s appetite for civic involvement, whetted by his failed bid for the Senate, isn’t driven by social expectations or the promise that a seat on the symphony board will net new business for PVS (a time-honored tradition with lawyers, bankers and accountants).
“What Jim is doing is tackling some of the major issues in this community,” said Margot Parker, a retired General Motors Corp. executive who persuaded Nicholson to lead a $4.5 million fund-raising campaign for Alternatives for Girls, a nonprofit agency that serves homeless women and prostitutes in Detroit. “He’s rallying his friends. He’s putting his time, his money and his perseverance on the line. He really sets a high threshold for people in the business community to say “What have I done?””

Spreads himself thin
Fair question. Here’s another: How does he do it?
“I have no expertise in running a symphony orchestra,” Nicholson said, reflecting on the DSO austerity plan that cuts pay, freezes vacancies and reduces spending. “But I do have expertise in running a business. In terms of my business success, what’s worked for me is hiring the right people to do the job.” At PVS, that means having a president for each of its 12 companies who run the respective business units and regularly report to him. They run the companies – not him – and they are accountable for their performance. He expects the same of director Lester Robinson and his staff at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Or the DSO’s management team. Or the tourism officials inside the Detroit Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau. Run the business, stand behind the results and understand that the board will hold you accountable.

Is he spread too thin?
On the face of things, probably. He leads PVS, the Nicholson family legacy he plans to pass on to his four sons. He heads high-profile civic boards grappling with difficult problems in trying economic and political times. He devotes about 40 hours each week to community work and spends most weekends in the office. But first impressions can be deceiving. PVS’s management structure (created by Nicholson) and its private ownership (Nicholson) free him to focus on civic affairs where other CEOs simply could not because their business and its owners would not allow it, even if those execs wanted to. Nicholson has his go-to people, like his assistant Madeleine Phillips. He relies on Joan Gehrke, PVS’s former director of community relations, to manage his community involvement. A part-time consultant paid by Nicholson, Gehrke writes speeches, quarterbacks his political fund-raising, culls airport briefing papers and evaluates policy options such as the symphony restructuring.

Does his deep push into civic life mean his political days are over?
“Maybe not,” he said, calling his 1996 run for the Republican nomination for Senate “the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m not running for anything. I’m not planning to run for anything. And I’m not living my life” in preparation for another run for public office. “Governor is the best job,” he continued, if being a senator or congressman from Michigan are the other two choices. “You’re the CEO of a business rather than a member of the board. You have the ability to make a difference. That’s my litmus test: Can I make a difference?”

Facing challenges
If the recent past is any indication, the answer is yes.
Shortly after succeeding Peter Cummings as chairman of the DSO, Nicholson spearheaded a restructuring that effectively included the resignation of Executive Director Emil Kang; reduced the pay for orchestra musicians through unpaid furloughs; froze orchestra and administrative vacancies; and put the orchestra’s Meadowbrook performances up for review. “It’s a structural issue,” Nicholson said of the DSO’s problems. “It’s serious. It’s a matter of being diligent on fiscal responsibility and not spending money you don’t have.” This is what people who’ve worked with Nicholson mean when they describe him as no-nonsense and insightful, as data-driven yet more attuned to shaping the big picture.

 

Record breaker
January 22, 2004
Manchester Online
Rachel Pugh

NEEME Järvi is probably the most recorded and widely travelled classical conductor living. The statistics are staggering. He’s clocked up over 350 CDs in his time, and given over 1,100 concerts in 125 cities with over 70 orchestras. He’s still, at 67, going strong - though in recent years slowing down ever so slightly.

But one of the remarkable things about him is that he has never had the principal conductorship of one of the “super-league” orchestras (that handful of immediately recognisable names which achieve television coverage and top billing in the world’s festivals). Instead, he has devoted the past 21 years of his life to the orchestra of a city in Sweden which to many is just a name: Gothenburg (or Göteborg, as the Swedes themselves call it: think Swedish Chef on The Muppets, and you’ll get the pronunciation right).

He has another orchestra in America, the Detroit Symphony, where he has been since 1990, but it’s the Gothenburg Symphony with whom he has become legendary. Ninety of those recordings have been with the GSO, and many of them made for Deutsche Grammophon, the classical world’s “top label” in many people’s eyes. Walk into the booking office at the Göteborg Konserthus, and the huge display of CDs on sale is almost all their own: there are very few corners of the repertoire they haven’t touched. The label they began with, and which has stuck to them faithfully (while DG is now cutting back), is BIS, the Swedish one. They have grown with Järvi, and he with them.

Britain’s Chandos has also taken to Järvi in a big way: he’s over here next month to make a Busoni disc with Manchester’s BBC Philharmonic - including, characteristically for Järvi, a world premiere recording. But those who had put their money on hearing him conduct here as a guest this season had better go and get tickets for the GSO’s January 29 concert now.

He cancelled a BBC Philharmonic date in Manchester in December, because of an unavoidable minor operation: he tells me he’s also unable to do Elgar’s The Dream Of Gerontius in March, for which he was scheduled at the Bridgewater Hall (Vassily Sinaisky will take his place). So don’t miss the concert when he IS here!

Järvi is to become Conductor Emeritus at Gothenburg in May, and a team of four has been appointed to replace him. That’s what it takes to fill the gap he leaves. It is the end of an era. And Järvi says, with some satisfaction, that he considers nearly all his dreams fulfilled. It is a story that began in England. He was appointed in 1980, while taking the GSO, at short notice, on a tour. It will end, in international terms, here, too.

He says he made a private deal with the then boss of Volvo (who began to sponsor the orchestra in a big way when he was appointed), that if he would learn the violin, Järvi would learn Swedish. But, as he says in his own highly expressive, if less than grammatical, version of English:
“The only thing we don’t achieve were that I don’t speak Swedish – though he started to learn the violin...”

Stefan Navermyr, the orchestra press officer, interjects: “I think now you speak better Swedish than he plays violin, maestro.”

Järvi laughs. He enjoys a joke. He talks about the tough life a conductor has in America, where “you have to go to a lot of parties, drink a lot wine and make silly talk – but (and here he suddenly turns serious again) they are people with big hearts... and a lot of big wallets.”

Järvi is no fool. It’s perhaps no accident that his Swedish orchestra is sponsored by Volvo, and his American one by General Motors. Without the former, there would have been no recordings, no tours, no title of “Sweden’s National Orchestra” (it’s been official since 1997).

And in Gothenburg he found an orchestra which owned its own concert hall, one with perhaps the most perfect acoustic in the world, and with state-of-the-art recording facilities built in. The engineers’ box is just above the back desk of violins, built into the wall.

Recordings always go well in Gothenburg. “In London and other countries you have to worry about overtime: here we finish early,” he says. “It’s teamwork. I trust Lennart (the engineer): if he says it’s OK, it’s all right. And we always have good discipline. You need focus and to inject enjoyment in what you are doing. You must make music.”

That’s one of his catchphrases. “You have to show your love of music to the orchestra,” he says. “And you need vision, and professionalism. And enthusiasm. You find very different views when you are dealing with 100-plus people in an orchestra. But when music starts - you solve every problem immediately.”

It’s a secret he learned from his great exemplars at the Leningrad Conservatoire, where, as an Estonian chosen by the Soviet arts system, he trained. Rabinovitch and Mravinsky were his mentors. “I fanatically did music,” he says, of his time there. And he returned to Tallinn, where his older brother, Vallo, conducted the opera.

He began as a xylophone player and soon was conducting the opera and radio symphony orchestra himself. But, in 1980, he broke free and emigrated to America (his real home now is his apartment in New York). The rest is history – though he has many links today with Estonia, developed since the end of Russian dominance. In 1998 he was chosen as “Estonian of the Century”, by popular vote.

One of the remarkable things about Neeme Järvi is that he has fathered not one, but two sons who are also internationally famous conductors. Paavo, the elder, has visited Manchester to conduct the Hallé and BBC Phil, and Kristjan is to conduct the Hallé here next month. His daughter, Maarika, is a concert flautist.

And Kristjan, who is married to the glamorous violinist, Leila Josefowitz, has a three-year-old son, Lukas, who seems to be a chip off the old block. “Every day he is conducting my recording of Beethoven’s ninth symphony,” says the grandfather, proudly. “You can’t stop him.”

 

Philadelphia Orchestra Executive Simon Woods Named CEO of New Jersey Symphony
January 23, 2004
Philadelphia Inquirer
Peter Dobrin

Simon Woods, the Philadelphia Orchestra’s vice president for artistic planning and operations, has resigned to become president and CEO of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in Newark. “It’s the right time and the right organization to go to,” said Woods, 40, who joined the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1997 to work with music director Wolfgang Sawallisch on programming of repertoire and the hiring of guest soloists and conductors.

Woods’ tenure coincided with two extraordinary events in the life of the orchestra, and he played a key role in both: the search for a new music director, and the building of – and adjustment to – a new concert hall. “It’s been an amazing time,” said Woods. Whether Woods will be replaced was a question orchestra president Joseph H. Kluger declined to answer yesterday, citing a pending reorganization of the orchestra’s staff. “On an interim basis, we’re going to take some time to figure out what we’re going to do about this organizationally,” he said. The orchestra fired seven administrators on Jan. 16 in a cost-cutting move. Woods described his job as “collaborative” in working with Sawallisch and his successor, Christoph Eschenbach, whose tenure began in September. “Both Sawallisch and Eschenbach are people who really sought out my opinion, but if they wanted to go in a different direction, that was fine,” Woods said. “It was my job to be a sounding board for them.” But there was a lot more to it. Music directors no longer spend months on end at home with orchestras as they once did, and artistic administrators have become more powerful as the artistic authority in residence. Woods was the person who fielded scores of new music from composers, and he looked with enormous pride on the orchestra’s centennial season, which surveyed 20th-century music and premiered new works. He helped produce some of the orchestra’s recordings. (Before coming to Philadelphia from London, Woods was a record producer with EMI Classics.) Hardly a tour, a concert in Carnegie Hall, an important performance at home went by without Woods hovering around backstage and then listening out in the hall. “He really developed an ability to understand the importance of programming that carried our art form forward, but in ways that are accessible to the audiences of today,” said Kluger.

For his part, Woods said he remembers many high points, but he cited one standout moment in particular: “I will always remember with enormous satisfaction the premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s Concerto for Orchestra, and the whole audience standing and cheering. It was not only an incredible night for the composer, but it showed how communicative and powerful new music can be at its best.” His last day at the Philadelphia Orchestra is March 12; he starts at the New Jersey orchestra March 29. The New Jersey Symphony has recently boosted its artistic esteem with the hiring of highly regarded conductor Neeme Järvi as music director. He will start in the 2005-06 season. The orchestra also has made much of its acquisition of 30 Italian stringed instruments made by Antonio Stradivari, Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, Antonio and Girolamo Amati, and others.

 

Sweden’s Second City Produces the Nation’s Top-Ranked Orchestra
January 23, 2004
Birmingham Post
Terry Grimley

Imagine the Government decided the CBSO should be designated the National Orchestra of Britain, officially elevating it above London’s big four and rivals in Manchester, Liverpool, Bournemouth, Cardiff and Glasgow. It’s not going to happen, is it? And yet that is effectively what did happen in Sweden in 1997, when the Gothenburg Symphony became the National Orchestra of Sweden. Admittedly orchestras, like people, are much thinner on the ground there than in Britain, and the GSO, which celebrates its centenary next year, has a proud history establishing it as one of the finest in Scandinavia.

But it still didn’t go down very well in Stockholm. Apart from its being a second city and a car city (the home of GSO sponsors Volvo), it was difficult to see too many obvious similarities between Gothenburg and Birmingham when I was fortunate enough to spend a weekend there at the end of August. For a start it’s a port – the point of arrival for British ferries. Like Amsterdam (on which its canal-ringed heart was modelled by Dutch engineers), it’s a city of trams and bicycles. I took a boring photograph at Saturday lunchtime just to prove there really was no traffic at all on the main road leading into the busy city centre. Everyone is tall, fit and good-looking and no-one is overweight. Like port cities all over the world, Gothenburg is in the process of reclaiming its waterfront. New harbourside apartments are appearing and former industrial buildings have been converted to new uses. Prominent waterside symbols of regeneration include the new opera house and the unmissable gaudy red and white post-modern office block, known locally as The Big Lipstick, designed by Anglo-Swedish architect Ralph Erskine.

During my visit work was in full swing on a tunnel to bury a main road which cuts off the harbour from the city centre. The work exposed the soggy subsoil which I was told accounts for the apparent mystery, in a country which has long opted out of major wars, of why the oldest part of the city does not appear to be very old. Apparently the ancient buildings subsided. Never mind: it’s a relaxed and elegant, predominantly 19th- and early 20th-century city with a fine park in its centre, a charming and unpretentious indoor market and an art museum which contains a wonderful collection of so-called “Northern Light” painting. This brief flowering of a distinctively Scandianvian art at the end of the19th century, often bathed in lighting effects peculiar to the North, has only begun to attract a wider international interest in the last 20 years or so. However several of the paintings in Gothenburg, including Richard Bergh’s Nordic Summer Evening, as well as many works by Carl Larsson, may now be familiar to British visitors from greetings cards.

Right next to the art museum is the home of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. The Konserthuset is compact (a modest 1,247 seats), but the beauty of Nils Einar Eriksson’s 1930s design takes the first-time visitor aback – particularly the sculpted, maple-clad auditorium, in which all the corners have been elegantly rounded out. In the foyer there are busts of two giants of Scandinavian music who shaped the GSO’s tradition in its early years. The Swedish pianist, conductor and composer Wilhelm Stenhammar was its principal conductor for 15 years, while his friend, the Danish composer Carl Nielsen, was a regular guest conductor during the same era. My trip to Gothenburg in August took in a historic occasion – the orchestra’s first performance of Stenhammar’s First Piano Concerto, in the composer’s original orchestration, since the 1930s. This piece was believed lost after the only orchestral score was destroyed at Stenhammar’s German publishers during the Second World War. A new orchestration was made by Kurt Atterberg, and this version was recorded by the GSO under Neeme Järvi. But it later transpired that a copy of the original score had been sent to America, and this resurfaced during the 1990s.

The performance with Järvi and young pianist Per Tengstrand revealed a powerful and substantial piece with memorable passages of wit and beauty, although the relative lack of a truly individual voice may suggest why Stenhammar’s music has received less recognition outside Scandinavia than that of his contemporaries Nielsen and Sibelius. It was the Third Symphony by Sibelius, whose Violin Concerto the GSO are playing in Birmingham next Wednesday, which completed this concert. The next day it was due to be recorded for the cycle the orchestra is currently making for Deutsche Grammophon (in back-to- back sessions with music by Tchaikovsky for Swedish label BIS). The sessions reunited Neeme Järvi once again with the team of producer Lennart Dehn and balance engineer Michael Bergek, who have presided over all his many recordings in Gothenburg over the last two decades. At the end of the session (which sounded as impressive on the monitor speakers as it had in the hall the night before), Dehn took me by surprise by revealing that his wife is from Birmingham. Their home is now in High Wycombe, but his in-laws still live here. It was a coincidence compounded by the fact that the Finnish symphony they had just been recording was dedicated to a Birmingham composer, Granville Bantock, with whom Sibelius stayed in Moseley.

Eight years ago the GSO set up residence at Symphony Hall [in Birmingham] to perform all the symphonies by Sibelius under Järvi, their principal conductor for the last 22 years. However, next week’s is a farewell visit from this team, as Järvi will hand on the baton later this year to the Swiss conductor Mario Venzago. The orchestra will also acquire two principal guest conductors in Christian Zacharias and modern music specialist Peter Eötvös, with Järvi continuing his association as principal conductor emeritus. Järvi has been one of the most prolific recording conductors of the last 25 years, with a total of 350 recordings to his name. The many CDs he has made with the GSO, for both BIS and DG, represent a monumental legacy, particularly in its service to Nordic music. As well as the complete symphonies of Sibelius, Stenhammar, Berwald, Nielsen and Svendsen and the complete orchestral music of Grieg, it spans lesser known figures like Lumbye, Jarnefelt and Alfvén, whose Midsummer Vigil, once a light music classic in Britain under the title “Swedish Rhapsody”, is included in next week’s concert. Last year the orchestra won Sweden’s top classical music award for “Aurora – Music From the Far North”, a double CD compilation from DG of popular short Nordic classics, ranging from Sibelius’s defiantly patriotic Finlandia to Lumbye’s picturesque Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop. The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and Neeme Järvi play Alfvén’s Midsummer Vigil, Sibelius’s Violin Concerto (with Nikolaj Znaider) and Rachmaninoff’s Third Symphony at Symphony Hall [in Birmingham] next Wednesday at 8pm.

 

After 15 years, Järvi will leave orchestra at a higher standard
January 23, 2004
Detroit News
Lawrence B. Johnson

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s concert lineup for 2004-05, announced Thursday, shapes up like a season-long going-away party for music director Neeme Järvi, who steps down in June 2005 after 15 years at the DSO helm.

But Järvi has earned his season in the spotlight, his all-year ovation. Järvi’s directorship is the second longest in DSO history, exceeded only by that of Ossip Gabrilowitsch (1918-36), the Russian-born conductor who willed a fledgling orchestra into significance and commanded the nearly instant construction of Orchestra Hall in 1919.

Yet it isn’t for sheer longevity but rather for his profound and surely lasting impact on the DSO that Järvi’s name can be mentioned in the same breath with Gabrilowitsch’s – and with that of the French-born conductor Paul Paray, who in the 1950s and ’60s raised an ensemble from artistic doldrums to international distinction.

Järvi has done no less. When he commenced his directorship, the DSO was perhaps capable of playing at the blue-chip standard “on a given night”, but those nights didn’t happen all that often. The Estonian-born Järvi, an old-school maestro trained at the Leningrad Conservatory, swiftly charged his new orchestra with a sense of purpose, self-esteem, adventure and — no doubt for the first time in quite a while – fun.

He charmed the orchestra early, and the magic only deepened into mutual respect and enduring enthusiasm. Over the last four or five seasons, the DSO’s sound has achieved a new level, certainly a new consistency, of focus, sheen and elegance.

While honing the DSO in the classical standards and exploring the romantic rarities that always seemed to be his particular delight, Järvi also has shown audiences a good time. He has never been above a bit of mugging, even a little back porch swing. The man loves, lives and breathes music. He’s also an open-hearted sharer. When the printed night’s work is done, the maestro’s almost always good for an encore.

Now Järvi has one season to go, 10 weeks in front of the band starting with the flamboyance of Orff’s “Carmina Burana” and ending with the tour de force that is Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring”. It should be a great ride, but this is sure: The orchestra Järvi passes on to his successor will be a finer thing by far than the instrument he inherited.

 

Detroit Symphony’s 2004-05 season sends off Neeme Järvi with
family-style celebration

January 23, 2004
Detroit News
Lawrence B. Johnson

In celebrating Neeme Järvi’s 15-year tenure as music director next season, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will honor not just the maestro but also his entire musical family – and widen that embrace to include several other noted families in the community of classical music.
Flutist Maarika Järvi, the conductor’s daughter, joins her father June 2-4, 2005, performing the Armenian Boris Parsadanian’s Concertino. Järvi’s son Kristjan, also a conductor, brings his Absolute Ensemble to the Music Box in the Max M. Fisher Music Center for a program of contemporary music June 12. And another son, Paavo, a prominent conductor and now music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, will close out the DSO’s 2004-05 season next June 17-19. That program also reflects the larger family theme as the husband-and-wife duo of clarinetist Michael Collins and violinist Isabelle van Kuellen play the world premiere of a double concerto by the Estonian Erkki-Sven Tüür.
Other family nights:
* French sister pianists Katia and Marielle Labeque play Luciano Berio’s double concerto with conductor Roberto Abbado Oct. 29-31.
* Sisters and Detroit natives Ani Kavafian, violinist and Ida Kavafian, violist, perform Britten’s double concerto with conductor Jeffrey Kahane Nov. 4-7.
* Pianist Orli Shaham (sister of the noted violinist Gil Shaham) teams up with her husband, conductor David Robertson, for Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G next Feb. 25-26.
And a star member of the DSO family, concertmaster Emmanuelle Boisvert, plays the Sibelius Violin Concerto Jan. 7-8 with conductor Peter Oundjian.

