NJSO chills out with Russian composers
January 7, 2007
The Star-Ledger
Bradley Bambarger

It wouldn’t seem necessary for an orchestra to hold a special festival dedicated to Russian Romanticism – as the music of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and company has long been some of the world’s most played, season-in, season-out.

When the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s management initially mooted just such a theme for its annual January festival, music director Neeme Järvi wasn’t that keen on playing “the warhorses once again,” recalls the conductor, on the phone between planes on his way to a pre-holiday reunion tour with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

“Familiar music isn’t such a reason for a festival, and it isn’t what excites me, to be honest,” Järvi adds. “I’m interested in playing scores that others aren’t. There is so much great music – Czech music, Armenian music – that people don’t know but would love.”

But, as is his way, Järvi put his own spin on the Russian festival theme. While the NJSO’s Russian Romantics festival features mostly familiar names, the pieces representing them aren’t always the usual fare. The festival – which takes place Tuesday through Jan. 28 in venues across the state – includes several rarities and interesting juxtapositions, even an oddity or two.

High romance, bitter jokes
Recent NJSO winter festivals have immersed orchestra and audience in the music of Mozart, Dvořák and Scandinavian composers. This month’s all-Russian survey begins with a weekend featuring an ambitious orchestral arrangement of Rachmaninoff’s “Trio Elégiaque,” his piano, cello and piano memorial for Tchaikovsky. The soloist in this “Concerto Elégiaque” for piano and orchestra will be the arranger, Australian Alan Kogosowski, who premiered and recorded the work with Järvi and the Detroit Symphony in the ’90s.

This initial program also includes Rachmaninoff’s First Symphony, a piece unfairly shrouded in disappointment ever since the failure of its 1897 premiere (botched by its conductor, Alexander Glazunov, supposedly drunk at the time). NJSO principal cellist Jonathan Spitz shares Järvi’s enthusiasm for Rachmaninoff’s dark, swirling First.

“Usually, when there’s a piece by a great composer that goes unplayed – like “Wellington’s Victory” by Beethoven – it’s because the piece really is weak,” Spitz says. “But Rachmaninoff’s First is strong, interesting music.”

The 48-year-old Spitz – a resident of Tenafly who first joined the NJSO as its youngest player in 1984 – will perform an excerpt from the original chamber version of the “Trio Elégiaque” during the first festival weekend with Kogosowski and NJSO concertmaster Eric Wyrick. Also, as part of a Jan. 23 showcase for the NJSO’s collection of Golden Age strings at Drew University’s fine new concert hall, Spitz will play the slow movement from Rachmaninoff’s Cello Sonata.

Along with Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet” tone poem, the festival’s second weekend will feature his Piano Concerto No. 2 (with soloist Alexander Markovich), which is played far less often than No. 1. The program will also show Järvi’s inside knowledge and cheeky humor, as it includes the Symphony No. 21 by Ovsianniko-Kulikovsky – or, rather, by Mikhail Goldstein, who carried off one of the great hoaxes after being irked by an insinuation that, as a Jew, he couldn’t compose “real” Ukrainian music.

In the late ’40s, Goldstein composed a Haydn-esque work brimming with Ukrainian tunes and rhythms, then passed it off as a score he found in the Odessa theater archives – the 21st symphony by an obscure, early 19th-century local figure, Ovsianniko-Kulikovsky. Many excitable Soviet musicologists fell for the story and, as Goldstein hoped, held the symphony up as a great national work. The ruse was perpetuated for years in the West by liner notes for Yevgeny Mravinsky’s Melodiya LP.

The festival’s final weekend includes such Russian totems as Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain” and Rimsky-Korsakov’s concerto for orchestra, “Scheherazade.” But the program also pairs Balakirev’s knuckle-busting piano piece “Islamey” (to be played by Jie Chen) with a rarely heard orchestration of the work by a friend and student of the composer, Sergei Liapounov.

Playing to strengths
Since the Czech Zdenek Macal was its music director in the ’90s, the NJSO has been an orchestra attuned to the grand Romantic repertoire. Spitz credits the Golden Age strings for adding “a new dimension – the instruments helping us create that dark, rich sound in an unforced way. And we really do know how this music goes, so we can give the conductor something strong to work with.”

One of Järvi’s achievements with the NJSO has been to develop the orchestra’s flexibility, making the group “more adaptive,” Spitz says. “He really is a master of the moment, often changing tempos in a piece from night to night. That spontaneity focuses our minds, improving our basic ensemble skills – we react better to each other now. And there’s a lot of room in this Russian repertoire for rubato, for rhythmic freedom.”

The NJSO players also “are smiling a lot” these days, Spitz says. “Seeing full houses of people enjoying the concerts so much helps, of course. But, also, Järvi is a real player’s conductor. He has a phenomenal ear for balance and intonation, and he isn’t afraid to go out on a limb, which the players respect and enjoy. He pushes us to play up to his high level, but he isn’t a psychologically punishing presence – he is a very positive force.”

Tales of Russia
Järvi, 69, studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatory while the city went under the name of Leningrad. It’s the school of Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, and while Järvi was a student he could see the likes of Mravinsky and Kurt Sanderling rehearse the vaunted Leningrad Philharmonic in Tchaikovsky and other native repertoire.

Still, the Estonian-born Järvi insists that he never concentrated on Russian music, considering himself steeped in the German conducting tradition. Even when he did end up recording swaths of Russian repertoire for Chandos in the ’80s and ’90s, it was mostly rarities and the more modern scores of Prokofiev and Shostakovich (also St. Petersburg alumni).

That said, Järvi is proud of his St. Petersburg days, and he loves to tell stories about the city’s deep musical tradition. One favorite is an anecdote relayed by Sanderling’s son, Thomas, who was in Finland when his father conducted the Leningrad Philharmonic in Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony. A power failure cut the lights while the symphony still had 50 bars to go; the orchestra was able to keep playing by heart, not needing to see their scores or the conductor to bring the work to a close.

The NJSO may not be able to play Tchaikovsky in the dark yet, but Järvi senses something special growing with the orchestra.

“It feels more and more that the orchestra and I and the audience are mutual friends,” the conductor says. “We are not just up there performing, with people down there listening. All of us in the hall are experiencing something important together.”


NJSO makes beautiful music at Russian Romantics fest
January 15, 2007
The Star-Ledger
Bradley Bambarger

There have long been mutterings that the classical concert format has calcified, making what was previously dignified and dramatic something imposing and stiff.

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra has strived to counter such fears in its own way, including folksy introductions by the musicians. The first weekend of the NJSO’s three-week Russian Romantics Festival saw the orchestra go further; it brought discussion and illustration into the fabric of the music-making, and in a natural, absorbing way.

The weekend’s program, played in Newark and Trenton, centered on the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff, whose works have long been constant staples of the concert scene. But the program showcased the young Rachmaninoff, with scores from the years before his peerless piano skills made him a star in the West.

Led by music director Neeme Järvi, the NJSO performed Rachmaninoff’s still rarely heard First Symphony. But the evenings began with a chamber-music prelude – Rachmaninoff’s second “Trio Elégiaque,” his memorial homage to Tchaikovsky. Guest soloist Alan Kogosowski was the pianist, playing alongside NJSO concertmaster Eric Wyrick on violin and principal cellist Jonathan Spitz.

The threesome played excerpts from the 45-minute “Trio Elégiaque.” Spitz also had the main verbal role, nicely framing the piece and its relation to what would come after – Kogosowski’s orchestration of the piano trio as the “Concerto Elégiaque.”

In its original form, Rachmaninoff’s trio presents what Spitz called “issues of balance and endurance.” He and Wyrick obviously had to work hard to project over the “symphonic” piano part, but the score’s problems are for performers rather than listeners, with its mournful melodies having a stirring appeal to rival those of Rachmaninoff’s ever-popular Piano Concerto No. 2.

NJPAC’s Prudential Hall was only half full for Friday’s concert, but the 1,300 there saw something special. The chamber prelude and commentary piqued the ears for the Rachmaninoff-Kogosowski “Concerto Elégiaque,” which the arranger premiered and recorded in the ’90s with Järvi and the Detroit Symphony.

If the “Concerto Elégiaque” loses some of the original’s inward melancholy, Kogosowski’s “re-composition” (to use Järvi’s word) still resounds with emotional depth. It begins like the original, with an invocation by solo piano (which Kogosowski played with a mix of panache and restraint throughout); then, instead of violin and cello straining to speak volumes, an entire string section wells like tears.

Some rat-a-tat on snare drum was a distraction early on, but the concerto’s added timpani and cymbals sounded inevitable, like the gold accenting the deep reds of an Eastern religious icon. Particularly effective was the writing for brass, which evoked the basso profundo voices of Russian Orthodox choirs. Working up a sweat, Järvi clearly relished the orchestra’s oceanic surge in Rachmaninoff’s tragic tunes.

Alexander Glazunov, supposedly tipsy on the podium, mishandled the premiere for Rachmaninoff’s First Symphony, resulting in vitriolic criticism that nearly crippled the 24-year-old composer. Although tainted for decades after, the First sounds bolder now than Rachmaninoff’s oft-played Second Symphony. The titanic beginning has melodies of great expectation like early Sibelius, with a grand finale to match, and there’s a slow movement that recalls the atmosphere of Rachmaninoff’s beautifully moody songs.

Although the orchestral balance could have been darker, Järvi drew a magnificent performance from the NJSO, with the brass section surpassing itself, in particular. The encore was Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise,” a wordless song that has been arranged for everything from solo voice to saxophone. Against the odds, the full-blown orchestral treatment flowed naturally, never unduly inflating the ethereal tune.


NJ Symphony rolls out its 2007-08 season
January 24, 2007
The Star-Ledger
Bradley Bambarger

Programming a season for a symphony orchestra is a tightrope walk, one where the fresh has to be balanced with the familiar. It’s trickier for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra than for most, with this statewide touring ensemble having a wide constituency to please – and financial deficits to address – even as it must keep challenging itself to grow.

The NJSO announced its 2007-2008 season yesterday at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. As with the current season – but reduced considerably from previous years to save money – the orchestra will perform 57 concerts of 17 programs (not counting pops events), with 27 of the concerts at NJPAC. The rest will be spread among halls in New Brunswick, Princeton, Englewood, Red Bank and Trenton.

The NJSO has never sounded better. And with both orchestra and audience obviously bonding with music director Neeme Järvi, subscriptions and single-ticket sales are up, according to NJSO reports. But finances are still hard-pressed, with fiscal year 2006 expenses of $13.6 million outpacing income of $12.4 million, resulting in an annual deficit of $1.25 million and an accumulated deficit of $3.9 million.

As part of the NJSO’s fiscally conscious mindset, next season’s roster of guest artists emphasizes new faces over big stars (no Yo-Yo Ma, for instance). Järvi – who led the announcement for the orchestra’s 85th season, joined by NJSO board chairman Victor Parsonnet and the group’s new CEO, André Gremillet – has plenty of interesting relationships to draw upon, thanks to his wide European experience.

“Of course, money talks, and that can be a problem,” said Järvi in an interview earlier this week. “But there are musicians out there who are just as good as the big, expensive stars, artists who will surprise people. And, always, our goal is engaging quality artists – and I think we are getting them.”

Along with such area favorites as pianist Yefim Bronfman, pianist Emanuel Ax and violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg (who helps open the season with Järvi on Oct. 12), the soloists in 2007-2008 include such notables as Cuban-born guitarist Manuel Barrueco, a Newark Arts High alumnus, and violinist Leila Josefowicz (the mother of one of Järvi’s grandchildren). Many of the other guests are Nordic players relatively unknown in the U.S. but familiar to Järvi, including Finnish pianist Antti Siirala, whom the conductor calls “my favorite young Mozart player.”

As with the current season, Järvi conducts 10 sets of concerts in 2007-2008. (See accompanying schedule.) The list of guest conductors isn’t perhaps as interesting as past years, with no sure-fire exciter like Vassily Sinaisky, no early-music specialist like Harry Bicket. Most promising among the new visiting conductors is Hannu Lintu, an alumnus of the same great Finnish conducting school as Esa-Pekka Salonen and Osmo Vänskä. Also in the lineup are returning guest baton-wielders Hans Graf, Lawrence Foster and Bramwell Tovey.

As for the music, next season features many pieces NJSO audiences have already heard in recent years, including Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Fifth Symphony and Dvořák’s Symphonies Nos. 8 and 9, “New World.” Although a big Mozart anniversary brought even more of his music than usual in the past couple of years (including an entire NJSO Mozart festival), there will be plenty more next season. The orchestra will also add a coda to this season’s Beethoven symphony cycle with his Violin Concerto and a night of overtures.

But 25 percent of the music the NJSO plays will be new to the orchestra, such as an intriguing arrangement of the Bach-Busoni “Chaconne” (by the Russian Maximilian Steinberg). Moreover, the orchestra will give the U.S. premiere of Roberto Sierra’s guitar concerto “Danzas Concertantes,” as well as the first performance of a homegrown work – “3-2-1,” a concerto for electric/acoustic violin composed by Darryl Kubian, an NJSO violinist, for the orchestra’s concertmaster, Eric Wyrick.

The contemporary offerings will also include Swedish composer Anders Hillborg’s “Liquid Marble” and the piano concerto “Deus ex Machina” by Michael Daugherty, who was composer-in-residence with the Detroit Symphony during Järvi’s Motor City tenure. The soloist for the Daugherty piece will be Terrence Wilson, a Montclair resident.

Next year’s winter festival, “Coming to America,” features music by Europeans who made long visits or new homes here – a theme especially close to Järvi’s heart (being an Estonian who emigrated to the U.S. in 1980). Along with Stravinsky, Bartók, Prokofiev and Dvořák, the festival will include the luminous but rarely heard Symphony No. 2 by Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů, one of Järvi’s special enthusiasms.

With the NJSO set to complete its Russian Romantics Festival this weekend, Järvi is full of praise for his players. Still, the conductor – this orchestra’s key asset – has his frustrations. He would like to play more concerts at NJPAC, as well as tour – “to Carnegie Hall, Canada, even Estonia.” He insists the orchestra must gradually increase by some 40 players to the typical full-strength symphony ensemble of 108.

Järvi, like many conductors used to working in Europe, also feels stymied by the musicians’ union here, from arbitrary cut-offs at rehearsals to restrictive agreements for recording: “Let me tell you, it was more relaxed and artistic in the Soviet Union.”

The NJSO’s concerts are now taped for broadcast around the country, a key achievement. Yet while some bigger U.S. orchestras have found a way to keep making CD recordings in a diminished marketplace, the NJSO has not. Järvi longs to produce a series of DVDs with the NJSO – “to show this wonderful orchestra and NJPAC hall to the world” – but is chagrined at what he perceives as a lack of support for such projects among corporate and individual donors in the group’s “rich” home state.

“The orchestra is playing so beautifully, and I am excited about the upcoming season,” Järvi said. “But the administration now must have vision – love, ideas – to achieve the necessary things out in the community.”

NJ Symphony rolls out its 2007-08 season
January 27, 2007
The Star-Ledger
Bradley Bambarger

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra deserves cheers for doing more with its Russian Romantics Festival than just stringing together some of the repertoire’s most popular pieces. The NJSO has juxtaposed the “hits” with rarities, as well as reshuffled its concert ritual, setting the scene for some programs with illustrative, chamber-style performances.

With ever-popular music director Neeme Järvi at the helm, the NJSO began the concluding run in its festival on Thursday for 1,200 listeners at New Brunswick’s State Theatre. This third program is devoted to the group of 19th-century Russian composers aiming for nationalist rejuvenation; known as “the Mighty Handful” or “Mighty Five,” they included Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Balakirev, Borodin and the rarely heard César Cui.

There is no more iconic Russian sound than the pealing-bell motif in Mussorgsky’s “Great Gate of Kiev,” which also figures stirringly in his opera “Boris Godunov.” Guest pianist Jie Chen opened the concert with this piece, an excerpt from Mussorgsky’s suite “Pictures at an Exhibition.” Last seen with the NJSO in 2005, Chen also performed Cui’s F-sharp minor Nocturne, derivative of Chopin but no less lovely for it.

The China-born Chen, 21, needed all her considerable digital clarity and verve for Balakirev’s “Islamey.” A favorite show piece for Golden Age virtuosos, this Lisztian “Oriental fantasy” isn’t heard as often today outside competitions. Despite Chen’s leonine advocacy, it didn’t sound much deeper than a tacky picture postcard.

This impression melted away, though, once Järvi and company came on to play the orchestral transcription of “Islamey” by a later Russian pedagogue, Mikhailovich Liapounov. The splashy original was transmuted into something altogether richer, with a razor-sharp NJSO making it seem like an excitable operatic overture – and like a lot of fun to play.

The fun continued with Borodin’s “Polovtsian Dances” from his opera “Prince Igor.” Järvi is a dab hand at making overly familiar scores come up as fresh as new paint. Enjoying himself, the conductor bobbed and swayed as he reinforced the rhythmic choreography. Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain” – a tone poem evoking a black Sabbath (and leading to Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring”) – was even better. The NJSO was at its most vivid in Rimsky-Korsakov’s swooping orchestration, with supple solos by the principal clarinet and flute players.

The Russian Romantics Festival has seen the Järvi/NJSO partnership reach a new level, their reflexes fully attuned to one another. That said, the team peaked early on Thursday. Rimsky-Korsakov’s concerto for orchestra, “Scheherazade,” should ravish a listener with its beauty, not merely sit there looking pretty. The performance was mostly too reticent, with Järvi seemingly out to classicize the piece.

Concertmaster Eric Wyrick’s frighteningly exposed violin solos as the voice of Sultana Scheherazade were poised, glistening. And by the time of the finale’s recapitulation of the big tune, the interpretation had caught fire, with surge and sweep replacing caution.

The encore, the best one in the festival, was an orchestration of Rachmaninoff’s dark-hued “Russian Song” by the NJSO’s new cover conductor, Arkady Leytush. Listeners left and right exited the hall murmuring about what a gorgeous send-off it was, with a very Russian-like winter night waiting outside.


Neeme Järvi maakt feest van Bruckners Zevende
12. februari 2007
Door Herman Rosenberg

Eén boe-roeper daargelaten wist dirigent Neeme Järvi zondagmiddag iedereen te overtuigen in de Philipszaal. Hij leidde het Residentie Orkest in een even magistrale als feestelijke vertolking van Bruckners meest geliefde symfonie, de Zevende.

Bij Järvi klinkt deze muziek glashelder; hij maakt van de lange lyrische passages minstens evenveel werk als van de extatische klankexplosies. Järvi accentueert ook de speelse en lichte elementen, waarmee hij afstand neemt van de traditionele, loodzware Bruckner-cultus.

Naast de voortreffelijk spelende kopersectie - met vooral in het adagio een opvallende rol voor de vier Wagner- tuba?s - vielen de strijkers op door een prachtige klank.

Voor de pauze klonk het Vioolconcert van Korngold, een tamelijk oppervlakkig werk. Zelfs een solist van formaat als Vadim Gluzman kan daar weinig aan veranderen. Des te mooier klonk de toegift, Glucks Dans van de zalige geesten, met de viool in de rol van de fluit.

Residentie Orkest: Korngold (vioolconcert), Bruck- ner (7de symfonie), Vadim Gluzman (solist). Gehoord: gistermiddag, Philipszaal, Den Haag.


NJSO plays it smooth
March 5, 2007
The Star-Ledger
Bradley Bambager

Veteran conductors tend to be considered sages, often with good reason, but sometimes a younger generation has the brighter ideas.

Paavo Järvi, son of New Jersey Symphony Orchestra music director Neeme Järvi, conducted Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie-Bremen in 2005 at Lincoln Center. This was a ripped, hurtling “Eroica,” one that hit the ears with a force that evoked what listeners must have felt when this revolutionary music was new.

A very different “Eroica” was heard Saturday at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, where Neeme Järvi led the NJSO in the latest installment of its season-long Beethoven cycle. This remade the composer’s heroic vision into something suave; however lovingly realized, the elder Järvi’s conception was more about beauty than truth.

With its comfy tempos and smooth phrasing, the first movement of the “Eroica” had lyricism, but little grandeur. The symphony’s Funeral March – what should be some of the most moving pages in all Beethoven – lacked tension and edge; death had little sting here. There was singing brass in the finale, but faster speeds and bolder accents were needed. Surely, Beethoven should do more than sing; he should also shout, stamp and grieve.

Yet the rest of the concert underlined why Neeme Järvi has been such a boon to the orchestra. The conductor has refreshed and broadened the NJSO’s repertoire. The weekend concerts (which also took place in Trenton and New Brunswick) featured the U.S. premiere of Rolf Martinsson’s “A.S. in Memoriam.”

The Swedish Martinsson, 50, dedicated the larger version of “A.S. in Memoriam” to Järvi, who debuted this work for strings with Sweden’s Gothenburg Symphony in 2001. The “A.S.” in the title is Arnold Schoenberg, with Martinsson’s inspiration coming from that composer’s early masterpiece for strings, “Transfigured Night” (which was once so evocatively described as sounding like Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” smeared on the page).

Although it assumes the post-Wagnerian, hot-house idiom of “Transfigured Night” and quotes directly from Schoenberg’s score, Martinsson’s 12-minute homage generally inhabits a milder emotional world. But Järvi underlined the ending’s relation to that of Arvo Pärt’s “Cantus for Benjamin Britten,” the NJSO’s strings rising in intense euphony before fading away at the end, perfectly.

Järvi has also introduced many young soloists from Scandinavia and the Baltic countries to NJSO audiences. This time, it was violinist Baiba Skride. The 26-year-old Latvian, another in a seemingly endless line of young female violinists with chops as well as charm, soloed in Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 2. With its first two movements slow and brooding, this is the opposite of a display piece.

But Skride showed her silvery legato and concentrated musicality, particularly in an Adagio like a long, sad dream. There was piquant call and response passed among Skride and the principal winds, but that wasn’t the only exchange. The soloist busted a string in the cadenza just before the finale; she barely missed a beat, quickly switching instruments with concertmaster Eric Wyrick before her mad dash to the end.

The encore was Sibelius’ “Valse Triste,” a favorite of both Järvi and his eldest son. Here, father knows best. Unlike Paavo’s more exaggerated way with this score, Neeme led a performance as rhythmically natural as a wave on water. It’s a strange, melancholy dance, moving from quiet nostalgia to false gaiety to bittersweet resignation. As the piece spun to a close, the NJSO strings were soft like a sigh, with Wyrick seeming to breathe the final notes, alone, on his reclaimed instrument.


Heino Elleri auhinna pälvis Neeme Järvi
7. märts 2007
Postimees Online

Eesti Teatri- ja Muusikamuuseumi esmakordselt välja antava Heino Elleri auhina saab dirigent Neeme Järvi. Muuseum kui Elleri pärandi hoidja ja autoriõiguste omanik asutas Suure Auhinna helilooja 120. sünniaastapäeva puhul.

Heino Elleri Suur Auhind on pisiskulptuur, mille on valmistanud kunstnik Jaan Pärn. Auhind antakse Neeme Järvile üle tema kevadisel kodumaa külastusel.


Järvi returns home to conduct DSO concerts
March 8, 2007
Detroit News
Lawrence B. Johnson

The stars (cosmic variety) must be in rare alignment across the Metro Detroit skies because this weekend brings an uncommon convergence of musical luminaries hereabouts.

The phenomenon can first be glimpsed Thursday night when Neeme Järvi, music director emeritus of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, comes “home” to conduct an ambitious program with the youngsters of the DSO Civic Orchestra after a recent European sojourn.

That concert features one of the world’s foremost violinists, Midori, in a performance of Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1.

The next night, Järvi begins a weekend series with the DSO – and Midori goes to Ann Arbor for a much-anticipated recital at Hill Auditorium Sunday afternoon.

Järvi, recalling summers past when he conducted youth ensembles at the Interlochen Academy of Arts, says he’s looking forward to the Civic Orchestra performance and that experience has taught him to expect remarkable things from teenage musicians.

“For me, working with young people is always a joy,” Järvi says in a telephone conversation from his home in New York City. “The results can be amazing. I really don’t know how they do it. Typically, I’ve found it’s like conducting any orchestra except they’re younger.”

The program to be tackled by this 115-member youth orchestra would get the serious attention of any professional ensemble. Besides accompanying Midori in the Bruch concerto, the youngsters will play Richard Strauss’ symphonic poem “Don Juan.” How hard is that? Well, Järvi notes that passages from “Don Juan” are often placed in front of musicians auditioning for jobs with top orchestras.

“The DSO’s training program for these kids is outstanding,” Järvi says. “Music education is so important now, when classical music is neglected in the public schools.”

With the DSO, Järvi leads the suite from Stravinsky’s light-hearted, neo-Baroque “Pulcinella” and Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 with another megastar, Lynn Harrell, as soloist.

“We’ve done both Shostakovich cello concertos many times in different places, and I always enjoy the experience,” says Järvi. “Lynn is a great musician, but very modest, even shy.”

As for coming back to Orchestra Hall and conducting his old band, Järvi speaks of that in glowing terms.

“It’s a very warm relationship, with the musicians and with the audience. Always when I walk onstage, there’s a big applause. It’s wonderful to see that the quality is still there. I love this orchestra and all the friendly people.”