But the spotlight keeps coming back to the main man all season long. In his 10 weeks with the DSO, Järvi will take on some sizable works – Carl Orff’s spectacular cantata “Carmina Burana” for openers Sept. 9-12, with the Estonian National Male Choir and the Choral Union of Ann Arbor’s University Musical Society.
Järvi also leads Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony (Oct. 1-3), the Mahler Sixth (Jan. 1-15), the Bruckner Seventh (April 15-16) and Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” (June 9-12). He conducts an all-Tchaikovsky program Feb. 3-5, including the Fourth Symphony and the “Rococo Variations” with DSO principal cellist Robert deMaine.
Meanwhile, the search continues for a successor to Järvi, a quest that even now appears to be too prolonged to permit a passing of the torch directly from Järvi’s hand to the next. At the DSO’s level, desirable chief conductors tend to be otherwise committed a couple of years out. But as the crucial search goes on, and considering the high quality of conductors who have come through Orchestra Hall over the last two years, a full season of guests in 2005-06 would not be a bad thing.

Notable on next season’s list of guest conductors are two top-flight returnees, starting with the Italian Roberto Abbado, who presides over two consecutive programs – a rarity for visiting conductors with the DSO. Abbado leads Ives, Copland and Beethoven Oct. 21-23, then offers Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 Oct. 29-31.

The other standout name is that of English conductor Mark Wigglesworth, who made a stunning impression here last season. His program next May 19-21 spans the history of the symphony with the respective Fourths of Haydn, Brahms and Michael Tippett.

Itzhak Perlman makes two appearances in his fourth season as the DSO’s principal guest conductor, leading Tchaikovsky’s “Pathetique” Symphony Nov. 17-20 and Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony March 12-13, when Perlman also pulls on the robes of consummate fiddler to play the “Spring” and “Summer,” part of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.”

 

JÄRVI’S LAST HURRAHS: DSO’s just-announced 2004-05 season will follow music director’s continuing willingness to explore
January 23, 2004
Free Press
Mark Stryker

Neeme Järvi’s repertoire is so vast, his enthusiasm so broad and his accomplishments so numerous that summing up the music and ideas that have meant the most to him during his Detroit Symphony Orchestra tenure is no simple task. Still, in the wake of today’s announcement detailing his 15th and final season as music director of the DSO, he says his priorities in assembling his swan song were similar to those that have driven him since Day One in Detroit.

“We’re trying to be interesting in our repertoire and do many new things, but also doing things that will bring people to concerts,” he says, speaking from Gothenburg, Sweden, where he is preparing his other orchestra, the Gothenburg Symphony, for a tour of England. The overlapping themes of the 2004-05 season emphasize many of Järvi’s calling cards: his love of family and his native Estonia; his gift for big-boned Scandinavian and Russian repertoire, including Sibelius, Nielsen, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky; his taste for neglected American music; his encouragement of young soloists. But the overriding quality remains curiosity, a willingness to explore less-traveled byways.

Although some works will revisit previous Järvi-DSO triumphs – including Carl Orff’s blockbuster cantata “Carmina Burana”, which will open the season, and Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”, which along with the “Four Last Songs” by Richard Strauss will conclude Järvi’s final concert in June – next season is less about greatest hits than forging ahead. In October, for example, Järvi will conduct the unjustly overlooked Third Symphony by American Ned Rorem, who celebrated his 80th birthday last fall. Other works new to the DSO include Strauss’ “Die Tageszeiten” (with the Estonian National Male Choir), Astor Piazzolla’s “Tangazo” and music by Estonians Eduard Tubin and Eino Tamberg.

Järvi’s children will play a central role during the final three weeks of the season in June. Daughter Maarika, a flutist, will join her father for Boris Parsadanian’s Concertino. Eldest son Paavo, music director of the Cincinnati Symphony, will be a guest conductor of the DSO (including the world premiere of Erkki-Sven Tüür’s Concerto for Violin, Clarinet and Orchestra). Youngest son Kristjan will lead his contemporary music group Absolute Ensemble at the Music Box in the Max M. Fisher Music Center. “You can’t live without Järvis in this world,” the proud papa jokes.

Other season highlights and news:
Soloists will include pianists Lang Lang, Alexander Markovich, Orli Shaham, Hélène Grimaud and Per Tengstrand, as well as violinists Nikolaj Znaider and Baiba Skribe.

Guest conductors will include Mark Wigglesworth (one week)and Roberto Abbado (two weeks). Both have made strong impressions during the search for Järvi’s successor. Also appearing will be David Robertson, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Jeffrey Kahane and Peter Oundjian.

Järvi will conduct Anton Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony, the first time he has led any of the Viennese master’s symphonies in Detroit.

Principal guest conductor Itzhak Perlman, whose three-year contract has rolled into a fourth year, will conduct two weeks, including a week in which he doubles as violin soloist.

Jazz great Herbie Hancock will join the DSO as the jazz creative director chair, succeeding Marcus Belgrave. Hancock will join the DSO for a Gershwin celebration, perform in the jazz series and conduct student workshops.

If enough money can be raised, the DSO wants to issue a box set of as many as five CDs, drawn from broadcast archives, that would survey Järvi’s tenure. One disc would be devoted to former resident composer Michael Daugherty. DSO vice president and general manager Steven Millen said orchestra costs would be about $100,000 per disc if the set is issued through a commercial label. If the orchestra releases a set on its own private label, costs could be cut by as much as 50 percent.

 

Briton in possibe successor
January 23, 2004
Free Press
Mark Stryker

In the horse race to succeed Detroit Symphony Orchestra music director Neeme Järvi, a fast-rising British conductor may have begun to break from the pack. Mark Wigglesworth, 39, who has earned high marks from critics and musicians in two previous appearances with the DSO, has been tapped to substitute for Järvi in the first week of June. In the stealthy world of conductor searches, this kind of conspicuous replacement is usually a sign that a particular maestro is getting serious consideration.

A DSO spokesperson said Järvi had asked for another week in June to spend with family. It would be a mistake to anoint Wigglesworth – or anyone – the heir apparent. But Wigglesworth is already returning to Orchestra Hall for concerts Feb. 5-7, and he is scheduled to conduct the orchestra in May 2005. All of this activity is giving the DSO a concentrated look at Wigglesworth in a range of repertoire, from Haydn, Mozart and Brahms to 20th-Century music by Sibelius, Shostakovich, Webern and Wigglesworth’s English countrymen Edward Elgar, Benjamin Britten and Michael Tippett.

It also allows the DSO to probe key issues that go beyond the fundamental question of chemistry with the musicians – knowledge and interest in contemporary and American music, a willingness to commit to Detroit, and the ability to articulate a clear and credible vision for the DSO and the new Max M. Fisher Music Center that reflects the orchestra’s unique profile in Detroit and the international arena. Extreme caution is still necessary when interpreting the smoke signals. DSO management and musicians will not comment publicly, but it is clear that no front-runnerhas emerged in the 20 months since Järvi said he was stepping down. Still, a few intriguing guest conductors have displayed their wares at Orchestra Hall, and Wigglesworth – former music director of the BBC National Orchestra in Wales and an in-demand guest conductor on both sides of the Atlantic – is one of them. He has impressed many DSO musicians with his meticulous preparation and the galvanizing emotional qualities of his performances of Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony and Elgar’s “Enigma Variations.”

Stephen Millen, DSO vice president and general manager, said the process of selecting a music director was too important to rush and that it was possible the orchestra could go through the 2004-05 season without choosing. In other words, Järvi’s successor could come from the pool of guest conductors in 2005-06. “We are not feeling overly pressured because, unlike when most music directors leave after a long tenure, we still have a great relationship with Neeme,” said Millen. He said Järvi had agreed to conduct as many as five weeks in 2005-06 to provide stability through the transition.

If a rush to judgment is the greatest sin, stretching out the search also carries risk. Conductors can be snapped up by competing orchestras. For example, gifted American conductor David Robertson – whom the DSO was not able to land as a guest conductor until February 2005 – was named music director of the St. Louis Symphony in December.

Beyond Wigglesworth, another conductor who has made a positive impression recently in Detroit is Italian Roberto Abbado, who will be returning for two weeks next October to conduct diverse programs, including Charles Ives, Aaron Copland, Luciano Berio, Beethoven and Mahler. The once hot relationship between the DSO and French conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier appears to have cooled. After visiting Orchestra Hall six times between 1997 and 2002, Tortelier will not appear here this season or next. Tortelier’s concerts have been uniformly exciting and his command of French music unimpeachable. But there have been concerns about his reliability in standard Germanic repertoire, and there were also some prickly moments with players in rehearsals during his last appearance.

The trajectory of Wigglesworth’s career has been interesting. Born in Sussex, he won the prestigious Kondrashin Competition for conductors in Amsterdam in 1989 at age 25. The British press quickly dubbed him the next Simon Rattle after the English conducting star who recently ascended to the throne of the Berlin Philharmonic. Soon, however, the media moved on to the next big thing, and Wigglesworth honed his craft out of the spotlight as music director of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales between 1994 and 2000. These days, English critics are suggesting he is fulfilling his early promise. He does not currently hold a permanent post, but he guest conducts widely. His credits include the Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Montreal Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, London Symphony and London Philharmonic. Wigglesworth is also an active opera conductor and has led productions of Britten, Wagner, Mozart and Shostakovich operas at England’s Glyndebourne, English National Opera and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. At Wigglesworth’s concerts Feb. 5-7, he’ll lead the DSO through Mozart’s Symphony No. 31, Britten’s “Les Illuminations” with soprano Dawn Upshaw and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5. The centerpiece of his concerts June 4-6 will be Brahms’ First Symphony.

 

New Jersey Symphony Names CEO
January 23, 2004
MusicalAmerica.com
Susan Elliott

Simon Woods, current vice president for artistic planning and operations at the Philadelphia Orchestra, is to be the next president and CEO of the New Jersey Symphony, effective March 29. Woods, 40, succeeds Lawrence Tamburri, who left at the end of last month to assume the top administrative post at the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Woods arrives at a time when the New Jersey Symphony appears to be on a forward thrust, having acquired the Golden Age Collection of 30 string instruments and having appointed Neeme Järvi, longtime Detroit Symphony music director, to succeed Zdenek Macal as its music director in 2005-’06. (Järvi serves as the NJSO’s principal conductor this season and next.) After commenting enthusiastically on Woods’s appointment, NJSO Symphony Chairman Victor Parsonnet added, “It’s been a dramatic and exciting year, one that has positioned us for an incredible future.”

The 66-year-old Järvi, whose NJSO contract stipulated that he have final say on Tamburri’s successor, commented that he had worked “on many occasions in the past” with Woods. “He’s a strong leader with a tremendous ability to manage the details of a project without losing its overall vision. We’ll make a great team!”

In the fall, the NJSO reported an accumulated deficit of $5.8 million.

Woods first came to Philadelphia in 1997 from London, where he worked as a record producer for EMI classics and as corporate development officer for the London Symphony. He has been a key figure in Philadelphia, presiding not only over the orchestra’s programming and recording, but also the design and move into Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center and the search for a music director to succeed Wolfgang Sawallisch, which ended with the appointment of Christoph Eschenbach. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Woods’s position may not be filled; last Friday the Philadelphia Orchestra laid off seven administrative staff members.

 

My Swedish rhapsody
January 27, 2004
Manchester Online
Robert Beale

SWEDEN is famous for two things – Abba and Volvos. Thus goes the popular myth, anyway. It is something of a surprise, visiting Gothenburg, the country’s historic “second city”, that there is a third factor which links both.
That is the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. They have been sponsored by Volvo for over 20 years, and they have been Abba’s backing band in their time. Today they proudly bear the official title of “Sweden’s National Orchestra”, bestowed by vote of the country’s parliament (to the dismay of some of the Stockholm establishment).

Gothenburg is not a large city. Its population is less than that of Nottingham. But it punches well above its weight – in cultural terms in particular. Not only does it have a world-famous orchestra, but its own opera house (on a quayside, somewhat reminiscent of The Lowry), art gallery, museums, theatres, libraries, two universities, a conference centre, outdoor and indoor arenas...the list goes on.

It helps to have a huge Volvo plant on the far side of the river mouth, where shipbuilding once dominated the city’s industries. They have Hasselblad and Eriksson, too. These firms contribute enormously to the city’s welfare – a tradition going back a long way in Gothenburg, where every major public work seems to have been the result of donation by (in the past) a wealthy citizen or (more recently) a big firm.

The Swedes do have a habit of all pulling in one direction, which seems to help a good civic image. Volvo supports the orchestra, the orchestra promotes the city, the city promotes culture, the visitors come, the orchestra gains prestige, Volvo sells cars: and so on.

Of course, it helps that the orchestra is also subsidised by far more than public authorities do our orchestras here. The seating capacities of concert hall and opera house, both about 1,200, would be regarded as uneconomic for resident organisations in Britain. But they produce opera to a high standard (with a ballet), and the orchestra has become known from its recordings under veteran conductor Neeme Järvi.

The concert hall interior is extraordinary. Like the inside of a lute, someone helpfully suggests, to describe its curved lines and wood-clad walls and ceiling. It is certainly one of the most beautiful acoustic spaces in the world. Every sound is true and clear. No wonder record companies want to grab almost every note that’s played there.

It stands, with the art gallery and one of the larger theatres, at the head of a long street they call “the Avenue”, which leads to the river, where the opera house stands. Many of the best shops are here or nearby, with the Nordstan (the Arndale Centre of Gothenburg) opening on to it.

Leading into the oldest part of the city (called Haga), where beautiful two and three-storey houses made of wood have survived the centuries, is the most exclusive, pedestrianised, shopping area. Oddly enough, it’s called King Street (in Swedish, of course).

There are landmarks which visitors are proudly shown: the “fish church”, for instance – actually a fish market, but designed (they say) by a city architect who so longed to design a church that he made the market hall, built in 1873, look like one instead. The cathedral is just one of a number of dignified actual churches in the city. And Gothenburg is full of parks and gardens: laid out originally on a network of canals, it has many open spaces still. Ferry and sight-seeing boats ply up and down the river; there is an efficient tram system, with integrated bus services: stand in a shelter, and an electronic display tells you how long you have to wait before the next one’s due on every route.

Arriving at the Landvetter airport, about 10 miles from the city, you simply get the regular bus to the centre of the city (or a taxi, if you prefer).
I wondered why there seemed so little snow in the centre, on the winter’s day we arrived: that’s because they have underground heating for the roads and pavements, all provided by a huge plant which heats many central buildings, too. Does it ever go wrong? No, they say.

I have to say that the phrase which comes to mind to describe Gothenburg is “Swedish Rhapsody”. Do you remember that popular tune? It was played by Percy Faith’s orchestra when I heard it as a child. It turns out to be, in full, a marvellous overture by their own composer, Hugo Alfven.

 

Review: Neeme Järvi and GSO
January 27, 2004
The Classical Source
Michael Alle

Grandly titled the National Orchestra of Sweden, the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra gave the first concert of a British tour to an enthusiastic full house. Neeme Järvi has been the GSO’s Principal Conductor for a remarkable twenty-two years and, in fact, soon steps-down to become Conductor Emeritus.

The programme specified that Järvi has played a major role “in shaping the orchestra’s artistic integrity and unique personality” – he has surely helped create an orchestra that whilst not having a very big sound (at least as far as the Royal Festival Hall is concerned!) certainly plays with huge character, care for detail and, in contrast to not a few of the London bands seen at this venue, seems to exhibit real enjoyment in its music-making.

Knowing Järvi’s reputation for tackling new scores, particularly by Scandinavian and Baltic composers, it’s rather a shame that the concert didn’t include something more unusual than Stravinsky, Sibelius and Rachmaninov, but this is no doubt due more to the SBC being wary, certainly for single concerts, of anything remotely challenging rather than any reluctance on the part of our distinguished visitors. Still, Stravinsky’s ballet Jeu de cartes doesn’t turn up every day and although the orchestra took some time to warm up, they gave a witty, rhythmically tight, and colourful account of this tricky score. The GSO’s woodwind section is very impressive – puissant, precise and alert to every accent, dynamic and phrase mark; flutes and clarinets made a particularly beautiful sound. By the time we got to the final ’deal’ and the quirky references to Rossini’s Barber of Seville overture everything had settled and Stravinsky’s irrepressible imagination took flight.

The playing of Nikolaj Znaider has been much praised; indeed the present writer has very fond memories of the Nielsen concerto at the Proms a couple of years ago. It gives no pleasure to report, then, that this performance of the Sibelius didn’t do anyone, least of all the composer, any favours at all. Perhaps Znaider is a victim of his publicity – a commanding platform presence, elegantly attired, every inch the handsome, dashing virtuoso – such a pity then that he has so little regard for what is written in a score. This was a performance of eccentricity and exaggeration – excessive rubato, distorted rhythms, unsettling dynamic liberties, botched runs and some sour intonation. It was also a demonstration of fine conducting – a large bouquet to Maestro Järvi for not only following his wayward soloist but providing a really excellent accompaniment, highlighting tiny details in this wonderful music that are usually glossed over. With the orchestra left to its own devices, the second half more than restored one’s faith – a fresh and colourful account of Rachmaninov’s still-underrated Third Symphony. Perhaps the audience was full of Swedes – the welcome lack of bronchial outbursts that has become a depressing feature of our concert halls enabled Järvi to give real atmosphere to the hushed opening and to the slow movement. The awkward transformation from Adagio to Scherzo was handled with panache and, once again, there was some heart-stopping solo playing – from principal flute Anders Jonhäll and from the leader, Christer Thorvaldsson. The finale was as touching as it was exhilarating. Järvi really understands this music – the ebb and flow of Rachmaninov’s written and unwritten rubato was natural and heartfelt.

Järvi’s personal and inspired interpretation also honoured the composer’s intentions. If one needed reminding that Rachmaninov’s orchestration is amongst the very best there is – this was the performance to do so. Two generous encores, Rachmaninov’s Vocalise and Sibelius’s Andante festivo, and a wave from the genial maestro, brought the evening to an end. Now that Järvi is giving up his music directorships in Gothenburg (this year) and Detroit (next), hopefully we might see him more in London. Our orchestras could do far worse than fix some guest dates for him – Järvi’s idiosyncratic technique, willingness to tackle the broadest repertoire, and sheer warm-hearted attitude to music, bring a welcome breath of fresh air.

 

Concerts Nordic sensibility is captured, with subtle force
January 27, 2004
The Times
John Allison

DESPITE carrying the banner. of “National Orchestra of Sweden”, the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra is anything but nationalistic in its programming. Some in the audience may have been disappointed not to have heard a symphony by, say, Wilhelm Stenhammar, but there was good reasoning behind the generous Russo Finnish programme on offer here. These are areas of the repertory in which Neeme Järvi has built the orchestra’s .reputation, and now that be is stepping down as principal conductor it was good to be reminded of that achievement. The GSO can trace its success in Sibelius’s music right back to the composer himself. Sibelius, a deeply patriotic Finn whose first language was Swedish, conducted the orchestra during its early years, but that connection alone does not explain why this Festival Hall performance of his Violin Concerto was so completely satisfying: few other orchestras know as instinctively how to tap into the Nordic sensibilities of this complex work. It helped that the soloist was the phenomenal Nikolaj Znaider, who opened proceedings on a whispered thread of sound while also summoning up great intensity.

Järvi, a communicative accompanist, matched him here and provided a secure foundation on which to build the work: the slow movement had searching power, and Znaider relished the rhythms of the finale to make it unusually tight. Sibelius was framed by a pair of exiled Russians writing for America. Stravinsky’s Jeu de cartes is full of big, bold colours and Järvi and the GSO revelled in them. Partly inspired, Stravinsky said, by memories of childhood holidays at German spas, it has an oompah element, yet also an air of wistful unreality in the quotes and sometimes ghostly allusions to other composers. This was a performance full of theatricality, suggesting the strange atmosphere of Dostoevsky’s The Gambler. Dating from the same period and written for the Philadelphia Orchestra, Rachmaninov’s Third Symphony is a piece full of Russian melancholy, yet tauter than many of the composer’s earlier utterances. The GSO’srich, full-bodied strings shone here as much as they did in their encore of the same composer’s Vocalise, but there was no tendency to overindulgence: lush yetvery controlled, they also bad the muscle needed for Järvi’s sweeping interpretation.

 

Gothenburg SO/Järvi
January 29, 2004
The Guardian
Tim Ashley

Estonian conductor Neeme Järvi will always be remembered as the man who turned the Gothenburg Symphony into one of the world’s most formidable ensembles. He relinquishes his position as principal conductor later this year, and it’s a measure of his energy that the orchestra has decided to replace him not with one conductor but three. Mario Venzago assumes Järvi’s title, but will be joined by Christian Zacharias and Peter Eotvos as principal guest conductors for the classical and contemporary repertoires respectively. The GSO, meanwhile, is partway through a UK tour. Järvi has always scheduled the rarely played alongside the familiar. In this instance, Sibelius’s Violin Concerto was flanked by Stravinsky’s Jeu de Cartes and Rachmaninov’s Third Symphony. Written in 1936, Rachmaninov’s Third is a flawed work, chiefly noted for its simplified harmonic language and a transparency of texture new to the composer’s output. Järvi couldn’t quite disguise either the longueurs or the occasional sentimentality of the first movement, though the central adagio was a thing of wonder as its undulating melody passed from instrument to instrument with ravishing finesse. The GSO’s combination of clarity and richness spoke volumes, however, in Jeu de Cartes – a wacky ballet depicting a game of poker that also allows Stravinsky to present himself as the joker among a pack of fellow composers, quoting their music only to trash it with distortion. Stravinsky’s mid-period ballets can pall without the choreography, though here you didn’t miss it for a second. Järvi’s soloist in Sibelius’s concerto, meanwhile, was Nikolaj Znaider, a dapper Tom Cruise lookalike. His tone is gorgeous, though he occasionally favours sweeping statements at the expense of subtlety. Few orchestras can match the GSO when it comes to Sibelius, and in this instance they played as if the music was in their blood.

 

Warm welcome for Russian rarities
January 29, 2004
Telegraph.co.uk
Matthew Rye

As if on cue, the arrival from Sweden of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra coincided with the first really icy blast of the British winter. But the reception the orchestra gained at the Festival Hall was anything but cold. This institution, which has pipped its more metropolitan rivals in Stockholm for the designation as Sweden’s national orchestra, celebrates its centenary next year. By then, the conductor who has done more than anyone to engineer its rise to fame, Neeme Järvi, will have moved on after 22 years at the helm.

So there is something of a farewell tour about the present series of concerts across England, with Järvi and the orchestra demonstrating just why this partnership has become something of a living legend in Nordic music in recent decades. Their programme was distinctively their own, Sibelius’s Violin Concerto framed by less familiar works by two Titans of Russian music, Stravinsky and Rachmaninov. Neither Stravinsky’s Jeu de cartes nor Rachmaninov’s Third Symphony appear often enough on concert programmes, but the Gothenburg’s playing suggested they are unjustly neglected.

The wind playing in the Stravinsky was particularly enchanting. This ballet score comes from the height of the composer’s neo-classical period and is full of wry humour and witty asides, giving everyone plenty to get their teeth into. The Rachmaninov has a brittle rhythmic bite, too, compared with the composer’s earlier works, but here, for all the wonderfully full-blooded playing, Järvi sapped the music of some of its momentum.

Rachmaninov’s music already has a natural rubato – inbuilt, as it were – but Järvi’s exaggerations, particularly his dragging out of phrases in the first half of the opening movement and at the very end of the last, robbed the work of some of its expressive force. But he made up for it to an extent in two encores by Rachmaninov and Sibelius, performances extolling the special warmth and generosity of the orchestra’s string tone. The same virtues were on display in the solo violin playing of Nikolaj Znaider, the soloist in the Sibelius Concerto. His was an account full of volatile, gutsy emotion - perhaps not the most purely beautiful performance there has been, but one that delved deep into the composer’s spacious, dark-hued Romanticism, finding plenty to say that was fresh and full of insight.

Throughout, there was the sense that, as a performer, he was using his considerable charisma to serve the music rather than to show off his dazzling technique – a refreshing change from the impression given by so many young star musicians these days.

 

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra @ Bridgewater Hall
January 30, 2004
Manchester Online
Robert Beale

NOBODY clapped at the end of the third, march movement of Tchaikovsky’s sixth symphony when Neeme Järvi conducted it with his Gothenburg orchestra last night.

Which could be down to one of two things: either it was a musically and procedurally enlightened audience who all knew that in polite circles you don’t – or Järvi had made the movement such an organically integrated part of the whole that it didn’t seem right to. I prefer the latter.

Some conductors just go for broke on it, with rip-roaring pace or swaggering style. Järvi didn’t: he made it positive – fun, even – the optimistic high-point of a curve that had to turn down to final despair. It made the symphony an end-orientated one in the most convincing way.

There’s something very special about the man.

He directs with extreme economy but the kind of concern for nuance that exhilarates. His gift for phrasing, rhythm and singing melody rather reminds me of Barbirolli. And he gets the kind of richness (especially in the strings) that comes when musicians are alert and confident. The highspot of the night for many was Nikolaj Znaider’s playing of the Sibelius violin concerto. It was wonderful stuff: the height of virtuoso brilliance, linked with a vivid sense of line and poetry. But the Gothenburg sound was a star, too, whether in the rustic charm of Alfven’s Midsummer Vigil or in the intermezzo from the cantata, Songs, by Stenhammar (one of Järvi’s predecessors in the GSO conductorship) which formed the encore.

 

Neeme Järvi conducts DSO in “heavenly” works by Mozart and Mahler
February 23, 2004
DSO Press Release

Celebrated works for orchestra and soprano, written by two of the greatest composers of all time, are at the heart of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s next series of concerts with Maestro Neeme Järvi conducting. Making her DSO debut in these performances is Ying Huang, the Chinese soprano who gained international acclaim for her performance in the 1995 Frédéric Mitterrand film of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. With the DSO, Huang will sing Mozart’s beloved Exsultate jubilate and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, where she is featured in the final movement, Das Himmlische Leben (“The Heavenly Life”). Also included on the program is Die Mozartisten, an homage to Mozart by Joseph Lanner, who, like Mozart and Mahler, was also Viennese. The concerts take place at Orchestra Hall at the Max. M. Fisher Music Center on Thursday, March 11 at 8 p.m.; Friday, March 12 at 8 p.m.; and Saturday, March 13 at 8:30 p.m.

Ying Huang, who replaces the previously announced Heidi Grant Murphy in these performances, may be familiar to Detroit opera fans from recent appearances with the Michigan Opera Theater. She appeared with MOT in Werther, with Andrea Bocelli; Cosi fan tutti; and in Don Pasquale as Donizetti. In The Detroit News review of the latter, Huang’s singing was described as having “an irresistibly bright, pure vocal quality.” Huang has also appeared with the New York City Opera, the Florentine Opera, the Cologne Opera, L’Opéra de Nice, the San Diego Opera and the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. One of her most notable achievements was the creation of the role of Du Liniang in the world premiere of Tan Dun’s opera, Peony Pavilion. This production, directed by the legendary Peter Sellars, was premiered at the Vienna Festival, and was followed with performances in London, Paris and California.

In addition to her extensive opera credits, Huang regularly appears with many of the world’s great orchestras and has been in constant demand in her homeland where she is a regular guest soloist at the Shanghai Opera House. She has also performed in North Korea and Taiwan, where she was billed top singer of the People’s Republic of China in September 1993. Earlier this season, she appeared as Pamina in The Magic Flute at the Macau International Music Festival, and then participated in the 45th Anniversary celebration of Chinese Central Television, to be broadcast live across China. She also performed in concert with Andrea Bocelli at the Shanghai Grand Theatre, and in solo recitals in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei, and Seoul.

Mozart’s Exsultate jubilate is a sparkling piece of music whose Alleluja finale is one of the most delightful and familiar movements from Mozart’s sacred pieces. Mozart originally wrote the piece for the eminent Roman castrato Venanzio Rauzzini. Like most of Mozart’s sacred vocal compositions, this is a brightly colored, extroverted work, expressing a resplendent effervescence rather than an intense personal faith.

Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 is considered the most gentle and intimate of all Mahler’s works in the form. Its expressive essence is found in the lovely song of the final movement, a child’s vision of heaven, titled Das Himmlische Leben (“The Heavenly Life”). The theme of innocence, or child-like simplicity, is at the heart of the entire work, which was much inspired by the folk traditions of Germany as they were set down in an early-19th-century anthology of poems titled “The Youth’s Magic Horn.” The mood and structure of the whole symphony leads to the finale; the first three movements serve to prepare for and illuminate the closing vision of the final movement, which features a solo soprano expressing the sentiments of a heaven-blessed child. She sings, “There’s no music at all on earth which can ever compare with ours,” and the beauty, calm and simplicity of the song are considered among the most pacific moments in all of music.

The final work on the program, Die Mozartisten, ingeniously weaves together themes from two of the most popular of all Viennese operas – Mozart’s Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute. Composer Joseph Lanner was a contemporary of the famous Strauss family and was equally adept at the new art form that became known as the Viennese waltz. Like his other 200 waltzes, Die Mozartisten, is especially notable for its intense lyricism and harmonic refinement.

 

DSO in good form for a Järvi favorite
March 6, 2004
Free Press
Mark Stryker

From the moment Detroit Symphony Orchestra music director Neeme Järvi emigrated to the West in 1980, he has tirelessly championed music from his native Estonia, with composer Eduard Tubin (1905-1982) one of Järvi’s most deserving projects.

A major 20th-Century symphonist, Tubin’s ever-rising reputation in the West owes everything to Järvi, who has recorded Tubin’s 10 symphonies and many other works and programmed the pieces with orchestras across America and Europe. This week, Järvi is leading the Sixth Symphony (1954), which he has been conducting for 40 years – a 1962 Estonian broadcast recording (now on CD) was made when Järvi was 24.

Though his roots are in Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Bartók and Stravinsky, Tubin’s identity remains distinctive. His harmonic palette is tonal but tart, his melodies brooding, his rhythmic energy manic and his forms concentrated to the brink of taciturn.

In three movements, the Sixth is a riot of march and Latin dance rhythms, including a quirky bolero with a blowsy tenor sax, a rhumba-infused scherzo and a Baltic soft-shoe of stuttering strings to open the finale. The layered arguments build to uproarious, drum-fired fanfares by horns, trumpets or trombones.

Järvi conducted with keen insight Friday, never denying the score’s weight but keeping the corners rounded enough and the tempos swift enough to let the music soar. The DSO was at its virtuoso best. Russ Mallare was the fine saxophonist.

After intermission, violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg’s impassioned performance of the Bruch G Minor Violin Concerto flirted with over-the-top mannerisms but somehow reconciled the stretched-out phrasing, teasing slides, surging momentum and Gypsy temperament into a unified and compelling vision. Järvi’s alert accompaniment and the DSO’s own intensity were crucial to the impact.

 

The past is prelude
Järvi’s Detroit tenure gives NJSO aficionados a taste of what to expect

April 18, 2004
Willa J. Conrad

Estonian conductor Neeme Järvi is music director designate of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, yet he returns this week for his classical series debut as a bit of an enigma. He’s appeared here only once, for the NJSO’s Young Artist Auditions last year. So enamored was the board with Järvi’s reputation that it rushed to sign him last October, lest he move on to bigger offers.

So his five concerts here will be a musical hello, but perhaps another introduction is in order – to the ups and downs of his 15-year tenure with the larger Detroit Symphony Orchestra, where he will step down as music director before arriving in New Jersey in the fall of 2005. Järvi’s tenure in Detroit – his first American appointment – is generally perceived as an artistic success. A conductor born under Soviet rule would seem an unlikely candidate to grasp the city’s complex racial tensions or this country’s uneasy relationship between politics and art. But Järvi showed unusual skill in understanding both, remembers former DSO executive director Mark Volpe, now at the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

“We were a $16 million operation with $9 million in accumulated debt,” Volpe says. The DSO was under fire from state legislators who questioned pumping money into a traditionally white institution in a predominantly black city. Worse, conservative Gov. John Engler threw out a previous administration’s plan for an $18 million bailout, which would have included money from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.

Järvi’s reaction was to get out and meet the orchestra’s constituencies on their own turf. “The guy is so open-minded. I took him to hear gospel singing, and he was wowed by it. Back home... he used to listen to jazz on the Voice of America, so the idiom was in his ear. I mean, the guy can swing!” says Volpe.

By programming American – and specifically African-American – symphonic music, Järvi eased perceptions of the orchestra as elitist.

“People could see that he was not some stuffy guy who only likes Beethoven and Tchaikovsky,” says Stephen Millen, the DSO’s vice president and general manager, who as a young clarinetist in the DSO’s innovative African-American Fellowship Program also watched Järvi from a musician’s seat.

“It’s important to Neeme that the orchestra is relevant to the community; for Detroit, that meant an intensification of focus on the African-American community,” Millen says.

Järvi explains it simply: “When a conductor comes to an American orchestra, he must commune with the American lifestyle. Personally, I have to understand the situation. You cannot live and succeed without that.”

Goodwill hunting
Järvi’s instincts in Detroit offer a good indication of what New Jerseyans might expect. Although he cannot solely be credited with the DSO’s turnaround, he became a marketable and respected public figure who helped loosen the pocketbooks and perceptions of donors and social critics alike.

“The public perceived the orchestra as having a new face,” says DSO assistant principal bassoonist and historian Paul Ganson. “Neeme is so wonderful at bringing people together.” Lest anyone underestimate the power of goodwill and good music-making, consider these statistics that define the DSO’s growth from 1989, the year before Järvi arrived, to last year: Total ticket sales increased from $4 million in 1989 to $9.3 million in 2003. The number of annual classical concerts expanded from 62 to 84.

The DSO’s annual fund campaign netted $9.08 million in 1989, the year the orchestra moved back to its historic home in Orchestra Hall; in 2003, it raised $11.5 million. Since 1990, the DSO has raised $112 million for deficit retirement, capital improvement and endowment. The DSO’s budget jumped from $16.6 million to $27.1 million in 2003. The DSO’s endowment in 1989 was $16.7 million; today it is $57 million. Its accumulated debt remains at $2.2 million. Clearly, Järvi’s style of leadership has translated into sounder financial footing.

Hearing and believing
Järvi describes his priorities as music first, politics last. “I come for the music. I play for the people,” he says. “This relationship is most important. (In Detroit), first we had to put ourselves in a situation where we were likable to the audience.” He did that through programming, recording and, later, national radio broadcasts and international touring.

“He was skilled at understanding the power of the media,” Volpe says, meaning recordings and live broadcasts. “It was the last heyday of classical recordings; this was his first American orchestra, and he had clout.”

Money was a problem. “We had no surplus, so he appealed to the audience with a letter, very directly,” recalls Ganson. “The justification was always the music.”

Järvi also befriended top executives in town. “Nowadays, nobody (in the U.S.) knows why a symphony orchestra is needed; they need explanation for the simplest of things,” Järvi says. “These proud people come to help, and you need a very good explanation.”

Basically, Järvi says, he sees American orchestras as “a community business”. Beginning in 1991, conductor and orchestra produced 40 releases on Chandos Records and six more on the orchestra’s own label. Among those are 10 in a highly respected series of American symphonic works, and at least three focusing solely on African-American composers.

“The repertoire is very narrow for American orchestras,” Järvi says of his famously broad programming style. “Everybody is playing the main pieces by Brahms, Tchaikovsky, again and again.” His style is to dialogue, not confront. “I never was such a good fighter; I try to understand their position,” Järvi says of his relationship with management. “The arguments are basically the same, financial, how to build a financial future.” Even Gordon Stump, president of Detroit Local Chapter 5 of the American Federation of Musicians, which represents the DSO musicians, agrees. “I’d describe him as respectful – a little frustrated by us, but still respectful,” Stump says.

Järvi’s chief frustrations have centered on national union rules about players’ compensation for recording sessions, which he believes prevent Americans from being competitive with the many European orchestras he has conducted and recorded. “The only discussion (with Detroit’s union) which I won was to play encores at concerts,” Järvi says. “I got so impatient, that’s one reason I’m leaving.”

“He’s a big man, and he wants big solutions,” says Ganson. “We just didn’t have world enough and time – but there was no one with whom we wanted to sort these things out with more than Neeme Järvi. He brought out the best in us, and made us play with a special musicality.”

Call me Neeme”
Music, then, was Järvi’s bottom line in Detroit, and will likely be so in New Jersey. Musicians respect his musicianship; DSO players have veto power over a choice of conductor, and they made it clear they would only accept Järvi in 1990.

“He’s got some of the best stick technique I’ve ever seen on a podium,” says Millen. “And you can’t help but sense his constant joy in music-making.” He does not scream or berate. “He didn’t want to be called ’maestro’ when he came – he said, “Call me Neeme,”” says Ganson. “A lot of us felt uncomfortable at first, but it’s just part of his wonderful personality.”
Musicians tend to police themselves. “One hears fewer mistakes now,” Ganson says. “He created in each of us this feeling that you don’t want to mess things up.”

Some thought Järvi, with five major, long-term directorships (in Sweden, Scotland, Japan, England and Detroit), might leave the United States soon. But New Jersey – with its challenges and proximity to his family and primary residence in Manhattan – has appeal. “Just to make a concert is not enough for me,” Järvi says. “I like to develop something.”

He’ll have plenty of opportunity. Like the DSO in 1990, the NJSO is a mid-size orchestra ($13 million budget), is carrying above-average debt ($5.7 million in accumulated deficit, another $16 million in loans to buy 30 Italian Golden Age string instruments for its musicians), and its musical personality is virtually unknown outside state borders.
The NJSO is less developed than Detroit was in 1990. It employs musicians for 35 weeks each year (Detroit has been a 52-week orchestra for decades), has 76 musicians on contract (major orchestras typically employ 100-110), and has little broadcast or touring history. Järvi arrives with an agenda. “There has to be vision in management to raise the money for recordings, let’s say five records,” he says. He has expressed a goal of building to 100 or more musicians. “It’s my policy always to make a big symphony orchestra where 110 people tour internationally and are in the recording business. That’s my vision,” Järvi says. Most of all, he’s ready to introduce audiences to a new listening experience. “The repertoire has to be mixed,” he says.

This week’s program is a good example. It includes the U.S. premiere of two concertos (one by Estonian composer Eino Tamberg, another by Armenian Boris Parsadanian) featuring his daughter, the flutist Maarika Järvi, along with Hindemith and Bartók’s concertos for orchestra. Scandinavian music is already planned for next season and American repertoire – particularly works from New Jersey composers – are in discussion.

Touring – perhaps internationally – is also on his mind, particularly to show off the orchestra’s collection of Golden Age string instruments. “It was a great vision of management to buy those,” he says. “Unbelievable. But now we have to pay them off.”

Whether the NJSO, its board, musicians and management are up to the Järvi challenge is still to be determined. The partnership begins in earnest this week.

“We envy New Jerseyans; they are fortunate,” says Ganson.

 

Järvi family a hit in Estonia
July 13, 2004
Cincinnati Post
Mary Ellyn Hutton

TALLINN, ESTONIA – John Leman, former director of the Cincinnati May Festival chorus, calls conducting at the 1991 “Bridges of Song” Festival in Tallinn, Estonia, “one of the top five musical experiences of my life.” Having attended Estonia’s famous Song Festival July 3 and 4 in Tallinn, I am a believer, too. There is nothing like it in the world – as an expression of national unity, as a demonstration of the power of music and as a sheer vocal extravaganza.

During the final years of Soviet occupation – Estonia re-gained its independence in 1991 – song festivals attracted up to a half-million people, a third of the entire population, and became the embodiment of her “singing revolution”. In November 2003, the United Nations (UNESCO) declared Estonia’s Song Festival a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. It’s hard to conceive an event on such a scale.

Imagine:
• 21,000 voices coming together in one place to sing for about 100,000 people stretching up a hillside in front of a giant bowl-shaped amphitheatre on the shore of the Baltic Sea. A choir of 33,000, arguably the largest single choir in the world, participated in the July 4 grand finale.
• Acres of native finery – choristers and listeners in starched cotton caps, stovepipe hats, gaily colored skirts and scarves – flowers everywhere and oversize images of singers and conductors projected onto a huge video screen.
• A small battalion of conductors (I counted over 40) festooned with oak leaf wreaths and hailed like Olympic athletes. Some, including presiding conductor Eri Klas, were tossed in the air as the country’s unofficial national anthem, “Mu isamaa on minun arm” (“My fatherland, you are my love”) rose from the entire assembly, bringing the two-day, eight-hour marathon to a close. It’s a hymn fraught with emotion, having been sung as a form of protest at song festivals during the Soviet era (1940-91).

Conductors included Paavo Järvi, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s music director, his father, Neeme, and his brother Kristjan. The Järvis emigrated from Estonia and came to the United States in 1980.

They were among 16 Estonian “All Star” conductors featured on the opening concert July 3 in mostly classical repertoire. It was Paavo Järvi’s song festival debut. The night was cool and “white” – daylight lasts until nearly 11 p.m. this time of year – and there were occasional sprinkles, but nothing dampened the crowd’s enthusiasm.