Midor’s Ann Arbor recital with pianist Robert McDonald offers a characteristically wide range of music, from Beethoven’s Sonata No. 5 (“Spring”) to works by Hindemith and Strauss. Also notable is the Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara’s “Lost Landscapes” (2005), commissioned by the violinist.


Harrell, Järvi and DSO offer a dramatic Cello Concerto by Shostakovich
March 10, 2007
Detroit Free Press
Mark Stryker

Though the classical music world’s celebration of the Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) centennial officially ended on January 1, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra offers a trenchant coda to the party with this weekend?s performances of the Russian composer?s monumental Cello Concerto No. 1 with music director emeritus Neeme Järvi and soloist Lynn Harrell.

Written in 1959, this is one of Shostakovich’s most profound works, a beautiful nightmare rife with bitter memories, sardonic humor and delirious melancholy. A neurotic march sets a portentious tone with soloist and orchestra ricocheting between a menacing discontent and frenzied wail. The slow movement’s tragic lament simmers through the strings and solo horn before the cello grows impatient and wild. A ruminative solo cello cadenza explodes into a manic finale that winks at a favorite folk song of Stalin, deconstructing it into a mocking raspberry aimed at the departed dictator.

With its sweeping canvas, mercurial temperament, intensity and fiendish technical challenges, the concerto demands much of its interpreters. Harrell, Järvi and the DSO were a strikingly effective team Friday. Harrell connected eloquently with the work?s emotional core, at times injecting a wiry, gritty fury into his sound but also relaxing in the slow movement into an icy-hot transparency that was all the more heart-wrenching for his poise. The cadenza unfolded with the savvy pacing of a soliloquy by a veteran Shakespearean actor.

Järvi has always understood Shostakovich’s soul, and with the DSO still telepathically attuned to his instinct and ideas, he captured the full measure of the music?s moodiness and ferocity. Principal hornist Karl Pituch’s soaring solos were on the highest plane of expression.

The rest of the concert had its charms, but the mismatched set of pieces and the operatic weight of the concerto made everything else shrink in stature. The opener, Järvi’s rollercoaster ride through Stravinsky’s neo-classic “Suite From Pulcinella,” was loose around the edges, though trombonist Ken Thompkins and bassist Stephen Molina made the most of their animated dialogue.

The closer, Dvořák’s Serenade in E Major for String Orchestra found the ensemble blooming with rustic warmth and lithe phrasing under Järvi?s spontaneous baton. But coming after the concerto, the music sounded like a 25-minute encore; if the Dvořák and Shostakovich had switched places on the program, the concert would have had a more effective dramatic arc.


Järvi returns, and DSO’s colors fly
March 10, 2007
Detroit News
Lawrence B. Johnson

With its favorite maestro on the podium, virtuoso cellist Lynn Harrell as guest soloist and playing to a house packed with string teachers from all over the U.S., the Detroit Symphony Orchestra unfurled its brightest musical banners Friday night in delivering a celebratory concert at Orchestra Hall.

In part, the DSO’s weekend subscription concerts honor the American String Teachers Association, which has held its annual convention in Detroit over the last several days.

Neeme Järvi, who presided for 15 seasons as the DSO’s music director before stepping down in 2005, had put together a diverse but neatly integrated program and he drew from his old band the kind of heads-up, stylish playing that typified the last years of the Järvi era.

A chamber-size ensemble kicked off the evening with a witty, buoyant turn through Stravinsky’s neo-Baroque “Pulcinella” suite, a tuneful ballet fashioned after several works written by the 18th century Italian composer Giovanni Pergolesi and others of his time. Commedia dell’arte never seems far from either the merriment or pathos of “Pulcinella,” and Järvi and company sustained the music’s light textures and often raucous spirit with aplomb.

That cleared the air for a searingly intense account of Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1, in which Järvi and soloist Lynn Harrell displayed the kind of hand-in-glove union, the thinking and breathing together, that’s more often witnessed in chamber music.

At age 63, Harrell, for decades one of the world’s preeminent cellists, seems to have taken his mastery to a new level. To Shostakovich’s anxious, soulful, darkly brilliant concerto, Harrell brought a heart-stopping mix of tension, speed, power and delicacy. And Järvi matched the cellist’s every inflection, eliciting from the orchestra a concentrated, dramatically pointed collaboration.

To round off the night, Järvi offered a gentle tribute to the visiting string teachers - Dvořák’s Serenade in E for string orchestra, the music of a cloudless sky infused with the spirit of folk dances and general optimism. The DSO strings gave a performance of warmth and pliancy, a radiant conclusion to a memorable night.


NJSO celebrates Baltic influence
May 14, 2007
The Star-Ledger
Bradley Bambarger

Concerts can be like newscasts that relay not facts but emotional truths. The classics remind us that we share feelings with those who came before; the best contemporary music holds a mirror up to what it means to be human in the world today.

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s penultimate program of the season offers both sides of the story. Music director Neeme Järvi is back on the podium, with a brilliant Finnish violinist in tow, Pekka Kuusisto. They teamed for the concerto “Distant Light” by Latvian composer Peteris Vasks.

Like Järvi’s native Estonia, Latvia suffered under the Soviet yoke, so the 61-year-old Vasks grew up feeling both angst and hope; the power of his music is that the radiance seems brighter for the dark that often surrounds it. Although written in the ’90s, “Distant Light” seems fully attuned to a 21st century in which the health of the world feels threatened, a happy future possible but hardly assured.

Vasks wrote “Distant Light” for Gidon Kremer, but it would be hard to imagine a more inspired interpreter than Kuusisto. The boyish Finn, born in 1976, won the ’95 Sibelius Competition, and he has complemented his classical pursuits with forays into avant-jazz. Kuusisto has a perfect feel for the plaintive in Vasks, as well as his edge.

The half-hour “Distant Light” begins with the violin solo, whistling high and lonesome, but the instrument soon begins to voice a full, touching melody, with the orchestra coming in like a choir behind (in that very Eastern European way). In the three solo cadenzas, Kuusisto plucked, sawed and sang as if he were channeling the ghosts of folk fiddlers past, his rhythmic sense uncanny in its subtlety.

“Distant Light,” after traveling much emotional and textural ground, ends on a slightly more hopeful note than it began, with the whistling that returns more seraphic. The cumulative force of Friday’s performance at NJPAC left one emotionally unguarded; when Kuusisto returned to play an encore of solo Bach, it was overwhelming. The poetry of the Finn’s playing was almost vocal in its expressiveness, his phrasing inflected and tone shaded as if he were saying something deeply personal to everyone there.

Järvi and company had opened the concert with Haydn’s Symphony No. 95, the latest in the orchestra’s traversal of his “London” Symphonies and the cycle’s lone minor-key work. The performance was stylish, suffused with a vibrancy and warmth that Haydn must have. Brahms knew his Haydn, and his Symphony No. 2 is his most radiant, with the NJSO brass outdoing itself with pure-toned cascades in the first movement.

But the heart of the Brahms Second is its Adagio, a well of emotion that is as deep as anything he wrote (and he never wrote a superficial note). Here, the phrasing was rushed to start, the cellos not quite in tune. But Järvi soon settled the pulse, and if the orchestra never achieved the sort of power that the best European orchestras can achieve, the performance was affecting in its vulnerabilities.

At the end, the NJSO celebrated Järvi’s 70th birthday in advance. (It’s June 7.) For the occasion, NJSO violinist Darryl Kubian, also a composer, wrote a present for Järvi, “Maestro’s Waltz.” Straussian and jazzy by turns, the music was full of rhythmic lift and winking humor. As a musical portrait of the conductor, it was a perfect likeness.


The sweetest music
May 19, 2007
The Star-Ledger
Bradley Bambarger

Any frequenter of New Jersey Symphony Orchestra concerts surely would agree that music director Neeme Järvi’s tenure with the group has been a manifold gift – fresh repertoire, suppler performances and far more fun onstage, not to mention improved ticket sales.

On Thursday, at New Brunswick’s State Theatre, the NJSO returned the favor. The concert ended with a chorus of “Happy Birthday” and Järvi blowing out the candles on a cake on the first try. The conductor turns 70 on June 7. The NJSO season ends tomorrow, so the group made the most of Järvi’s big day beforehand – not only with cakes at each of the last few concerts but with a commemorative piece of music.

NJSO violinist Darryl Kubian is also a composer. Knowing Järvi’s pet love of encore pieces, Kubian wrote “Maestro’s Waltz” as a birthday present, affectionately echoing and sending up a whole history of encores. The orchestra debuted the piece last weekend and is including it again in the final concerts. Järvi and his players obviously relished the charm and humor in Kubian’s score, with the audience getting an audible kick out of it as well. If this conductor and orchestra need a theme tune, “Maestro’s Waltz” is it.

The season finale also winds up the NJSO’s Beethoven symphony cycle. Järvi began with an inspired Ninth last October, and there have generally been more exciting performances (such as guest conductor Peter Oundjian in the Seventh) than duds (like Gerard Schwarz in the “Pastoral”). This weekend’s Second Symphony finishes things on a winning note.

One of his dark horses, Beethoven’s Second Symphony didn’t sound at all like a lesser work on Thursday. Its mix of grandeur and lyricism came with a subtle dramatic tension, conveying the composer’s forward-looking spin on the models of Haydn and Mozart. Under Järvi, the NJSO has become a far more persuasive instrument in Classical-era music; this performance was emblematic, the orchestra’s strings singing but also dancing.

The program also features a pair of luminous rarities by Aaron Copland (the early “Two Pieces”), along with two works by Richard Strauss. The programmatic tone poem “Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks” was a prime influence on composers writing for classic cartoons, as the score follows a medieval German tale of a bumptious, rebellious knight (with the story apparently amusing, even though he winds up swinging from the gallows). It’s also a virtuoso show piece for any orchestra. The NJSO played with whooping flair, especially the soloists on horn and clarinet.

If “Till” is perhaps more fun to play than to listen to, that’s not the case with the gorgeous First Waltz Suite from Strauss’ opera “Der Rosenkavalier.” It’s hard to remember now, but the waltz wasn’t always strictly lighthearted, starting out as the erotically charged music of courtship. Waltzes should still have the surge of sensuality. Järvi and company offered ravishing timbres and even a sense of rhythmic abandon in their stylish hesitations and slides into phrases.

The NJSO carries its burdens, primarily looming debt and the sale of its collection of vintage string instruments. But Järvi’s puckish warmth and deepening rapport with the orchestra belied any of that. He led music-making that seemed free and effortless, which is as it should be – even though that’s only possible because the performers put enormous effort into it. Here’s looking forward to next season.


“Ich schwimme in der Musik”
Wir gratulieren: Neeme Järvi wird 70

Mai 21, 2007
Deutsch-Estnisches Forum
Aino Siebert

Die erste Musikerlebnisse meines Lebens sind fest mit dem Namen Neeme Järvi verbunden. Meine Mutter war eine absolute Liebhaberin der klassischen Musik und so konnte ich schon als 10-jährige Neeme Järvi im Jahre 1963, als er zum Chefdirigenten des Estonia-Theaters ernannt worden war, erleben. Der spätere weltberühmte Dirigent faszinierte mich von Anfang an mit seiner einmaligen Art die Musiker zu überzeugen und zu lenken. Seinen individuellen Stil, aber auch sein Begeisterungstalent hat der gefeierte Orchesterleiter bis heute behalten. Bis 1971, als ich nach Finnland umzog, ging ich regelmäßig in Estland zu seinen Konzerten. Er war einfach fantastisch! Uns Theater- und Konzertbesuchern schien es immer, dass seine Energie und Vitalität keine Grenzen hatte. Der Orchesterleiter konnte immer etwas neues, aufregendes liefern, auch wusste er bei den Kindern und Jugendlichen Begeisterung zur klassischen Musik erwecken. Nachdem ich Estland verlassen hatte, habe ich einige Jahre von Neeme Järvi nichts mehr gehört.

Meine erste persönliche Begegnung mit Neeme Järvi fand vor vier Jahren in der Frankfurter Alten Oper statt, als er in der Main-Metropole bei den Göteborger Sinfonikern Werke von Krieg und Sibelius dirigierte. Er war genau so wie in meinem Kindheitserinnerungen, zurückhaltend, aber doch offen.

Nein, nicht ganz - Neeme Järvi ist wie ein alter Wein, der mit den Jahren besser, reifer geworden ist, aber er war immer noch der jugendhafte Neeme Järvi, den ich am Anfang seiner Karriere 1963 im Estonia-Theater lieben und schätzen lernte. Auch seine Dirigentensöhne Paavo und Kristjan, die in Vaters Fußtapfen treten, und Tochter Maarika (Flöstistin) haben den gleichen Begeisterung zu Musik geerbt - sogar der kleine Lukas, der Sohn von Kristjan, wedelt schon professionell mit dem Taktstock auf dem Dirigentenpult. Die Järvi-Familie ist die beste Werbemarke, die Estland je zu bieten hatte, sie sind unsere Musikbotschafter der Herzen. Obwohl die Liilia Järvi es immer gelingt im Hintergrund zu stehen, ist ihre starke Rolle in der Familie spürbar. Auch bei den Järvis gilt - hinter einem erfolgreichen Mann steht immer eine starke Frau.

Neeme Järvi wird in Tallinn geboren
Am 7. Juni 1937, einige Jahre vor Kriegsanfang, wurde in der estnischen Hauptstadt Tallinn in der Familie von August und Elss Järvi der zweite Sohn Neeme geboren. Sein älterer Bruder Vallo Järvi (1923-1994), auch Dirigent, hatte damals schon mit seiner Musikausbildung begonnen. Für die höchst musikalischen Eltern, die Balalaika, Mandoline und Gitarre spielten, war im Zarenreich (Estland gehörte bis zum 1918 zu Russland) keine Musikerkarriere möglich und so setzten sie alle ihre Hoffnungen auf ihre Kinder. “Meine Mutter,” so Neeme Järvi in seinen Erinnerungen, “hatte einen sehr sonnigen Charakter. Außerdem kochte sie ausgezeichnet und hielt unsere Familie fest zusammen. Ihre positive Lebenseinstellung gab sie uns, aber auch meinen Kindern weiter.” Noten zu lesen lernte der begabte Junge schon im zarten Alter von drei Jahren von seinen älteren Bruder Vallo.

1941 griff Hitler-Deutschland die Sowjetunion an - der Krieg hat jetzt auch Estland erreicht. Vater Järvi, von den Sowjets einberufen(Estland war von Sowjets 1940 auf Grund Hitler-Stalin Paktes okkupiert worden), wurde mit anderen auf das berühmte Schiff “Eestirand” geschickt, das dann nach einem deutschen Luftangriff sank. Das Familienoberhaupt konnte sich zwar retten, starb aber einige Jahre später an seinen schweren Verletzungen.

Den zweiten Einmarsch der russischen Armee im Jahre 1944 empfand der 7-jährige als Unglück - nicht nur die Mutter wurde von Russen belästigt und terrorisiert, die Soldaten stahlen auch sein Pferd Selma. Als Neeme dann in die Grundschule ging, hatte er immer die Warnungen der Mutter in der Ohren: “Verstecke dich schnell, wenn du die Russen siehst”.

Erste Auftritte als Musiker
Seine erste Gastrollen als Musiker hatte Neeme Järvi als Xylophonspieler am estnischen Rundfunk im Jahre 1941. Den Krieg überlebte die Familie auf dem Land. Nach dem Kriegsende kehrten die Järvis nach Tallinn zurück. Die Eltern arbeiten zuerst als Nachtwächter, später erhielt die Mutter einen Job als Friseuse und der Familie ging es finanziell besser. 1946 fing der Junge mit dem Musikunterricht an. Sein Bruder Vallo unterschrieb zu dieser Zeit ein Dirigentenvertrag mit der Estonia-Theater, er blieb in diesem Amt 40 Jahren. Er war ein großes Vorbild für Neeme, der fast bei jeder Probe oder jedem Konzerte mitfieberte. Dann wurden die Musikträume wieder von der Politik überschattet. 1949 starteten die Sowjets zum zweiten Mal die großen Deportationen, auch diesmal wurden die Järvis nicht behelligt, aber die Geschehnisse hinterließen bei Neeme, so wie bei jeden anderen Esten, tiefe Spuren.

Zwei Jahre später stellte der junge Xylophonspieler fest, dass er Dirigent werden will. Diese Ziel im Augen, fängt er mit seiner Ausbildung an der Tallinner Musikschule an. Sein Taschengeld verdiente er nebenbei als Schlagzeugspieler im Symphonieorchester des estnischen Rundfunks. Das ermöglicht ihm alle Dirigenten, die aus Sowjetrepubliken nach Estland kommen, kennen zu lernen. Zur dieser Zeit hatte Neeme Järvi auch seine erste Soloauftritte.

Erste Schritte als Dirigent
Der erste öffentliche Auftritt als Dirigent erfolgte im Jahre 1954, Neeme Järvi leitete Ouvertüre aus der Operette von Johann Strauss “Nacht in Venedig”. Er ist 17 Jahre alt und kann seine erste Auslandsreise antreten. Als Orchestermitglied trat er in mehreren finnischen Städten auf und verliebte sich dort zum ersten Mal: “Wir hielten unsere Hände fest und mag sein, dass ich meinen ersten Kuss bekam. Das war eine niedliche Zeit,” erzählt der Dirigent. Zur diese Zeit fing der Musiker auch an Schallplatten zu sammeln und Vertonungen aus dem Radio aufzunehmen. Seine Lieblingen waren Schostakowitsch, Prokofjew und Strawinski.

Studium in St. Peterburg
Als Neeme Järvi 1955 die Tallinner Musikschule beendet, muss er für sein Weiterstudium nach Leningrad (jetzt St. Petersburg) - am estnischen Konservatorium war die Dirigentenklasse abgebaut. Das junge Talent schafft mühelos die Aufnahmenprüfungen in der dortigen prominenten Musikhochschule, sein erste Lehrer ist der Dirigent des Kirow (jetzt Marijnsky)-Theaters, Juri Gamalei.

“Gamalei war ein großer Spezialist der russischen Musik, er gab mir viele Gelegenheiten selbst zu dirigieren. Als Dank dafür haben sich “meine Hände eröffnet”, erinnert sich Järvi. Seine Studienzeit fiel glücklicherweise zusammen mit Nikita Chruschtschows Öffnungspolitik - nach Sowjetunion kamen viele gefeierte Symphonieorchester, so bekam der junge Neeme Järvi die Möglichkeit Pierre Monteux´ und Charles Munch´ von den Bostoner Symphonikern, aber auch Adrian Boult´ vom London Philharmonic Orchestra und Herbert von Karajan von den Wiener Philharmoniker zu hören.

“Wir standen drei Tage und Nächte Schlange um Tickets zu bekommen. In der Nacht versuchten wir im Park auf der Bank etwas zu schlafen. Man musste sich jede halbe Stunde wieder auf die Liste zu setzen, sonst wurde Name gestrichen”, erzählt der Maestro. Als Juri Gamalei den Konservatorium verlässt, geht Järvi zu Prof. Nikolai Rabinowitsch um ihn zu fragen, ob er in seiner Klasse weiter studieren kann.

“Dirigiertechnik hat Rabinowitsch mit nicht beigebracht, er hat mir nur das Handzittern gelehrt. Später habe ich aber gemerkt, dass die großen deutschen Orchesterleiter das gleiche tun: sie dirigieren zwar im Takt, aber zwischen dem Schlag gehen irgendwelche tremoli durch die Hände. Im übrigen, so hat auch Wilhelm Furtwängler dirigiert. Rabinowitsch hat sich an der westlichen Musik orientiert und so bekamen wir auch unsere Erkenntnisse. Er war ein Perlpädagoge,” schreibt Järvi in seinen Memoiren.

Erste Erfolge und erste Probleme mit den Sowjetbehörden
1957 gewann Neeme Järvi seinen ersten Dirigentenwettbewerb in Moskau. Drei Jahre leitete er noch als Student am jetzigen Marijnsky-Theater in St. Peterburg Georges Bizet´ “Carmen”. Was für ein Erfolg! Als damals 22-jähriger ist er der jüngste Dirigent in der Geschichte des großartigen Theaters.

Nach dem Studium kam Neeme Järvi als diplomierter Orchesterleiter zurück in die Heimat, als frisch gebackener Dirigent des estnischen Rundfunkssymphonieorchester leitete er die Erstaufführung “Nekroloog” des heute weltbekannten Komponisten Arvo Pärt, der damals noch Student war.

1966 dirigierte Järvi in Tallinn auch die Weltpremiere der 2. Symphonie, zwei Jahre später das “Credo” von Pärt, beide Maestros sind bis heute Freunde geblieben. Der Sohn Paavo Järvi dirigierte vor kurzem mit Symphonieorchester des hessischen Rundfunks die 3. Sinfonie von Pärt, das Neeme Järvi gewidmet ist als Dank für Loyalität. Arvo Pärt hatte schon 1968 große Schwierigkeiten mit der kommunistischen Zensur. Obwohl “Credo” ein absoluter Erfolg war, war die Aufführung von den Behörden nicht genehmigt worden, Neeme Järvi dirigierte das Konzert aber trotzdem und übernahm als Orchesterleiter die Verantwortung, als die Zensurbehörden ihn zur Rechenschaft zogen.

Privatglück krönt die berufliche Forschritte
Nicht nur beruflich, auch privat ging es bei Neeme Järvi vorwärts - er heiratete seine Liilia, die er während seines Studiums in Leningrad kennen lernte. Die in Wladiwostok geborene Braut fing an unter der Führung von Oma Järvi fleißig Estnisch zu lernen. 1962 wurde der Familie Sohn Paavo, heute auch ein weltgefragter Dirigent, geboren. Zwei Jahre später kam Tochter Maarika, heute eine bekannte Flötistin, zu Welt. Als Nesthäkchen bekamen die Järvis 1972 den zweiten Sohn Kristjan, auch er ist ein bedeutender Dirigent und Pianist. In der Welt spricht man heutzutage von der “Järvi-(Dirigenten-) Maffia”.

Neeme Järvi wurde in der Sowjetunion immer bekannter, er dürfte auch im Ausland dirigieren und mit großen Solisten arbeiten. Er selbst erzählt von dieser Zeit: “Ich habe eigentlich in einer sehr spannenden Musikzeit gelebt und konnte mit großen, legenderen Musikern arbeiten. Außer Emil Gilels hatte ich als Solisten David Oistrahh, Maria Grinberg, Tatjana Nikolajewa, Leonid Kogan, Mstislaw Rotropowitsch. Nikolajewa kannte ich schon lange, ihre Blütezeit im Ausland begann erst nach dem Zerfall der Sowjetunion, dann wollte sie jeder einladen. Mein Sohn Kristjan besuchte in Salzburg Nikolajewas Meisterkurse und war begeistert.”

Neeme Järvi stellt seinen Ausreiseantrag, aus dem gelobten Dirigenten wird ein “Verräter”
Obwohl die Karriere von Neeme Järvi in Sowjetunion steil war und er auch im Ausland auftreten dürfte, beantragte er im Herbst 1979 als Chefdirigent des estnischen Staatlichen Symphonieorchester entlassen zu werden. Seinen Ausreiseantrag hatte er schon zuvor gestellt. Am 1. Oktober dirigierte Neeme Järvi zum letzten Mal in Tallinn, im Programm stand fast revolutionär ein Debüt der 10. Symphonie von Eduard Tubin (ein estnischer Komponist, der 1944 vor Russen nach Schweden flüchtete).

Damit war Neeme Järvi für die UdSSR gestorben, seine Auftritte wurden nicht mehr ausgestrahlt. Ihm ging es genau so wie vielen anderen begabten Künstlern, wie Galina Wischnewskaja, Mstislaw Rostropowitsch etc., die es wagten sich gegen das Sowjetregime zu stellen.

Der talentierte Musiker, der einst viel Ruhm für die Sowjetunion brachte, wurde jetzt zum “Verräter der sowjetischen Heimat” und zur Persona non grata gestempelt. Alle schriftliche Hinweise auf Neeme Järvi wurden vernichtet. Seine 300 aufgenommenen Konzerte wurden nur noch ab und zu anonym im Rundfunk gespielt.

Als wäre das noch nicht genug - der KGB fing im ganzem Land an Verleumdungen zu ausstreuen - “Ex-Stardirigent lebt in den USA als Straßenmusiker”. Die Administration konnte es nicht verkraften, dass der “Verräter” Järvi ein Gigant in der westlichen Musikwelt wurde. Bald darauf verließ auch der Notenkünstler Arvo Pärt seine Heimat - in Sowjet-Estland musste er für 8 Jahren verstummen, im Westen erlebte Pärt eine neue Renaissance zu Beglückung jeden Musikfreundes.

Neeme Järvi war nicht einverstanden mit der Kulturpolitik des Kommunistischen Partei, die von ihm verlangte, dass seine ausländische Konzerte vom Kultusministerium genehmigt werden müssen und seine Honorare an die Staatskasse zu zahlen sind. Außerdem erkrankte sein Sohn Paavo. “In der Tallinner Musikschule bekam jeder Schüler eine Tetanusimpfung, was bei einigen einen allergischen Ausfall auslöste. So etwas muss vorher getestet werden, aber von der Obrigkeit kam der Befehl: Jeder wird geimpft”, erzählte Järvi. “Weil wir unseren Ausreiseantrag schon gestellt hatten, bekamen wir keine Medikamente. Die Ärzte hatten Angst, sich gegen den Parteibefehl zu stellen. Der Junge wurde sehr krank, seine Nieren arbeiteten nicht mehr ordentlich so dass er extrem zunahm. Als wir in den Staaten ankamen, wurde Paavo schnell geheilt. Ich möchte gar nicht denken, was passiert wäre, wenn wir länger in Estland geblieben wären.”