Paavo’s five-month-old daughter, Lea, in wool cap and booties, sat on her father’s lap during much of the concert, being handed to her mother, Tania, when Järvi rose to conduct Sibelius’ “Finlandia” with the Estonian National Orchestra and a massed male choir.

Järvi won a Grammy in February for an all-Sibelius album that includes “Finlandia” with the ENO – of which he is artistic director – and the Estonian National Male Choir. The Male Choir joins Järvi in Cincinnati in September to open the CSO season with Sibelius’ choral symphony “Kullervo”.

Conducting from a podium mounted high atop steel scaffolding was “amazing”, said Järvi, who attended song festivals as a child living in Tallinn.

Like Cincinnati’s May Festival, the Estonian Song Festival grew out of the German song festival tradition. It’s about the same age, too, having begun in 1869. (The May Festival dates from 1873).
Estonia’s song festival takes place every fifth year and is accompanied by a two-day dance festival, a parade and the lighting of a ceremonial flame on top of a tower adjoining the amphitheater. In the manner of the Olympic torch, the flame is transported overland from Tartu, Estonia, site of the first Song Festival. President Arnold Rüütel and prime minister Juhan Parts offered remarks. To celebrate Estonia’s entry into the European Union in May, more than a million trees were planted in the country before the festival.

The enormous crowd was festive and exceedingly well-mannered, with no hint of rowdiness, enjoying food and drink from the savory concessions on the periphery. There was flag-waving, a sea of blue balloons (Estonia’s flag is blue, black and white), dancing and singing along with favorite numbers, especially on the second day, which featured more traditional song festival fare, including folksongs and brass bands – even Rodgers and Hammerstein (you have to hear “The Lonely Goatherd” yodeled in Estonian).

Estonian choral singing is phenomenal. Even the largest massed choirs sing as one voice, with precise ensemble and the utmost clarity of diction. Leman marveled at it in 1991, when he led an American chorus in a special “peace through song” festival that included guest choirs from Soviet satellite nations, including Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Georgia, Kazakstan and Uzbekistan.

“Their pianissimos are softer than we sing in this country. Their fortes are louder. And they sing difficult literature. It puts this country to shame.”

Choral singing begins at an early age in Estonia, and there are hundreds if not thousands of choirs in the country of 1.36 million.

“You can see why there are so many Estonian musicians,” said Järvi, who sang in Estonian choirs as a boy.

And so many fine Estonian composers. Music by Veljo Tormis, Eduard Tubin, Rudolf Tobias, Gustav Ernesaks and many others was heard on the two festival programs. The mostly classical concert included Elgar’s “Land of Hope and Glory” (“Pomp and Circumstance” March No. 1, led by Kristjan Järvi), the opening movement of Vivaldi’s “Gloria”, Shostakovich’s “Festive Overture” and the “Rakoczy March” from Berlioz’ “Damnation of Faust”. Neeme Järvi, a hero to his countrymen, had to repeat the Triumphal March from Verdi’s “Aida”, inviting his four-year-old grandson Lukas (Kristjan’s son) to wave along with his chopstick baton and help him toss bouquets to the chorus.

A marvelous collection of song festival songs may be heard on a 1994 Forte CD, “125 Years of Estonian Song Festivals”. Best of all, head for Tallinn in the summer of 2009.

 

Pärnu Linnaorkestri hommik 10 dirigendiga
16. juuli 2004
Sirp
Toomas Velmet

5. VII käivitunud Neeme Järvi suveakadeemia andis juba 7. VII hommikuks esimese produkti – Pärnu Linnaorkestri hommikukontserdi kümne külalisdirigendiga. Akadeemiasse oli saabunud 14 dirigenti 11 maalt ning neil oli harukordne ja maailmas ainulaadne võimalus õppida Neeme ja Paavo Järvi, Jorma Panula ning Aleksandr Dmitrijevi käe all, kusjuures neli paremat pääseb ka Peterburi Akadeemilise Sümfooniaorkestri ette. Sellist motivatsiooni – juhatada kahe nädala jooksul kolme kõrgeklassilist orkestrit (ka Moskva Kammerorkestrit) nelja erineva kavaga – pakub maailmas dirigentidele ainult Pärnu linn. Pärnu kontserdimaja väike saal oli hommikul pilgeni publikut täis, kui maestro Neeme Järvi tutvustas dirigente ja teoseid ning, toonitan, andis hinnangu Pärnu Linnaorkestrile: „...see on üks suurepärane orkester!”

Tõepoolest, valmistada kahe päeva jooksul ette sellised orkestri kvaliteeti proovilepanevad teosed nagu Haydni Sümfoonia nr. 6 ja Mozarti Klaverikontsert A-duur KV 414 ning kohaneda kümne dirigendiga on kõrgprofessionaalsuse näitaja. Kuid kavas oli veel Arvo Pärdi „Collage teemal B-A-C-H” ja Galina Grigorjeva „Tsaarinna Jevdokia nunnaks pühitsemise laul”. Mozarti klaverikontserdi solistiks oli 12aastane poola tütarlaps Julia Kocubian, kellel juba aktivas kuus konkursivõitu ning hulgaliselt arengustipendiume, nende seas Poola presidendi oma. Hämmastas tütarlapse elastne, aga samas kategooriline eneseväljendusoskus, milles absoluutselt puudus imelaste puhul tavaliselt tajutav dresseeritus. Publik tänas solisti, orkestrit ja dirigente maruliselt ning arvan, et juhendajad eesotsas Neeme Järviga on suurte probleemide ees nelja parema dirigendi selekteerimisega.

Leedu on hästi kuulus oma keelpillikvarteti-kultuuriga, neid on selles riigis alati mitu olnud ja eranditult kõik on rahvusvaheliselt kõrgelt hinnatud. Tänuväärne on fakt, et kontserdimaja suurepärastele saalidele vaatamata elab ka Pärnu raekoja saal kontserdielu edasi. 7. VII õhtul oli esinejatel – Kaunase Keelpillikvartett, Pärnu oma tüdruk Külli Tomingas (metsosopran) ja Oistrahhi festivali veteran, pianist Antti Siirala – suuri probleeme lavalepääsemisega, kuna saal oli kuulajaist nii tulvil. Pärnu publik on asjatundlik, teab, kuhu trügib. Selle, senistest kammermuusika kontsertidest kindlasti parim kava oli hästi atraktiivselt konstrueeritud ning sisaldas kaks eesti ja kaks leedu autorit ning kulminatsioonina Robert Schumanni kammermuusika suurteose Klaverikvinteti Es-duur op. 44.

Kuldar Sink (1942 – 1995) oli helilooja, kes ei suutnud ükskõik millises stiilis komponeerides peita ei andekust ega meisterlikkust. „Viis haikut” sopranile ja keelpillikvartetile on komponeeritud täpselt 40 aastat tagasi ning ranges dodekafoonias, mis eriti hästi vormib muusikasse Jaan Kaplinski tekstid. Teos on vaieldamatult eesti vokaalkammermuusika tipp, kuid ka pähkel nii oma esitusliku keerukuse kui kujundliku sisukusega. Külli Tomingas on peaaegu parim laulja teose esitamiseks. „Peaaegu” ainult ühel põhjusel. Kui konsonantide hääldamata jätmine on taotluslik, siis nii kontsentreeritud tekstis kui Kaplinski haikud on see vale. Et see tehniline probleem oleks, ei taha uskuda, kui suurepärase lauljanna repertuaaris on Schönbergi „Kuu Pierrot”.

Leedu heliloojate teostest pääses enam maksvusele Vidmantas Bartulise esiettekandele tulnud „I like Marlene Dietrich” kvartetile, klaverile ja Marlene Dietrichile helilindilt. Teatraalselt nostalgiline, aga hästi sobiv teos suurepärase kontserdi lõpuks, kus nii sisuliseks kui esituslikuks kulminatsiooniks ikkagi vana hea Schumann Antti Siiralaga.

Gluzman – Isaac Sterni mantlipärija
Kindlasti on erilise tänu ära teeninud 8. VII sümfooniakontserdi solist Vadim Gluzman (viiul) ning imetluse hasartselt ennast väljendav ERSO. Paavo Järvi on hästi läbi mõeldud kavade meister. Tema juhatatud kavades on alati värskust ja hästi kaalutletud riski, mis oma õigustatusest annavad kõneainet pikemakski kui kontserdijärgne kuluaar. Mõni neist, kui meenutada, on Eesti ajaloo seni ainsa Grammy meie riiki toonud. Ühes programmis Dvořák, Bernstein ja Elgar iseenesest on ju üsna traditsiooniline, kuid Dvořáki „Sümfoonilised variatsioonid” op. 78 koosnevad 27 variatsioonist ja finaalist, Bernsteini „Serenaad” viiulile ja orkestrile (Platoni „Sümpoosioni” järgi) on viieosaline ja kontserdi teise poole täitnud Elgari „Enigma variatsioonid” op. 36 koosnevad 14 variatsioonist. Esiteks, ükski nendest populaarsete heliloojate loomingust valitud teostest ei ole sage külaline meie kontserdielus – kaks esimest ei meenugi ning viimanegi ähmaselt. Teiseks, kolm teost, mis on vormiliselt jaotatud 47 (!) osaks-killuks, püstitanud probleemi, kuidas sellest tervik vormida. Võib-olla on veel neid dirigente, kes sellise riski võtavad, ma ei tunne neid, aga kõnealune kontsert oli absoluutselt Paavo Järvi nägu ja hämmastavalt küpse meisterlikkusega teostatud.

Dvořáki variatsioonid on küll Hans Richteri hinnangul (1887) autori paremaid oopusi, kuid ajaloo edasine kulg ei ole seda väidet kinnitanud. Paavo Järvi oskus variatsioone karakteriseerida ja neid tervikuks sulatada võib heal juhul ajaloo kulgemist isegi pöörata, kuid eelarvamuse teoselt on ta juba pühkinud.

Bernsteini „Serenaad” tõi Oistrahhi festivalile viiulikunstniku, kellest, kui ta seda veel ei ole, siis kohe saab XX sajandi legendaarse viiuldaja Isaac Sterni mantlipärija. Side teose ja esitajate vahel on nii sügav, et vaevalt mingi teine autor võiski selles sümbioosis kõne alla tulla. Isaac Stern, Vadim Gluzmani teejuht suurtele lavadele, oli teose esiettekandja (dirigendipuldis autor) ja teatavasti võib Paavo Järvi ennast Leonard Bernsteini õpilaseks nimetada – vaat selline järjepidevus ilmneb siinkohal. Oistrahhi festival on ju alati kõrgetasemelisi viiulikunstnikke kohale toonud, aga Gluzmani täht särab erilise värskusega nende seas, mis ei soodusta heietamist, vaid nõuab konstateeringut – super. Neile, kes kontserdil ei viibinud, tasub küll rääkida erilist furoori tekitanud lisapala esitusest. Selle neljahäälse jazzpala ettekanne sai võimalikuks seetõttu, et viiuldaja kruvis lahti oma poogna ning, asetanud üle keelte jõhvilindi, ühendas ta selle poognatrostiga, mis käis viiuli korpuse alt läbi. See on küll ainuke võimalus, kuidas tänapäeva poognaga viiulil katkematut neljahäälsust tekitada, kuid edasine, st. vasaku käe tehniline rakendus jääb mõistatuseks ja esitaja saladuseks. Võite arvata, mis saalis toimus!

Elgari „Enigma” laseb sümfooniaorkestril ennast väljendada kõigis dünaamilistes skaalades, finaalis lisandub veel täisregistritega orel (Piret Aidulo) ning laseb särada autori kujundlikul lüürikal, poeesial ja monumentaalsusel. Hea orkester naudib selletaolise teose ettekannet koos dirigendiga. Samadelt autoritelt võiks ka sellise kava teha: Dvořáki „Uuest maailmast”, Elgari Viiulikontsert ja Bernsteini „West Side Story”. See oleks ju ka hea kontsert, aga Paavo Järvi kontsert oli erakordselt hea.

Moskva öö Eliisabetis…
…ehk 11 Järvi akadeemia dirigenti Moskva Kammerorkestri ees 10. VII, solist eesti tippmuusik Euroopas, oboesolist Kalev Kuljus. Selle paraadi valmistas ette maestro Paavo Järvi. Juba eelmise „akadeemikute” kontserdi järel ennustasin, et nelja parema dirigendi väljavalimisel võib tekkida probleeme. Kuna tase on ühtlaselt kõrge, siis küsis maestro Neeme Järvi seekord lahenduse leidmiseks publikult nõu. Kuidas see abi tehniliselt vormistatakse – ei tea. Võib-olla oleks lihtsam lahendus konkretiseerida orkestrite suhe „akadeemikutega”, tekiks kaks huvitavat pingerida, st. Pärnu Linnaorkestri ja Moskva Kammerorkestri karm, aga õiglane hinnang. Jättes kõrvale asja sportliku külje, siis kunstiliselt kukkus välja üks põnev kava suurepärases esituses. Bartóki „Divertisment” (1939) keelpillidele on helilooja selle loomeperioodi ootamatult demokraatliku helikeelega, aga üldse mitte lihtsalt esitatav teos. Moskva Kammerorkestri keelpillide rikkalikust potentsiaalist ja artistlikust temperamendist suutsid esimesed kolm dirigenti vormida värskelt kõlava ning dramaturgiliselt veenva esituse.

Järgnev Marcello Oboekontsert d-moll, barokkmuusika pärl, viis ohjad solisti Kalev Kuljuse kätte, keda professionaalse delikaatsusega akompaneerisid järgmised kolm dirigenti. Kuljus on seda masti interpreet, kes hoiab kuulajat kinni esimesest viimase noodini. Tema meisterlik barokse mõtteviisi valdamine haaras erksalt kaasa ka kõikenäinud ja -kuulnud Moskva muusikud ning arvan, et ei eksi, kui hindan ettekannet selle öö õnnestunuimaks kõigist aspektidest kaalutletult. Galina Grigorjeva „Tsaarinna Jevdokia nunnaks pühitsemise laul” kohustusliku teosena käib käest kätte ja kontserdimajast kirikusse ning muutub üha süvenenumaks ja mõistetavamaks nii interpretatsiooniliselt kui helikeelelt.

Arvan teadvat, et Haydni kolme varajase sümfoonia eri päevadel kavva lülitamine on Neeme Järvi idee ja see on lausa geniaalne. Keeruline, aga põnevust tekitav ja kasulik kogemus esitajatele ning nauditav elamus kuulajatele. Nüüd kõlanud teos nõudis nii orkestrilt, solistidelt kui neljalt dirigendilt maksimumi meisterlikkust ja keegi ei olnud kade seda demonstreerimast.

 

Oistrahhi-festivali kullaproov on väga kõrge
20. juuli 2004
Pärnu Postimees
Lea Veelma

Neeme Järvi suveakadeemia lõppkontserdil Pärnu kontserdimajas möödunud reedel aplodeeriti maestro Järvile püsti seistes. David Oistrahhi festivali eelviimase kontserdi ajal oli saal rahvast tulvil ja maestro tõestas taas, et suudab eestlasi ja Pärnu külalisi üllatada. Neeme Järvit jätkus ka mujale Eestimaale. Dirigendipuldis oli ta laulupeolgi, mis sellest, et Järvi meelitas Eestisse Oistrahhi-festival.

Kuidas David Oistrahhi festivaliga rahule jäite?
Väga rahule jäin. Festival läheb aina tõusujoones, see on kõige täiuslikum kõigist viiest aastast, mil suveakadeemiat teeme. Sellel aastal on olnud võimalus kutsuda siia sellised esinejad nagu Peterburi filharmoonikud ja Moskva kammerorkester. Pärnu Linnaorkester on ka paremaks muutunud. Mul on hea meel, et teeme kunsti ja muusikat kõrgel tasemel. Viime seda ju maailma. Minu Pärnusse tulek on seotud eesmärgiga tuua siia välismaad ja tutvustada Eestit, tutvustada noori dirigente ja soliste. Peame jätma endast hea mulje selles mõttes, et Pärnu pole mingi perifeeria, pole väike linn, vaid see on koht, kus tehakse professionaalset kunsti suure maailmalinna tasemel. Suurtes linnades pakutakse sageli palju madalama tasemega kunsti. Näiteks Baiba Skriede, kes Pärnus esines, on maailmaklassi viiuldaja, erakordne kuju. Siis veel Antti Siirala, neljakordne rahvusvaheliste konkursside laureaat Soomest, kes näitas taset, esinedes siin Brahmsi klaverikontserdiga. Alati on Oistrahhi-festivalil osalenud kõrge tasemega muusikud, siin tehakse ajalugu. Kahju on sellest, et inimesed, kes peaksid teadma, et teeme siin suuri asju, kas ei taha sellest teada või ei suuda seda mõista. Arvatakse, et teeme seda oma lõbuks. Ma mõtlen meie riigijuhte, kultuuritegelasi, kes võiksid leida meie kontsertidest tohutult innustust. Festival on hea. Hea kunst on alati maailmas kõrgpunktis.

Teie ise töötate praegu New Yorgis?
Jah, Detroidis ja West Palm Beachis Floridas. Detroidis lõpetan järgmisel aastal ja alustan uue orkestriga New Jerseys, mis on New Yorgi külje all. Euroopasse jõuan seitsme tunniga. Festivali korraldamine Eestis sõltub ju eraldatavast rahast. Kas saate ka oma isikuga Oistrahhi-festivali finantseerimisele kaasa aidata? Muidugi on mul vaja teha kõrgetele ametnikele selgitustööd, et see on vajalik asi. Kultuuriminister Urmas Paet on alati festivali toetanud, nüüd kuulsin, et järgmise aasta eelarvest oli miljon maha võetud ja siis jälle tagasi pandud. Ka peaminister ja välisministeerium peaksid teadma, et teeme siin Pärnus rahvusvahelist poliitikat. Silume kultuurivahetusega pingelist olukorda Venemaaga. Võitlen ikka Eesti kultuuri eest, aga märkan, et Eestis on toetajaid vähemaks jäänud. Festivali korraldaja Allar Kaasik on ju teinud Oistrahhi-festivali meeletu fanatismiga.

Ta on heas mõttes hull. Kui teda ei oleks, kes siis oleks seda teinud?
Fanatismi ja suure tahtega saabki selliseid asju teha. Festivali tehakse ju eesti rahvale. Endisele linnapeale Einar Kelderile tahaks ausamba püstitada, sest tema aitas ehitada Pärnusse kontserdimaja. Ja Aivar Mäe on tubli, et ta selle idee teoks tegi. Loodan, et Eesti saab uue ooperiteatri, sellise vägeva nagu Sidneys. Eestlastele tuleb maailm koju tuua. Tahaks küsida, millal Pärnu oma lennuvälja korda saab. Tassime muusikuid siia bussiga, selle asemel et nad Pärnus lennukiga maanduda saaksid. Ega me perifeerias ela, Pärnu peaks olema ikkagi rahvusvahelise lennujaamaga linn. Meie ainuke Eesti Nokia on muusika.

Kuidas Pärnus puhkasite?
Töötasin umbes seitse tundi päevas ja ülejäänud aeg oligi puhkus. Allar Kaasik on mulle ikka tambi peale pannud. Aga selleks ma siia tulin, ega ma tohi kolleegi alt vedada. Kas jääte festivaliga seotuks ka järgmisel aastal? Tahan tulla järgmiselgi aastal, kui kutsutakse. Meil on palju huvitavaid mõtteid, mida koos teha. Kas see kõik teoks saab, ei julge öelda, aga plaanid on tehtud. Vaheldust peab olema ja noori tuleb kaasata, las nad näitavad oma talenti. Oistrahhi-festival peab arenema ja oma publikut hoidma.