Neue Anfang in der USA
In den USA kamen die Järvis im Januar 1980 an. Dort zog er die Bilanz seines bisherigen Lebens als Sowjetbürger: “Als ich noch in dem von den Sowjets okkupierten Estland lebte, musste ich vieles Unnützes machen. Ich musste die Diktatur verlassen, ich musste mir die Freiheit nehmen, selbst zu denken und entscheiden. Nachhinein erkenne ich, dass ich schon früher hätte weggehen müssen. Wir verließen das Land mit der ganzen Familie, deswegen hatte nie jemand Heimweh. In Amerika ist eine große estnische Kolonie, wir wurden dort sehr herzlich aufgenommen. In Estland sind damals leider viele gute Freunde geblieben, mit denen war dann schwer Kontakt zu halten. Auch viele Briefe sind nie angekommen,” erinnert sich Järvi.

Karriere im Westen
Im Westen begann Neeme Järvi als freier Künstler, er gab seine Debütkonzerte mit dem New York Filharmonie Orchestra (Vertretung für den kranken Bernard Haitink) und dem Philadepia Orchestra für Jewgeni Swetlanow - der in der UdSSR festgehalten wurde. “Eigentlich hatten wir keine Anfangsschwierigkeiten. Mein Name war schon bekannt und nach dem kurzen Gewöhnungszeit konnte ich mich nach Arbeit umschauen,” sagt der Dirigent.

1982 wurde Neeme Järvi Chefdirigent der Göteborger Sinfoniker, diesen Posten hatte er bis 2004 inne. Daneben übernahm er auch die Leitung des Royal Scottish National Orchestra und bis 2005 des Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Derzeit ist der weltberühmte Este Musikdirektor des New Jersey Symphony Orchestra und des Residentie Orkest Den Haag.

Neeme Järvi zählt mit weit über 350 Aufnahmen zu den Dirigenten mit den meisten Tonaufnahmen. Kein anderer Dirigent hat dermaßen viele unbekannte Werke auf Tonträgern verfügbar gemacht. Seine Verdienste um unbekannte romantische und gemäßigte moderne Werke suchen daher ihresgleichen. Seine außerordentliche Musikalität und Werkdurchdringung sowie Verträge mit qualitätsorientierten Plattenfirmen, wie beispielsweise der schwedischen BIS und der britischen Chandos, sichern praktisch bei allen seinen Aufnahmen ein hohes musikalisches und klangliches Niveau.

Lieber Maestro - herzlichen Glückwunsch zu Ihrem 70. Geburtstag und bitte encore (Zugabe), noch viele weitere Jahre!

Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Edinburgh International Festival 2007

Eller Dawn
Eller Twilight
Sibelius Symphony No 4
de Falla The Three Cornered Hat: Suites 1 and 2

The RSNO appointed Neeme Järvi as its Conductor Laureate for Life after a hugely successful period as its Principal Conductor. Today, Järvi is one of the busiest conductors around, with a string of awards to his credit.

The programme includes Sibelius’ dark and foreboding fourth symphony and de Falla’s exciting and lively ballet suite The Three Cornered Hat.

What the critics say:
“Järvi held the performance together with an iron will, gleaning levels of brilliance from the orchestra only the best conductors elicit.”


Estonia’s Järvi family hold reunion concert in Tallinn
May 27, 2007
Anneli Reigas

TALLINN (AFP) - Nearly 30 years after Neeme Järvi took his family and left the Soviet Union for the United States, the conductor from tiny Estonia who has become a global music giant will hold a homecoming concert in Tallinn that spans the generations.

Sharing the conductor’s baton with Järvi for the concert in the Estonia Concert Hall in Tallinn on Saturday will be his sons, Paavo and Kristjan. Daughter Maarika, a flautist, will be a featured solo artist in the concert, while a handful of Neeme’s grandchildren will be in the audience. The entire family will be travelling to Estonia especially for the concert, with Grammy-award winner Paavo arriving at the last minute because of professional commitments in Germany.

The concert is not only a birthday celebration for Järvi, who will be 70 on June 7, but also a homecoming for the entire family, which has kept alive its love of Estonia despite long years spent outside the Baltic state.

“Although my family and I have been living far away from our homeland for 27 years, we have always remained attached to our Estonian roots,” Järvi told AFP. “It’s a great honour to be a member of a tiny nation of around only one million people that has survived wars and occupations by Russians, Germans and even Danes and Swedes,” said Järvi, who is currently chief conductor of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in the United States.

After working for 17 years as a conductor in his native Estonia, which was a Soviet republic from 1945 until 1991, Järvi took his wife Liilia and three children and fled the Soviet Union in 1980. With just 200 US dollars to his name, he emigrated to the United States, where he was immediately snapped up by Columbia Artists. His debut concerts in exile were with major US orchestras : the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

“When I left the Soviet Union it was like a prison - whenever I was invited to conduct in the West, it was up to Moscow to decide whether I could go. And they never let me take the kids,” he said. “When we finally left the empire behind, with almost no money, the new job proposals came very quickly. I learnt from that, that if you want to open the door to new opportunities, you have to be free to take those opportunities.”

Järvi will share the baton with his sons Paavo and Kristjan at Saturday’s sold-out concert. They will conduct the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, with Maarika featuring as a solo artist on the flute. Tenor Juhan Tralla will be the featured soloist of the Estonian National Male Choir, which is also taking part in the concert of Sibelius’ Finlandia, movements of the Aladdin Suite by Nielsen; and works by Liszt and Estonian composers Tormis, Kapp and Eller.

For 44-year-old Paavo, conducting an orchestra is a childhood dream come true. “As a kid I used to sit for hours at the concert hall, watching my father’s rehearsals and dreaming that perhaps one day it will be me standing in front of the orchestra,” said Paavo, who won a Grammy award in 2003 for his recordings of Sibelius cantatas. Paavo is currently lead conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in the United States, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, and regularly guest conducts around the world.

Kristjan conducts the Vienna Tonkunstler Symphony Orchestra, and is artistic director of the New York Absolute Ensemble, which has a repertory running from Renaissance to rock music. He established the ensemble in 1993. From their outposts around the world, the Järvi family watched with dismay the riots that rocked Tallinn in April, triggered when a monument to Soviet soldiers who fought fascism in World War II was removed from the centre of the city.

Paavo thinks he has a solution to the violence that erupted in the riots and the ensuing anti-Estonian rhetoric from Moscow. “We should start changing the way we teach history at school,” he told AFP. “It would be much better to teach kids history through music history, because if we keep teaching history the way we do now, from one war to the next, we will continue to raise our kids with the wrong mentality,” said the father of two, who admits that, as a child, he didn’t know “that some families do something else for a job, other than music.”

For Estonians, the Järvi family concert is a reminder of the role music has played in the country’s history.

Estonians sang their way through the Soviet occupation that began at the end of World War II, and with their “Singing Revolution” – peaceful, musical demonstrations in the late 1980s – opened the gates to renewed independence in 1991. In 1979, when she was 11 years old, Jana Vaabel attended the last concert Järvi conducted in Tallinn before taking his family out of the Soviet Union. “All of us here in Estonia feel great pride at having produced such world-class musicians,” the now 38-year-old hairdresser told AFP.Vaabel was unable to get tickets to the concert but intends to go along to the concert hall on Saturday to see if anyone is selling a seat.

“Темное дело” Неэме Ярви
1 июня 2007 года
День за Днём
Тамара Унанова

Он фанатически предан музыке и считает, что „счастье приходит, когда становишься за дирижерский пульт или находишь новую интересную партитуру...”

7 июня маэстро Неэме Ярви исполняется 70 лет. Он отметит свой юбилей на гастролях во Франции: Гаагский Резиденц-оркестр, возглавляемый им с нынешнего сезона, исполнит Первую симфонию Малера на фестивале в Меце.

Ну, а начало юбилейным торжествам было положено на родине, в Таллинне. В минувшую субботу в зале „Эстония” состоялся концерт, посвященный 70-летию маэстро.

И хотя каждое выступление Неэме Ярви с Эстонским государственным симфоническим оркестром – событие и для музыкантов, и для дирижера, ведь это бывший его оркестр. Нынешний концерт стал событием вдвойне.

Три плюс одна
Согласитесь, нечасто можно увидеть и услышать в одном концерте трех дирижеров, носящих одну фамилию, и прекрасную флейтистку, дочь главы семейства.

Это как раз тот редкий случай, который опровергает мнение, что природа отдыхает на детях. Ярви – удивительно гармоничная семья, где все занимаются одним любимым делом – музыкой, что вовсе не исключает поисков каждым своего, индивидуального пути.

Естественно, что в программе концерта отразились интересы, вкусы и пристрастия каждого представителя семьи Ярви.

Пааво Ярви, старший сын маэстро, ученик знаменитого Леонарда Бернстайна, – ныне один из самых востребованных дирижеров мира. С 2001 года он возглавляет симфонический оркестр Цинциннати, считается специалистом по Сибелиусу: вместе со Стокгольмским королевским филармоническим оркестром он записал много пластинок с его музыкой на фирме EMI, а диск с кантатами финского классика, записанный им совместно с нашим оркестром (ЕГСО), в 2003 году получил премию „Грэмми” – первую для Эстонии. Прозвучавшая в первом отделении концерта симфоническая поэма Сибелиуса „Финляндия” (для хора и оркестра) стала смысловым центром северной, скандинавской части программы, в которой главное место заняли сочинения эстонских композиторов Хейно Эллера, Виллема Каппа и Вельо Тормиса.

Маарика Ярви, в репертуаре которой – все существующие концерты для флейты с оркестром эстонских композиторов, блистательно солировала в оригинальном сочинении для хора и флейты Вельо Тормиса и в „Трех пьесах” Эллера, исполненных вместе со струнным оркестром и Кристьяном Ярви. Талант последнего наиболее ярко раскрылся при исполнении „Сюиты Аладдина” датского композитора Карла Нильсена. Эта музыка, яркая, эффектная, по-театральному красочная, была написана к спектаклю по пьесе „Аладдин”. В лице Кристьяна Ярви музыка нашла идеального дирижера: темпераментного, артистичного, импульсивного и очень пластичного, с дирижерским почерком, весьма отличающимся от более сдержанного стиля старшего брата Пааво Ярви.

Но главным героем минувшего вечера был сам маэстро Неэме Ярви. Хотя, наверное, правильнее сказать – музыка, которую он исполнял: ведь, как все настоящие музыканты, он лишь слуга ее, верный и преданный рыцарь.

Служить музыке
„Надо служить композитору, надо служить публике. И очень важно, чтобы дирижер и музыкант оркестра были истинными профессионалами и фанатично относились к своему делу. Чтобы они наслаждались музыкой, которую исполняют”, – говорит Неэме Ярви, и в искренности его слов нельзя усомниться.

Наблюдая за ним на репетиции, понимаешь, что этот всемирно признанный дирижер, увенчанный самыми престижными наградами и званиями, словно ребенок, увлеченный любимой игрой, не утратил главного свойства, отличающего подлинный талант, – свойства удивляться и восхищаться и заражать этими чувствами других. „Чем старше ты становишься, тем больше у тебя знаний и навыков, тем богаче ты в профессиональном плане. И хотя профессия дирижера – да и вообще музыканта – требует огромного труда, она приносит колоссальное наслаждение. Исполняя музыку великих композиторов, всегда получаешь ни с чем не сравнимое удовольствие. А еще перед нами стоит задача принести радость публике, пришедшей на концерт. Когда это удается, происходит взаимное обогащение и момент сотворчества. Но для этого надо суметь увлечь оркестр, чтобы каждому музыканту, сидящему даже за последним пультом, было интересно. Если это получается, счастлив дирижер, счастлив оркестр, счастлива публика”.

По-моему, на прошедшем юбилейном концерте маэстро несчастливых не наблюдалось. Кульминацией концерта стало исполнение ЭГСО, Эстонским национальным мужским хором и солистом Юханом Тралла „Фауст-симфонии” Листа, которой дирижировал Неэме Ярви. Это крупнейшее сочинение Листа нечасто звучит в концертных залах. Последний раз оно было исполнено ЭГСО в 1999 году, и нынешнее исполнение как бы вновь вернуло его к жизни, передав атмосферу, которой проникнута эта музыка, полная контрастов, романтической взволнованности и философской глубины.

„Это величайшая симфония, и я считаю несправедливым, что в отличие от фортепианных сочинений Листа, она, как и его „Данте-симфония”, оказалась в тени. Мне хотелось возвратить ее публике и оркестру – и освежить репертуар оркестра и свой. Я дирижирую самые разные сочинения от Моцарта до Малера, от Вагнера до Шостаковича, но не хочу повторяться. Поэтому и взял сочинение Листа, композитора, бывшего, на мой взгляд, центральной фигурой в период, предшествовавший смене музыкальных стилей, и оказавшего огромное влияние на многих композиторов будущего времени... К сожалению, жизнь коротка, не успеваешь читать все партитуры – это целое море музыки. Но я стараюсь все время открывать что-то новое. В любом возрасте. Чем больше открытий, тем ты богаче”.

„Мой русский мир
Из всех определений профессии дирижера Неэме Ярви любит цитировать знаменитое высказывание Римского-Корсакова: „Дирижирование – дело темное”. Во-первых, потому, что он вообще предпочитает не говорить о музыке, а „делать” ее – на своих концертах и репетициях, а также на мастер-классах в Летней академии в Пярну, куда приезжает уже не первый год. А во-вторых, потому что учился в Ленинградской консерватории, носящей имя великого русского композитора.

„Это было очень счастливое время, – говорит маэстро. – До сих пор я не могу привыкнуть к названию „Петербург”, для меня он так и остался Ленинградом. Это город моих учителей – Николая Семеновича Рабиновича и Евгения Александровича Мравинского. Благодаря им я сейчас могу музицировать. Я наслаждаюсь тем богатством знаний, которое они мне передали в годы учебы. В студенческие годы я покупал дешевые карманные партитуры, изданные в ГДР, и до сих пор ими пользуюсь, теперь, правда, очки приходится надевать, чтобы читать их. Кстати, сейчас я читаю мемуары одного старого ленинградца о времени НЭП и нахожу очень много параллелей с нынешней Россией. Да, меня интересует политика, особенно сейчас. Мне кажется, что многие нынешние проблемы возникли оттого, что русские не знают эстонской истории советского периода. Но я не хочу ставить знак равенства между Советским Союзом и Россией и русским народом. Между политикой и культурой. Я не люблю советскую политику. Я люблю Римского-Корсакова, Чайковского, Рахманинова... Это мой русский мир. И когда я еду в Ленинград или Москву, я еду к своим русским друзьям. Музыка должна объединять людей, и это на самом деле так”.

Справка „ДД”:
Неэме Ярви родился 7 июня 1937 года в Таллинне. Окончил Таллиннское музыкальное училище (специальности „ударные инструменты” и „хоровое дирижирование”) и Ленинградскую консерваторию („симфоническое и оперное дирижирование”). Учился в аспирантуре под руководством Е.Мравинского.

С 1960 года – дирижер, с 1963 по 1979-й – главный дирижер симфонического оркестра Эстонского радио и телевидения (ныне ЭГСО). В 1963-1975 годах – главный дирижер театра „Эстония”. 1971 год – победитель VI Международного конкурса дирижеров Музыкальной академии „Санта-Чечилия” в Риме.

С 1980 года живет с семьей в США. С 1980 по 2000 год был главным дирижером Гетеборгского симфонического оркестра, Шотландского Королевского оркестра, Детройтского симфонического оркестра, главным приглашенным дирижером Японского филармонического оркестра. Ныне – главный дирижер Гаагского Резиденц-оркестра и симфонического оркестра Нью-Джерси.

Обладатель множества званий и наград, в том числе титула „Эстонец столетия”, премии „Грэмми”, ордена Северной звезды Королевства Швеции.


For NJSO’s Järvi, a homeland welcome
June 3, 2007
The Star-Ledger
Mary Ellyn Hutton

TALLINN, Estonia – Non-person? Outcast?
Hardly. When conductor Neeme Järvi celebrated his 70th birthday concert with the Estonian National Orchestra here last Saturday in the Estonia Concert Hall, he was introduced by Estonian President Toomas Ilves himself.

Ilves recalled a time when Järvi, now music director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, was heidik (Estonian for “outcast”) in his native land. Recordings were released without his name and not credited to him on Estonian Radio. Articles, pictures and references to him were deleted from magazines and newspapers.

“Soldiers worked all night to take them out,” Järvi recalled at a breakfast the day after the concert.

Järvi, his wife Liilia and their three children left Estonia in 1980 and came to the U.S., where they lived first with a family in Rumson, N.J. One of the Soviet Union’s best known conductors, he was weary of the ceaseless restrictions on his activities. The last straw was in 1979, when he clashed with authorities over an unauthorized performance of Arvo Pärt’s Credo.

Järvi was welcomed back with open arms after Estonia regained its independence in 1991. His fame spread far and wide after leaving the Soviet Union, and he remains one of the world’s best known living Estonians.

“We are very proud we have a person like Neeme,” said Andres Siitan, executive director of ERSO (the orchestra’s Estonian acronym). “He is, of course, a very big legend. Many people still remember when he was here, and when he returns, it is always a big event.”

Pärt was in the audience for the sold-out jubilee concert (Järvi’s actual birthday is June 7), as were composers Veljo Tormis, Peeter Vähi and Eino Tamberg, conductor Olari Elts and pianist Vardo Rumessen, all Estonians, and Swedish sculptress Britt-Marie Jern, creator of the bronze bust of Järvi unveiled in the lobby before the concert.

Most important to Järvi was the presence of his entire family. Sons Paavo and Kristjan, both conductors, and daughter Maarika, a flutist, shared the stage with him. It was the first time they have all performed together. The six Järvi grandchildren, plus numerous in-laws, nieces, nephews and cousins, were either at the concert or the family breakfast the next day.

Born in Tallinn, Järvi studied at the Leningrad Conservatory under some of the great Russian maestros, including Nikolai Rabinovich and the legendary Yvgeny Mravinsky, conductor of the Leningrad Philharmonic. He began conducting the Estonian Radio Orchestra (predecessor of the ERSO) in 1960 and served as its chief conductor from 1963-1979, as well as head of the Estonian National Opera (1963-1975). In 1971, he became a national hero by winning first prize in the International Conductors Competition in Rome.

Järvi’s other posts have included chief conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony (National Orchestra of Sweden) and music director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. From 1990-2005, he was music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

He became music director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in 2005 and is also chief conductor of the Hague Residentie Orchestra in the Netherlands and principal guest conductor of the Japan Philharmonic. His repertory encompasses 417 recordings.

Järvi’s future with the NJSO (his contract expires at the end of next season) “depends on our relationship, what we’re going to do,” he said. “We have one problem. This is our stringed instruments, which we bought (the Golden Age collection of 30 rare instruments, including a dozen Stradivarius violins, purchased by the orchestra in 2003 and currently for sale).

“A very good idea, but it cost money. It’s not $1 million, it’s $18 million, and you have to pay for that. ... We don’t have such a large endowment. We have to find a way to change things with less, not to make such big programs with special, extra musicians. But music may still be exciting.

“People don’t know very much (about) our problems,” he concluded. “They are just coming to concerts to be happy. We will continue to make music. The orchestra is excited, we’re a fantastic team. Contracts you can adjust.”

Järvi carefully hand-picked the program for his birthday concert in Tallinn: Liszt’s “Faust” Symphony and a sheaf of Nordic music, including works by Estonians Villem Kapp, Tormis and Heino Eller, Danish composer Carl Nielsen and Finland’s Jean Sibelius.

Järvi led Kapp’s “Põhjarannik” (North Coast), Tormis’ “Kolm mul oli kaunist sõna” (I Had Three Beautiful Words) and the Liszt. Paavo conducted Sibelius’ “Finlandia.” Kristjan led Eller’s Three Pieces for Flute and String Orchestra (orchestrated by New Yorker Charles Coleman) and three movements of Nielsen’s “Aladdin” Suite.

A key participant was the Estonian National Male Choir. “If there is one great institution that is like the Estonian National Orchestra, it is the male choir,” Järvi said. Heard in five of the six works on the program (all but the Eller), it was a unifying presence.

The Estonia, a handsome Jugendstil building dating from 1913, is where Järvi served as chief conductor of the ERSO and the Estonian National Opera. The concert hall, a gracious shoebox with blue velvet seats (red is not so popular in former Communist Eastern Europe), seats 889. Eight cameras, two onstage, ringed the hall. The stage was flanked with white roses and purple irises.

Järvi’s trademark blue handkerchief peeked from the breast pocket of his formal long coat by Estonian designer Arne Niit, who also created Maarika’s black gown ornamented with tufts of blue, white and black (Estonia’s national colors). Brothers Paavo and Kristjan dressed more conservatively in a mandarin jacket and a charcoal sport coat, respectively.

Kapp’s 1958 tone poem, very popular in Estonia, opened on a heroic note. Tormis’ genial work juxtaposed Maarika’s perky, birdlike flute against verses tapered just-so by the male choir. Later, Maarika painted Eller’s nature sketches deftly (valley, river, meadow).

Kristjan nearly stole the show with Nielsen’s “Aladdin,” a splashy work with its lumbering “Oriental Festival March,” quadraphonic “Marketplace at Ispahan” and blazing “Negro Dance,” the last two movements pumped with octane by the male choir.

“Finlandia” had implicit political resonance in light of the riot by Russian-speaking Estonians in late April, following the government’s removal of the Bronze Soldier – a monument to the Soviet “liberation” (occupation) of Estonia in World War II – from Tõnismägi square in Tallinn.

Sibelius’ nationalistic work bristled more than usual in Paavo’s hands, the undercurrent of string tremolo and timpani during the fervent hymn a reminder that tiny Estonia (1.3 million residents) remains vulnerable to nearby Russia.

“When the Soviets came, 10,000 people were sent by animal cars to Siberia to die,” said Järvi. “It was the beginning of hell for Estonia. It became a military base for the Soviet Union.”

Estonia was caught in a vise between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, he continued. Soviet dictator Stalin forcibly annexed Estonia in 1940 pursuant to the secret Molotov-Ribbentropp Pact, whereby he and Hitler agreed to carve up Europe. When Germany turned on the Soviet Union, Estonia became a battleground, with soldiers conscripted by both sides.

“There was a Soviet-Estonian military, then Hitler came and the rest became Hitler/SS military. Fathers, brothers and sons were fighting each other. They had to, because otherwise they would be killed. Nobody understands this situation,” Järvi said.

Järvi led a powerful, soulful Liszt. He conducted subtly, but with every sinew, allowing the listeners to feel the desolation in “Faust,” the interweaving of the lovers’ themes in “Gretchen” and the swelling emotion at the end of “Mephistopheles,” as Faust’s redemption was announced by the choir and Estonian tenor Juhan Tralla. Rhythmic clapping accompanied Järvi’s bows. (Pärt could be seen tapping triplets.) He clasped the musicians’ hands, then waved to the crowd, signaling that there would be no encore, an uncharacteristic decision.

The concert was taped by Jason Starr of Cultural Media Collaborative in New York for a projected DVD. The concert will air on Estonian TV in late July. Also in town to work on a video documentary about the Järvi family was Manfred Scheyko of Hessische Rundfunk in Frankfurt.

Järvi is an orchestra builder, whose legacy to Estonian music was symbolized at a post-concert reception, where he was presented with a scroll listing the programs he has led with the orchestra since 1956.

“I have a philosophy,” said Järvi. “It doesn’t matter where I’m working. Music is music for me. I like to make music and make people happy with music.”


Tuntud ja tundmatu maestro Neeme Järvi 70
7. juuni 2007
Virve Normet

Täna saab Neeme Järvi 70-aastaseks. Nagu ta ise jutustas, on juubelipidustused nii tema praeguses „koduorkestris” New Jersey Sümfooniaorkestris kui ka Hollandis Haagi Residentorkestris juba mitu nädalat tagasi alanud.

Kingituseks komponeeritud „Maestro-valsski” mitu korda „üllatuslikult” publikule ette kantud. Eesti Riiklik Sümfooniaorkester ja muusikaavalikkus tähistas 26. mail oma kunagise peadirigendi juubelit kontserdiga, kus maestro kõrval astusid üles ka tema kolm last, flötist Maarika ning dirigendid Paavo ja Kristjan.

Neeme Järvi tulek orkestri ette on alati nagu päikesepaiste keset põhjamaist halli...

Suhted orkestriga
Neeme Järvi: „Proov ei ole midagi muud kui musitseerimine, nagu oleksid juba kontserdil. Selle feeling’u peab orkester proovis ära tundma, mitte alles esinemise ajal. Sa pead täpselt teadma, mida sa tahad. Siis on ka kõigil teistel siht selge.

Inimlikud suhted on kõige tähtsamad, kultuuris, elus, poliitikas – igal pool. Ma olen õnnelik inimene – mul on ikka orkestritega hea kontakt. 15 aastat käin mõne juures, iga kord olen oodatud ja suure rõõmuga asume jälle muusikat tegema.”

Mäletan, et ka meie ERSO-ga on olnud olukordi, kus orkester on dirigendi vastu kuri. Üks episood toonases Leningradis näiteks, kui ERSO jõudis rongiga varahommikul kohale, aga hotellitubade n-ö kontrollaeg algas alles kella 12-st.

Söömata, pesemata, puhkamata orkestrandid pidid otse proovi minema. Nad valasid oma viha sinu kui dirigendi peale välja, kes sa olid tegelikult Tallinnas rongile tulnud otse Soome laevalt, mitte vähem väsinuna... Küll nad alles ütlesid!

Neeme Järvi: „Orkestrid ongi oma olemuselt kurjad. Neil on raske töö, neil peab olema mugav mängida. Orkestrant peab ju iga jumala päev allutama oma tahte ja arusaama muusikast teisele inimesele, dirigendile.

Ja see teine mees võib olla hea mees, aga ta võib olla ka paha mees, kes mulle, orkestrandile üldse ei sobi ega meeldi. Aga ma pean kuuletuma. Orkestrandi töö on üks raskemaid maailmas. Seda peab dirigent kogu aeg meeles pidama. Ja nad on kurjad, need orkestrid, kui sa midagi valesti teed.”

Kui südamlikult!
Neeme Järvi suhted orkestritega on olnud haruldased. Ta on suutnud oma Detroiti ja Göteborgi orkestrile leida suurepäraseid sponsoreid, sest inimestega lävimises on vähe talle võrdväärseid.

Lasin meelte ja tunde värskendamiseks mälust läbi materjalid ja raadiosaated kümne aasta tagustest pidustustest mõlemas linnas ja silme ette tuli see lausa jumaldamiseni küündinud austus ja armastus ning tahe maestro tähtpäev erakordseks teha.

See õnnestus tookord fantastiliselt, samuti viis aastat hiljem, ning tõenäoliselt ka tänavu. Ometi meenutaksin Göteborgist just üht kummalisemat episoodi, mida ma eales olen kohanud.

Pidulikul kontserdil saatis orkester austusavalduste saatel pensionile vana viiulimängija, kontsertmeistri. Koos orkestriga tuli tal esitada virtuoosne-romantiline 7-8 minuti pikkune pala.

Neeme juhatas, aga solist oli nii närvis, et „lausa pani peoga mööda”, nagu ütlevad pillimehed. Mehe õnnetu nägu, hetkeks nõutuses tardunud orkester, viisakas publik kahvatut aplausi alustamas – hetk oli hirmus!

Ja mida tegi siis Neeme! Ta pöördus orkestri poole, publiku poole, ise innukalt plaksutades. Kõik võtsid tuld, aplaus läks tormiliseks ja pala läks kordamisele.

Seekord juba tõesti briljantselt!! Loen seda Järvi südametarkuseks, mis mõistis vana pillimeest ning päästis mitte ainult tolle hetke ja esinemise, vaid teeneka muusiku KOGU pensionipõlve enesetunde.

Orkestrid on erinevad ja samas sarnased. Ka tasemelt. Kui Haydni sümfooniat tuleb mõne kollektiiviga tões ja vaimus harjutada, siis New Yorgi Sümfoonikud, kelle proovi oli Avery Fisher Hallis mul õnn kuulata, võivad seda peast ja „unepealt” mängida. Proovis nagu polekski midagi teha!

Virgurivänt Neeme tegi aga proovi selliseks, et iga fraas sisaldas tempolisi või nüansilisi ootamatusi. Tähtsad pillimehed olid pinges ja aktiivselt „löögivalmis”. See pakkus kõigile tohutult lusti. Kui sümfoonia lõppes, tõusis orkester püsti ja aplodeeris dirigendile!

Palju me teda tunneme?
Me teame Neeme Järvi tuntust maailmas. Teame tema tohutut töövõimet. Tunneme tema elavat huvi kõige vastu, mis Eestis sünnib ja peame tema isalikke manitsusi mõnikord tüütutekski, sest ta räägib taas ja taas samadest muredest.

Aga selle põhjus on, et need mured ja probleemid ei ole meil tema külaskäikude vahel sammugi edasi liikunud. Ta muretseb, et valitsused, juhid ja ministrid vahetuvad, ning taas algab kõik justkui otsast peale.

Teame ka Neeme Järvi justkui jumalaarmust sündinud musikaalsust, mis suudab elu sisse puhuda igale helitööle, pisipalast tohutute Mahleri-Bruckneri-Liszti jt suurvormideni. Olen ikka tajunud, et tema tulek Eestisse toob iga kord kaasa maailmatuuli, avatud muusikamaailma tunnetuse, ja see pole üldse väike mõju!

Sest kummaline küll – näilise pehmuse ja heasüdamlikkuse kõrval on Järvil väga kindel tahe, vääramatu oma joon ning raudne autoriteet. (Pisut saab sellest aimu ka, kui jälgida tema õpetamisprotsessi Pärnu Suveakadeemia kursustel.)

Aga meil ei ole, vähemalt mitte Eestis, seni uuringuid ei tema kunstniku-olemusest kunstipsühholoogia mõttes ega dirigeerimise meetodist. Ega tunne me tema tööprotsessi sisemist poolt, süvenemist teostesse, heliloojaisse, ajastutesse.

Paljud heliloojad on ju tema taasavastatud, nii Põhjamaades kui Ameerika mandril. Mäletan abikaasa Liilia repliiki, et „Joonase lähetamise” partituuri kandis ta kaasas kõikidel kontsertreisidel kuude kaupa, ning mõtles ja rääkis sellest...

Kipun arvama, et me tunneme Neeme Järvist vaid jäämäe veepealset osa. Aga me hindame ja armastame seda osa!

Palju õnne, maestro, suure juubeli puhul!

Neeme Järvi dirigenditee
Sündis 7. juunil 1937 Tallinnas
Õppis dirigeerimist 1950ndatel Leningradi konservatooriumis. 1963–1979 Eesti Raadio ja Televisiooni Sümfooniaorkestri peadirigent, 1965–1975 Estonia teatri peadirigent.
Lahkus Nõukogude Eestist 1980, elab alates 1980. aastast USAs, sai sealse kodakondsuse 1987.
1982–2004 Göteborgi Sümfooniaorkestri peadirigent.
1990–2005 Detroiti Sümfooniaorkestri kunstiline juht ja peadirigent. Alates 2005. aastast New Jersey orkestri kunstiline juht. On juhatanud orkestreid rohkem kui 350 heliplaadil.
Abikaasa Liiliaga on tal kolm last, kes kõik on muusikud. Paavo ja Kristjan on dirigendid ja Maarika flötist.


Pakterminal supports Neeme Järvi’s Birthday Concert in The Hague, Netherlands
June 14, 2007

The famous Estonian Chief Conductor Neeme Järvi celebrates his seventieth birthday with a concert in The Hague in the evening of June 15.The concert is preceded by a high-level reception at the Estonian Embassy in The Hague. The president of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves will also participate in the celebrations as part of his June 15 visit to the Netherlands.

“It is a great honor for us as a Dutch-Estonian company to support Neeme Järvi’s birthday celebrations in The Hague, emphasizing thereby the good relationship between The Netherlands and Estonia and the importance of these relations both to Pakterminal and to the whole Estonian transit business,” said Anne Bruggink, General Director Pakterminal.

Neeme Järvi’s concert with the Residential Orchestra in the evening of June 15 inaugurates The Hague’s newly started three-day Classical Festival. The Embassy of the Estonian Republic in The Hague hosts a high-level reception in the afternoon of June 15; the invitee list includes the president of the Estonian Republic, several members of the Estonian and the Dutch cabinet, politicians, diplomats, and representatives of the business community.

Pakterminal Ltd. is an Estonian-Dutch joint venture mainly engaged in loading and storing oil and oil products. Pakterminal is owned by the Estonian investment company TransKullo (50%) and the Dutch concern Royal Vopak (50%). Royal Vopak is the world’s largest independent tank terminal operator, specializing in the storage and handling of liquid and gaseous chemical and oil products. Royal Vopak is based in the Netherlands; its shares are quoted on the Amsterdam stock market.


Eine Art Familientreffen
Juli 20, 2007
Ursula Böhmer

Drei Dirigenten und eine Flötistin sind sich so fern und doch so nah: Die Järvis leben in New York, Wien, London und Genf, sprechen neben estnisch und englisch die Weltsprache Musik.

Ursula Böhmer
“Ich schaue nicht zurück, ich sehe nach vorn. Das einzige, was ich bedaure: Es gibt so viel Musik, die ich gern noch dirigieren würde – so viel Mendelssohn, Schumann, Berlioz, den noch keiner in Angriff genommen hat. Aber das werde ich wohl nicht mehr schaffen“, sagt Neeme Järvi und lacht. Das Oberhaupt der estnischen Musikerfamilie Järvi wird in diesen Tagen 70 Jahre alt. Die Söhne Paavo und Kristjan sind ebenfalls renommierte Dirigenten, die Tochter Maarika anerkannte Soloflötistin.

Neemes Eltern waren noch Friseure, allerdings sehr musikinteressiert. „Meine Mutter hat meinen Bruder dann ein wenig gepuscht, professioneller Musiker zu werden. Er war 13 Jahre älter als ich, und ich habe einfach alles nachgemacht, was er tat – erst Schlagzeug gelernt, dann Gitarre und dann Dirigieren.“ Neemes Bruder Vallo, 1994 gestorben, war der erste Dirigent der Familie, leitete das Orchester des Estonia Theaters in Tallinn, 40 Jahre lang.

Neeme lernte unter anderem bei Nikolai Rabinovich und Jewgeni Mrawinskij im damaligen Leningrad, machte nach der Emigration aus Estland international Karriere: Er war Chefdirigent der Göteborger Symphoniker, des Scottish National Orchestra, des Detroit Symphony Orchestra, leitet heute das New Jersey Symphony Orchestra und das Residentie Orkest Den Haag, arbeitete zudem als Gastdirigent bei zahlreichen weiteren renommierten Klangkörpern der Welt. Mit rund 350 Einspielungen zählt er zu den Dirigenten mit den meisten Tonaufnahmen. Dabei hat er immer schon ein Faible für unbekannte Werke und Komponisten gehabt, vieles wiederentdeckt und aufgenommen – Franz Schmidt, Wilhelm Stenhammar, Johan Svendsen, Zdenek Fibich, nicht zu vergessen seine Landsleute Kuldar Sink, Eduard Tubin, Jaan Rääts, Eino Tamberg, Veljo Tormis.

Und natürlich Arvo Pärt. Ihn lernte er in den 60er Jahren kennen. Damals arbeiteten beide beim Estnischen Rundfunk in Tallinn – Pärt als Toningenieur, Järvi als Chefdirigent der Philharmonie. Mit Järvis Hilfe brachte Pärt 1968 sein religiöses Chor- und Orchester-Werk „Credo“ zur Uraufführung – ein Affront gegen das nicht eben religionsfreundlich gestimmte Sowjet-Regime, dem Estland unterstand. Das Werk war überdies im westlich beeinflussten Collage-Stil komponiert, entsprach also nicht dem Ideal des „Sozialistischen Realismus“. „Melodien und Harmonien, das war alles, was erlaubt war“, so Neeme Järvi. „Wenn die Komposition nur aus Geräuschen bestand, war das ganz schlecht“. Pärt und Järvi umgingen sämtliche Kontrollinstanzen, um „Credo“ mit der Philharmonie im Radio zu übertragen – das Werk durfte danach zehn Jahre lang nicht mehr in Estland aufgeführt werden, Komponist und Interpret gerieten unter Kritik. Einer der vielen Gründe, die 1980 schließlich zur Emigration beider Künstler und ihrer Familien führten.

Die Järvis gingen nach Amerika – wohin Neeme, etwa nach einem erfolgreichen Gastdirigat an der New Yorker MET 1979, bereits Kontakte geknüpft hatte. Auch sonst hatte er sich im Westen durch seine Welttourneen mit den Leningrader und Moskauer Orchestern längst einen Namen gemacht und Einfluss erworben. Die relativ rasche Ausreise der Järvis war aber vor allem dem dramatischen Umstand geschuldet, dass Sohn Paavo schwer erkrankt war. Eine Tetanus-Injektion hatte bei ihm eine allergische Reaktion hervorgerufen, seine Nieren waren angegriffen, er brauchte dringend Medikamente, die es nur im Westen gab. Um Aufsehen zu vermeiden, ließ man die Järvis ziehen – zumal das Sowjet-Regime nach der scharf verurteilten Invasion Afghanistans und in Anbetracht der Olympischen Spiele, die 1980 in Moskau stattfanden, weitere negative Schlagzeilen vermeiden wollte.

Die jahrelange Unterdrückung und Bespitzelung unter dem Sowjet-Regime saß bei den Järvis allerdings tief: „Wenn in Estland am Mittagstisch über Politik geredet wurde, lief bei uns immer der Wasserhahn“, erinnert sich Paavo Järvi. „Noch ein halbes Jahr, nachdem wir längst in Amerika waren, fragten uns Freunde: Warum flüstert ihr beim Essen eigentlich immer?“ Trotzdem blieben die Järvis Estland immer verbunden: Paavo ist noch heute künstlerischer Berater des Estnischen National-Sinfonie-Orchesters in Tallinn. Einmal im Jahr trifft sich die Familie zudem in Pärnu beim David Oistrach-Festival, gibt Meisterkurse und Konzerte.

Drei Dirigenten und eine Flötistin in einer Familie – gibt’s da nicht Konkurrenz?
„Ich bin kein Konkurrent, ich bin ein Vater“, sagt Neeme und er lernt von seinen Kindern genauso viel wie sie von ihm. Paavo fragte er um Rat, als er Mahlers 9. Sinfonie dirigieren sollte – der Sohn hatte es in diesem Fall vor ihm getan. Umgekehrt sucht der Sohn beim Vater Hilfe: „Das, was er weiß, findet man in keinen Büchern, das kann man nicht im Internet nachgooglen. Es ist Erfahrung aus erster Hand. Er hat das Repertoire 50mal gespielt. Das ist wie pures Gold.“ „Wir unterstützen uns gegenseitig“, sagt auch Kristjan, „Wir sind ja eigentlich drei Generationen – mein Bruder ist zehn Jahre älter als ich. Und ich habe sehr viel von ihm und meinem Vater profitiert.“ Der Vater sorgte für die musikalische Ausbildung, die Mutter Liilia für den seelischen Zusammenhalt der Familie.

Musik haben die Järvi-Kinder im wahrsten Sinn des Wortes spielerisch gelernt. Der Vater ließ sie raten - welches Stück ist das, welcher Komponist ist das? „Da war immer Musik um uns herum“, erzählt Kristjan, „Wir haben viel gesungen. Ich wusste oft gar nicht, was – Brahms 3. oder Mozarts Nr. 40? Es war so natürlich, dass ich andere Familien merkwürdig fand, die ohne Musik aufwuchsen.“ Auch das Dirigieren war zunächst ein Kinderspiel: „Mein Vater sagte oft: Komm, stell dich mal da hin, dirigier das mal“, erinnert Paavo. „Und dann gab er Ratschläge: Nimm den Arm höher, schlag ein bisschen tiefer. Es war einfach nur Spaß.“

Aus Spaß wurde Ernst. Paavo wusste früh, dass er Dirigent werden wollte, studierte noch in Estland zunächst Schlagzeug, um die Orchesterarbeit von innen heraus kennen zu lernen – und spielte nebenher auch mal in einer Rockband mit. In Amerika besuchte er die New Yorker Juillard School, das Curtis Institute of Music in Boston und das Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute, nahm Kurse bei Leonard Bernstein. „Er war damals schon eine Legende und trotzdem immer auf der Suche, etwas neu zu lernen, zu experimentieren. Seine Gesten, sein Körper bildeten eine absolute Einheit mit der Musik. Das hatte ich so vorher noch nie erlebt“. Eine prägende Erfahrung, die ihn darin bestärkte, sich ganz auf die Musik zu konzentrieren. Heute ist Paavo bei den besten Orchestern weltweit ein begehrter Gast. Zudem ist er Musikalischer Direktor des Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Chefdirigent des hr-Sinfonieorchesters in Frankfurt, Künstlerischer Leiter der Deutschen Kammerphilharmonie Bremen und wurde gerade vom Orchestre de Paris zum Nachfolger von Christoph Eschenbach ernannt. Ab 2010 wird er dort dirigieren. Weltflucht? Workoholic? „Nein. Dirigieren ist einfach das, was ich tue, meine Berufung. Jedes Orchester hat seine charakterlichen Eigenarten, die mich reizen. Dabei interessiert mich weniger ein deutscher, englischer oder amerikanischer Klang. Mich interessiert mehr der Bruckner-Klang, der Debussy-Klang, der Sibelius-Klang – also ein Klang, der zu dem jeweiligen Komponisten passt.“

Neeme Järvi geht weiter: „Das Orchester klingt vor allem nach seinem Dirigenten. Das Orchester ist das Material, das er formt, mit dem er jeden Klang erzielen kann.“ Kristjan wiederum vergleicht den Dirigenten mit einem „Life-Producer“: „Man kann keine Aufnahme machen ohne Produzenten. Genauso wenig kann ein Orchester ohne Dirigent auftreten: Er spielt auf dem Orchester wie auf einem Instrument, um Musik zu formen, versucht, 100 Prozent aus den Musikern herauszuholen.“ Dabei ist der Dirigent, darin sind sich Vater und Söhne einig, bestenfalls eine Autorität – kein Autokrat.

Wie eine „Autorität“ wirkt Kristjan Järvi allerdings nicht, wenn er sein „Absolute Ensemble“ dirigiert. 1993 hat er die Gruppe gegründet, die im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes verrückt ist, weil sie jedes Genre von der Renaissance- bis zur Rockmusik „verrückt“, kombiniert, organisch miteinander verwebt – und das absolut. Heraus kommen leuchtend bunte Klangteppiche, auf denen Kristjan nicht mehr viel herumklopfen muss. Jenseits vom „Kapellmeister-Drill“ steht er fröhlich vor seinem Ensemble, gibt hier und da ein paar Einsätze, swingt und tanzt mit.

Eigentlich wollte Kristjan kein Dirigent werden, er studierte zunächst Klavier an der New Yorker Manhattan School of Music. „Ich fand Dirigieren sehr schwierig – außerdem sind zwei Dirigenten in einer Familie eigentlich schon genug. Und dann drei Dirigenten? Das fand ich total unrealistisch!“ Freunde überredeten ihn, es trotzdem mal zu probieren. Kristjan begann mit dem kontemporären Ensemble-Repertoire, machte aber auch Rap, HipHop und Jazz-Musik. „Diese Genre-Überschreitungen haben meine Einstellung verändert über das, was Musik ist. Es war der Anfang meines Absolute Ensemble.“ Mittlerweile hat er sich auch in der „seriösen“ Musikszene einen Namen gemacht: Er war Assistenzdirigent des Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Chefdirigent des Norrlands-Opernhauses und -Symphonieorchesters im schwedischen Umeå.  Seit 2004 leitet er das Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich – und ab kommender Spielzeit wird er Künstlerischer Berater des Kammerorchesters Basel.

Und Maarika? Sie ist die Ruhige, Zurückhaltende neben dem feinhumorigen Bühnen-Charismatiker Paavo und dem unbekümmerten Sommerblumenjungen Kristjan. Wollte sie jemals Dirigentin werden? „Nein. Die Frage hat sich nie gestellt – zumal es vor zwanzig Jahren auch noch nicht üblich war für eine Frau zu dirigieren. Frauen haben damals vielleicht noch Chöre geleitet, aber das wäre nichts für mich gewesen.“ Dabei wurde Maarika eigentlich gleichberechtigt erzogen. „Ich wuchs mehr wie ein weiterer Junge in der Familie auf, war ja auch nur zwei Jahre jünger als Paavo. Wir waren so wie Zwillinge.“ Maarika lernte Sprachen und Flöte, studierte später an den Musikhochschulen in Boston, New England und an der Carnegie Mellon Universität, wo sie die Assistentin von Julius Barker wurde. Sie spielte in zahlreichen Orchestern, vor allem in Spanien – wo ab und zu auch der Vater oder der Bruder als Gastdirigenten auftauchten. „Das war eine merkwürdige Situation für mich, zumal Orchestermusiker ja immer ein bisschen gegen ihre Dirigenten opponieren. Ich saß also zwischen den Stühlen. Auch wenn andere Gastdirigenten kamen, die ich über meine Familie kannte - da traute sich natürlich keiner mehr, sie in meiner Anwesenheit zu kritisieren“. Einer der Gründe, weshalb Maarika inzwischen freiberuflich als Solistin und Kammermusikerin auftritt – und das ist als Mutter von zwei Kindern nicht immer einfach zu koordinieren.

Maarikas Anliegen, estnische Komponisten bekannt zu machen, wird auch von den Brüdern geteilt. Der Klänge-Architekt Erkki-Sven Tüür oder der Atmosphäriker Peeter Vähi finden sich immer irgendwo auf ihren Programmen wieder. Estland ist noch in ihnen – deswegen wurde Neemes 70. Geburtstag kürzlich mit Politprominenz in Tallinn gefeiert, deswegen wachsen seine Enkelkinder auch mit der estnischen Sprache auf. Sechs Enkelkinder hat Neeme Järvi inzwischen. Und Lukas, der kleine Sohn von Kristjan, soll daheim bereits eifrig mit dem Taktstock herumwedeln. Vielleicht ist unter der nächsten Järvi-Generation ja auch mal eine Dirigentin? Neeme Järvi schaut nicht zurück, er sieht gern nach vorn.


Neeme Järvi juubeligala, eel ja järel
21. juuli 2007
Postimees Online

Tänavu oma 70. sünnipäeva tähistav maestro Neeme Järvi tegi kodupublikule hinnalise kingituse – tuli ise ja võttis kaasa kogu oma pere, et anda koos ERSOga üks väärt kontsert.

Kontsertsalvestus valmis ERSO, ETV ja ameeriklaste ühistöös, režissöör on Jason Starr, juhtoperaator Janno-Hans Arro, helirežissöör Maido Maadik, tehnikajuht Avo Kokmann, produtsendid Margit Ossipova ja Heidi Pruuli. Homme kell 22.20 algavale salvestusele järgneb ETVs kell 23.10 saade „Neeme Järvi juubeligala, eel ja järel”.


Neeme Järvi elulooraamatu esitlus
16. august 2007
Äripäev Online
Kaisa Tahlfeld

Täna toimus Rahva Raamatus Neeme Järvi elulooraamatu esitlus. Eesti ja inglise keelses raamatus saab lugeda Neeme Järvi elust ning tema kujunemisest üheks maailma armastatuimaks dirigendiks.

Samuti on raamatus kirjas maestro Järvi väga avameelseid, tihti ka humoorikaid mõtteid maailma muusikaelust, suurtest heli-loojatest ja muusikutest, ande ja loomingu vahekorrast. Aga ka Eestist ja eestlastest, noorusideaalidest, armastusest, perekonnast ja sõprusest, moodsa aja probleemidest.


Ilmub eesti- ja ingliskeelne raamat Neeme Järvist
16. august 2007

Täna esitleb kirjastus SE&JS uut raamatut Neeme Järvist, mis on pühendatud maestro tänavusele 70. sünnipäevale. „Neeme Järvi. Kunstniku elu. The Maestro’s Touch” on ligemale 300-leheküljeline värvitrükis suureformaadiline raamat rohkete artiklite ja fotodega.
Eesti- ja ingliskeelne raamat annab ülevaate tunnustatud dirigendi elust ja tema kujunemisest. Koostajad ja kirjutajad on Sirje Endre, Urmas Ott, Priit Kuusk, Hedi Rosma ja Tarmo Tilsen. Raamatuga on kaasas kaks salvestist Neeme Järvi dirigeerimisel.

Raamatu esitlusüritus toimub täna kell 16 Viru keskuse Rahva Raamatu poe neljandal korrusel. Kohal on ka Neeme Järvi, kes eile kohtus kultuuriminister Laine Jänesega, et arutada mitmeid eesti kultuuriga seonduvaid probleeme. Ministeeriumi teatel möödus kohtumine sõbralikus õhkkonnas.


Dirigent Neeme Järvi saab Pärnu aukodanikuks
17. august 2007
Eesti Päevaleht Online

Taasiseseisvunud Eesti esimesele Pärnu aukodanikule antakse tiitel pidulikult üle homme.

Aukodaniku tiitel antakse erilise austusavaldusena oma elutööga Pärnu linnale osutatud väljaaistvate teenete eest, teatas Pärnu linna esindaja.

Maestro Järvi on tutvustanud Pärnut kui mitmekülgset kultuurilinna üle kogu maailma. Oistrahhi festivali raames toimuvad Pärnus Järvi meistrikursused, mis toovad linna noori andekaid dirigente, rikastades sellega kohalikku muusikaelu.


Eile esitleti Tallinnas Viru Keskuse raamatupoes Rahva Raamat albumit „Neeme Järvi. Kunstniku elu / The Maestro’s Touch”.
17. august 2007
Pärnu Postimees
Tanel Verk

Kohapeal oli raamatut tutvustamas ning autogramme jagamas maestro ise.