 

Laulupeod ja juhid – muusika kiituseks
22. juuli 2004
Pärnu Postimees
Jaanus Männik

Uue sajandi (aastatuhande) esimene üldlaulu- ja -tantsupidu on möödas. Et lõppenud on ka traditsiooniliselt kõrgetasemeline Pärnu David Oistrahhi festival ja maestro Neeme Järvi dirigentide meistrikursused, lubatagu mõni rida muusikute ja muusikajuhtide ülistuseks. Nagu ikka, oli laulupidu ülivõimas, vaimustavalt ilus ja emotsionaalne, ühendav ja vabastav, ühtaegu nii traditsiooniline kui erakordne. Iga laulupidu veenab, et puudub vähimgi alus targutustel, nagu hakkaks traditsioon aeguma ja peo sisu vajaks radikaalset muutmist, et vanad laulud tuleks välja vahetada ja pidu justkui ei meeldiks noortele. Muusikaga tasub tegelda Öeldakse õigesti, et kõige tähtsam, mõjusam ja ilusam on laulupidu 35 000 esinejale - tegijatele endile. See on kindlasti nii, mis aga sugugi ei tähenda, et kuulajatele oleks grandioosne ühispidu vähem tähtis. Siinkirjutajale on peod laulukaare alt ja Kalevi staadioni murult tuttavad alates esimesest ja teisest koolinoorte laulupeost 1962. ja 1967. aastal - lastekoorist ja orkestrist. Sinna pääsesime tänu headele õpetajatele - Tapa keskkooli legendaarsele koore, ansambleid ja õpilassümfooniaorkestrit loonud-juhatanud Arsi Aarmale ja muusikakooli direktorile, viiuliõpetajale ja dirigendile Ilmar Mägile. 1965. ja 1969. aasta üldlaulupeol sai osaletud unustamatult mõnusa õpetaja ja värvika muusiku Erich Loidi juhatusel vabariiklikus noorte viiuldajate ansamblis ja noore Neeme Järvi virtuoosse taktikepi all sümfooniaorkestrite koosseisus. Hea on meenutada, et viiuldajate ansambli harjutuslaagris Otepääl ja hiljem laulu- ning tantsupeol sai koos viiulit viilitud Paul Mägi, Andres Mustoneni, Tarmo Pihlapi, tšellopoisi Gunnar Grapsi ja sadade teiste keelpilliõpilastega kogu Eestist. Küsigem, miks ja kuhu kadus see oivaline õpilasharrastus? 1972. aastal oli võimalus laulda Alo Ritsingu juhatusel Tartu akadeemilise meeskoori koosseisus üliõpilaslaulupeol Lätis Ogres. Pärast seda pole meie pere jätnud vahele ühtegi üldlaulu- ja -tantsupidu - kuulajana. Siiski liialdan: tänavusele laupäevahommikusele tantsupeoetendusele sõites selgus, et see jääb veeuputuse tõttu ära. ETVst oli see meil õnneks juba nähtud. Nagu teada, olid tänavuse laulupeo tunnusteks 1960. aastaga võrreldav veeuputus, korraldajate põhjendatud ärajätmisest hoolimata toimunud rongkäik-veepidu, laulutaat Ernesaksale väärika monumendi avamine, nõudliku kava esituse väga hea tase – eriti laupäevaõhtusel kontserdil, ja Eesti hiilgavate dirigentide paraad hiigelesinejaskonna ees. Eesti parimad juhid Pole kahtlust, et Eesti rahva parimad, populaarseimad ja professionaalseimad juhid on olnud ja on dirigendid. Kuigi suurim vabaduse ja laulu eestseisja ja sümbol, polnud ju Ernesaks oma aatelisuses ja inimlikkuses, kaasakiskuvuses ja veenvuses üksi. Küll aga seda, mis kõigil hinges ja südames, esindas ja ühendas tema veenvaimalt. Enne teda olid koorijuhid-heliloojad nii Karl-August Hermann, Miina Härma kui Tuudur Vettik. Vettikuga koos juhtisid okupatsiooni kiuste lauljaid ja rahvast Jüri Variste, Heino Kaljuste, Arvo Ratassepp, Richard Ritsing... Ernesaksa õpilased ja õpilaste õpilased on üldjuhid: Kuno Areng, Ants Üleoja, Ants Soots, Alo Ritsing, Tiia-Ester Loitme, Hirvo Surva… Lisaks sajad koorijuhid ja muusikaõpetajad üle Eesti. Laulupeopuldis käisid ka kõik Eesti rahvusvahelise tippklassi (orkestri)dirigendid: Neeme Järvi, Eri Klas, Tõnu Kaljuste, Paavo Järvi jt. Samuti lätlaste rahvussümfooniaorkestri peadirigentideks kutsutud Paul Mägi ja Olari Elts. Staažikamaid ja noori tugevaid orkestridirigente oli laulupeol veel hulga näha. Puudus siiski kaks tugevat: ERSO eelmine peadirigent Arvo Volmer ja praegune, Peterburist pärit Nikolai Aleksejev. Võime uhkelt ja liialduseta öelda, et Eestil on maailma tuntumatessegi kontserdisaalidesse ja tipporkestrite ette oodatud dirigente nii palju, et see teeks au suurriikidelegi. Dirigentide järjepidevustki näitas üliefektselt Järvide vaimustava muusikutedünastia nelja-aastane põnn Luukas, Kristjani poeg, juhatades väsimatult kõiki teoseid. Verdi „Aida” triumfimarsi lõpuakordi n-ö sulges ta suursuguse käe- ja kehakaarega isegi kahel korral: esimest korda paar takti varem, kuid teisel katsel täpselt üheaegselt vanaisa Neeme Järviga. Oli ilus laulupidu, mis jätkus elamustega Pärnu Postimehes hästi kajastatud Oistrahhi-festivali oivaliste sümfoonia- ja kammerkontsertidega.

Neeme Järvi järeltulijatele on Mozart pähe kukkunud
24. juuli 2004
SL Õhtuleht
Jaanus Kulli

3 EESTLANE DISTANTSILT: „Eestis on väga palju halvustamist ja negatiivsust,” ohkab Neeme Järvi. „Kui loen arvutis eesti ajalehtede lugejakirju, siis need on alati nii negatiivsed ja halvustavad. Mulle ei meeldiks sellises õhkkonnas elada.”
„Puhkus ilma muusikata ei ole puhkus,” ütleb Neeme Järvi pärast järjekordset meistrikursust Pärnus David Oistrahhi festivalil. Järvi särk on seljas sama märg, nagu tema juhendatud noortel orkestrijuhtidel, kes nõudliku õpetaja pilgu all püüavad sillutada teed sinna, kus Neeme Järvi troonib juba aastakümneid.
Kui me viimaks maestroga garderoobi jõuame, koorib ta särgi seljast. „See on esimene reegel,” ütleb Neeme Järvi. „Ei tohi kunagi märja ihuga õue minna.” Garderoobis peeglilaual on papptaldrikul kaks lihapirukat. Järvi haukab poole pirukast ja topib ülejäänud kraami kotti. „Ega see õige toit ole,” möönab ta ja pistab pirukaampsu peale kommi põske. Ananassikomm, väga hea,” kiidab takka ja vabandab, et tal taskus kahte kommi ei ole.

Kujutan ette, kui palju annab Neeme Järvi oma meistriklassidega Pärnusse kogunenud muusikutele. Kuid mida see annab teiesuguse haardega dirigendile?
Õppimine ei lõpe kunagi. Me kõik õpime. Õpime paremini elama, töötama. Mul on hea meel, et mu järeltulev põlv teeb sama, mida mina. Eks see ole meie geenides sees.
Mu väike nelja-aastane pojapoeg Lukas muudkui juhatas laulupeol. Ega keegi sundinud teda. Eks mõni pani pahaks, et nüüd Järvid tulid ja näitasid siin ennast. Aga see ei ole nii. Lukas lihtsalt juhatas laulupidu. Ja kui solvunud ta oli, et pärast pärga kaela ei saanud. Kõik said, aga tema mitte. Ja tal oli õigus. Ta dirigeeris ju kaks päeva järjest.

Olite Göteborgi sümfooniaorkestri dirigent 1982. aastast, veerandsada aastat. Miks te sealt lahkusite?
Aga ma saavutasin selle, mida tahtsin. Et sellest tuleks maailmaorkester. Mis ei tähenda, et ma nüüd loorberitele puhkama jääksin. Juba ootavad uued projektid. Stockholmi kuninglikus ooperis on ootamas Wagneri „Niebelungide sõrmuse” ooperitsükkel, mis koosneb neljast ooperist. See on tohutu töö. Ja jätkuvalt on mul USAs kaks orkestrit: Detroidi ja New Jersey oma. New Jerseys on võimalik midagi ära teha, sest selle orkestri tarbeks ehitati kontserdisaal ja orkester ostis 30 Stradivariuse viiulit. Kõik vanad pillid. No kuidas sa ei lähe Stradivariuseid juhatama!

Kui palju on üks orkester dirigendi nägu?
Orkester üksi ei ole midagi. Kui dirigent ei suuna orkestrit iga päev õigele rajale, läheb ta rappa. Paljud mõtlevad, et mis see kepiga vehkimine siis ära ei ole, igaüks võib seda teha. Ei või. Igaüks võib vehkida, aga häid dirigente on vähe. Olen saanud hea kooli Leningradi konservatooriumis. Tean täpselt, mis on õige ja mis vale. Orkester võib ju oma lood kuidagiviisi ära mängida, aga ainult dirigent saab nendest maksimaalse välja võtta.

Kas poeg Paavo astub juba isale kandadele?
Mul on hea meel, et lapsed teevad suurt muusikat. Ka Maarika flöödikunstnikuna. Kristjan on samasugune fanaatik, nagu mina noorena. Paavo on kalkuleerivam, teab täpselt, mis on õige ja mis vale. Ja tal on väga hea tehnika. Nii et sellest kanna peale astumisest võib vaid rõõmu tunda. Olen siia maailma kasvatanud vajalikud inimesed.

Palju te oma poegi olete suunanud, et neist saaksid dirigendid?
Huvi tuleb luua. Mitte sundida. Sunnitööd ei armasta keegi. Peab olema eeskuju. See on ju eeskuju, kui kodus kogu aeg Mozart mängib ja väike poiss selle muusikaga üles kasvab. Mäletan, Kristjan ei olnud aastanegi, ei rääkinud veel, kui ta ükspäev läks kappi kõlareid uudistama ja üks neist talle pähe kukkus. Poiss jooksis suure kisaga kööki: Mozart, Mozart. See oli tema esimene sõna. Et Mozart kukkus pähe. Lukas sai just neljaseks ja juhatas laulupidu. Sest iga kord, kui ta mul kodus käis, hakkas ta video pealt juhatama Beethoveni üheksandat sümfooniat. Astub, väike kepike käes, trepi peale, vaatab videot ja vehib. Millal mina sain nelja-aastaselt Beethoveni üheksandat sümfooniat juhatada? Ei saanud. Mulle sellist võimalust ei antud. Aga ma mängisin ksülofoni. Minu karjäär, nagu nüüd öeldakse, sai alguse nelja-aastaselt Eesti Raadio orkestris ksülofoni mängides. Vend Vallo õpetas selgeks kaks lugu, galopi ja polka. Nii et jah, geenid geenideks, aga eeskuju peab olema.

Ütlesite et Eesti on teie kodumaa, aga kus asub teie kodu?
Elan New Yorgis, seal on mu kodu. Ameerikas on hoopis teistsugused töötingimused kui Euroopas. Seal liigub raha, käib rebimine ja tänu sellele on ka väikestes linnades fantastilised orkestrid. Just tänu sponsoritele, kes tahavad näidata, et nad toetavad kultuuri. Loodetavasti jõuab see kunagi ka Eestisse.

Kuidas te stressi talute ja pingeid maandate?
Hea tuju peab olema. Stress tekib sellest, et luuakse pingeid. Ja kui keegi ka midagi ütleb, siis tuleb osata sellest üle olla. Siis võid kaua ja õnnelikult siin maailmas elada. Väga raske on näitkeks kontserte planeerida. Agent küll koordineerib, kuid mina pean teadma, et tahan kolme aasta pärast 29. septembril esitada seda ja seda teost. Aga kui see aeg tuleb, siis võib-olla ma ei taha seda enam juhatada. Pean oskama nii pikalt ette mõtelda. Et see teos, see muusika oleks nii mulle kui ka publikule kolme aasta pärast ikka huvitav. Aga mis üldse on maailmas kolme aasta pärast?

Ja muidugi on rasked äraütlemised. Palju peab ära ütlema. Sest ma lihtsalt ei jõua. Ei pea ennast lõhki kiskuma, et üks või kaks korda seista külalisdirigendina maailmakuulsa Berliini või Viini orkestri ees.

Kas vahel seda ka juhtub, et dirigendipuldis näiteks orkestri noorde viiuldajasse ära armute?
Noorest peast ikka juhtus. See on suur viga, kui silmside mõne naisorkestrandiga pikaks venib. Samas väga inimlik. See võib ju sind ka innustada, aga mis edasi saab? Sageli võtavad dirigendid naise sama ala pealt. Aga mis ma ütlen – kaks kunstnikku koos ei ole hea. Peab aru saama, et kui üks pereliige on maailmakuulus, siis teine peab järele andma. Kui mõlemad tahavad maailmakuulsad olla ja kumbki järele ei anna, ei tule pereelust midagi välja. Mul on palju kolleege, kes on orkestrandiga abiellunud ja varsti lahku läinud. Sest neil pole kodu. Ja kui perre veel laps sünnib, siis pole ka tema jaoks aega.

Abikaasa sõidab palju teiega kaasa?
Viimasel ajal küll. Katsume ikka nii sättida, et saaksime rohkem lastelastega kokku. Nüüd on neid juba kolm.

Millal Neeme Järvi päriselt Eestisse tagasi tuleb?
Mulle meeldiks siin elada, aga mu elu on juba mujal sisse seatud. Ent ma käin siin väga hea meelega. Ma ei usu hästi seda Euroopa Liidu asja, kardan, et meile hakatakse peale pressima igasugusid seadusi. Nii nagu neid enne Moskvast peale pressiti. Euroopa Liidus valitseb suurriikluse jõud. Lisaks veel Venemaa oma keelenõuetega. Aga pole viga – oleme seni vastu pidanud ja peame edasi. Vähemasti niikaua, kuni laulupeod püsivad.

 

Neeme Järvi jõudis taas kodulinna
29. juuli, 2004
Pärnu Postimees
Merit Kask

Eelmise nädala lõpul saabus Pärnusse David Oistrahhi festivalile maestro Neeme Järvi, kes nädala pärast hakkab muusikafestivalil juhendama viiendat suve järjest dirigentide meistrikursust. Veel nädala lõpus astub Järvi üles laulupeol, ehkki esialgu polnud tal plaani suursündmusel dirigeerida. Kuna aga Neeme Järvi mõlemad pojad Kristjan ja Paavo Tallinnas lauljate väge juhatavad, muutis isagi meelt.
“Terve mu perekond on siin, nii et laulupeol ma viibin nagunii. Oleks imelik, kui ma sel juhul ise ei dirigeeriks,” selgitas Järvi. Nõnda saigi kavva tehtud mõni muudatus ning maestro juhatab laulupeol Verdi “Aida” lõpulugu. Eesti kultuuri saadikuna on Neeme Järvi meelitanud pidu vaatama fanaatilisi muusikaaustajaid välismaaltki, sedasorti suur rahvuslik vabaõhuüritus annab neile uudse eksootilise kogemuse. Järvi toob näiteks jaapanlasest muusikasõbra, kes oli väga üllatunud, kui selgus, et meie laulupidu ei toimugi kontserdisaalis. Maestro kinnitas talle vastupidist ning soovitas tuttaval pidu kaema tulles vihmavari kaasa võtta. Pärnut peab maestro oma koduks ning hindab siin veedetud perioodi üheks aasta kõrgpunktidest. Muude põhjuste kõrval toob Neeme Järvit Pärnusse missioonitunne. Oistrahhi-festivali mastaabid on pidevalt kasvanud ning maestro sõnutsi poleks varsti enam saanud festivali endisel moel jätkata, kui ei oleks valmis ehitatud kontserdimaja. “Ühe aastaga,” rõhutas Järvi. “See on suursaavutus Pärnu linnale. Siia saame tuua maailma kokku.” David Oistrahhi muusikafestival on Järvi kinnitusel maailmafestival, Pärnu aga võiks olla üks kunsti- ja muusikakeskusi. “Tegelikult ta juba ongi,” leidis maestro.

 

The Rare and Wonderful Estonian Song Festival
August 5, 2004
MusicalAmerica.com
Mary Ellyn Hutton

TALLIN, Estonia – Estonia Song Festival, granddaddy of songfests, emerged from hibernation last month. Held every five years in the enormous saucer-domed amphitheater built for it in 1960, this year’s event drew an estimated 100,000 people and blanketed with song the hillside overlooking the Baltic Sea. Singers numbered more than 21,000, the festival press office said, most sporting colorful native costumes. There were flags, balloons, brass bands and over 40 conductors. The podium lineup included Neeme Järvi and his sons Paavo and Kristjan, expatriates who left Estonia in 1980, but remain roughly akin to royalty in their native country.

A total of 796 choirs from Estonia and a dozen foreign countries, including the U.S., took part in the July 3 and 4 festivities, with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and numerous brass bands making up the instrumental contingent. Now in its 135th year, the Estonia Song Festival (and the concurrent Dance Festival dating from 1934) was named a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in November 2003.

Unusually cool weather and occasional rain may have reduced attendance, but certainly there was no dampening of enthusiasm as the torch that had been transported overland from Tartu, site of the first Song Festival in 1869, was carried to the top of an eight-story tower to thunderous applause.

The first night was largely classical, with a roster of Estonian “all-star” conductors, including the Järvis, Andres Mustonen, Tõnu Kaljuste, Paul Mägi, Olari Elts and Anu Tali. Presiding conductor Eri Klas led the national anthem (“Mu isamaa,” by Frederick Pacius) following remarks by Arnold Rüütel, president of the Republic of Estonia, and the singing of the traditional opening hymn “Koit” (“Dawn”) by Mikhel Lüdig.

The first part of the program honored Estonian composer/conductor Gustav Ernesaks (1908-1993), who kept the festival alive during the Soviet era (1940-91) when, as an outlet for national pride, it was used to embody the country’s famous “Singing Revolution.” A statue of Ernesaks was dedicated on the festival grounds, there was a balloon release, and the choir, led by Kuno Areng, sang Ernesaks’s “Muusikale.”

Kristjan Järvi led off for his family with Elgar’s “Land of Hope and Glory” sung in Estonian. (Kristjan’s four-year-old son Lukas, heir apparent to the Järvi mantle, waved along from the front row.) Mustonen, founder of the early music ensemble Hortus Musicus, led an expanded children’s choir in the opening movement of Vivaldi’s “Gloria,” a sound as sweet and focused as they come.

The Estonian National Orchestra had a segment of its own. Klas led the orchestra with extra brasses from the Estonian Army Orchestra, in Shostakovich’s “Festive Overture” (a semi-controversial choice considering the country’s reassertion of national identity). Said Klas at a pre-festival press conference: “Don’t confuse Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich with Gorbachev.”

Olari Elts, one of Estonia’s leading young conductors, led a snappy performance of the “Racokzy March” from Berlioz’ “Damnation of Faust.” Anu Tali, founder of the Estonian-Finnish Symphony Orchestra, led a boychoir in Purcell’s “Sound the Trumpet” (her blonde good looks were projected to the crowd on a huge video screen adjoining the stage), and Neeme’s older son Paavo conducted Sibelius’ “Finlandia,” also on his Virgin Classics CD “Sibelius Cantatas,” for which he won Estonia’s first Grammy award in February.

“Founding” Estonian composers Karl August Hermann (1851-1909) and Rudolf Tobias (1873-1918) were represented by two inspiring works: Hermann’s “Kungla rahvas” (Kungla Nation) from his song play “Uku and Vanemuine,” and Tobias’ “Eks teie tea” (Do You Not Know, text from I Corinthians, 3:16). Conductors were Toomas Kapten and Tõnu Kaljuste, respectively.

Neeme Järvi climbed to the podium (atop steel scaffolding and two flights of stairs) to conduct the “Triumphal March” from Verdi’s “Aida” with a genuine “cast of thousands,” comprising the ENSO, brass bands, and a huge, massed choir. Järvi drew an unbelievable sound from the oversize ensemble – stirring, precise and focused. Response was overwhelming and he had to repeat it, joined this time by grandson Lukas, who helped him toss bouquets to the choir.

Day two, an afternoon concert lasting nearly five hours, featured more traditional Song Festival fare. Brass bands opened with Handel’s “Royal Fireworks Music.” Many of the conductors wore native dress; there were children’s choirs, toddlers’ choirs, boys’ and girls’ choirs, and, for the grand finale, a massed choir that filled the amphitheater (capacity 24,000).

For an American, it was a feast of discovery, with one charming piece and one cultural insight after another. Singing is integral to Estonia and its conductors are revered. Cheers went up as each approached the podium. There were huge ovations for Aarne Saluveer, Tiia-Ester Loitme and especially Bob Chilcott who led a children’s choir in his own “Can You Hear Me?” (sung in English with praiseworthy diction).

Soprano Liisi Koikson sang and yodeled Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Lonely Goatherd” in Estonian with a children’s choir led by Saluveer. Composer Veljo Tormis, a fountainhead of Estonian traditional music, was on hand to conduct his “Estonian Political Parties Game,” sung with gusto and considerable humor by the Estonian National Male Choir. Popular numbers such as the folk song “Tuljak” prompted the crowed to join in, while dancing and waving flags throughout the afternoon.