Üleeile toimus elulooalbumi pidulik esitlus Eesti Teatri- ja Muusikamuuseumis, kus sõnavõtuga astus üles helilooja Arvo Pärt. Vasakul istub kultuuriminister Laine Jänes, tema kõrval Tatjana Järvi.

Samal päeval viibis Järvi kultuuriminister Laine Jänese vastuvõtul, kus minister ja maestro rääkisid Eesti kultuurielust, millel välismaal elav dirigent hoolega silma peal hoiab. Jutuks tuli uute mahukate kontserdi- ja teatripaikade ehitus, järgmine David Oistrahhi festival, millega tähistatakse Oistrahhi 100 aasta juubelit, Eesti riikliku sümfooniaorkestri ja linnaorkestrite arendamine ning palju muud. Eesti Teatri- ja Muusikamuuseumis on kuni septembri lõpuni avatud fotonäitus sel aastal oma 70 aasta juubelit tähistanud dirigendist.

Näituse 14 fotot on linnulennuline vaade maestro elu- ja loometeele, mis sisaldab hetki õpinguajast Leningradis, taaskohtumisest kodumaaga, juhatamistest orkestrite ees, eelkõige aga emotsioone.


Neeme Järvi uus raamat tuli koos plaatidega
18. august 2007
Eesti Päevaleht
Eda Post

Sel nädalal esitles Neeme Järvi koos kirjastusega SE&JS Tallinnas juba kolmandat eestikeelset raamatut, mis püüab ühtede kaante vahele kilde maestro eluteelt. Raamatut luges ja vaatas Eda Post.

„See on kokkuvõte minu esimesest 70 aastast. Seal on sees päris palju seiku ja usun, et seda ei ole igav lugeda,” sõnab Neeme Järvi tutvustuseks teose esitlusel Rahva Raamatu poes (70 aasta juubelit pidas ta 7. juunil ja raamatus on tema tegemised sünnist viimase sünnipäevani).

Raamat-sümfoonia, nagu kirjastaja ja üks raamatu kaasautoreid Sirje Endre seda nimetab, koondab Neeme Järvi mälestusi tema enda lapsepõlvest Nõmmel kuni kuue lapselapse sünni ja sirgumiseni eri maailmajagudes. Kirjavahetust ema ja parima sõbraga, tema eeskujusid ja meenutusi kohtumistest teiste nimekate muusikutega ning nimekirja orkestritest, kellega Järvi on koos töötanud (maestro kommentaar, väikese muigega: „Tuleb välja, et ma olen juhatanud päris palju orkestreid”).Väljavõtteid arvustustest kuni selleni, mida ta arvab Eestist, naistest ja kriitikutest. Lisaks palju fotosid.

Kaks plaati ka
„Oleme seda raamatut kirjastusega käsikäes teinud algusest peale kuni selle aasta maikuuni, kogu aeg oli vaja seda muuta, parandada, saata uusi pilte, lisada uusi fakte,” räägib Neeme Järvi koostööst. „Mis teeb just selle raamatu isepäraseks ja ühtlasi ka kallimaks, on see, et siin on sees kaks väga ilusat asja – kaks heliplaati kahe kõige ilusama minu lemmikteosega.”

Veidi hiljem lisab Järvi, et talle meeldivad väga ka raamatud, ja näitab välja, nagu kibeleks poe raamaturiiulite ligi. „Mul on kiired tempod, mul pole aega kunagi,” tõdeb maestro.

„Neeme Järvi. Kunstniku elu. The Maestro’s Touch” on kirjastuselt SE&JS kolmas raamat Neeme Järvist. Eelmised – 1997. aastal ilmunud „Maestro” ja 2001. aastal ilmunud „Encore! Neeme Järvi” (mõlema autoriteks Priit Kuusk ja Urmas Ott) – on praeguseks kas läbi müüdud või poodides otsakorral. (Järvide perelt on SE&JS välja andnud ka maestro ema Elss Järvi Pärnu elust pajatava raamatu „Lapsepõlvelood” uustrüki 2004. aastal.)

•• Väljaandja kirjastus SE&JS.
Koostajad ja kirjutajad Sirje Endre, Urmas Ott, Priit Kuusk, Hedi Rosma, Tarmo Tilsen
•• Kujundaja Rein Seppius
•• Raamatu juurde kuuluvad CD Bruckneri 7. sümfooniaga (Haagi filharmoonikud Neeme Järvi juhatusel 2007) ja DVD Mahleri 2. sümfooniaga ehk nn Ülestõusmissümfooniaga (live-salvestus Neeme Järvi juhatusel antud viie orkestri ja kahe koori heategevuslikult kontserdilt New Yorgi Riverside’i kirikus 2006. aastal).
Maksab raamatupoodides 750 krooni ringis.


Raamat on muusika, kui seda dirigeerib maestro
23. august 2007
Margus Mikomägi

Tunnistan, et ma ei tahtnud väga minna Tallinna. Teatri- ja muusikamuuseumis esitleti kirjastuse SEJS uut raamatut dirigent Neeme Järvist. Ei tahtnud minna sellepärast, et mu ettekujutuses tunglesid seal maestro ümber Eesti suurte lehtede kultuuriajakirjanikud, kõigil suur soov teha dirigendist kaanepoiss ja raamatust kultuurisündmus. Vähemalt esikülje uudist ootasin me kvaliteetpäevalehtedelt...

No siiski läksin, selle teadmisega, et vaatan, kuidas on hakkama saanud kirjastaja ja raamatu idee autor ning hing Sirje Endre, kes on Juurust pärit, oleme paar korda istunud ühe laua taga. Et tehku teised uudist, ma jälgin mängu ilu.

Ning veel üks tõsimeelne mäng on mul, mida ikka mängin võimalusel, nimelt olen tähtsustanud võimalust hingata suurmehega ühte õhku. Neeme Järvi on suur vaieldamatult. Aina hinga.

Kui kõik olid kõnelnud ja mina ammu unustada jõudnud oma provintsist pealinna tulnu kompleksi, anti sõna helilooja Arvo Pärdile. Ta ei kõndinud rahva ette, mõtteliselt prožektorite valgusvihku. Astus hoopis dirigent Neeme Järvi seljataha, pani talle käed sõbralikult õlale ja rääkis väga tasa, nõnda, et alles hetk tagasi Urmas Oti vaimukuste peale üliemotsionaalselt ja häälekalt reageerinud saal jäi hiirvaikseks: „Ma arvan, et sellel mehel on niisugune süda, et see võib toimuda kõik. Tal on suur anne, mis teeb muusiku inimeseks.”

Neeme Järvi käed liikusid pikkamisi Arvo Pärdi kätele ja kahe maailmakuulsa koosolemine muuseumisaalis oli ülev, liigutas hetke. Neeme Järvi pani oma dirigendi kehakeelse tänu ka sõnadesse: „Maailmakuulus helilooja, kõige populaarsem mees maailmas, eestlane... oma tagasihoidlikkuse ja siiruse ja armastusega on võitnud kõikide südamed. Mul on hea meel, et sa täna siin oled. Elame veel!”

Veel teinegi pilt, mis raamatuesitlusest meelde sööbis: teine tagasihoidlik, sarnaselt Arvo Pärdiga, Märjamaa muusikaõpetaja, vana tark muusik Robert Kasemägi kuulsa sõbra tunnustamist jälgimas – sirge seljaga klaaskappides olevate vanade viiulite taustal.

Neeme Järvi ütleb vastses raamatus Kasemägi kohta: „Ta on ainuke inimene, kellega ma olen pidevalt suhelnud. Rohkem neid polegi.”

„Kunstniku elu”, “The maestro`s touch
Esitlusel küsis Neeme Järvi kirjastaja Sirje Endrelt, kas tegu on raamatu või albumiga. Endre ütles, et albumiga, ega seletanud, miks.

Nüüd raamatut näinuna saan aru: esiteks on tegu tõesti väärtusliku pildialbumiga Neeme Järvi elust, sündimisest ja lapsepõlvest tänase päevani välja. Seda saab sirvida, nagu ikka fotoalbumit sirvitakse, ja meenutada ja mõelda.

Esitluse käigus ütles Endre, et raamatu tegemisel on kasutatud 23 fotograafi fotosid. Usun, et neid on sootuks enam, neid nimeta fotograafe, kes kunagi vajutasid nuppu ja jäädvustus ajalugu. Näiteks pilt aastast 1943, kus peal Järvid, isa August, ema Elss ning pojad Vallo ja Neeme. Neeme isa on sellel pildil väga kirjanik Anton Hansen Tammsaare nägu.

Või teine pilt, mille on kümme aastat tagasi teinud Harri Rospu: „Johann Straussi juures Viinis”.

Pildid läbi dirigendi elu seitsmekümne aasta.

Seda albumit saab erinevalt tavalistest fotoraamatutest lugeda. Seal on kirjas täiskasvanuks saamise tee. Ka selle loeb tähelepanelik lugeja välja, et see täiskasvanuks saamine ei lõpe iialgi. Pole nii, et ütled ühel päeval: kõik, nüüd olen valmis, olen täiskasvanud... iga päev, tund ja minut on oluline inimeseks saamise teel. See, mis Järvi jaoks on tähtis – loen üles oma tunnet mööda: muusika, loodus, perekond, kodu... peaks olema tähtis meile kõigile. Järvit eristab teistest, mulle tundub, intensiivsus ja süvenemise aste, pühendumine, andmine.

Vana tõde, et kes palju annab, see palju saab. Olgu selle tõestuseks raamatu muusikatoimetaja Priit Kuuse koostatud Neeme Järvi salvestatud heliplaatide nimekiri raamatu lõpus. Salvestatud plaadid on Kuusk pannud heliloojate nimede järgi tähestikulisse järjekorda. Plaadid aastatest 1983–2007 hõlmavad raamatu lehekülgi 260–293. See muusika, mille dirigent Järvi on läbi mänginud ja plaatidele salvestanud, on võrreldav ookeaniga.

Raamatu ingliskeelne pealkiri viitab maestro puudutusele (touch – puudutus, MM), mis annab elumuusikale argisest keskpärasest erineva, järeletegematu, kordumatu värvi. Seda, kuidas maestro raamatut selle valmimisel puudutas, ei väsinud esitlusel rõhutamast ka Sirje Endre.

Tema näited dirigendi koostööst raamatu tegijate meeskonnaga ja vastupidi on kahetised. Üks lihtne lugu näiteks räägib sellest, kuidas kunstniku eluraamatusse maestro puudutusel Urmas Oti puukingade pilt sattus. Kuidas Järvi, ajendiks koostöö Hollandi Residentie orkestriga, raamatusse puukingade pilti tahtis ja kuidas siis Otil need puukingad tõepoolest olemas olid, kuidas fotograaf neid pildistas ja viimaks see pilt ka tõesti raamatut muude fotode seas kaunistab.

See lugu lasi Otil muidugi hiilata ja öelda, et ostis tuulikutega puukingad ränga raha eest kümmekond aastat tagasi, et ta pole neid kordagi kandnud ja et ilmselt ta need kunagi just sellepärast ostiski, et need saaksid maestro raamatusse.

Kirjeldatud lugu illustreeribki ilmselt ilmekalt raamatu tegemise õhinat. Keskkonda, mis on kikivarvule tõusnud iga teo ja otsustamise puhuks, et raamat saaks parim, kvaliteetseim, et ta räägiks mitmehäälselt ja oleks nagu väga hea sümfoonia, et ta kõneleks inimestega raamatukeeles ja see kõlaks nagu muusika. See mu ülivõrdeline paljusõnalisus jääb väheväljendusrikkaks raamatut ja tema tegijaid kiites.

Dirigendi eluraamat on vanim raamat Eestis
Esitlusel oli Neeme Järvi juubeliraamat, album kindlasti Eesti kõige värskem raamat. Meeldiv paradoks on see, et uusim raamat kannatab välja epiteedi vanim. Valminud raamat võtab omamoodi kokku me raamatukunsti ja kujunduse aastatepikkuse kogemuse ja on parimas mõttes teed näitav.

Maailm on peljanud ja pelgab muu meedia tulekul seda, et raamat kaob.
SEJS kirjastus ei pelga raamatu kadu, ta näitab julgelt, et trükikunst läheb aja kulgedes üha kvaliteetsemaks, kui ise nõuda ja tahta maksimumi ning siis natuke veel. Et see ja ainult see on maestro tase.

Muidugi seal kujundusnippides võib märgata kerget lõivumaksmist, mõtlemist pealiskaudsele lugejale. Ma ei tahaks seda iseloomustades kasutada sõna „kollane”, aga jah, tabloidistuvat ajakirjandust iseloomustavad ikka suured pildid, lugemist kergendavad tsitaadid, lühikesed pildiallkirjad, see kõik on raamatus „Kunstniku elu” olemas, on lihvitud maitsekaks ja on kvaliteetne.

Ma julgen öelda küll, et see raamat on sisult hariv ja kasvatav, raamatus on kirjas 70aastase inimese, kes lisaks maailmakuulus, küpsed mõtted. Raamat avab maailma, mida maestro väärtustab ja tähtsaks peab. Raamatus kujutatav elu saab olla eeskujuks vaid.

Siin on paslik nimetada kaht noort inimest, kes raamatumeeskonnas Neeme Järviga intervjuu tegid: Hedi Rosma ja Maria Kallaste – tüdrukud on maestro hästi rääkima saanud. Ja mis eriti tähelepanuväärne, nad on osanud küsida nii, et tark muusik vastamist väärikaks ja vajalikuks peab.

Avage raamat algusest
Ma olen nüüd teinud vea, millele maestro Järvi esitlusel tähelepanu juhtis. Ta nimelt selgitas kohalviibinud kultuuriministrile, et raamatu lugemist tuleb alustada algusest. Mitte keskelt. Ja Järvi raamatu algusest alustamisel on ka põhjus, nimelt on raamatu kaane küljes DVD, kus maailma paremate orkestrite muusikud ja kooriartistid esitavad Järvi käe all Gustav Mahleri sümfoonia “Resurrection”. See, et plaat raamatu vahele sai, on ime. Ime samas imede reas, mis Järviga kaasas käivad, ja mis kuulub raamatu valmimise lugude hulka.

Lihtsustatult kõlab lugu järgmiselt (Neeme Järvi jutu vahendus – MM): istusime Endrega kohvikus, rääkisime raamatust ja kõne all oleva DVD produtsent läks mööda. Idee tekkis, et paneks selle imeilusa muusika raamatu vahele. Rääkisime mehega ja ta oli nõus.

Plaadil on märge, et need on tehtud Järvi raamatu jaoks vaid, ja veel üks pisike detail, et plaati müüakse vaid koos raamatuga.

Seda lugu esitlusel rääkides juhatas Järvi saali nurgas mängivale DVDle kaasa ja rääkis muusikutest, keda pilt näitas – see on kõige kuulsam, see on tuntuim, see tunnustatuim, ülivõrded vaid. Sugugi väheoluline ei olnud Neeme Järvi jutus see, et plaadi jaoks esitati sümfoonia kaks korda järjest ja mõlemad korrad täie pingega – „frakis”, ütles dirigent.

Raamatu tagakaanel on teine plaat – CD, kus maestro juhatab Residentie orkestri Haagi filharmoonikuid, mängitakse Bruckneri 7. sümfooniat.

See, kuidas kõik litsentsid ja lepingud ja mis kõik veel korda aeti selle muusikaraamatu juures, kuulub Sirje Endre salateadmiste laekasse, aga kerge see ilmselt polnud. Trafarettlause „kes on öelnud, et siin ilmas peab kerge olema” ei tulnud ilmselt kellelegi pähe selles saalis. Ja olgu siin öeldud ka, et seda muusika võluraamatut võib vabalt lugeda tagant ettepoole ja keskelt, elamus on garanteeritud ikka.

Urmas Oti oma ooper
Urmas Ott on raamatu sisekaanel kirjas kui konsultant. Ja siis konsultant käivitas esitluse. Ott käis kepiga, varjas silmi tumedate prillide taha, ei ütelnud, mis haigus teda vaevab, ka eravestluses. Ott säras, oli irooniline, vaimselt vormis, intrigeeris, ironiseeris ja esines.

Hakatuseks ütleski ta, et on viimased kuud veetnud kõigis Tallinna haiglates, välja arvatud sünnitusmajas ja hullumajas. Ott ütles, et ta on selle raamatu tegemise ajal ära vaevatud Sirje Endre helistamistest kümme korda päevas ja et nüüd ta peab terveks saama, et raamatu väljaandmisega seotud võlgu tagasi teenima hakata. Ott oli nakatav ja avaldas nimeliselt kiitust kõigile, kes raamatu valmimisega seotud.

Sellesse Oti-onu esitatud operetti sobis ideaalselt dirigent Neeme Järvi, kes ütles, et on Eestimaal selleks, et lapselastele kadakat näidata, et kas torgib. Samuti Sirje Endre öeldu, et trükikojas trüki ettevalmistuse lõppfaasis raamatut valgete kinnastega kokku pannakse.

Kui ma oma SL Õhtulehes töötavalt sõbralt küsisin, kus nemad olid, kui Eesti paremad pojad muuseumis raamatut kuulasid, vastas sõber, et ju me tegime Liis Lassiga intervjuud.


Brückenbauer zur Moderne Berliner Philharmoniker
August 23, 2007
Berliner Morgenpost

“Was die Musik an Hans Rott verloren hat, ist gar nicht zu ermessen: zu solchem Fluge erhebt sich sein Genius schon in dieser Ersten Symphonie, die er als zwanzigjähriger Jüngling schrieb und die ihn - es ist nicht zu viel gesagt - zum Begründer der neuen Symphonie macht, wie ich sie verstehe.” So erinnerte sich Gustav Mahler an seinen Studienkollegen Hans Rott, dem er sich zeitlebens tief verbunden fühlte: “Ja, er ist meinem Eigensten so verwandt, dass er und ich mir wie zwei Früchte von demselben Baum erscheinen.”

Die beiden besuchten gemeinsam die Kompositionsklasse von Franz Krenn in Wien, und Rotts Orgellehrer Anton Bruckner bezeichnete ihn als seinen “bisher besten Schüler”. Nur Johannes Brahms bescheinigte dem jungen Talent eine triviale Kompositionsweise und legte Rott nahe, doch besser den Beruf zu wechseln. Dieses Urteil trug unter anderem dazu bei, dass der psychisch labile junge Mann wenig später in eine Psychiatrie eingewiesen wurde, in der er erst 25-jährig 1884 starb - unter Verfolgungswahn vor Brahms leidend.

Trotz überwiegender Lobeshymnen seiner berühmten Zeitgenossen geriet Hans Rott in Vergessenheit. Erst 1989 feierte die erste Symphonie ihre Uraufführung im amerikanischen Cincinnati. Seitdem verbreitete sich das Wort von “Mahlers Nullter” wie ein Lauffeuer. Rott gilt inzwischen trotz seiner Unbekanntheit als einer der wichtigsten Vorreiter der Moderne - nicht zuletzt Mahler profitierte von ihm. Rotts Werke, die so erstaunlich viel Ähnlichkeit mit Mahlers Kompositionen aufweisen, entstanden bereits ein paar Jahre zuvor.

Die Berliner Philharmoniker spielen nun seine Es-Dur Symphonie unter Leitung von Neeme Järvi. Zudem erklingt Bartóks Drittes Klavierkonzert mit Hélène Grimaud.

Philharmonie Veranstaltungen am Do 27., Fr 28., Sa 29. September, 20 Uhr. Berliner Philharmoniker, Neeme Järvi (Dirigent), Hélène Grimaud (Klavier).
Programm: Béla Bartók - Klavierkonzert Nr. 3 Sz 119, Hans Rott - Symphonie E-Dur. Einführungsveranstaltung jeweils um 19 Uhr


Sheherazade: An Oriental Night in Berlin
September 11, 2007
The Star-Ledger
Bradley Bambarger

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra still can’t seem to find the financial support to make recordings these days, even if music director Neeme Järvi keeps busy abroad. The Pittsburgh Symphony shows―as have ensembles in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas and Nashville―that it’s possible for an American orchestra to wave its flag on disc, even now. And another local maestro―Alan Gilbert, who takes over the New York Philharmonic in 2009―has a recording out, low-key though it is.

“Sheherazade: An Oriental Night in Berlin”
Janine Jansen, violin; Marita Solberg, soprano; Ingebjorg Kosmo, mezzo-soprano; Berlin Philharmonic, Neeme Järvi, cond.
Filmed last summer, this top-class DVD gives us a chance to see what Neeme Järvi is like conducting a very different orchestra: the Berlin Philharmonic. True, nearly anyone could wave an arm in front of this group and get a regal sound, but what Järvi summons in this huge, open-air concert is that rare quality his Jersey fans have come to relish: charm.

The program has a colorful Eastern theme, including a thrilling take on Nielsen’s Prokofiev-like “Oriental Festive March” (from his theater music for “Aladdin”). As ever, Järvi’s tempos tend to make Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Sheherazade” beguile when it should ravish, but the playing is awesomely beautiful. Dutch fiddler Janine Jansen―who played Britten with Järvi and the NJSO so spectacularly in 2005―shows charismatic virtuosity in sad-eyed Massenet and sizzling Saint-Saëns. Marita Solberg breaks hearts with Grieg’s “Solveig’s Song”, and Järvi spins the orchestra through crowd-rousing encores. This is an ideal way to get excited for the coming season.


TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 2 in C Minor “Little Russian”; Overture in F Major; Festive Overture on the Danish National Anthem in D Major; The Storm (Groza) - Overture - Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra/ Neeme Järvi – BIS
September 18, 2007
Audiophile Audition
John Sunier

The three “fillers” are all most interesting to hear
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 2 in C Minor “Little Russian”; Overture in F Major; Festive Overture on the Danish National Anthem in D Major; The Storm (Groza) - Overture - Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra/ Neeme Järvi - BIS Multichannel SACD-1418, 72:27 ****:

Järvi is conductor emeritus of the Gothenburg Symphony and is well into a fine Tchaikovsky Symphony series with the band on BIS, having already recording SACDs of Nos. 1, 5 and 6. Each comes with interesting Tchaikovsky filler selections, and this new one brings us three of those.

The Little Russian has long been my favorite of the Russian composer’s symphonies, partly because it’s not overplayed like some of the others. The subtitle is a reference to the Ukraine region, which Russian at the time referred to at Little Russia. The work uses some Ukrainian folk songs, in fact it starts right out with one as a main theme. The attractive melodies give the entire symphony a rather optimistic outlook that differs from the depression and gloom of some of his other symphonies. The strange little march that appears in the second movement keeps coming back and doesn’t want to go away, returning again in the finale. The Scherzo movement is again based on a folk tune, in a dance-like framework. The finale is mix of many elements heard before, and reminds me of the Fourth Symphony, with a bit more contrapuntal activity.

The little overture is an early student work, and the composer said he thought the Festive Overture was superior to his 1812 Overture as a work making pomp and circumstance out of a famous national melody. We might agree only because we’re not listening to the 1812 yet again. The Storm is a fascinating and rarely-heard Tchaikovsky work of about a quarter-hour length. Written when he was just a composition student, the tone poem is based on a drama about a merchant’s daughter who lives under the strong will of her mother-in-law (the Russian work Groza also means “reign of terror”). When the husband she was forced to marry is away, the young woman flees to the arms of her lover, but is later so consumed by guilt that during a powerful storm she confesses and commits suicide. The over-the-top orchestration and rambling structure is really something - sort of Rimsky-Korsakov crossed with Berlioz. I wish Tchaikovsky had kept up this approach in some of his symphonies.

The stereo SACD option is excellent, with great clarity of the various instrumental sections. But the surround mix captures the ambiance of the orchestra’s own hall space perfectly using five channels without the subwoofer. Going back to either of the two-channel mixes results in a very flat frontal acoustic.


Klassikalise Neeme Järvi kunstnikuelu on kaante vahel
19. september 2007
Immo Mihkelson

Maailmakuulsa dirigendi Neeme Järvi tänavuse 70. sünnipäeva puhul ilmunud suureformaadilist raamatut „Neeme Järvi. Kunstniku elu” ei söandagi esimesel hetkel nimetada lihtsalt raamatuks. Pigem kasutada mõistet „album” või veel midagi muud, mille kohta saaks öelda, et pole pelgalt trükis.

Muljetavaldav teos
Kirjastus SE&JS, mis kümme aastat tagasi andis Neeme Järvi 60. sünnipäevaks välja raamatu „Maestro”, paikneb oma maestro järgmise ümmarguse sünnipäeva teosega tänase päeva olustikus. Põgusal esmasirvimisel jääb mulje, et on püütud olla sõbralik nii masside kui muusikaspetsidega, kakskeelsusega (eesti ja inglise) tahetakse ambitsioonikalt jõuda lugejani eri maailma nurgas.

See on ohtra ja köitva fotomaterjaliga kaunistatud raamat, mõlema kaane vahel plaat – üks neist kontsertsalvestusega CD ja teine DVD – ülevaade Järvi elu- ja kunstnikuteest, lisaks dirigendi enda mõtteid, tema täielik salvestisteloetelu ja rikkalik faktoloogia. Peaaegu et luksusväljaanne. Kuid Neeme Järvi tuntus ja hea maine nii Eestis kui laias ilmas väärib niisugust mängu.

Dirigendi Nõukogude ajast libiseb tekst üle kiiresti ja sujuvalt. Mainitakse vaid mõningaid kitsendusi ja probleeme, millega juba 1950. aastatel jõuliselt rambivalgusse tormanud dirigent pidi kokku puutuma.

Aastakümned pärast emigreerumist läände 1980. aastal on esitletud kronoloogiana, mis annab hästi edasi Järvi eduteekonda dirigendina, fookus on siin üksnes positiivsel.

On Urmas Oti ründavas-jõulises stiilis intervjuukatke 2003. aasta raamatust „Encore”, on eraldi arvamusavaldused Arvo Pärdilt ja Eri Klasilt, kellega Järvi veel Nõukogude Eestis elades tihedalt lävis.

Rõhuasetusena jääb silma see, et mitme foto ja tekstiga on Pärti hoopis rohkem esile toodud kui näiteks Eduard Tubinat, kelle muusikat Neeme Järvi on aastate vältel märgatavalt rohkem plaadistanud ja kontsertidel esitanud.

Muusika, muusika...
Raamatu tarvis spetsiaalselt antud pikas intervjuus pajatab Neeme Järvi oma lastest, lastelastest, perest. Südamlikult räägib ta näiteks, kuidas väike Kristjan 70ndatel, kui Järvid Kadriorus elasid, endale kõlari kaela tõmbas, sest läks selle tagant otsima Mozartit, kelle muusikat sealt oli kuulatud.

„Meil perekonnas on alati muusika olnud. Aga et lapsed muusikaga tegelevad – no mis ilusamat asja saab maailmas olla kui muusikaga tegelemine,” jäävad kõlama Järvi sõnad.

Mozart kui teejuht kõikidel aegadel, Wagneri suurus, ainuomase helikeelega Richard Strauss, lakkamatult uus Sibelius. On lapsepõlvemälestusi, milles sõbralik koer Pauka ja armas hobune Selma.

Järvi selgitab dirigeerimistehnikat, kergitab põgusalt loori ettevalmistustöölt, mida tehakse orkestriga proovides, enne muusika kõlamist kontserdisaalis.

Seda osa on raamatus väga põgusalt inglise keelde tõlgitud ja tõlked kulgevad mitte paralleelselt, erinevatel lehekülgedel nagu alguses, vaid eestikeelse teksti vahel. Sama kehtib ka Pärnus toimuvat Oistrahhi festivali ja sealseid Neeme Järvi dirigeerimiskursusi käsitlevas peatükis.

Suveakadeemia Meistrikursus on üks üritusi, mis Järvit viimastel aastatel Eestiga vast kõige enam sidunud. Teadmise, kogemuse ja dirigenditarkuse edasiandmine, mis seal toimub, on tulevikku ja muusikasse külvatud seeme.

„Minul on oma eesmärk – maailmale rääkida Eestist. Dirigeerimiskursused, see on parimaid viise, kuidas Eestit maailmale tutvustada,” selgitab Neeme Järvi ja lisab: „Ma olen väga uhke, et olen eestlane!”

Kuulub suurde pilti
Kaunilt ja veenvalt kõlab Neeme Järvilt: „Muusika on ilusaim kunst, mida saab siin maailmas teha.” Ta räägib töökuse vajalikkusest oma ametis, nalja kuulumisest elu juurde ja veel paljust muust. Õnnest ja oma kontsertide publikust.

„Dirigent võib nad plaksutama panna, võib skandeerima panna! Ma kutsun publiku siis skandeerima, kui näen, et see inimestele väga meeldib. Kui mulle endale meeldib, orkestrile meeldib, solistidele ka – siis vallanduvad emotsioonid nagu iseenesest. Sel momendil olen maailma kõige õnnelikum inimene.”

Tundub, et sellest õnnetundest saab osa ka inimene, kes on Neeme Järvist kunstnikuelule pühendatud raamatu omandanud ning omaks võtnud sealse kujundimaailma ja selle omapärase uljavõitu optimismi, mis kajab tema jutus.

Kui tekstist üldisemalt rääkida, siis tulnuks kasuks pisut karmim toimetajakäsi, julgem öeldu tihendamine. Dirigendi mõtted pääsenuks paremini esile. Nii mõnigi lõik kannatab selle all tõsiselt.

Aga tühja kah need mõned vormistamise puudujäägid. „Kunstniku elu” on väärt teos, raamat, millel on koht mitte ainult riiulil, vaid ka kultuuripildis üldisemalt.

Lõpusõnad on Neeme Järvilt: „Ma olen maailmakodanik, ma elan seal, kus ma töötan.” See tuletab meelde tema kuulumist suuremasse kultuuri kui see meie, Eesti oma.


Pianistin Grimaud in der Philharmonie Beobachtungen
nach dem "Pedal-Skandal"

September 30, 2007
Berliner Morgenpost
Felix Stephan

Seit dem spektakulären “Pedal-Skandal” um Hélène Grimaud sind keine zwei Wochen vergangen. In Prag sollte die Französin das fünfte Klavierkonzert von Beethoven spielen. Aber dazu kam es nicht: Kurz vorher hatte Grimaud Mängel am mittleren Pedal des Steinways festgestellt. Der Veranstalter reagierte mit Unverständnis, und nach heftigem Streit wurde das Konzert abgeblasen.

Nun sind Absagen der empfindsamen Tastenvirtuosin nichts Neues, und auch die Liste ihrer ständig wechselnden Begründungen ist lang. Doch der Anlass war dieses Mal skurriler als sonst: Das mittlere Pedal, das Tonhaltepedal, um das es ging, wird nämlich von so gut wie keinem Pianisten verwendet, um Beethoven zu spielen. Erst viele Jahrzehnte nach Beethovens Tod, im Jahre 1874, wurde es erfunden - und eignet sich am ehesten für Debussy und die Musik des 20. Jahrhundert.

Wozu brauchte Grimaud, fragt man sich, das mittlere Pedal bei Beethoven? Ihre aktuelle Einspielung des Beethoven-Konzerts mit Vladimir Jurowski hilft da auch nicht weiter. Selbst mit den geübtesten Ohren wird man keine Stelle finden, an der die Pianistin das mittlere Pedal benutzt hat.

Ob Grimaud nun Strafe zahlen muss oder nicht - ihrer Karriere hat dieser Zwischenfall weiteren Aufwind verschafft.

Groß jedenfalls war der Andrang in der Philharmonie, wo sie in diesen Tagen mit dem 3. Klavierkonzert von Bartok antrat. Neeme Järvi und die Berliner Philharmoniker empfingen die zierliche Diva im Großen Saal. Aufreizend-adrett schritt sie auf die Bühne, ihre Haare zum Pferdeschwanz gebunden und körperlich so fit, als käme sie geradewegs aus dem Sportstudio. Eine Frau, die Blicke auf sich zu ziehen versteht. Musikalisch ging es dagegen eher routiniert und halbherzig zu. Hélène Grimaud wirkte zeitweilig geistig abwesend und spulte ein eingeübtes Programm ab, statt im Hier und Jetzt Inspiration zu suchen.

Ihr kreisender Körper und die zum Takt wippenden Füße konnten nicht darüber hinwegtäuschen, dass sich ihre innere Beteiligung doch in Grenzen hielt. Ein intimer Dialog mit dem Orchester kam nicht zustande. Ruppig und perkussiv war ihr Bartok, mit knalligen Bässen und gebrochenen Melodielinien.

Grimauds Angewohnheit, Akkordtöne nachzuklappen, kam ausgerechnet in den meditativ-religiösen Choralpassagen des zweiten Satzes zum Vorschein, was für unfreiwillige Komik sorgte. Die Philharmoniker begleiteten die Solistin solide, aber auf Sparflamme.

“War das denn wirklich so grandios?” fragte eine Dame aus dem Publikum zweifelnd, als Hélène Grimaud am Ende von ihren Fans stürmisch gefeiert wurde.

Übrigens: Das mittlere Pedal ließ die Französin an diesem Abend unberührt, obwohl Bartoks Konzert dazu im zweiten Satz eine gute Gelegenheit geboten hätte.


Kronberg ehrte Mstislav Rostropovich
Oktober 2, 2007

Das Cello Festival Kronberg steht in diesem Jahr ganz im Zeichen seines verstorbenen Schirmherrn Mstislav Rostropovich. Am Tag der Deutschen Einheit feierte die Kronberg Academy einen Gedenktag mit Cellisten aus aller Welt.

Ursprünglich sollte das Cello Festival 2007 ein großes Fest zum 80. Geburtstag von Mstislav Rostropovich, dem Schirmherrn der Cello Festivals, werden. Nun erinnert die Kronberg Academy an den im April dieses Jahres im Alter von 80 Jahren gestorben Celllisten und Dirigenten.

Eröffnet wurde der Gedenktag am Mittwoch mit einem Gottesdienst in der Kronberger Johanniskirche. Nach der Enthüllung einer Büste Rostropovichs im Stadtzentrum von Kronberg trafen sich auf Einladung von Marta Casals Istomin, Bernard Greenhouse und Janos Starker die bedeutendsten Cellisten der Gegenwart, um die World Cello Organisation zu konstituieren. Bereits im Jahre 2003 hatte Mstislav Rostropovich die Gründung einer World Cello Organisation initiiert.

Gedenkkonzert in der Alten Oper
In der Alten Oper in Frankfurt fand am Mittwochabend das Gedenkkonzert für Mstislav Rostropovich statt. Bei diesem Benefizkonzert für die World Cello Organisation musizierten die drei wichtigsten Schüler Rostropovichs - David Geringas, Natalia Gutman und Mischa Maisky - mit dem Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks unter der Leitung von Neeme Järvi. Der erste Teil des Konzerts war eine Hommage an den Cellisten, der zweite Teil eine Hommage an den Dirigenten Rostropovich.

Drei Welturaufführungen
Drei der Werke, die Rostropovich gewidmet sind, feiern beim Cello-Festival ihre Welturaufführung: Während des Gedenkgottesdienstes wurde das “Agnus Dei” aus dem Polnischen Requiem von Krysztof Penderecki in der Transkription des Komponisten für Cello-Orchester uraufgeführt. Im Nachtkonzert am Freitag, 5. Oktober, 22 Uhr, wird das Ensemble Cellissimo in der Kirche St. Peter und Paul (Kronberg) “Na pososhok...” (“One for the Road...”) für Cellosextett von Rodion Shchedrin zur Uraufführung bringen. “Silent Prayer” lautet der Titel des Werkes für Violine, Violoncello und Streichorchester von Giya Kancheli. Dieses Werk komponierte Kancheli zum 80. Geburtstag von Rostropovich und zum 60. von Gidon Kremer. Gidon Kremer und Marie-Elisabeth Hecker werden es am Sonntag, 7. Oktober, im ersten Teil des Abschlusskonzertes um 17 Uhr uraufführen.


New Jersey Symphony Orchestra presents Mendelssohn and Mozart
October 3, 2007
Dee Billia

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director Neeme Järvi will conduct his “favorite young Mozart player,” Antti Siirala, in three exclusive New Jersey performances in October. An elegant and boldly passionate artist, Siirala hails from Finland. These performances mark his NJSO debut.

(Newark, NJ, October 2, 2007) The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director Neeme Järvi will conduct his “favorite young Mozart player,” Antti Siirala, in three exclusive New Jersey performances in October. An elegant and boldly passionate artist, Siirala hails from Finland. These performances mark his NJSO debut.

Mozart’s pioneering and introspective Piano Concerto No. 20 glimpses into the future with its ominous opening. Mendelssohn, a composer long enchanted with the Baroque, recalls the past with his Symphony No. 2 (Movements 1-3) and his Symphony No. 5, “Reformation,” a work of refined dignity that will delight with trumpet fanfares, upbeat dances and soaring melodies.

Ticket prices start at $20 and may be purchased by calling 1-800-ALLEGRO (255.3476) or by visiting www.njsymphony.org.

The Music
The program opens with the strikingly beautiful orchestral portion of a larger work for orchestra with voices by Felix Mendelssohn, his Symphony No. 2 or Lobgesang. “Performing these three movements, then a Mozart concerto, then the ’Reformation’ gives us a much better perspective on Mendelssohn,” says Neeme Järvi. And indeed this unusual and seldom-heard symphony lends itself well to the interesting programming concept, as Mendelssohn intended the opening movements to be performed as a whole, without breaks. The entire symphony, complete with chorus and vocal soloists, premiered in 1840 to enthusiastic public response.

The genre of the piano concerto was a magnet for Mozart throughout his career, yet only two of his 27 were composed in minor keys. The Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466, was completely unlike any concerto that Mozart had previously written. It is worth noting that this is the same haunting key Mozart used in two dark works he composed late in his short life—the Requiem and the opera Don Giovanni. Completed in 1785, just after his 29th birthday, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 was one of 15 that he wrote in a prolific span of four years. He had reached a creative peak and his keyboard technique was formidable, resulting in works of inimitable quality.

Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5, “Reformation” takes its name from the circumstances of its commission. Mendelssohn wrote the Symphony to commemorate the Augsburg Conference, where the doctrines of the Lutheran Church were set forth by Martin Luther. The piece was to receive its premier by the Paris Conservatory Orchestra, but the players rejected it during rehearsal, complaining that it was too academic and lacked melodies. Even years later, a dissatisfied Mendelssohn wrote to a friend that the first movement was “a fat bristly animal” and that he’d “like to burn it”. Of course, today, the Reformation symphony stands as a beloved work in the symphonic repertoire.

About the Artists
The 2007-08 season marks Maestro Neeme Järvi’s third year as music director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. The NJSO and Järvi have forged a critically acclaimed partnership and audiences have delighted in his warm and engaging personality and performances of unparalleled artistic excellence. Born in Tallinn, Estonia in 1937, Järvi graduated from the Leningrad Conservatory in 1960 and was appointed principal conductor of the Estonian Radio Symphony in 1963. He also served as the principal conductor and artistic director of the State Academic and Opera Ballet Theatre of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic. Järvi emigrated with his family to the United States in 1980, where he debuted with major orchestras across the country and signed with Columbia Artists. Currently, he serves as Chief Conductor of the Hague Residentie Orchestra in the Netherlands and is Music Director Emeritus of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Principal Conductor Emeritus of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra (the National Symphony Orchestra of Sweden), Conductor Laureate of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and First Principal Conductor of the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra. Frequent appearances with major orchestras around the world have resulted in a distinguished discography of over 350 recordings on Deutsche Grammophon, Chandos, BIS, Orfeo, EMI and BMG labels.

First Prize winner of three international piano competitions, including the prestigious Leeds International Piano Competition (2003), Finnish pianist Antti Siirala has already established himself as a star on the international stage. At age 28, he has worked with such renowned conductors as Paavo Berglund, Thierry Fischer, Mikko Franck and many others. He has performed with more than a dozen orchestras worldwide as well as in recital at London’s Wigmore Hall, the Cologne Philharmonie, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and many others. In 2004, Siirala’s debut in Brussels exemplified his spontaneity and flexibility. Suddenly asked to step in for the conductor, he led the orchestra from the piano in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and was immediately re-engaged for concerts with the Orchestre National and a recital at the Palais des Beaux Arts. During the 2007-08 season, Siirala continues his cycle of the complete Beethoven piano works at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki.

About New Jersey Symphony Orchestra
Led by Music Director Neeme Järvi, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra is composed of some of the country’s finest musicians. Its mission is consistent with artistic excellence combined with community engagement and is realized through concerts and education/outreach programming designed to enhance and enrich learning for children and adults alike. The Orchestra tours to seven different venues throughout New Jersey. The AIG/New Jersey Symphony Broadcast Series is a syndicated program carried throughout North America by WFMT (Chicago) and 96.3FM WQXR (New York). For more information about the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, visit www.njsymphony.org or e-mail information [at] njsymphony [dot] org. Tickets for performances can be purchased by calling 1.800.ALLEGRO (255.3476) or by visiting www.njsymphony.org.
The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s programs are made possible in part by The New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, along with many other foundations, corporations and individual donors.

Kronbergs Abschied von Slava
Ein Gedenktag für Mstislav Rostropovich

Oktober 4, 2007
Frankfurter Rundschau
Hans-Jürgen Linke

Mstislav Rostropovich war es, der die Taunusstadt Kronberg einst zur “Welthauptstadt des Cellos” erklärte, und wäre er noch am Leben, wäre er sicher zu dem derzeit dort stattfindenden Cello Festival gekommen. Rostropowitsch starb am 27. April 2007, vier Wochen nach seinem 80. Geburtstag. Die Kronberg Academy widmete ihm nun ihr diesjähriges Festival und richtete zu dessen Auftakt einen Gedenktag aus, der mit Gottesdienst (inklusive einer Penderecki-Uraufführung) und Denkmalsenthüllung begann, mit einem konstituierenden Treffen der World Cello Organisation, die Rostropovich noch mit gegründet hatte, seine Fortsetzung fand und mit einem Konzert in der Alten Oper seinen Abschluss.

Mit den Cellist(inn)en Natalia Gutman, Mischa Maisky und David Geringas waren drei der renommiertesten Musiker gekommen, die Rostropovich als ihren Mentor bezeichnen; mit dem in Estland geborenen Neeme Järvi war einer jener großen international renommierten, in der russischen Kultur wurzelnden Dirigenten und mit dem Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks eines der besten und renommiertesten deutschen Orchester verpflichtet worden.

Ohne tragisches Zögern
Rodion Shchedrins neo-sakrale Komposition “Slava! Slava!” gibt sich im Untertitel als “festliches Glockengeläut” für Rostropovich zu erkennen und wurde frisch und ohne tragisches Zögern intoniert. Bei dem von Maisky mit starkem Vibrato intonierten “Kol Nidrei” für Cello und Orchester in d-Moll von Max Bruch zog das Orchester nicht recht mit, der Solist blieb mit seinem Pathos allein und neben dem Orchester, das ihn einfach nicht begleiten zu wollen schien. Eher umgekehrt fiel Richard Strauss’ Romanze in F-Dur aus: Ein sehr trocken und gegen das Klang-Umfeld nüchtern und klar intonierender Solist David Geringas blieb in Distanz zum Orchester, wenngleich hier das inszenierte Reibungs-Potenzial bereichernd erschien. Natalia Gutman hatte dann bei ihrer verhalten melancholischen und feinsinnig intonierten Interpretation des 2. Satzes von Dvořáks Cellokonzert h-Moll einen homogenen Kontext, der keinen Dissens in der grundsätzlichen Auffassung des Werkes erkennen ließ.

Dass Järvi und das Orchester nach diesem in sich stimmigen und auf den Verstorbenen sehr persönlich abgestimmten Programm noch Tschaikowskis 6. Sinfonie h-Moll (“Pathétique”) wie ein sinfonisches Requiem spielten, hatte wohl eher mit dem zeitlichen Format des Abendprogramms zu tun als mit seiner Zueignung.

Cello Festival 2007: www.kronbergacademy.de


Im Zeichen des Cellos
Kronberg und Frankfurt erinnern an Mstislav Rostropovich

Oktober 5, 2007
Wiesbadener Kurier

VM. FRANKFURT Alle zwei Jahre hängt der Himmel über Kronberg und Frankfurt voller Celli: Das Cello-Festival der Kronberg-Academy bringt unter der Leitung Raimund Trenklers international renommierte Solisten und Studenten in Konzerten und Workshops zusammen. Das Programm der zwölf Konzerte des aktuellen, noch bis Sonntag laufenden Festivals ist vom Allerfeinsten und verzeichnet nicht nur Cello-Koryphäen wie David Geringas, Natalia Gutman, Mischa Maisky oder Bernard Greenhouse (vom legendären Beaux Arts Trio), sondern auch Klassik-Stars anderer Sparten wie den Geiger Gidon Kremer, die Pianistin Martha Argerich oder den Komponisten Krzysztof Penderecki.

In diesem Jahr dürfte die Stimmung gedämpft sein: Das Festival steht ganz im Zeichen des Gedenkens an den am 27. April verstorbenen Mstislav Rostropovich, den großen Cellisten, Dirigenten, Freund und Mentor der Kronberg Academy. Seit 1997 hat auch die Rostropovich Cello Foundation ihren Sitz in Kronberg, und die von dem Cellisten 2003 initiierte World Cello Organisation (WCO) traf sich nun “zu ihrer ersten konstituierenden Sitzung” in Kronberg. Beim Gipfeltreffen der Top-Cellisten dürfte so manche Erinnerung an “Slava” ausgetauscht worden sein. Eine Ausstellung während der Festival-Zeit in Kronbergs Stadthalle umarmt den “Jahrhundertcellisten” ebenfalls posthum mit dem liebevoll-exklamatorischen Titel “Slava!” Eine bleibende Erinnerung soll in Kronberg die gerade enthüllte Rostropovich-Büste von Anna Franziska Schwarzbach sein.

Der von der Berliner Künstlerin verewigte freundlich-verschmitzte Zug um die Lippen des Cello-Großmeisters ist auch im Großen Saal von Frankfurts Alter Oper präsent: Ein riesiges Schwarzweiß-Foto bildet den Hintergrund eines Gedenk-Konzerts am Vorabend des Festivals. Im rappelvollen Saal wird dabei gesetzt-pietätvolles Verhalten von der Vitalität eines jungen Publikums überlagert, das jeden Satz der von Neeme Järvi und dem Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks interpretierten 6. Sinfonie Peter Tschaikowskys (“Pathétique”) einzeln beklatscht. Dabei bildet das exquisit ausgehorchte “Adagio lamentoso” einen würdigen Abschluss des Gedenkkonzerts. Die Aktion “Jugend ins Konzert”, die den Eintritt zum absoluten Schnäppchen-Preis von 1 Euro ermöglicht, scheint sehr erfolgreich zu sein und hätte sicher auch Rostropovich gefreut, dessen in die Zukunft weisendes Wirken auch die Redebeiträge betonen.

Sichtlich gerührt spricht Rostropovichs Tochter Elena von einem großen Tag des Gedenkens, und Marta Casals Istomin spürt die Gegenwart eines Künstlers (“Slava, you continue to live with us”), der die Menschen zur Freude an der Musik ermutigt habe. Gleich drei Meister-Schüler des Cellisten gestalten das Gedenken auch musikalisch sehr persönlich: Nach Mischa Maisky (mit “Kol Nidrei” von Max Bruch) und David Geringas (Romanze F-Dur von Richard Strauss) lässt Natalia Gutman ihr Instrument im 2. Satz des Dvořák-Konzerts vielleicht nicht am kraftvollsten, aber am eindringlichsten leuchten.

Weitere Infos und Programm im Internet: www.kronbergacademy.de


Ein lyrischer Abschiedsgruß
Der Gedenktag der World Cello Organisation für Mstislav Rostropovich in Kronberg gipfelte in einem Konzert in der Alten Oper Frankfurt

Oktober 5, 2007
Frankfurter Neue Presse

Ein solches Konzert, das zugleich das Kronberger Cello-Festival 2007 einläutete, dürfte man selten mehr erleben. So traten gleich drei gefeierte Solisten auf, vereint durch ihre Lehrzeit bei Rostropovich: die Cellisten Mischa Maisky, David Geringas und Natalia Gutman. Sie spielten gleichsam „gedeckte” Musik – Rostropovich war ja erst vor einem halben Jahr gestorben.

Maisky begann mit Max Bruchs „Kol Nidrei” nach hebräischen Weisen (Jom Kippur), das in den letzten Jahren neue Aufmerksamkeit gewonnen hat. Bei aller Meditation hielt Maisky dabei den Klang gleichsam gespannt. Er breitete ihn nicht aus, sondern beließ ihm auch im Nachdruck Ruhe.

Eine noch größere Rarität ist gewiss die Romanze F-Dur des jungen Richard Strauss. David Geringas spielte nun sanfter, aber auch er schwärmte nicht, sondern hielt die musikalische Linie gleichsam in Zucht. Er war, wenigstens an diesem Abend, „poetischer” als der tiefsinnigere Maisky. Natalia Gutman schliesslich spielte „als lyrischen Abschiedsgruß” und „letztes Lebewohl” das Adagio (2. Satz) aus Dvořáks Cellokonzert sehr nachdenklich, kontemplativ, was freilich nie zur dunklen Beschwörung geriet. Schönheit und Empfindung – sie waren wundervoll im Spiel Natalia Gutmans geborgen.

Partner der drei Solisten war das Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks unter Neeme Järvi – von den deutschen Orchestern war es Rostropovich liebstes. Es eröffnete mit „Slava! Slava” (so Rostropovichs Name unter Freunden) als „Festliches Glockengeläut” zum 70. Geburtstag von Rodion Shchedrin komponiert: ein prächtiges, von den Bläsern bestimmtes und sich steigerndes Getümmel, das sich bis zum Bersten entwickelt, um dann doch ganz leise zu verschwinden. Tschaikowskys 6. Sinfonie, die „Pathétique”, bildete das Finale, auch sie mit ihrer „tragischen Grundstimmung” hier als sinfonisches Requiem für „Slava“ zu sehen – und da fügte sich auch das wild Überdrehte des 3. Satzes (der dennoch nie seine Elastizität verlor) mühelos ein. Charakteristisch für die von Neeme Järvi unauffällig genau gelenkte Aufführung war die glänzende Balance des Klangs, die Präzision wie die noble Präsenz der einzelnen Instrumente (oder Gruppen). In der brillanten Geschlossenheit, der Gefühlsstärke, die Järvi und das Orchester erreichten, entdeckte man das so oft geschundene Werk in seiner anderen Wahrheit: jenseits aller Grobheiten. Beifall schon nach allen Sätzen. (jö)


A lyrical farewell
October 5, 2007
Frankfurter Neue Presse
Translator: Friederike E. Westerhaus

The memorial day of the World Cello Organisation for Mstislaw Rostropowitsch in Kronberg ended with a concert in Alte Oper.