The concert/festival finale was worthy of the Closing Ceremonies of the Olympic Games. One by one, the conductors were called to the front of the theater where medals and oak leaf wreaths were placed around their necks. They were presented with blue cornflowers (the national flower) and the whole assemblage joined in the country’s unofficial national anthem, Ernesaks’ “Mu isamaa on minu arm” (My Fatherland is My Love) a song of protest sung at Soviet era festivals (“they sat, we cried,” said Klas, recalling Song Festivals from his childhood).

There was a brief shower of fireworks, sparks flew from a giant spinning wheel on the wall adjoining the theater and in a final act of exuberance, several conductors, including Klas, were tossed into the air.

 

Dirigent Mustonen Peterburi akadeemikutega…
6. august 2004
Sirp
Toomas Velmet

…pluss segakoor Latvija ja solistid Asta Krikšciunaite (Leedu), Antra Bigaca (Läti), Algirdas Janutas (Leedu) ning Arttu Kataja (Soome), kavas festivali pühendushelilooja Antonin Dvořáki „Stabat Mater”.

Andres Mustonenil on välja kujunenud n.-ö. isiklik lähinaabritest suurvormi-solistide ansambel ja mis seal salata – see on ühtlaselt hea ja segakoorist Latvija olen juba oma vaimustust jaganud. Kui võrrelda Mustoneni akadeemikute pikaajalise peadirigendi Dmitrijeviga, siis on tegemist küll väga erinevate isiksustega. 12. VII oli orkestri ees Dmitrijev ja 13. VII Mustonen, esimene ei „välju endast” hetkekski ja teine on „endast väljas” vahetpidamata. Tundus, et Mustoneni ebaakadeemilisus suutis siin-seal ka akadeemikuid ebaharilikku seisundisse viia, kas see alati kõlalise tasakaalu huvides toimus, selles kahtlen. Igatahes orkestrantide arvamus kõlas nii: „Ebastandardne noormees (!)”. Ise nad teavad, on see hea või halb, aga ükskõikne hinnang küll mitte.

Stravinski Kvartett Peterburist jätkas raekojas oma hommikusi kammerkontserte, kus igas kavas kindlasti üks Šostakovitši kvartett. 14. VII kanti ette Šostakovitši XI kvartett paaris Vasksi Klaverikvartetiga, kus pianistina Janis Maleckis (Läti) ja tsükli viimasel kontserdil 15. VII Šostakovitši Neljas kõrvuti Stravinski „Kolme pala” ja Dvořáki nr. 12 „Ameerikaga”. Kui esimese kontserdi järel hindasin Stravinski Kvartetti võimsakõlaliseks, siis mõtlesin selle all ka teatavat kõlalist forsseerimist. Erinevalt Šostakovitši Kaheksandast kõlas Üheteistkümnes palju peenemalt ja artistide isiklik suhe oli ka eredamalt tajutav.

Vasksi Klaverikvartett tõi meelde tõsiasja: kui palju head kammermuusikat on kirjutatud sellele koosseisule ja miks me seda nii harva kuuleme. Vasksi klassikalises vormis teos kulmineerub võimsas passacaglias ning laheneb helgesse „Postluudi” ning tõestab veel kord, et helikeele konservatiivsus pole iseenesest mingil juhul taunitav, vaid vastupidi, on selgelt edukas.

Läti imeviiuli Baiba Skride sooloõhtust koos tema käes oleva Stradivariuse viiuliga „Huffins” kujunes üks festivali tippsündmus. Oistrahhi festivali kõrghetkeks loen tema Schnittke Sonaati nr. 1 koos suurepärase pianistist õe Lauma Skridega, aga eriti Baiba esituses J. S. Bachi Partiitat nr. 2 d-moll. See oli super ja peaks olema saadaval kõigile soovijaile CD või veel parem DVDna ning seisma õppematerjalina riiulitel kõigis õppeasutustes, kus viiulit õpetatakse.

16. VII kontserdimaja suures saalis koos Peterburi akadeemikute ja Kiyotaka Teraokaga esitatud Dvořáki Viiulikontsert oleks kindlasti olnud priima, kui seda Bachi ees ei oleks olnud. Dvořák oli nüüd nende jaoks, kes Bachi kuulnud, kuidagi liiga harilikult hea, kuigi etteheiteid ei mingeid ja konkreetse kontserdi kontekstis ikkagi kulminatsioon.

Neeme Järvi suveakadeemia lõppkontsert koos Peterburi Akadeemilise Sümfooniaorkestri ja solistide Marko Martini ja Baiba Skridega toimus kontserdimajas 16. VII ning täidetuna Dvořáki muusikaga, mida juhatasid Alexander Mayer (Saksamaa), Bohuslav Rattay (Tšehhi), James Lowe ja Leo McFall (Suurbritannia) ning Kiyotaka Teraoka (Jaapan). Nii, et ikkagi viis väärilist leitud. Rohkem pääsesid küll maksvusele Klaverikontserdi ja Viiulikontserdi juhatajad, vastavalt Rattay ja Teraoka, kuid need suurvormid annavad ka rohkem võimalusi kui avamäng „Karneval” (Mayer) või „Slaavi tantsud” (Lowe ja McFall). Skride Viiulikontserdist oli juba juttu ning nüüd tahaks esile tõsta Marko Martini kangelastegu Dvořáki vähe mängitud Klaverikontserdi ettekandmisel. Teost ei saa kuidagi võrrelda ei autori viiuli-, veel vähem tšellokontserdiga, kuid ta kaunistab oma rariteetsusega iga orkestri repertuaari. Teadku kõik, et üks vähestest pianistidest on Marko Martin see, kes valdab seda mastaapset suurteost laitmatult.

Oistrahhi festivali planeeritud kulminatsioon langes kokku tegelikkusega 17. VII Pärnu kontserdimajas, kui Peterburi Akadeemilist Sümfooniaorkestrit ja Latvija koori juhatas maestro Neeme Järvi ning solistideks Jian Wang (tšello) ja Kaia Urb (sopran). Kava järvilikult põnev, kus kahele suurteosele – Dvořáki Tšellokontserdile ja Poulenci „Gloriale” – vastavad sissejuhatused Smetana „Vltava” ja Fauré „Pavana” (muide koos kooriga) nii, et esimene pool tšehhi ja teine prantsuse muusikast. Portugalis resideeruv hiina tšellist on fenomenaalse mänguaparaadiga ja absoluutselt eksimatu interpreet ning äärmiselt isikupärase lähenemisega Dvořáki superteosesse, kes oma oskused rakendab „kiirmenetluse” teel, aga püsides samas meisterlikult romantiliste kujundite ringis.

XIII Oistrahhi festival lõppes ja selle märgiks said Dvořáki ja tšello (Gutman ja Wang) raamides superviiuldajad Vadim Gluzman ja Baiba Skride, seega Oistrahhi vääriliselt. Võib diskuteerida selle üle, kas festival on ajaliselt liiga pikk või sisuliselt ülekoormatud, kuid see ei oma mingit tähtsust, kui Järvid kohal on, alustades lugemist Neeme Järvist.

 

On track: Taking it easy on the heartstrings
August 11, 2004
The New Zealand Herald
William Dart

A few years ago I was distressed to find two acquaintances scurrying away from the Town Hall during the interval lest their sensitivities be sullied by the frank emotionalism of Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique symphony. Neeme Järvi’s new recording of the work with Sweden’s estimable Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra would be the perfect corrective for such jaded individuals.

There is no flabby rhetoric here, even when Tchaikovsky is most determined to tug heartstrings. The open-weave colours of the first few pages are caught with the precision of chamber music. While some interpretations heap grand statement upon grand statement, Järvi taps into the spirit of the dance – a transition theme in the first movement might have slipped out of the Nutcracker. The 5/4 “waltz” has more than the expected lilt, with the BIS engineers highlighting woodwind flutters as few recordings do. And the finale seems more poignant than ever through Järvi’s unmannered approach. By way of a bonus you have a first-class performance of the composer’s underappreciated Francesca da Rimini.

Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony can be one gargantuan emotionfest and, as concert hall performances can reveal, a wilt-inducing hour if the players’ hearts are not in it.
There is no need to worry with Ivan Fischer and his Budapest Festival Orchestra. A terse opening creates a sense of underlying menace and the general leanness of the sound means the Russian composer’s big theme is all the more effective when it unfolds.

Although there have been faster accounts of the second movement (Previn’s 1966 RCA recording manages it in two minutes less than Fischer), the Hungarian conductor creates the illusion of speed through crisp articulation and dynamics to match.

The slow movement blooms at just the right rate to just the right intensity and the finale is emphatically allegro vivace and not the adagio vivace listed in the booklet. The bonus is a Vocalise that, thanks to Channel Classics’ special five-microphone recording, puts the listener on the conductor’s podium and is especially thrilling when woodwind and strings intertwine in this passionate melody.

* Tchaikovsky, Symphony No 6/Francesca da Rimini (BIS, SACD 1348); Rachmaninov, Symphony No 2 (Channel, Classics SA 21698)

 

The Year of Järvi Commences at the Max
August 25, 2004

Opening Night of the 2004-05 Season
Järvi conducts the DSO in the magnum opus, Carmina Burana

This season, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will celebrate the tenure of a man who, over the past 15 years, has made an extraordinary contribution to the cultural life of Michigan – and the world. In his final season as Music Director of the DSO, Neeme Järvi will lead off with one of the most powerful pieces in all of classical music, the magnum opus Carmina Burana, by German composer Carl Orff. When Maestro Järvi last conducted the DSO in performances of this work at Orchestra Hall in the 2000-01 season, it was the top-selling concert series in DSO history. On this historic Opening Night, in the “Year of Järvi”, audiences can expect red carpet fanfare and electrifying performances. The DSO opens the new 2004-05 season Thursday, September 9 at 8 p.m., Friday, September 10 at 8 p.m., Saturday, September 11 at 8:30 p.m. and Sunday, September 12 at 3 p.m.

Adding to the makings for this singular occasion, the DSO will welcome one of the finest choirs in the world for these performances: the Estonian National Male Choir, directed by Ants Soots. This choir hails from Maestro Järvi’s homeland, and the DSO is presenting this artistic highlight as a special tribute to him. The choir will also join the DSO for Wagner’s Overture to Tannhäuser and Strauss’ Die Tagezeiten. For Carmina Burana, the roster of superb vocal soloists includes soprano Joanna Mongiardo, tenor Richard Clement, baritone Philip Cutlip, along with the University Musical Society Choral Union of Ann Arbor, and the Christ Church Boys Choir of Grosse Pointe.

While Carmina Burana may not be a household name to the public at large, the music almost definitely is. This masterpiece has been featured in everything from Monday Night Football to commercials for Taster’s Choice coffee, to the films Excaliber, Glory and The Doors. The gripping sounds of Carmina Burana were virtually unprecedented when the work was debuted in 1937. Its pounding, repetitive rhythms, simple motives, elemental harmonies and huge orchestral sound blocks convey a pagan and orgiastic energy. In an audacious gambit, Orff deliberately abandoned Western music’s traditional techniques of counterpoint and thematic development, in favor of a deliberately primitive rhetoric. Orff gained instant international attention with Carmina Burana, and it has since become one of the most frequently performed modern choral works.

Based on a remarkable manuscript discovered in 1803 in a medieval Benedictine monastery in Beuren, Germany, Carmina Burana (“Songs of the Beuren”) is not a religious text, but rather a collection of secular songs and poems written by wandering students and minstrels during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The verses, in Latin, Old French and Middle-High-German, touched a broad range of topics. They satirized the clergy and nobility, celebrated the passing seasons; complained of poverty, greed and corruption; praised the pleasures of wine and song; and above all sang the joys and sorrows of love while expressing a fatalistic view of human destiny controlled by a “wheel of fortune.”

Framing Carmina Burana is a massive chorus, “O Fortuna,” whose allusions to both happiness and woe, “power and poverty alike,” sets out a broad canvass of human experience to be filled by the intervening numbers. These are divided into three large sections. The first, “In Springtime,” is a hymn to reawakening nature and love. “In the Tavern” treats the pains and pleasures of hedonistic abandon. “The Court of Love,” the work’s final section, celebrates love and sensuality.

Born in Estonia on June 7, 1937, Neeme Järvi began training as a teenager in the field of choral conducting. In his native country, choral singing begins at an early age, and there are hundreds if not thousands of choirs in a population of roughly 1.36 million. Recently, July 3-4, 2004, Järvi and his family attended Estonia’s famous Song Festival in the capital of Tallinn. Järvi was featured as an all-star conductor on the occasion of the opening concert, leading a chorus of 21,000 voices for an audience of 100,000 people in a giant outdoor amphitheatre on the shore of the Baltic Sea. Järvi will return to his roots in choral music with the DSO’s 2004-05 opening concerts. At the conclusion of the season, Neeme Järvi will assume the post of Conductor Emeritus of the DSO. Music lovers in Michigan and beyond can send the Maestro well wishes and greetings to maestro@dso.org. These messages will be posted in a lobby display for concertgoers at The Max to enjoy, and add to, throughout the season.

 

DSO Fetes Music Director Neeme Järvi in his Finale Season
August 30, 2004
DSO Press Release

One of the world’s most acclaimed conductors, Music Director Neeme Järvi has inspired, nurtured and guided the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to new artistic heights during his 15-year tenure. In 2004-05, the DSO will celebrate the brilliant finale of his tenure. To recognize his enormous contributions to the organization, and to music and culture in the City of Detroit and State of Michigan, the DSO will pay tribute to Maestro Järvi through a season of special programming and events at the Max M. Fisher Music Center. This includes DSO subscription concert programming in 2004-05 that is inspired by the most passionate themes in Järvi’s music and life; a series of finale concerts titled “Järvi Fest,” including a newly announced Gala on June 16; special receptions for subscribers and concertgoers at The Max; a lobby wall display and online message board for well-wishes; and student performances and educational activities dedicated to Järvi. In the Maestro’s honor, the DSO will extend the gift of his music to select community and student groups, offering complimentary tickets through an application process based on need. Recognizing his legendary sense of humor, the DSO will even unveil a limited edition Neeme Järvi Bobblehead, available at Shop @ The Max this fall and online at www.detroitsymphony.com. Also available will be many of Järvi’s award-winning recordings, and two biographical books, Encore! Neeme Järvi and A Passionate Affair: Neeme Järvi and the Gothenburg Symphony.

The Järvi celebration begins with the kickoff of the DSO’s new 2004-05 season and opening week concert performances of Carmina Burana in Orchestra Hall, September 9 through 12, featuring the world-renowned Estonian National Male Choir. Among the finest professional men’s choirs in the world, this ensemble hails from Järvi’s homeland and is being presented by the DSO in an artistic homage to him.

Audiences can also hear Neeme Järvi look ahead, in his own words, to his grand finale season, on WDET-FM 101.9 in a special two-part radio broadcast, “The Järvi Legacy on the Listening Room,” produced and hosted by Chris Felcyn. The shows are airing on two consecutive Sunday mornings, having launched on August 29 and concluding on September 5, from 10 am to 12 p.m., and they can also be heard worldwide via the internet at www.wdetfm.org. The programs reveal Järvi in a wide-ranging interview about life, music, his family and 15 seasons with the DSO, with music personally selected by the Maestro, and personal anecdotes from guests such as Principal Guest Conductor Itzhak Perlman and the musicians of the DSO.

One of the most important ways the DSO plans to honor its music director is through the programming themes of the new subscription season. Most near and dear to Maestro Järvi’s heart is the music he makes with the musicians of the DSO, and the audiences who come to enjoy the performances. Every aspect of his life will be reflected in the concerts the DSO performs under his leadership this year. The musical selections evoke his roots in choral conducting, his student years and friendship with legendary musical figures such as Shostakovich, his love and complete adoption of American culture and its native composers, his love of his family, his reverence for musical collaboration, his drive to share music with others, and of course, his tradition of encores. This season, it could be said that the man, the season and the personality are one and the same (see attached list of Järvi’s 04-05 concerts).
In ten weeks of concerts this season, he will conduct programs featuring blockbuster repertoire; collaborate with many artists with whom he has a special affinity; and present works by composers who have special significance to him. Continuing what is a hallmark of his music directorship, he will also conduct musical selections that are infrequently programmed. The majority of his programs in the new season include at least one work that is either a DSO debut, or a work that will allow Detroit audiences to hear the Maestro’s interpretation for the first time.

An emphasis on the concept of “family” has always been a defining characteristic of Maestro Järvi, both in respect to his feelings for his DSO family, and to his own family, which boasts three children who are all highly-successful professional musicians. The DSO will present concerts featuring his talented offspring, as well as musicians from other distinguished classical music families in 2004-05.
Capping off the regular classical season will be a festive series the DSO is calling “Järvi Fest,” June 2-19, featuring eldest son Paavo Järvi, Music Director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; daughter Maarika Järvi, a critically acclaimed flutist who will perform as a soloist under the baton of her father; and Neeme Järvi’s final subscription program as Music Director of the DSO. Just announced is a “Järvi Fest Gala,” a black-tie party and benefit concert on Thursday, June 16, with Maestro Järvi on the podium plus all three of his talented children: Paavo, Maarika and youngest son, conductor Kristjan Järvi, founder and conductor of the Absolute Ensemble in New York City and Chief Conductor of the Tonkünstler Orchestra of Vienna. The event includes a 5:30 p.m. cocktail reception, a 6:30 p.m. concert in Orchestra Hall, and an 8 p.m. gourmet repast with the Järvi family as honored guests. Additional program details will be announced at a later date. A limited number of concert-only tickets will be available to the general public. All tickets will go on sale in the spring of 2005.

On many occasions during the new season, DSO patrons will have the chance to visit with the Maestro at special receptions. The first event of this type is for DSO Premier Subscribers, (individuals with concert packages of 10 or more concerts) and takes place on Wednesday, September 8 at 8:30 p.m. This event features an open rehearsal in Orchestra Hall, followed by a wine, fruit and dessert reception in the Atrium Lobby at The Max. The Maestro will meet and mingle with DSO subscribers, to thank them for their many years of support and applause. Also during the season, “Maestro Nights” will feature Järvi in post-concert appearances in the Atrium Lobby, and in the brand new John and Marlene Boll Green Room, located on the lobby’s second floor. On these evenings, Järvi will receive guests after the concerts, as well as sign autographs, books and CD’s. The DSO will announce additional “Maestro Nights” during the season, and a schedule will be available by calling (313) 576-5111 or online at www.detroitsymphony.com.

In a nod from the next generation of musicians and music-lovers, students participating in the DSO’s youth ensemble programs, along with music students from the Detroit High School for the Fine, Performing & Communication Arts, will perform pre-concert music in The Max lobby, and dedicate those performances to Järvi. These young people are invited to attend the concerts with their families, and meet the Maestro at the conclusion of the evening. Additionally, Järvi will present a springtime masterclass for students in the DSO’s Civic Ensembles, and the event will be open to the public. Details will be announced later.

Throughout the season, audiences at The Max and around the world can send well-wishes to the Maestro, in person while attending concerts at Orchestra Hall and The Max; by regular mail (c/o Maestro, PR Dept. Max M. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI. 48201); or by email (maestro@dso.com). These messages will be on display in the Atrium Lobby and posted online at www.detroitsymphony.com. Community groups can apply for complimentary tickets to select Järvi performances by writing a letter of explanation to the DSO (c/o PR Department, 3711 Woodward, Detroit, MI. 48201) or by emailing info@detroitsymphony.com. A limited number of tickets are available for concerts taking place in January, February and April (“Tchaikovsky’s Other Piano Concerto,” Jan. 28-29; “All-Tchaikovsky” Jan. 3-4; and “Eclectic Järvi” Apr. 21-23). Requests must be non-profit and demonstrate financial need.
For more information on Neeme Järvi and the DSO’s 2004-05 Season, call (313) 576-5111 or visit the Web site www.detroitsymphony.com.

 

Neeme Järvi leads DSO in Beethoven’s “Emperor” concerto
September 1, 2004
DSO Press Release

Neeme Järvi and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will perform one of the most popular concertos of all time, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, nicknamed the “Emperor,” at the Orchestra’s second set of 2004-05 classical subscription concerts. Joining the DSO as soloist is the acclaimed young Swedish pianist Per (pronounced “pear”) Tengstrand, first prizewinner at the 1997 Cleveland International Piano Competition, who makes his DSO classical subscription debut in these performances. Also featured on the program is Carl Maria von Weber’s Overture to Oberon and American composer Ned Rorem’s Symphony No. 3, a rare work that was last performed by the DSO in 1961. The concerts take place at Orchestra Hall at the Max M. Fisher Music Center on Friday, September 17 at 10:45 a.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday, September 19 at 3 p.m.