A concert like this that was at the same time the opening of the cello-festival 2007, you will hardly ever experience. Three celebrated soloists were performing who are bound through their studying with Rostropowitsch: the cellists Mischa Maisky, David Geringas and Natalia Gutman. They played “dimmed” music because Rostropowitsch died just half a year ago.
Maisky started with Max Bruch’s “Kol Nidrei” after hebrew songs (Jom Kippur) that gained new interest in the past years. Despite all meditation, Maisky kept the sound full of tension. He did not stretch it but kept silence even in the emphasis.

A bigger rarity is the Romance in F-Major of the young Richard Strauss. David Geringas played more softly, but he also did not romanticize but kept the musical line under control. On this evening, he was more “poetic” than Maisky who was more profound. Natalia Guman played as a lyrical farewell and a “last good-bye” the Adagio from Dvořák’s cello concerto in a very thoughtful, contemplative manner that was never a dark incantation. Beauty and sentiment were wonderfully present in Natalia Gutman’s playing.

Partner of the three soloists was the BR symphony orchestra under Neeme Järvi – the German orchstra that Rostropowitsch liked the most. It opened the night with “Slava! Slava!” (Rostropowitsch’s name among friends) that was composed as a “festive bell-ringing” for his 70.th birthday by Rodion Shchedrin: a grand and increasing turmoil that is dominated by the brass and builds up towards the point of bursting – and in the end very softly disappears.

Tschaikowsky’s 6. symphony was the finale, also with its tragic emotions – here to be seen as a symphonic requiem for “Slava” and even the wild 3. movement (that never lost its elacticity) fitted in very well. Characteristic of the performance that was lead modestly and precisely by Neeme Järvi, was the perfect balance of the sound, the precision and noble presence of the single instruments (or sections). In the brillant coherence and the strength of emotion that Järvi and the orchstra reached, one was able to see this often maltreated work in its other truth: beyond all rudeness. There was already applaus after the single movements. (jö)


World-class maestro is heading to Detroit
October 8, 2007
Detroit Free Press
Mark Stryker

DSO’s new director known for musicianship, outreach
They got their maestro. He got his orchestra. And Detroit has a new musical leader, whose reputation stretches from the American heartland to the music capitals of Europe and the Far East.

Leonard Slatkin, 63, one of the most gifted American conductors of his generation, has been named the 12th music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra after a five-year search. Slatkin, the first American-born conductor to lead the orchestra in 60 years, succeeds Neeme Järvi, who stepped down in 2005.

Slatkin’s appointment, which consummates a torrid four-month courtship, is a coup for the DSO. His musicianship promises to refocus national and international attention on the orchestra while bringing to Detroit a conductor known for his enlightened leadership beyond the podium.

“Leonard will be a really good fit in Detroit,” said Drew McManus, a consultant who publishes Adaptistration, a Web log focused on the orchestra business. “He has a reputation as a real orchestra builder in terms of helping a group develop a unique, original sound, building its reputation through recording, outreach and pulling in new donors.”

Slatkin is known as a substantive musician with a virtuoso technique and broad repertoire, including a bent for new American music. But he also brings a zeal for music education and the nitty-gritty of audience building, fund-raising and community outreach. As American orchestras struggle to find their footing in a culture that often marginalizes classical music, conductors like Slatkin – a road-tested veteran with a 21st-Century vision – are scarce.

“I think for this orchestra my experience is going to make a big difference,” said Slatkin, whose 12-year post as music director of the National Symphony in Washington concludes next spring. He previously built the Saint Louis Symphony into one of the country’s best during a landmark 17-year tenure.

“I’ve been around this before. I’ve run orchestras. I’m used to it. It really is about being a leader in the community.”

Slatkin, who met with the DSO musicians Sunday afternoon for the first time as their leader, will be introduced at 10 a.m. today at Orchestra Hall. He becomes music director designate immediately. His three-year contract begins next year, with a renewal option in 2009 for an additional two years.

He’ll conduct five weeks next season. Starting in 2009-10, he’ll conduct 13 weeks, half of the DSO classical subscription concerts. He’ll also lead previously scheduled concerts April 3-6, 2008.

The music director heads the artistic side of an orchestra, with broad power over programming, hiring musicians and sharpening the aesthetic profile of the group. Slatkin said he would move his primary residence to metro Detroit next season.

“I’ll pay taxes there,” he said. “The way you get to learn a community is by being a part of it.”

The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Slatkin’s compensation package at the National Symphony was about $1.2 million in 2004-05 compared with Järvi’s package of about $600,000.

“We’ve made a very responsible contract with Leonard,” DSO President Anne Parsons said. “He and his manager were extremely cooperative.”

“He’s the one”
Slatkin bolted to the top of the short list after he guest conducted in Detroit from May 31 to June 2, his first concerts with the DSO in 20 years. Slatkin didn’t consider himself on the market, having filled his post-Washington dance card with guest conducting and smaller posts such as principal guest conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony and principal guest conductor of London’s Royal Philharmonic.

But the chemistry sizzled so intensely between Slatkin and the DSO that the players quickly began telling members of the search committee, “He’s the one.”

Clarinetist and committee member Doug Cornelsen said the players were captivated by Slatkin’s authority, efficiency, ear for color and intonation and the flair he brought to music by Sergei Prokofiev and William Walton.

“I heard that one musician actually walked up to him as and asked, “Would you be music director here?”” Cornelsen said. “Slatkin said, “Yes, but you would have to hurry.””

Parsons quickly re-engaged Slatkin for a weekend tryst with the DSO in July at the Meadow Brook Music Festival, where an all-Beethoven program and a pops program offered another test. Slatkin said he was struck by the players’ commitment to concerts others might have treated as a summer throwaway.

“I believe all of us knew we had to consummate the deal,” he said. “I haven’t had that feeling with an orchestra in a long time.”

A fresh start
While Slatkin’s partnership with the Saint Louis Symphony was a triumph, his tenure in Washington has been mixed. While the orchestra has improved, there has been tension with both management and players. The DSO offers a fresh start.

Negotiations took a hiatus in August and early September while the DSO hammered out a new labor agreement. Slatkin’s deal was finalized last week.

The DSO’s five-year search was unusually long, slowed by a management change in 2003 and the lack of consensus candidates. The stars most desired by the musicians, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos and Charles Dutoit, fell off the board for various reasons, and other potentials – Mark Wigglesworth, Andrew Davis, Hans Graf, Yan Pascal Tortelier – never amassed enough support.

Peter Oundjian’s appointment as artistic adviser in 2006 bought the search more time by providing artistic stability. Peter Cummings, chairman emeritus and search committee member, said patience was rewarded.

“All the pieces are in place. We have great facilities ... a world-class music director, great management and a new labor contract. The tough economy is a challenge, but we’re ready to move from the brink of greatness to actual greatness.”

Slatkin, who will travel to Detroit frequently in the coming months for planning and auditions, said his first goal was to broaden the subscription base through varied programming and deepen the orchestra’s connection with the community, especially through the DSO’s extensive education programs.

The second goal, he said, was to establish a national identity, most likely through American music, especially a group of younger composers he’s championing. He also wants to tap into the DSO’s French tradition. He said touring and finding new ways of disseminating the DSO through recording, the Internet and television were all in play.

“This is exactly the right job for me,” he said. “It plays to my strengths. I really couldn’t be more delighted. If I could start tomorrow, I would.”


Symphony chief singing an optimistic song
October 09, 2007
The Star-Ledger
Bradley Bambarger

When Andre Gremillet was in Berlin a couple weeks ago, it was like a dream.

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s chief executive was there to see NJSO music director Neeme Järvi perform as a guest conductor with the august Berlin Philharmonic. The hall was packed with a crowd of all ages, including the young and hip. Excitement about the music was in the air everywhere – it seemed like all the taxi drivers were even listening to classical radio.

Then Gremillet woke up at home. The taxi drivers don’t generally whistle Beethoven and Brahms in Jersey City, where he lives, and the NJSO faces fiscal challenges many administrators would think a nightmare, particularly the deficit that Gremillet puts at about $15 million.

Still, in his second year on the job, the 40-year-old Gremillet exudes the energy of someone clear-eyed, but inspired. And he has good news to report, including an 11 percent increase in ticket revenue last season without a price increase. There is also the anticipation surrounding the NJSO’s 85th season opener on Friday, with the ever-popular Järvi leading the orchestra at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.

Across the street from NJPAC, on Park Place, the NJSO staff is settling into its new offices. The orchestra has a new chief financial officer (Roxanne Kam) and a new development director (Nicole Kagan). Gremillet is quick to talk about the support he has received from the NJSO’s board. And he gets animated when discussing education projects, as well as bright media ideas of the kind the Metropolitan Opera has hatched lately. But everything costs money, and dollars for music seem scarce in the Garden State.

“I knew the difficulties facing symphony orchestras before I came, and the NJSO’s in particular,” says Gremillet, who was trained not only as a businessman in his native Quebec but as a musician in New York (a master’s degree in piano). “So, I know our first priority is getting the orchestra on a firmer financial footing, out of debt, so we can take advantage of the artistic growth the orchestra has had with Neeme Järvi. I hope soon that my job isn’t just to talk about money every day, but to realize exciting projects for the orchestra.”

The elephant in the room during any discussion of the NJSO’s finances is its collection of 17th- and 18th-century string instruments. Some $11 million of the orchestra’s cumulative debt is from the 2003 purchase of this "Golden Age" collection, according to Gremillet. There has been much speculation as to whether the NJSO overpaid in its original $17 million deal, among other controversies. But its collection does include genuine Stradivarius violins and other fine instruments, and their value has heightened in recent years.

With the cost of the debt having outweighed the benefit of ownership, the NJSO is negotiating with several parties for a sale of the collection. The goal is to reach an agreement that will allow the orchestra to keep performing on them – the sort of loan that owners of rare instruments often give famous soloists. But Gremillet insists that lowering the orchestra’s financial burden is his main concern.

“Obviously, we would prefer a deal where we retain playing rights, but we are ruling nothing out,” Gremillet says. “And we’re not rushing things. We want get a deal done as soon as possible, but it’s a complicated process.”

After fundraising and ticket sales, the NJSO kept a balanced operating budget last year of about $14.4 million, after falling short $1.25 million the year before. The other good news: Sixty-nine percent of total seats were filled last season, up from 45 percent the previous season. The orchestra has managed to increase its net number of subscribers by about 1,200 (9 percent), and single-ticket sales jumped by 6,000. Of course, the cost of putting on an NJSO concert isn’t nearly covered by ticket sales; fundraising is vital, as is public support.

This summer, the NJSO garnered the same size grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts as last year, with the $1.6 million the biggest of the 240 awarded. Gremillet was disappointed when the orchestra received $250,000 from the state to use for its Newark Early Strings Program, which has offered free instruction on playing string instruments to elementary-schoolers since 2000. The orchestra had requested $2.4 million to expand the program beyond Newark, but the amount was cut from the $1 million it received the year before.

Of course, the NJSO has a bit of self-interest at heart in its education programs, as those who have exposure to music in school are more likely to become orchestra subscribers later in life. To this end, the orchestra also cut prices for tickets to its family concerts in half, to $9, a move that helped to triple its subscribers to the series.

The NJSO has reached out to listeners of all ages, though. It spends about $40,000 in chartering buses to ferry mostly seniors to concerts from such locations as Toms River, far from one of the orchestra’s venues. Perhaps quixotically, the orchestra has even tried to draw in young singles with “Rhapsody in Brew" meet-before-the-concert events, which are expanding from New Brunswick to Englewood this season.

Unique among major symphony orchestras in the U.S., the NJSO plays across its state, from Newark, New Brunswick and Englewood to Princeton, Morristown, Red Bank and Trenton. As other groups have found, it has been harder to attract people to Trenton’s War Memorial, likely due to lingering fears over the city’s safety at night.

“Trenton is important to us,” Gremillet says. “We’re discussing ideas now about how we can address the situation, maybe by making the concerts shorter, getting people home sooner. Like all orchestras have to these days, we’re always thinking about the ways we can adapt the concert format to our audience.”

In recent seasons, the NJSO has instituted low-key spoken introductions to its concerts by an orchestra musician, as well as an “ask the musician” intermission feature – an idea that came from the players themselves. Both have proved popular in audience surveys. The biggest boon to the NJSO during a tough time has been Järvi, both musically and in the way he has charmed audiences. When he conducted the orchestra around his 70th birthday in May, some 2,300 audience members returned cards with greetings for him.

Järvi’s contract is up at the end of this season. The conductor has expressed dismay at the inability of the orchestra to raise funds for making recordings in “such a rich state,” but the NJSO’s nationally syndicated radio series via WQXR has pleased him, as has his heightening bond with the players. Gremillet says the orchestra will do everything it can to renew the relationship, although he promises the NJSO will be prepared for the post-Järvi era – a tough prospect, with conductors of his experience and charisma an endangered species.

Gremillet believes what he saw in Berlin should be possible in New Jersey – a growing audience taking for granted that the intellectual challenge of classical concerts isn’t mutually exclusive to their being fun, even cool. He wants the qualities the public appreciates in Järvi – an effortless spirit of enjoyment, generosity and communication – to become institutional givens for the orchestra.

The NJSO’s mission is “to make people’s lives a little bit better – I really believe that,” Gremillet says. Now, his job is to persuade more people to allow the orchestra to do just that.


Järvi renews with the NJSO
October 12, 2007
The Star-Ledger
Bradley Bambarger

Conductor Neeme Järvi signed on for another year as music director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the group announced tonight. He will conduct six sets of programs in the 2008-2009 season rather than the 10 he will lead this season, the last of his previous three-year contract.

The announcement was made just before Järvi and the NJSO opened the orchestra’s 85th season tonight at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. They perform at Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre tomorrow and at NJPAC Sunday and Tuesday, with New Jersey-bred violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg as guest soloist.

Järvi, who turned 70 in June, is also chief conductor of the Hague Residentie Orchestra in the Netherlands. He and his wife keep homes in New York and Florida, and the conductor has pledged to cut back on his international schedule.

But he keeps a busy concert diary, with the emphasis on Europe. This season, he performs with the Berlin Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic.


Neeme Järvi Extends Contract as New Jersey SO Music Director by One Season
October 15, 2007
Playbill Arts
Matthew Westphal

Neeme Järvi has extended his term as music director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra for one additional season, through the summer of 2009. NJSO president André Gremillet announced the news from the stage of Prudential Hall at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on Friday (Oct. 12) during the opening concert of the orchestra’s 2007-08 season.

Järvi came to the New Jersey post in the fall of 2005, following his departure from the Detroit Symphony after 15 years as music director (during which, by most accounts, he did outstanding work). His initial contract with the NJSO, for a term of three years, was set to expire at the close of the current season.

“I love making music with the wonderful musicians of the NJSO,” said the maestro in a statement released by the orchestra today. “I am excited about our upcoming concerts, and I look forward to bringing great music to New Jersey audiences. I will also do all I can to contribute to the Orchestra’s artistic growth beyond 2009.”

That final sentence seems to imply that Järvi will not stay in his post beyond the end of next season. Another indication in that direction is that, as the New Jersey Star-Ledger observes, Järvi will only conduct six programs in his final year with the NJSO, half of what he did last season.

The newspaper does point out, however, that Järvi , who lives in New York City, has another position as chief conductor of the Residentie Orchestra in the Hague as well as numerous guest-conducting engagements in Europe. “The lesser schedule is inevitable as the 70-year-old says he doesn’t want to overwork himself,” said the report.

The NJSO has been dealing with a number of difficulties over the past few years. The orchestra has an accumulated debt of about $15 million, much of it from the now-controversial 2003 purchase of 30 “Golden Age” string instruments — a collection which the orchestra decided to sell earlier this year. In response to its financial situation, the orchestra drew down $3.1 million of what was then a $10 million endowment in the summer of 2006.

Gremillet had better news to offer on Friday night, according to the Star-Ledger. In addition to Järvi’s contract extension, he told the audience that the orchestra ended last season with a balanced budget, that its nationally syndicated radio series of concert broadcasts would continue, and that philanthropist Margrit McCrane has donated $1.5 million to endow the orchestra’s principal viola chair.


Neeme Järvi pikendas lepingut New Jersey sümfooniaorkestriga
15. oktoober 2007
Postimees Online

Neeme Järvi pikendas 2009. aastani lepingut New Jersey sümfooniaorkestriga (NJSO).

Tema 2005. aastal alanud leping orkestri muusikalise juhina oleks järgmisel hooajal lõppenud, vahendas AP.

„Armastan teha muusikat koos suurepäraste NJSO muusikutega,” teatas 70-aastane Järvi. „Olen elevil meie uute kontsertide tõttu ja loodan edaspidigi tuua New Jersey publiku ette suurepärast muusikat.”

Järvi ütles oma avalduses veel, et ta loodab osaleda orkestri kunstilise taseme tõstmises ka pärast 2009. aastat.

Eestis sündinud Järvi emigreerus USAsse 1980. aastal. 1982. aastal sai temast Göteborgi sümfooniaorkestri dirigent; aastatel 1990-2005 oli ta Detroidi sümfooniaorkestri muusikaline juht.


Neeme Järvi prolonge dans le New Jersey
Octobre 16, 2007

Le chef estonien restera directeur musical du New Jersey Symphony Orchestra jusqu’en 2009.

Neeme Järvi a prolongé d’une saison son contrat de directeur musical du New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Présent à ce poste depuis l’automne 2005 (il quitte alors le Detroit Symphony qu’il dirigeait depuis plus de 15 ans), le chef estonien assurera donc son rôle jusqu’à l’été 2009.

Il n’est pas certain que Järvi aille au-delà de cette date. En effet, à 70 ans, il dirige également l’Orchestre de la Résidence de La Haye et compte déjà de nombreux engagements en Europe après 2009.

Par ailleurs, le New Jersey Symphony Orchestra est en proie à de sérieux problèmes financiers. Une dette de 15 millions de dollars due en grande partie à l’achat d’une trentaine d’instruments de collection en 2003, collection revendue depuis…


Hum bug
Unruffled NJSO and conductor sail through sound glitches

October 23, 2007
The Star-Ledger
Bradley Bambarger

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s music director – who, when he isn’t leading the NJSO, conducts top orchestras in Europe’s greatest concert halls – had to compete with an electric buzz on stage at Morristown’s Community Theatre. The public-address system had been left on after the day’s introductory comments.

Yet Järvi didn’t betray any irritation to the audience, nor did the orchestra musicians, all crowded onto the Community’s less-than-symphonic stage. The buzz was silenced for the concert’s second half, and by then, it was Järvi who had to remedy a little mess of his own making. That he did with his usual avuncular spontaneity.

Originally, the program was to frame a Mozart concerto with Mendelssohn’s “Hymn of Praise” and “Reformation” symphonies. The “Hymn of Praise” (“Lobgesang” in German) isn’t performed often in the U.S., with more than half of its 65 minutes taken up by a nine-part sacred choral finale. Järvi likes its instrumental introduction as it is, though. So, the “Hymn of Praise”, shorn of the lofty (and expensive) chorus, was to lead into the Mozart, with the concert’s second half to feature the more familiar “Reformation” Symphony.

Having already performed the program in Englewood and Trenton over the weekend, Järvi decided that having all the Mendelssohn on the second half felt better. But after the “Hymn of Praise” intro’s seamless half-hour, the conductor started the “Reformation” Symphony without a pause for applause, oddly. After the first movement of the “Reformation” came to its grand close, the audience – understandably confused – clapped as if that were the end of something. Instead of pressing on, Järvi took a good-humored bow and even left the stage to chuckles from the orchestra, returning to perform the rest of the symphony like an extended encore.

That’s a long story to relate that Järvi is both a dignified character and one who is light on his feet – both qualities that the NJSO can use. Luckily for the orchestra and its fans, the conductor has extended his role as the NJSO’s music director to run through the 2008-2009 season.

As for Sunday’s music-making, Finnish pianist Antti Siirala – another of the fine Scandinavian soloists Järvi has brought to New Jersey – played Mozart’s D Minor concerto with the skill, style and limpid tone expected of a Leeds International Piano Competition winner. The orchestra sounded muted behind the piano (and that buzz) on the small Community stage, and the boyish 28-year-old pianist sounded more busy than passionate in the slow movement. But Siirala played Beethoven’s theatrical cadenzas to Mozart’s most dramatic concerto with aplomb, by turns ruminative and glittering.

Mendelssohn’s “Hymn of Praise” felt like virtuoso note-spinning without its finale, though the NJSO performed it well enough, a few squeaks aside. The “Reformation” – the composer’s weightiest symphony, written when the prodigy was just 20 – came across better.
The first movement features the stirring “Dresden Amen” tune that Wagner would use in his opera “Parsifal”, one of the more ironic bits of sharing in music history (the anti-Semitic Wagner being unable to abide the Jewish Mendelssohn). The Andante is even more affecting, and Bart Feller’s solo flute was luminous over the strings. With the finale based on the Lutheran chorale “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” the orchestra united for a collective hosanna at the end that seemed especially apt on a picture-perfect Sunday.


Ühest kaunist raamatust
1. november 2007
Vaba Eesti Sõna
Raul Pettai

Sel aastal andis kirjastus SE&JS (Endla 3, 10122 Tallinn; sejs@sejs.ee) Neeme Järvi 70. sünnipäeva puhul välja erakordselt kauni raamatu: “Neeme Järvi, kunstniku elu - The Maestro’s Touch” (296 lk.).

Juba formaadilt ja kujunduselt on teos imposantne, suurekaustaline, läikivate kaante vahel, trükitud kriitpaberile - annab tõsta. Lisaks huvitavale tekstile leiame raamatus sadu fotosid, ajaloolisi ning kaasaegseid, suuri ja väikesi, must-valgeid ja värvilisi (eeskujulik värvide reproduktsioon!). Neid üksi võib kaua vaadelda. Nii väärib raamat igati hinnangut “erakordne”.

Kuidas teost iseloomustada? Ta pole vaid reportaaž Järvi elust ja tööst, pole vaid klassiline biograafia ega esteetiline pildiraamat. Tiitel annab parima vihje - “The Maestro…”. Raamatu sisu on pigem lend säravate mäetippude vahel, orgusid vaevu märgates. Ometi tuuakse esile ka paljud huvitavad pisiasjad, mis pärlitena vaatlejast mööda veerevad. Nii näiteks, miks andis ema vastsündinule nimeks „Neeme”? Seda oli motiveerinud muinasaja vapper eesti rahvas. Kas ei peitu juba siin Neeme Järvi hilisema deklaratsiooni eelkaja: „Ma olen ju Eesti fanaatik. Mul on vaja, et Eesti nimi kõlaks maailmas…

Raamat on jaotatud kuude peatükki. Esimeses rullub lahti Neeme Järvi lapsepõlv, noorus ja täisikka jõudmine, aastad 1937 – 1979. Loeme muusikaõpingutest Tallinna Muusikakoolis ja Leningradi Konservatooriumis, kuhu Järvi andekus talle 1955. a. tee avas, hoolimata ülirasketest sisseastumiseksamitest. Samm-sammult tõustakse kõrgemale: kontserdid rea orkestritega Leningradis, esimene täismõõduline kontsert Eesti Raadio Sümfooniaorkestriga, esimesed välismaareisid Euroopasse, USA-sse, Kanadasse jpm. Aastal 1961 abielluvad Neeme ja Liidia; kaks aastat hiljem, 1962, sünnib esimene poeg Paavo, kellest, nagu isast, saab meisterdirigent. Siis aga tuleb suur murrang.

Aastaks 1980 viis pidev Nõukogude kiviseina vastu jooksmine süveneva pessimismini. Tehti otsus, saagu mis saab, püüda N. Liidust lahkuda. Seda kõike ning järgnevat eluteed kirjeldab peatükk „Aeg ja elu, 1980-2007”, mis toob lugeja ühtlasi tänapäevani. Siin on juba niivõrd palju huvitavat informatsiooni, et üksikasjaline loendus ei mahu käesoleva ülevaate raamidesse - pingeline töö paljude orkestrite, solistide ja ansamblitega üle kogu maailma, pikaajalised tööpõllud Göteborgis, Detroidis, Newarkis, dirigeerimise meisterkursused Pärnus jpm. Põnev on seda lugeda.