At the end of the 2004-05 season, Maestro Järvi will step down as DSO Music Director to become Conductor Emeritus. The entire season celebrates the Maestro’s 15-year tenure and features composers and artists near to his heart such as Tengstrand, who has previously appeared with Maestro Järvi and the Gothenburg Symphony in Sweden. This marks the first time that the Maestro has conducted the Rorem symphony.

Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto has entranced audiences from its very first performance in 1811. According to the story that has been connected to the concerto for nearly three centuries, a French army officer stationed in Vienna attended the first performance of Beethoven’s new concerto and was so moved that he cried out: “C’est l’Empereur!” (“It is the Emperor!”) Even if this story is true, and even if Beethoven was able to hear the exclamation – he was, by this time, quite hard of hearing – the comparison with Napoleon would hardly have flattered the composer. Once an ardent admirer of Bonaparte, Beethoven had become bitterly disenchanted with the French ruler due to his dictatorial inclinations. But despite the unfortunate political connotation, “Emperor” does not seem an inappropriate title. When it was composed, this work far surpassed any and all other concertos in its expression of majesty and heroism, and it retains an imperious position among compositions in its genre even today.

Described by The Washington Post as “technically resplendent, powerful, intuitively secure”, Per Tengstrand performs often with the leading symphony orchestras in Scandinavia and has also appeared as soloist with the Orchestre National de France, the French Radio Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Orchestra National de Lille, the National Symphony of Taiwan, the Singapore Symphony and the New Japan and Osaka Philharmonic Orchestras. He has given recitals in Europe in such prestigious venues as Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Zurich’s Tonhalle, Paris’ Salle Gaveau and the Nice Opera House, and enjoyed great critical acclaim for his New York recital debut at Lincoln Center and for his Kennedy Center recital debut in 2000. Tengstrand won the Geneva competition in 1996 and was a Laureate of the Paris International Long-Thibaud Competition in 1995. He was a recipient of the Anders Wall Foundation Scholarship in 1997 and most recently was awarded the 1999 Musician Award by the Swedish Arts Grants Committee. While at the Paris Conservatory, he received the Premier Prix and the Prix Spécial du Jury, and at the Geneva Conservatory he was awarded the Prix de Virtuosité.

It has been 43 years since the DSO last performed Ned Rorem’s Symphony No. 3, a work that has been described as buoyantly optimistic and Baroque-influenced. It was premiered by the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein in 1959. At the time, Rorem said the symphony was “entirely thought-up and written down in a three-week period.” Ned Rorem, age 80, is one of America’s most prominent composers and this country’s leading exponent of the “art song” (a lyric song for recital, usually accompanied by a piano). Rorem has written more than 300 songs, seven operas, three ballets and four symphonies among many other instrumental works. He is also well-known for his 15 published books, most notably his memoirs and diaries in which he documents a remarkable life amongst some of the 20th century’s most celebrated figures including Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Martha Graham, Jerome Robbins, Truman Capote, Igor Stravinsky, Billie Holliday and Paul Bowles.

According to Rorem, Symphony No. 3 begins with “a sort of Passacaglia, a slow overture in the grand style;” a second movement that “was originally a brisk and jazzy dance for two pianos composed in 1949, eight years before the rest…”; and a final tender and nostalgic movement that “is a farewell to France,” where the work was originally conceived.

A contemporary of Beethoven’s, Carl Maria von Weber is credited with ushering in the era of musical Romanticism. He wrote the opera Oberon, based on the fairy king of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, during his final days as he succumbed to the tuberculosis that he had battled for a dozen years. Commissioned by Covent Garden Opera House, the German composer had to learn English in order to complete the task. He died just six weeks after the opera’s triumphant premiere in 1826. The Overture to Oberon evokes the magic of Shakespeare’s fairy world. Its highlights include a serene cello passage, a turbulent horn theme that introduces the main section, and an idyllic clarinet solo that is echoed by the strings.

 

Neeme Järvi and the DSO present an “Invitation to the Dance”
September 10, 2004
DSO Press Release

Performing compositions inspired by sensual gypsy music, rustic peasant dances and the lilt of an Irish reel, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming “Invitation to the Dance” concerts are likely to see audiences bouncing in their seats if not dancing in the aisles. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, considered the most dance-infused of the great composer’s works, will highlight the program which will also feature Zoltán Kodály’s (koe-die-ee) Dances of Galánta, inspired by the gypsy music of the Hungarian composer’s homeland, and Symphonic Dances by Estonian composer Eino Tamberg. Leading the toe-tapping performances is DSO Music Director Neeme Järvi, a Maestro who has been heralded for his extraordinary rhythmic command. The concerts at Orchestra Hall at the Max M. Fisher Music Center take place on Friday, October 1 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, October 2 at 8:30 p.m.; and Sunday, October 3 at 3 p.m.

These performances are part of the DSO’s year-long tribute to Maestro Järvi who steps down as Music Director at the end of the 2004-05 season. Throughout the year, the Orchestra will perform Järvi favorites and specialties such as these dance-inspired works. The Maestro’s skill with dance music – whether works by the great masters or contemporary compositions featuring jazz and swing motifs – has often been cited by critics. In reviewing his latest CD with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6, the New Zealand Herald said: “Järvi taps into the spirit of the dance.”

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 expresses the complexities of Beethoven’s personality, as it reveals his ability to transcend, through music, the dire circumstances of his life. The seventh symphony was written during a very low point of the composer’s life, when his health was declining and his growing deafness had begun to appear irreversible. The work, however, is one of remarkable cheer and lightness. A music critic of the time stated that the symphony was “the richest melodically, and the most pleasing and comprehensible of all Beethoven symphonies.” The composer Richard Wagner thought the work was perfect dance music, calling it “the apotheosis of the dance.” The composition, however, also contains a slow movement, infused with an exquisite sadness that offers a glimpse of the composer’s darker side.

Zoltán Kodály had a deep love for the peasant music of his native coun­try, and folk songs and dances play a prominent role in many of his composi­tions. One of his most successful uses of such musical materials is the Dances of Galánta. Galánta is a small Hungarian town where Kodály lived as a boy and often heard a gypsy band performing in the market. Years later, the composer came upon some books of Hungarian dances published in the 19th century, one of which contained music “after several gypsies from Galánta”. Kodály reproduced these melodies in rich orchestral colors.

The Symphonic Dances, Eino Tamberg’s second work for orchestra, dates from 1957. “I have always loved dance rhythms in music,” he says, “and have used them not only in my ballets but also in symphonies and concertos.” Symphonic Dances features saxophones, one of the composer’s favorite instruments, which carry the first movement’s nimble main theme. Other dance elements are featured throughout, including a waltz-like melody and a finale that has the quality of a fiery folk dance.

 

Symphony sees landscape changing slowly
September 11, 2004
Detroit News
Lawrence B. Johnson

Neeme Järvi says his impending exit as music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra wasn’t strictly his idea. He also declares he’d be happy to spend several weeks a year with the DSO while a search committee headed by Anne Parsons, the orchestra’s new executive director, looks for his successor.

With Järvi starting his final season at the artistic helm and Parsons just settling in, the landscape around the DSO might appear to be shifting. But don’t expect sudden upheaval. At the onset of Järvi’s 15th season as music director, the departing conductor and the incoming administrator agree that change will come slowly.
Indeed, Järvi and Parsons envision a prominent place for the popular conductor at Orchestra Hall through the next several seasons.

Järvi, 67, in high spirits and looking fresh after a long morning rehearsal with the DSO for this weekend’s season opener, spent 45 minutes in the conductor’s office at the Max M. Fisher Music Center this week reminiscing about a tenure that has produced a new Golden Age for the DSO.

But he admitted he didn’t feel as spunky as he looked. His head still ached from the stress of dealing with Hurricane Frances, whose winds had blown out windows in Järvi’s 19th floor apartment in West Palm Beach, Fla.

“I felt terrible until I stepped in front of the orchestra this morning and we began to make music,” he says. “Then I finally began to relax and forgot about the hurricane.”

That harrowing experience was a lot easier to shake off than the stroke that brought Järvi’s world to a stop in July 2001. But he has long since fully recovered from that too. “I’m in good shape,” he says with a characteristic small, wry smile. “I’m not about to die. I still have my “Ring” to conduct.”

The “Ring” Järvi refers to so lightly is nothing less than the four huge operas that form Wagner’s “Ring of the Niebelung” – “Das Rheingold,” “Die Walkuere,” “Siegfried” and “Die Goetterdaemmerung”. During the next four years, Järvi will conduct one opera per season with the Stockholm Opera, then present all four operas as a cycle there in 2008.
But he does not intend to resume the exhausting, globe-trotting guest appearances that may have contributed to his stroke. Besides, the DSO, which will confer the honor of Conductor Emeritus on Järvi, is going to need him to provide some continuity as its search for a new music director extends – as it surely will – into the 2005-06 season or even longer. Except in very unusual circumstances, top-quality conductors are booked several seasons ahead, which means the DSO is probably looking at a season or more without a music director.

Järvi sees no problem; indeed, he insists the whole notion of a music director is overblown, almost mythic.

“What does it mean, really?” he says. “It means prestige, self-importance and a lot of money. In Gothenburg (Sweden), where I have been conducting for 25 years, there is a team of principal conductors. The old Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) Philharmonic did the same thing. I don’t know any conductor today who should be so powerful and receive so much money.

“The last conductor who really was a music director, and who was absolutely worth the money, was Herbert von Karajan (with the Berlin Philharmonic, 1955-’89). Now it isn’t logical. What makes sense is a team of conductors, whose temperaments complement each other and whose work could be coordinated by an artistic administrator.”

Järvi, whose breadth of musical taste and temperament perhaps matches that of any other living conductor, might not be departing at all, he says, if a feeler he put out a couple of years ago had been received differently. For the first time, he acknowledged the “mutual agreement” that ended his directorship.

“I went to Emil Kang (who resigned as DSO executive director last January) and said I was thinking about resigning after my 15th season,” Järvi recalls. “I told him I was just thinking about it. He didn’t say, “No”, so ...” Järvi shrugs. If it was all the same to the DSO administration, he concluded, then maybe his sense of timing was correct.

Yet, he expresses no hint of bitterness – apart from a deep and abiding distress about how hard it is to keep a top-flight symphony orchestra afloat in this country. “It’s complicated,” he says. “Art is not a high priority in America. The DSO has many wonderful donors, but sometimes I think nobody wants to contribute to the arts here. There is money for war, but not for beautiful music. We need music.”

That’s a sentiment the DSO’s new administrative boss shares. Like Järvi, Anne Parsons is not one to repeat yesterday’s success, but rather to explore and widen the horizon of creative experience.

“I’m not so crazy about labeling music,” says Parsons, who came to the DSO’s top executive post from a similar position with the New York City Ballet. “Our mission is to present music of a wide variety – old, new, familiar, unfamiliar. Classical music, of course, but not only that. The DSO and the Max are community assets and should be a resource for the whole community.
I heard a techno concert at Orchestra Hall the other night. It was exciting, exhilarating. The Max should be a place for such things. There are certain places in the world known for presenting all kinds of art at a very high level. Detroit is one of those places. The DSO can’t be a dinosaur.
I look at the Max, and I see a very successful community effort by people of vision who were willing to take a risk, just to build this building. Now we need to turn this asset into an opportunity.”
For the moment, Parsons’ idealism is shadowed by the DSO’s $2.16 million cumulative deficit, a burden she calls “a challenge, but manageable. It’s our goal, of course, to retire that debt as early as possible. We certainly will not add to it this year.”

Her fiscal formula is the simple, stringent belt-tightening that board chairman Jim Nicholson imposed when the DSO’s fiscal crisis flared at the beginning of this year.

The DSO also expects this year to reach the goal of its long-term $125 million capital campaign, which stands at $112 million. When the campaign reaches $123, a $2 million Kresge Foundation challenge grant will finish the drive. “We have many fiscal challenges,” Parsons says, “and we certainly do depend on the community to help us meet them. If the community wants to have this great jewel, the DSO, everyone will need to help us.”

But she also knows, at least for a while, she will have an ace up her sleeve, an almost magical allure that has proved golden for nearly 15 years – Järvi in the wings.

“This is one of the greatest American orchestras,” Järvi says. “I’ve conducted everywhere, but my most enjoyable time is always here.”

 

Bombast, beauty start last Järvi season
September 11, 2004
Free Press
Mark Stryker

During his valedictory season, Järvi is revisiting many of the ideas that have defined his tenure, among them a love of his native Estonia, an insatiable thirst for overlooked music and a deft touch with blockbuster repertoire in which he balances charismatic brio with a spontaneous wit foxy enough to redeem the most kitschy gambits. All of these elements combine in this week’s combustible program, which brings together the remarkable Estonian National Male Choir, Strauss’s rarely heard orchestral song cycle, “Die Tageszeiten”, and the paganistic musical orgy known as “Carmina Burana,” a secular 1937 cantata by German composer Carl Orff.

On Thursday, Järvi turned Orff’s con blasto fanfares, jackhammer tunes and carousing choruses of hedonistic medieval texts into a thrill ride of swelling dynamics and impetuous phrasing. The DSO and the gargantuan chorus – the UMS Choral Union, Estonian choir and Christ Church Boys Choir – made a joyful noise. Baritone Philip Cutlip and soprano Joanna Mongiardo sang with gutsy grace, and tenor Richard Clement mugged humorously during his pseudo-falsetto shtick.

Still, the substantive highlight on Thursday was the exquisitely shaped “Die Tageszeiten” (“The Times of Day”), based on romantic poems by Joseph Eichendorff. Strauss’s settings have an autumnal feeling, and the Estonian choir, sounding as dulcet as an orchestra of cellos, sang with striking tonal purity, unison articulation and expressive austerity. Those same qualities reinvented Wagner’s “Tannhauser Overture” into a sublime blanket of icy-hot Nordic emotion.

 

Neeme Järvi Gets a Ripsnorting Start to His Final Season with the Detroit Symphony
September 11, 2004
Free Press
Mark Stryker

Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Neeme Järvi (conductor)
Joanna Mongiardo (soprano)
Richard Clement (tenor)
Philip Cutlip (baritone)
UMS Choral Union
Christ Church Boys Choir (Detroit)
Estonian National Male Choir
9 September 2004 - Orchestra Hall, Max M. Fisher Center, Detroit

If Thursday’s ripsnorting start to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s season was the beginning of the end of music director Neeme Järvi’s 15th and final campaign, the end of the end in June is going to be one helluva grand finale.

During his valedictory season, Järvi is revisiting many of the ideas that have defined his tenure, among them a love of his native Estonia, an insatiable thirst for overlooked music and a deft touch with blockbuster repertoire in which he balances charismatic brio with a spontaneous wit foxy enough to redeem the most kitschy gambits.

All of these elements combine in this week’s combustible program, which brings together the remarkable Estonian National Male Choir, Strauss’s rarely heard orchestral song cycle, Die Tageszeiten, and the paganistic musical orgy known as Carmina Burana, a secular 1937 cantata by German composer Carl Orff.

On Thursday, Järvi turned Orff’s con blasto fanfares, jackhammer tunes and carousing choruses of hedonistic medieval texts into a thrill ride of swelling dynamics and impetuous phrasing. The DSO and the gargantuan chorus – the UMS Choral Union, Estonian choir and Christ Church Boys Choir – made a joyful noise. Baritone Philip Cutlip and soprano Joanna Mongiardo sang with gutsy grace, and tenor Richard Clement mugged humorously during his pseudo-falsetto shtick.

Still, the substantive highlight on Thursday was the exquisitely shaped Die Tageszeiten (“The Times of Day”), based on romantic poems by Joseph Eichendorff. Strauss’s settings have an autumnal feeling, and the Estonian choir, sounding as dulcet as an orchestra of cellos, sang with striking tonal purity, unison articulation and expressive austerity. Those same qualities reinvented Wagner’s Tannhäuser Overture into a sublime blanket of icy-hot Nordic emotion.

 

Young Swedish pianist spins joyful Beethoven concerto
September 18, 2004
Detroit News
Lawrence B. Johnson

With the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s new season still in its opening phase, music director Neeme Järvi gives center stage to the young Swedish pianist Per Tengstrand, and this fresh musical mind in turn casts a revivifying light on the majestic old edifice that is Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto.

If the word “heroic” seems inseparable from the fifth, last and grandest of Beethoven’s piano concertos, Tengstrand’s exuberant, articulate and thoughtful performance Friday morning bespoke joy fully as much as triumph – unless that might be the triumph of optimism.

Tengstrand, laureate of several piano competitions, displayed all the technical prowess one might expect from a young lion, but with it – and more important – he revealed a capacity for restraint and reflection that doesn’t always go with youthful speed and agility at the keyboard.

Under Tengstrand’s hands, the big concerto’s slow movement sang with an easy, ruminative lyricism. And in the outer movements, the pianist’s long-spun lines and warm tone combined with incisive rhythms to create an irresistible aura of passion, strength and well-being.

No blustering here, or grand posturing or any other hint of alpha-male nonsense. Tengstrand was more interested in Beethoven as Bacchus, bringer of delight, and that made his performance a refreshing pleasure to hear.

It was an altogether songful concert for Järvi and the DSO, starting with a bright, vivacious account of Weber’s Overture to his fairytale opera “Oberon”. At the end came the rare pleasantry of Ned Rorem’s Symphony No. 3 (1957). Rorem, now 81, always has possessed a Schubertian gift for song, and this gently animated, well-crafted, concise early symphony bears the composer’s lyric imprimatur. Järvi and company did the music radiant justice.

 

Rorem’s music gets a sprightly touch
September 18, 2004
Free Press
Mark Stryker

American music has played a defining role in Neeme Järvi’s 15-year tenure as music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, especially early on, when he and the DSO recorded music by Amy Beach, Samuel Barber, George Chadwick, Duke Ellington, William Grant Still, Charles Ives, Aaron Copland and others.

The Estonian-born Järvi later adopted Michael Daugherty as DSO resident composer, and there have been important premieres by Roberto Sierra and Olly Wilson. Järvi’s latest discovery is Ned Rorem’s Third Symphony (1958), a final-season symbol of the conductor’s commitment to the neglected music of his adopted homeland. It is no surprise that this five-movement, 30-minute neo-classical symphony caught Järvi’s ear. Its melodic lyricism comes coupled with an athletic rhythmic flair that jumps with the pulse of a bon vivant, and the French-inspired terseness of expression imparts an alluringly tannic finish. It’s irrelevant that Rorem’s idiom wasn’t cutting-edge in 1958; music this distinctive deserves a place in the concert hall. What was best about Järvi and the DSO’s reading Friday morning was the way a catlike spring alternated with expansive sensuality. In the opening movement, sharp brass attacks and a coiling four-note motif melt into warm wind solos. In the andante, a striking English horn song morphed expertly into tensile blocks of sound coated by high strings as glinty as steel. Rorem turns 81 in October. Someone should send him a tape of this performance for his birthday. Young Swede Per Tengstrand was the soloist in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”) with a tone as bright and clear as hard northern light. He chose a regal path of thoughtful ideas and controlled emotions rather than unbridled flash: Impressive, though I sometimes wanted more temperament.

 

Rahvusraamatukogus loomisel Neeme Järvi fond
15. oktoober 2004
Sirp
Ene Pilliroog

Hooaeg 2003/2004 oli Neeme Järvile 22. ja ühtlasi viimane hooaeg Göteborgi sümfooniaorkestri, mis kannab just tema töö tulemusena alates 1997. aasta maikuust tiitlit Rootsi Rahvuslik Sümfooniaorkester, peadirigendina. Alustanud selles positsioonis 1982. aastal, sai temast pikima staažiga peadirigent orkestri ajaloos. Sidemed aga ei katke, sest nüüdsest on ta seal peadirigent emeritus, ta loometöö on kirja pandud 224-leheküljelises raamatus „A passionate affair. The Story of Neeme Järvi and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra”, mis sisaldab ka fotosid ja kaks CDd.

Ometi tuleb tal siinjuures nii mõndagi oma elukorralduses ümber mõelda, sest mitmel mandril töötaval dirigendil on olnud ju ka mitu kodu. Göteborgi kodu korda seades, kontsertide kuulutusi ja kavalehti, hooaegade brošüüre, ajalehtede väljalõikeid, intervjuusid, kirjavahetust, raamatuid, noote, plaate jm üle vaadates tuli tal mõte, et on õige aeg need ühte paika koondada ja kaheldamatult väga suure kultuuriloolise väärtusega materjalid kõigile huvilistele ning uurijatele seeläbi kättesaadavaks teha.

Rahvusraamatukoguga on Neeme Järvit sidunud aastatepikkune koostöö, raamatukogu pere on talle eriliselt tänulik juba esimese suure kingituse eest 100 CD näol, mis jõudsid seoses Chandos firma kuldplaadi väljaandmisega ka rahvusraamatukogu fondi juba 1992. aastal, mil uus hoone Tõnismäel ehituslikult veel päris valmiski polnud, raamatukogul mitmesuguseid majanduslikke raskusi ja muusikaosakonna CD-kogu väga väike. Sellest ajast peale hakkas Neeme Järvi raamatukogule saatma nii oma plaate kui ka muud materjali, nüüd kogub raamatukogu ka Paavo ja Kristjan Järvi salvestisi. Selle aasta juunikuu arupidamiste tulemusena langetasid rahvusraamatukogu ja Neeme Järvi ühe põhimõttelise otsuse: on aeg hakata koostama ja kujundama Neeme Järvi fondi. Mida hakkab Neeme Järvi fond sisaldama?

Orkestrid. Kahtlemata on praegusel hetkel raamatukogule juba saabunud materjalide osas ülekaal nn Göteborgi orkestri perioodi kajastusel, on ju see pärit Göteborgi kodust. Kuid selge on see, et erinevas mahus on fondi lisandumas varasem tegevus Eestis, koostöö Moskva ja Leningradi juhtivate orkestritega ja Jevgeni Mravinski, Gennadi Roždestvenski, Kirill Kondrašini ning Juri Temirkanoviga, peadirigenditöö Birminghami Sümfooniaorkestri, Glasgow’s asuva Šoti Kuningliku Rahvusorkestri ja USAs Detroidi Sümfooniaorkestriga, külalisdirigendina Philadelphia, Chicago, Bostoni ja New Yorgi Filharmooniaorkestriga, Jaapani Filharmoonia Orkestriga Tokyos ja veel üle 70 orkestriga kajastava töö sisu, sest ainuüksi viimase kümne aasta sees on Neeme Järvi andnud umbes 1000 kontserti 125 linnas. 2005. aastast saab temast New Jersey Sümfooniaorkestri muusikajuht.

Teatrid. Kindlasti hõlmab see tööd Estonia teatris, aga ka etendusi Buenos Airese Teatro Colonis, Rio de Janeiros, New Yorgi Metropolitan Operas ja Pariisi Rahvusooperis.

Festivalid. Kas koos oma orkestritega või siis külalisdirigendina on ta osalenud paljudel rahvusvahelistel festivalidel: Edinburgh, London Prom, Broghton, Netherlands Festival, Kerkrade, Cheltenham, Aldeburgh, Firenze, Luzern, Tanglewood, Bergen, New Yorgi „Mostly Mozart”, Los Angelese „Hollywood Bowl”, Clevelandi Blossom Festival, Stuttgardi Europe Festival, Ateena, Tallinn jne.

Eesti muusika maailmas. Selles, kuidas ja kas maailm tunneb näiteks Eduard Tubina, Heino Elleri, Artur Lemba, Veljo Tormise, Eino Tambergi, Arvo Pärdi ja Erkki-Sven Tüüri heliloomingut, on oma panus ka Neeme Järvil. Rudolf Tobiase suurteose „Joonase lähetamine” ettekanne ei olnud mitte üksnes Peterburi 300. aastapäeva tähistamise pidustuste kõrghetki, vaid üldist suurt huvi ning tähelepanu pälviv muusikasündmus kõikjal, kus see teos kõlanud on: Eestis, Rootsis, Austraalias.

Heliplaadid. Tänaseks on Neeme Järvi üks enim salvestatud dirigente oma üle 350 plaadiga, neist märkimisväärne osa on tehtud Göteborgi Sümfooniaorkestriga. Pikaajaline koostöö on tal välja kujunenud selliste firmadega nagu BIS Rootsis, Chandos Suurbritannias ja Deutsche Grammophone.

Kõigele lisaks kirjavahetus, arvustused, intervjuud, fotod, muud dokumendid. Niisugune on esialgne kirjeldus, mida hakkab sisaldama Neeme Järvi fond. Töö on alles algusjärgus.

Miks võiksid Neeme Järvi fondi vastu huvi tunda noored muusikud, oma teed alustavad dirigendid ja laiem kultuuriüldsus? Aga seepärast, et kas või omaenese edasiminekuks otsida vastuseid küsimustele: kuidas on jõudnud maailma ühe väikese maa Suur Mees; miks on maailm jäänud kuulama Sõnumit, mida ta tuli tooma. Üldteada on tõsiasi, et orkester mõistab paari minutiga, mis masti mees (või naine) on dirigent. Kui küsida, et mis on saani ja ree vahe, siis vastus oleks selline, et saani ette rakendatakse hobune, aga rege peab ise vedama. Küsimus on ka see, kuidas Neeme Järvi on need asjad oma dirigendielus osanud ära lahendada, leidnud väga kiiresti ja hea kontakti orkestritega, kellega ta on kokku puutunud – ja miks teda hinnatakse ja armastatakse nii Eestis, Rootsis, mitmel pool mujal Euroopas ja Ameerikas.

 

RAM avas Ameerikas hooaegu  
15. oktoober 2004
Sirp
Joosep Sang

Septembri lõpus naasis oma neljandalt USA ringsõidult Eesti Rahvusmeeskoor, kes osales Detroiti ja Cincinnati sümfooniaorkestri hooaja avakontsertidel, teenides publiku aplausitormi ja kriitikute kiidusõnad.

Esimese nädala veetis RAM Detroitis, kus sealse orkestri peadirigent Neeme Järvi alustas oma viimast, 15. hooaega. Detroiti Sümfooniaorkestri poolt välja antav ajakiri Performance nimetab oma kaanel alanud hooaega Järvi aastaks ning rõhutab tõika, mida Detroidi ajakirjandus ja muusikaüldsus pidevalt välja toob: just Neeme Järvi käe all on DSO kujunenud terves maailmas hinnatud ja imetletud orkestriks.

Järvi viimase hooaja kavades torkab silma tema tavakohane repertuaaripoliitika, kus tuntud teosed käivad käsikäes vähem tuntud oopustega ameerika, vene ja eesti muusikast, viimaste seas Tambergi „Sümfoonilised tantsud” (kõlasid oktoobri alguses), Tubina 5. sümfoonia aprillis ja Parsadanjani Kontsertiino flöödile ja orkestrile juunikuus. Viimane teos kuulub juunis toimuva „Järvi Festi” kavva, soleerib Maarika Järvi. Sama kuu lõpus seisab DSO ees Paavo Järvi, kes juhatab maailmaesiettekandes Tüüri Kontserti viiulile, klarnetile ja orkestrile. Kristjan Järvi toob Detroiti Max M. Fischer Music Halli lavale oma Absolute Ensemble’i.

Lisades, et hooaja jooksul astuvad The Maxi (selline on DSO kodusaali hellitusnimi) lavalaudadele veel näiteks Itzhak Perlman, Angela Hewitt, Hélène Grimaud ja Yo-Yo Ma, näeme, kuivõrd väärikasse konteksti sattus neljal avakontserdil RAM, kes on Neeme Järvi käe all suurvorme esitanud ka varem, sealhulgas 1999. aastal Detroitis ja Minneapolises (suurteosteks Šostakovitši 13. sümfoonia „Babi jar” ning Sibeliuse „Kullervo”). Seekord olid koori kavas Wagneri avamäng ooperile „Tannhäuser”, R. Straussi „Die Tageszeiten” ja koos Ann Arbori ülikooli muusikaühingu segakooriga Orffi „Carmina burana”. Suurima publikumenu pälvis kontserdil (mis algas igal õhtul muide Eesti ja USA hümniga) ootuspäraselt Orff, kus Järvi võlus publikut oma pööraste tempode ja ületamatu lavalise sarmiga („vintage Neeme Järvi”, nagu kirjutas üks arvustaja), kuid ka oskusega tegelikult kapriisset teost raamides hoida. Säravast solistide ansamblist kerkis eriti esile sopran Joanna Mongiardo. Omaette nähtus on Detroidi aplaus, mis vallandus justkui stardipüstoli märguande peale, terve täissaal tõusis igal õhtul sünkroonis ja polnud tunnustusega kitsi.

Kui publik ülistas enim Orffi klassikahitti, siis kriitikud pöörasid tähelepanu ka kontserdi avapoolele, kus kõlas Richard Straussi harva esitatav „Die Tageszeiten” („Päevaajad”). Ajalehe Detroit Free Press kriitik Mark Stryker pidas just Straussi kontserdi „sisuliseks kõrgpunktiks”, kiites RAMi „hämmastavat kõlapuhtust ja ühtset artikulatsiooni”. Palju kirjutasid tolle nädalalõpu lehed ka Järvist ja orkestri tulevikust: juhtkond lubab orkestri ampluaad avardada (näiteks jazzisuunal), maestro tõotab DSO ette sageli tagasi tulla.

Kui Detroit on Neeme Järvi linn, siis Cincinnati kontserdielu magnet on Paavo Järvi, kes alustas oma neljandat hooaega sealse orkestri peadirigendi rollis. Kuna avakontserdi peateos oli Sibeliuse „Kullervo-sümfoonia” (solistid Rootsi metsosopran Charlotte Hellekant ja Soome bariton Jaakko Kortekangas), pööras press palju tähelepanu P. Järvi ja RAMi hiljutisele ühisele Grammy võidule, mis tuli teatavasti Sibeliuse kantaatide salvestuse eest. Cincinnati tasuta linnaleht Downtowner hüüab esiküljel, et sel nädalalõpul on linnas samal päeval (kuigi hoopis erinevatel lavadel) koguni kaks Grammy võitjat: RAM ja Van Halen. Cincinnati Post avaldas RAMi tutvustuseks eraldi Mary Ellyn Huttoni pika artikli pealkirjaga „Meeskoor sümboliseerib Eesti hinge ja väärikust”. Ka kontserdikriitika lausus vaid häid sõnu: Hutton toob arvustuses välja RAMi „suure heroilise kõla”, lehe Cincinnati Enquirer kriitik Janelle Gelfand avaldab kiitust koori rütmijõule ja suurepärasele ansamblitunnetusele. Ainiti positiivset kirjutavad lehed ka Paavo Järvi ja tema orkestri kohta, kes on kiirteel maailma tipporkestrite sekka. Järvil on plaadileping maineka firmaga Telarc, mis andis sel sügisel välja juba kuuenda CSO plaadi, kavas Stravinski „Kevadpühitsus” ja Nielseni 5. sümfoonia.

RAM sattus Cincinnatisse aasta kõige sündmusterohkemal nädalalõpul, mil hiigelareenidel mängiti ameerika jalgpalli ja pesapalli, esines heavy-saurus Van Halen, algas kunstifestival ning Cincinnatist ehk Queen Cityst sai kohaliku Oktoberfest’i ajaks ametlikult Zinzinnati (ligi kolmandik linna elanikest on saksa juurtega). Võinuks karta, et linnas, mille kõlaline tapeet on autodes lakkamatult müdisev hip-hop ja kus on toimumas nii palju massiüritusi, tekib probleem suure kontserdisaali täitmisega. Kuid too kartus oli asjatu: nagu Detroitis, oli ka Cincinnatis igal õhtul saal osavõtlikku publikut täis ja RAM teenis tulise aplausi, millist koori lauljad kuulevad sagedamini välis- kui kodumaal.

Siiski ootab Eesti Rahvusmeeskoor ka Eestis juba peatselt tavalisest suuremat tähelepanu, sest koor tähistab sel sügisel oma 60. tegutsemisaastat ja valmistab selleks puhuks ette mitu eriilmelist kava.

 

UBS VERBIER FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA WORLD TOUR
October 19–November 7, 2004

Press Release

The performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 by the UBS Verbier Festival Orchestra under their Conductor Laureate, James Levine, was the climax of the 2004 Verbier Festival & Academy and received a dramatic ovation. During their annual residency at the Verbier Festival this year, in 17 days the Orchestra rehearsed and performed a challenging range of repertoire with James Levine, Valery Gergiev, Yuri Temirkanov, Neeme Järvi. It was a unique and remarkable musical experience for every member of the Orchestra – and for their audiences.

The 124 musicians then left Verbier to return to their 36 homelands and to prepare for their worldwide tour this autumn (October 19 – November 7) which takes them to leading concert halls across Europe and Asia. Neeme Järvi will conduct in Stockholm, Brussels, Frankfurt, Zürich, St Gallen, Madrid and Turin with soloists Barbara Hendricks and Mikhail Pletnev. With conductor Charles Dutoit and violin soloists Julian Rachlin and Maxim Vengerov, the Orchestra then visits Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing and, for the first time, Tokyo. Full details of the tour are attached. Following the exciting news that UBS will continue their unique sponsorship until 2007, the Orchestra will build on its outstanding worldwide reputation. The vision of UBS is to develop the Orchestra into a renowned, established ’must-see’ feature of the classical music world, which delights its audiences and reaches out to the communities which it visits around the world every year. This exceptional continuing support of UBS has signalled its creation of a model for sponsorship of a major cultural project reflecting the shared values of excellence, vitality, creativity and commitment. The Orchestra has been clearly identified as “the premier league youth orchestra” (Sunday Telegraph UK) and one of the leading international training orchestras in the world. Graduates of the UBS Verbier Festival Orchestra have been appointed to such orchestras as the Metropolitan Opera, Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Singapore Symphony, Ghangzhou Symphony, and many more.

Auditions for 2005 will be held in 11 cities across the world to fill some forty places which are vacated by members who are appointed to orchestras, gain permanent employment or reach the age of 30. Recent years have seen a record number of applicants, well exceeding 1,000. Each year the Orchestra is coached in Verbier by Principals of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra prior to their rehearsals with James Levine and the conductors with whom they will work. The UBS Verbier Festival Orchestra will open the 2005 Verbier Festival & Academy on July 22nd. In next year’s Festival, the Orchestra will work with James Levine, Michael Tilson Thomas, Christoph von Dohnanyi and Esa-Pekka Salonen and will give a performance of Verdi’s Requiem conducted by James Levine.

 

Das “UBS Verbier Festival Orchester” war zu Gast in der Alten Oper Frankfurt
Oktober 23, 2004
Frankfurter Neue Presse

Selbst Globalisierungsgegner werden mit solchen Projekten ihren Frieden schließen: 100 junge Musikerinnen und Musiker aus 35 Nationen machen zusammen Musik. Zehn Wochen lang: erst Probe, dann das Festival in den Schweizer Bergen, dann eine Weltreise. Die UBS-Bankengruppe macht’s möglich – und wer als junger Mensch dabei ist, vergisst es ein Leben lang nicht. Unter der Leitung von Neeme Järvi gastierte das Orchester vor dem Weiterflug nach Spanien, Italien und Asien nun in der Alten Oper. Der vielbeschäftigte Dirigent hat immer wieder mit solchen multinationalen Gruppen gearbeitet und weiß, wie man sie, vor allem auch im Konzert, begeistert: durch präzisen Schlag, professionelles Auftreten und ein stetes Lächeln auf den Lippen. Dabei sind die Jungsinfoniker kein Schulorchester.
Von dieser Spezies haben sie ihre Begeisterung und die Leidenschaft des Musizierens herübergerettet. Ansonsten aber wird ernsthaft und konkurrenzfähig musiziert, natürlich mit großbesetzten Stücken. Sie machen Effekt. George Enescus feurige Rumänische Rhapsodie op. 11 zum Beispiel oder das humorvolle und stellenweise überraschend sentimentale “Konzert für Orchester” von Bartók. Andere Tourneeorte bekommen die Solisten Mikhail Pletnev und Maxim Vengerov zu hören. Frankfurt war mit der Sopranistin Barbara Hendricks nicht gut bedient. Just in Verbindung mit dem Jugendorchester wurde deutlich, dass die Sopranistin, bei allem Respekt, ihren Zenit überschritten hat. Strauss’ “Vier letzte Lieder” jedenfalls kamen monoton daher, mit stimmlich eingeschränktem Ausdruck, wenig Tiefe und Empfindung, spröde und fahl. Von dem exotischen Charme, dem unverwechselbaren Timbre der Sängerin ist kaum etwas geblieben. Dafür begeisterten die Zugaben: ein Stück aus der 5. Ballett-Suite von Schostakowitsch, “Malambo” von Alberto Ginastera und das Andante festivo aus der Streichersuite von Sibelius. Jubel am Ende.

 

Järvi shows his warmth as NJSO performs Brahms
November 22, 2004
Bradley Bambarger

Two moments in Saturday night’s New Jersey Symphony concert at NJPAC illustrated the uncommon warmth and generosity of spirit that Neeme Järvi supplies as the orchestra’s music director.

Following the NJSO’s lovely performance of Brahms’s Serenade No. 2, Järvi didn’t only shake the hands of the principal wind players, as is customary for fine solo work. The conductor squeezed back and forth between the music stands to shake the hands of all 10 or so wind/brass players on stage.

In a similar display of big-heartedness, this time toward the audience, Järvi followed his penchant for encores at the concert’s end. Nothing rare about this, except that the second half featured Brahms’s “Ein Deutsches Requiem”, an hour-plus experience intense for both performers and listeners.

This concertgoer can’t remember ever having witnessed an encore after such a work, regardless of the forgoing performance’s quality or the crowd’s approbation; the piece’s finality easily stands as so. Yet Järvi added the extra “surprise” that he touts as essential to compelling concert-giving by leading the orchestra and its choral coeval, New Jersey’s Westminster Symphonic Choir, in the sotto voce supplication of Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus.

Personalizing the al fresco entertainment of Classical tradition, the young Brahms offered a more Romantic conception of the serenade. His second work in the form is characteristically a bit darker and more ambivalent, even if it’s still an essentially mellifluous piece.

The reduced ensemble allied the NJSO’s usual assets in this repertoire with those typical of the conductor. The heart-easing blends of winds and low strings were ideally tuned and burnished to an ochre shade, while the rhythms were kept buoyant, as per Järvi’s way. The Serenade’s slow movement was a highlight, with the patient phrasing and depth of tone aptly underlining the episode’s prefiguring of the deeply moving Adagio in Brahms’s Second Symphony.

Named for its use of texts from the German-language Lutheran Bible rather than from the conventional Latin liturgy, “A German Requiem” was Brahms’s breakthrough, earning the 35-year-old wide renown after its 1868 premiere. Noting his universal intent, the composer – a secular creature and no nationalist – said that, in the title, he “could happily omit the “German” and simply say, “Human”.” Recovering from losses of his mother and his mentor (Schumann), Brahms transfigured verses he knew as literature with music of profoundly humanistic spirituality.

Even in the first two, impassioned movements, Järvi’s stately interpretation emphasized solace over the sting of death. The results were unfailingly rich and beautiful, with Järvi maintaining a masterful acoustical balance between orchestra and chorus. Yet this work can benefit from bite as well as balm, and some passages, such as the second movement’s timpani-punctuated climaxes, could have been more potently characterized.

The youthful Westminster choir (prepared for the weekend’s performances by its associate conductor, Andrew Megill) sang with its usual dynamic amplitude and rhythmic control, projecting even the softest passages meaningfully. Of the fine soloists – soprano Kelley Nassief and baritone Garry Magee – it was the up-and-coming English baritone who not only impressed but moved. Through a soulful mix of legato line and keen diction, he invested his beseeching solos with the grave poetry they demand.

In a thoughtful gesture, the NJSO provided listeners with printed texts and translations to “A German Requiem” – an increasingly rare consideration, particularly in New Jersey venues.

 

Järvi plays it safe, for now
November 29, 2004
The Star-Ledger
Willa J. Conrad

American orchestras are often accused of playing it safe when it comes to programming, and surely there is no more “safe” repertoire than Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Mozart’s A major Violin Concerto (K. 219, “Turkish”). Both were on the bill at Sunday afternoon’s performance by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra at Morristown’s Community Theatre, led by music director designate Neeme Järvi.

Ho hum. Yet, it is clear that Järvi is programming basic repertoire for his conducting visits now as a way of getting to know his new ensemble. (He assumes full leadership in 2005). That works both ways: we listeners also get a chance to compare/contrast Järvi’s work in familiar repertoire, and so far the experience has its pleasures. Surely Sunday’s audience appreciated his efforts – the sold out theatre gave the maestro several long and enthusiastic ovations.

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