Eriline nauding on aga viies peatükk - pikk intervjuu Neeme Järviga. Selles selgitab Järvi oma elufilosoofiat, rahvustunnet, vahekorda orkestrite, perekonna, kaas-inimeste, kuulsate kaasmuusikute ja Eestiga. Eelkõige aga loeme ikka-jälle muusikast, selle olemusest ning mõjust inimhingele. Ta selgitab, mida tähendab muusika dramaturgia ja milles seisneb dirigeerimise kunst. Mõni samastab dirigeerimist taktilöömisega, kuid vahekord dirigendi ja orkestrimuusiku vahel on palju keerulisem. Lugege selle kohta lk. 186! Huvipakkuvad on Järvi mõtisklused heliloojate kohta - Haydn (lk. 184), Bruckner (lk. 135), Sibelius (lk. 227), Mozart ja Wagner (lk. 222). Ei puudu südamlik ning üksikasjaline kirjeldus tema kolme muusikust järeltulija - pojad Paavo ja Kristjan ning tütar Maarika - lapse-põlvest, arengust ja praegusest tegevusest. Kaunilt on esile toodud elukaaslase Liidia osa pikal eluteel.

Raamatus on tohutu hulk faktilist informatsiooni: kõikide Neeme Järvi poolt juhatatud orkestrite nimestik, tema poolt juhatatud maailmaesiettekanded, isiklikud ja kutseelu verstapostid ning täielik diskograafia. Teose tekst on kahes keeles, igal leheküljel eesti ja inglise keel, maitsekalt kõrvuti asetatud. Kuna Järvi on suur eestlane ja suur kosmopoliit samal ajal, siis on see igati kohane, sest nii pääseb raamat ka maailmafoorumile.

Raamatu meeldivat kujundust ma juba kriipsutasin alla. Ta on uus tõend eesti raamatukunsti kõrgest tasemest. Olgu toimetajad tänatud nähtud vaeva eest! Veel midagi: raamatu esi- ja tagakaanel on juurde lisatud kaks CD-d* - Järvi poolt juhatatud Gustav Mahleri 2. sümfoonia ja Anton Bruckneri 7. sümfoonia. Kas leidub raamatus vigu? Olgu pro forma ära toodud vaid kaks. Lk. 133 tsiteeritakse arvustust ühe Göteborgi kontserdi kohta. Allikaks on “Vaba Eesti Sõna”, kuid kohaks on Stockholm. Kas peaks olema New York, või on ajalehe nimi vale? Lk. 180 seisab, et New Jersey Sümfooniaorkestri mängijatel on kokku 30 Stradivariuse viiulit. Ei, see on kuulsate pillide koguarv, mis mõne aasta eest osteti. Stradivariuse instrumente on nende hulgas 13 - viiuleid 12, tšellosid üks. Ülejäänud pillid on teiste tuntud meistrite tööd, nagu Guarneri, Guadagnini, Amati, Ruggieri, Grancino jt.

* Bruckner - CD, Mahler – DVD


Mendelssohn ja Mozart
2. november 2007
Eesti Elu
Raul Pettai

18. ja 21. oktoobril esitas New Jersey Sümfooniaorkester (NJSO) Neeme Järvi juhatusel hooaja teise kava teemal „Mendelssohn ja Mozart”. Need kaks heliloojat jagavad enam kui vaid nime esitähte. Mõlemad olid muusika suurkujud – heliloojad, dirigendid ja erakordsete võimetega instrumentalistid. W. A. Mozartit (1756-91) kui muusika imelast tunnevad kõik. Felix Mendelssohn (1809-47) ei jäänud temast maha. Mõlema mehe looming on elujaatav, sädelev, suure eruditsiooniga ja nagu mängeldes paberile pandud. Traagiliselt vara lahkusid mõlemad siit maailmast. Mozarti ja Mendelssohni loomingute põimimine samal kontserdil oli seega igati kohane.

Kava avanumbriks esitati Mendelssohni 2. sümfoonia (1840) kolm esimest osa. Pooliku helitöö esitamise põhjus oli, et teose viimases osas (enam kui pool terve sümfoonia kogupikkusest!) esineb ka koor, sest helitöö lisanimi oli „Lobgesang” (Kiidulaul). Antud juhul on tegemist pigem suure oratooriumi kui sümfooniaga, mida tavalisel kontserdil on raske tervikuna esitada. Mendelssohnilt telliti teos ajaloolise suursündmuse – Gutenbergi poolt trükipressi leiutamise 400. aastapäeva pidulikuks tähistamiseks Leipzigis juunis 1840.

Kontserdi soolonumbriks oli Mozarti klaverikontsert nr. 20 (d-moll, K 466; 1785). Mozart kirjutas kokku 27 klaverikontserti (Köcheli kataloogi järgi isegi 29). Ainult kaks nendest, kõnealune ja nr. 24, on minoorhelistikus. Veelgi tähelepanuväärsem on, et vastandina eelmistele Mozarti klaverikontsertidele käivad siin solist ja orkester näiliselt iseseisvaid radasid, esitades kohati erinevat temaatilist materjali. Esimese osa (Allegro) nukra tundemaailma vastukaaluks on romantilise kõlaga teine osa (Romance) – nende ridade autori üks lemmikpalasid. Olgu veel lisatud, et Beethoven hindas D-moll klaverikontserti sedavõrd kõrgelt, et kirjutas teose esimesele osale kadentsi, mida tänapäevani esitatakse (originaalne Mozarti kadents pole säilinud).

Kava lõppes Mendelssohni 5. sümfooniaga (d-duur, op. 107), mis on tuntud kui „Reformatsioonisümfoonia”. Nime põhjuseks on, et teoses esinevad mitmed reformatsiooniaegsed meloodiad, mida lõpus kroonib Martin Lutheri koraal „Üks kindel linn ja varjupaik”. Mendelssohn kirjutas teose, kui ta oli vaid 20-aastane. Ja noorusest hoolimata on helitöö ometi igas suhtes meisterlik – jälle näide, miks Mozart ja Mendelssohn olid olemuselt nii sarnased.

Mozarti klaverikontserdi solistiks oli 28-aastane soome pianist Antti Siirala. Tema esitus ei jätnud tehniliselt midagi soovida. Eredalt ja selgelt kõlasid üksikud noodid, eriti hea koostöö tõttu ei mattunud solist kusagil orkestri kõla alla. Vähene oli minu arvates aga tõlgitsuslik külg. Muidugi ei saa Mozartit sarnaste emotsioonidega mängida nagu, ütleme, Tšaikovskit. Siiski on Mozart väga kaasakiskuv, dramaatiline. See element puudus. Vahest hoidis Siirala ennast Mozarti tekstis liigselt tagasi? Beethoveni soolokadentsi mängis ta suurepäraselt – vitaalne dünaamika ja sädelev esitus.

Neeme Järvi hoidis aga, nagu alati, kontserti kindlates kätes. Mõlemad Mendelssohni teosed, eriti 5. sümfoonia, olid nauditavad kuulata. Armastan muusikat kuulata lülitades välja nägemismeele. Siis on eriline mõnu jälgida, kuidas teose keskne mõte ühelt pillirühmalt teisele üle antakse, kuidas hääled-teemad-mõtted orkestri eri osades esile kerkivad ning jälle taanduvad; kuidas igal noodil on midagi olulist öelda ja õigustus ennast kuuldavaks teha. See kõik ei tule muidugi iseendast, vaid tunnistab eeskätt dirigendi võimetest. Vahest seepärast jätavad Järvi ettekanded alati nii suure mõju.

Lisapalaks (Neeme Järvi traditsioon) mängiti Mendelssohni „Suveöö unenäo” avamäng –, mis oli nagu sillerdavate liblikate kiire lend.


Läti fond tunnustab maestro Neeme Järvit audiplomiga
15. november 2007
Eesti Päevaleht
Kärt Anvelt

Dirigenti tunnustatakse läti heliloojate teoste ettekandmise ja salvestamise eest.
Läti Vabariigi iseseisvuspäeva eelõhtul, 17. novembril 2007 antakse Neeme Järvile New Yorgis üle Ülemaailmse Vabade Lätlaste Liidu Kultuurifondi (The Cultural Foundation of the World Federation of Free Latvians – WFFL) audiplom.

Maestro Järvit tunnustatakse pikaajalise pühendumuse eest läti heliloojate teoste ettekandmisel ja salvestamisel. Neeme Järvi on maailmale tutvustanud selliste läti heliloojate loomingut nagu Emils Darzins, Imants Kalnins, Janis Medins ja Peteris Vasks.

WFFL-i pressiteates öeldakse, et Neeme Järvi on oma esinemistes ja arvukates intervjuudes alati rõhutanud Balti riikide muusika tähtsust ning esile tõstnud noori, Baltimaadest pärit muusikuid (viiuldaja Baiba Skride jt.).

„Tänu maestro Järvi tähelepanuväärsetele pingutustele on klassikalise muusika kuulajad üle kogu maailma saanud suurepärase võimaluse nautida läti, eesti ja leedu heliloojate loomingut. Auhind väljendab lätlaste tänu ja tunnustust Neeme Järvile,” ütles liidu president Vija Zuntaka-Berzina.

Eestis sündinud Järvi emigreerus USA-sse 1980. aastal. 1982. aastal sai temast Göteborgi sümfooniaorkestri dirigent, aastatel 1990–2005 oli ta Detroidi sümfooniaorkestri muusikaline juht, praegu selle dirigent emeeritus. Ta on ka Kuningliku Šoti Rahvusorkestri laureaatdirigent.

Oma karjääri jooksul on Järvi juhatanud kokku 157 orkestrit. 418 salvestusega on Järvi ka üks maailma enim plaadistanud dirigente.

Mitmete auhindade laureaat
2005. aastal allkirjastas Järvi lepingu New Jersey sümfooniaorkestriga (NJSO). Oktoobris pikendas Järvi sama orkestri muusikalise juhina lepingu 2009. aastani. Järvi avaldas oktoobris lootust, et osaleb orkestri kunstilise taseme tõstmises ka pärast 2009. aastat. 2005. aasta sügisest on Järvi ka Haagi Residentie Orkesti (The Hague Philharmonic) peadirigent.

Järvi on saanud mitmeid muusikaauhindu, nende hulgas Toblach’s Mahler Prize, Pariisi Charles Cros’ Heliplaadiakadeemia Grand Prix du Disque jt.


Fun Ride Through Familiar Territory
November 17, 2007
The Star-Ledger
Ruth Bonapace

Not many young musicians get the chance to introduce a work by a major composer with symphony orchestras around the country.

Yet Montclair pianist Terrence Wilson has been doing exactly that throughout the year, and on Thursday night he brought the show to his backyard, performing Michael Daugherty’s “Deus ex Machina” with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra at Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood.

The piece is inspired by trains, mainly the old-fashioned kind: the speeding locomotives portrayed in early-20th-century futurist and surrealist paintings, the funeral train of Abraham Lincoln and the beefy steam locomotives crisscrossing the country in the 1950s.

Daugherty’s score is accessible and familiar. A trumpet playing taps peals through the concert hall during the mournful second movement, “Train of Tears”. There are plenty of drum rolls, pizzicato violins and sliding trombone passages in the fast first and third movements of this piano concerto to clearly evoke the rumbling, raucous chugging of the great train era of American history.

There is also fiendishly fast keyboard work required to keep up with all of these racing locomotives hurling through the century, and Wilson, who graduated from Juilliard in 2001, handled these difficult tasks crisply and cleanly.

Much of the 28-minute piece could be summed up as “loud and louder”, with pounding octaves on the piano combined with Hollywood-style razzle-dazzle, including a train whistle. Unfortunately, while it is certainly flashy and crowd-pleasing, it breaks little, if any, new musical ground and offers few moments of real lyricism or originality.

In keeping with the mostly exuberant mood of the music, the evening had its moments of levity.

The piece opens with Wilson reaching inside the piano strumming the strings while holding down the sustaining pedal. Conductor Neeme Järvi feigned surprise and stuck his head under the piano lid as if to see what went wrong. Then, looking at Wilson and shrugging, he turned back to the orchestra as Wilson laughed and continued playing.

In fact, Wilson, who is originally from the Bronx, seemed to be relishing the entire performance, from his preconcert talk with the audience to the waving and nodding to his acquaintances in the concert hall during the enthusiastic applause, with the 53-year-old composer by his side.

“Deus ex Machina”, which is Latin for "god out of a machine," is a literary term used to describe the sudden intervention of a person or device to resolve a vexing plot issue. The work was commissioned by a consortium of the Charlotte, Nashville, New Jersey, Rochester and Syracuse symphony orchestras, and premiered last March in Charlotte, N.C.

Rounding out the program were Respighi’s “Ancient Airs and Dances” Suite No. 3 and Beethoven’s overtures to “Fidelio” and “Leonore”.


Seen and Heard Concert Review
Anne Ozorio

Tchaikovsky, Mahler: Alexander Markovich (piano), Neeme Järvi (conductor), London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Festival Hall, London 24.10.2007 (AO)

Two weeks ago, I attended a talk about the differences between German and Russian song. Briefly, German song is introspective and intimate, while Russian song is declamatory and operatic. This concert, juxtaposing Tchaikovsky and Mahler illustrated how the theory applies to orchestral music. The sensibilities are fundamentally different, even though the differences may be subtle.

The melody that starts Tchaikovsky’s Concerto no 1 in B Flat minor is so well known that it’s been used in pop songs and TV ads, but when a good pianist orchestra perform it well, it’s revealed in its true late Romantic glory. Alexander Markovich luxuriated in the gorgeous harmonies, showing how the concerto’s strengths extend far beyond the flamboyant introduction. He and Neeme Järvi have performed together many times, so their rapport was very close, Järvi conducting so the orchestra supported the soloist fully, for in this genre, one voice is paramount, despite the beauty of the other parts, especially the flute. Markovich’s long solos were assertively played, exuding confidence. Abstract as it is, this is pictorial music, the Cossack dances and folk tunes adding lively colour.

To bridge Tchaikovsky and Mahler, Markovich’s encore was Liszts’s transcription of the Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde. It was a brilliantly inspired choice because it distils the opera’s sprawling themes into a more intimate, contemplative form. Without elaborate orchestration, the piano alone must express the essence of the drama. I was quite pleased that he didn’t use a flamboyant, flashy style but played with understated sensitivity, as the piece’s essential “psychological” character is sometimes obscured by over-wrought exaggeration. It was a good choice too, because Wagner’s music grew from the same German tradition, that was deeply ingrained in Mahler’s musical sensibility.

Mahler wrote a single movement piano quartet and completed Carl Maria von Weber’s opera Die Drei Pintos, but the First Symphony shows that, even at this early stage, Mahler’s musical direction evolved from song. The symphony incorporates his Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen. He hasn’t quite developed the idea of a song symphony yet, but the songs are so integral to the symphony that it is strikingly original. Significantly, though, the songs are not stand alone set pieces but woven into the orchestration, even though whole phrases are quoted unchanged. Sometimes their origins are important. For example, there’s no mistaking that the optimistic, lyrical passages in the first movement, refer to the springtime imagery of the song Ging heut’ morgens übers Feld. Mahler doesn’t need words to evoke images of nature and birdcalls. If you really want, you can make more of the connection between phrases like “Ei du, gelt ? Schöne Welt !” but the songs aren’t there to serve as narrative. What come across is the spirit of exuberance. Even if the playing was, at times, a little ragged, it fitted the overall sense of rustic good humour.

Järvi included Blumine, a movement soon discarded from the symphony by the composer. It was itself an attempt to reuse music from Mahler’s abandoned setting of the play Der Trompeten von Säkkingen. I don’t know why Järvi used Blumine, but it worked in the context of this performance. The music is a gift for trumpeters, Paul Beniston playing with so much verve and spirit that the piece presaged the wonderful trumpet and trombone passages in the final movement, where Beniston sat away from the other trumpets, and among the brass. The solo trumpet thus took centre stage, literally as well as acoustically, which made complete musical sense. There aren’t any “roles” in this music, but the trumpet part is pivotal. At times, the tempi slowed dangerously, but Järvi used them to highlight detail such as the harp melody and the violin duet. Blumine isn’t often performed because it does drag, holding up the thrust of the symphony but this was pleasant enough, a reminder of just how much less conventional the rest of Mahler’s music really is.

Blumine did however make the third movement even more vivid, for it’s a boisterous piece, with Ländler, stomping ostinato and shrill brass. Fortunately, Järvi didn’t dwell on detail, focussing on the impressionistic vigour rather than a literal definition. There was far more definition in the next movement, often called the Todtenmarsch because it was inspired by a famous picture where a huntsman is dead, his bier followed by animals he used to hunt. It’s wryly subversive, its meaning not lost on Mahler with his sharp sense of irony. It’s also a corrective shock after the breezy warmth of what has gone before. Järvi emphasises the stunned sense of numbness, but put much more into the gentle “Lindenbaum” theme, which reprises the last song in the Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen cycle, with its images of sleep, and by implication, of death. The violins played the “Gute Nacht” passages with great feeling. Hence, after a fast “gypsy” flourish, he ended the movement suddenly and with complete silence.

The silence served an artistic purpose because it made the final movement sound even more explosive in contrast. As Mahler wrote, it rises “abruptly, like lightning out of a dark cloud….the outcry of a deeply wounded heart”. Hence the crashing cymbals, the loud timpani and brass, trombones, trumpets and tuba all ablaze. As Mahler said, “our hero is engaged…in a most dreadful battle with all the sorrow of this world”. It’s supposed to induce shock and awe.

Here it convinced through volume rather than depth of interpretation, but was impressive nonetheless, if a little forced. As the “triumph” motifs resumed, the orchestra was on firmer ground. There was some good ensemble playing here, but individual sections shone, such as the trumpets and trombones and Kevin Rundell’s superbly judged solo on double bass. I’ve always heard echoes of the Messiah in this movement, “and he shall reign, and he shall reign……” though I’ve not seen any specific reference to Mahler having quoted Handel. There was some very good playing here, especially When the horns play directionally, they do it for musical reasons as the sound deflects sideways, and when they stand up, their sound is literally “above” the strings and winds. Yet it’s also visually dramatic as the sight of so much gleaming gold stimulates the imagination. I still can’t figure out why Bělohlávek wanted the second violins to rise, for it dampens the impact. Drama, for Mahler, is more about inward, personal response on the part of the listener. It’s not narrative.

The resurgence of the springtime themes suited Järvi best of all, for this performance’s strongest asset was its irrepressible good humour and optimism. This is a young man’s symphony after all, and Järvi understood its youthful swagger.


Sklar Set to Star in NJSO Concert
November 18, 2007
Asbury Park Press
Carlton Wilkinson

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra returns to the Count Basie Theatre on Saturday and will feature soloist Brittany Sklar, who will perform Johannes Brahms’ Violin Concerto and works by Haydn, Ravel and Gounod.

Sklar is the 19-year-old winner of the NJSO’s 2007 Young Artists Auditions. A resident of Garfield, she began violin at age 4 with Nancy Feiner; in 1998, Sklar was accepted to the pre-college division of Juilliard in New York. She has won concerto competitions sponsored by the Gotham Chamber Orchestra, the Long Island Sound Symphony, the New York Lawyers Orchestra and the Summit Music Festival.

Sklar, who has been featured on the NPR program “From the Top”, is now in her third year as a student of Aaron Rosand and attends the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

The work Sklar will play is a staple of the violin concerto repertoire, a great work that deserves its warhorse status. Originally written for violinist Joseph Joachim, Brahms’ friend and recital partner, the score was fussed over by the two men for months during the composition and revision process. The result is chock full of typical mature Brahms — intricate melodic and motivic structures, lush harmonies. The violin part is intricate, challenging and ethereal in its beauty.

In its time, the concerto wasn’t quite what other violinists were hoping for. Spanish violinist Pablo de Sarasate reportedly refused to play it, saying, “Do you think that I would stand there with my violin in my hand and listen while the oboe plays the only melody in the entire piece?” But thanks to more astute champions like Joachim, the concerto has become a centerpiece of concert literature.

Järvi visits London
While the concerto is rather far from dance music, the orchestra’s program is titled “Järvi and the Dance” and also includes two ballet suites: “The Mother Goose Suite” of Maurice Ravel and “Ballet Music from Faust” of Charles Gounod. Also in this program, NJSO music director Neeme Järvi continues his performance of the complete set of “London” symphonies of Joseph Haydn with Symphony No. 97. Together with the composer’s string quartets, these last 12 symphonies mark a pinnacle of achievement.

Haydn was treated like royalty during his visit to England and felt challenged and under pressure to outdo himself. Finally freed from the constraints of his court duties, he poured newly liberated creative energy into every bar. And the audiences loved it. There are accounts of the elderly composer being carried out into the streets on the shoulders of the adoring crowd. As a much younger composer, Haydn had basically invented the symphony as a musical form — the same form that was to become the focal point of the next 200 years of orchestral literature, the same form that is now (still and probably forever) dominated by two of Haydn’s pupils, Mozart and Beethoven.

From those composers through Mahler and down to the present day, Haydn’s inspiration resonates. Being paraded through London in triumph seems a fitting final tribute.

In addition to Saturday’s Count Basie performance, three other New Jersey performances of “Järvi and the Dance” are scheduled: 8 p.m. Friday at Richardson Auditorium in Princeton, 3 p.m. Nov. 25 at the Community Theatre at the Mayo Center for the Performing Arts in Morristown and 1:30 p.m. Nov. 27 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.

Jean Sibelius. Vol. 1: Tone Poems
November 21, 2007
Rasmus van Rijn

Dieser Karton hat auf einen Schlag die Befürchtung zerstreut, die ich vor einigen Monaten äußerte: daß nämlich die bei BIS entstehende Sibelius-Enzyklopädie in die Hände eines Billiganbieters übergehen und als Gesamtpaket nebst Schmalspur-CD-ROM verhökert werden könnte. Dem ist nicht so, vielmehr hat die Firma ihr eigenes, äußerst anerkennenswertes Konzept, wie der beigelegte Veröffentlichungsplan und das große J auf der Rückseite der Box verraten. Demnach sind, die Leerstelle zwischen Vor- und Nachnamen eingerechnet, dreizehn Teile vorgesehen (J-E-A-N S-I-B-E-L-I-U-S), auf die BIS die bisherigen Produktionen nebst verschiedenen Miszellen thematisch verteilen wird. Im März 2010 soll das Unternehmen abgeschlossen sein, und nach allem, was ich bislang aus dieser Reihe kenne, wird es nicht nur eine vollständige, sondern auch eine beinahe vollkommene Serie werden. Wer also bislang noch einige Lücken im Regal hat, sollte sie vorsorglich für die nächsten Kassetten freilassen – ganz gleich, wie die immer hurtiger aufeinanderfolgenden UN-Klimaberichte auch lauten mögen.

Schon vor gut anderthalb Jahrzehnten konnten wir ahnen, daß Osmo Vänskä und das Lahden kaupunginorkesteri ihr gemeinsames Unternehmen nicht als bloße Katalogaufstockung verstanden: Das Violinkonzert (Solist: Leonidas Kavakos) kam damals nicht nur in seiner bekannten Standardversion von 1905, sondern zum ersten Mal auch in der rund zwei Jahre älteren Urfassung heraus, und so war es möglich, einen ersten Eindruck von den steinigen Wegen zu erlangen, über die Sibelius zu seinen Meisterwerken gelangte (BIS CD-500). Im Anschluß waren immer wieder spektakuläre Entdeckungen zu verzeichnen. Die Urgestalten der Saga zum Beispiel oder der Lemminkäinen-Suite, ganz besonders aber der erste Zustand der fünften Symphonie (derzeit noch in einem klassischen 4CD-Set mit all ihren Geschwistern erhältlich) vermittelten eine immer klarere Vorstellung sowohl von der Arbeitsweise wie auch von den Kämpfen des Meisters bei der Suche nach schöpferischer Vollkommenheit. Was da alles weggeschnitten, gestaucht, vereinfacht, gestrafft werden mußte, um das Ideal zu erreichen, erinnert in manchem eher an den Beruf eines Michelangelo: Die perfekte Gestalt war da, sie mußte nur aus dem Stein herausgeschlagen werden. Welche Anstrengung das kostet, insbesondere, wenn man eigentlich weiß, wo’s hingehen soll, einem aber ständig irgendwelche unerklärlichen Störfelder in die Quere kommen, das kann man ahnen, wenn man diese Aufnahmen hört – oder auch die Einspielung der ersten Symphonie, die Osmo Vänskä und das Orchester aus Lahti so herzhaft bei der Gurgel nehmen, als ob es gelte, eine Skulptur aus Ton und nicht aus Tönen zu formen ...

Das J der geplanten Serie enthält nun also gleich alle symphonischen Dichtungen nebst ihren Urzuständen. Dabei sind En Saga, Lemminkäinen, In memoriam op. 59, Finnland erwache (die spätere Finlandia) vielleicht eher „interessant” für das Verständnis der Schaffensprozesse; die beiden Spielarten der Okeaniden op. 73 jedoch sind ohne Frage weit mehr als das: Hier stehen wir tatsächlich zwei verschiedenen und vollgültigen Werken über dieselben Ton-Substanzen gegenüber, die den Hörer jeweils ganz gewaltig mitnehmen können – jedenfalls, wenn sie mit der hier entfesselten Wucht losbrechen.

Überhaupt scheint mir das ein Verdienst der vorliegenden Interpretationen zu sein: diese immense Ausdruckspalette zwischen sensibler, nervöser Atmosphärenzeichnung und Eruptionen, die einen förmlich emporzuschleudern scheinen, als ob man auf einem der kolossalen Sandwürmer des Wüstenplaneten dahinritte. Weshalb ich mich nicht scheue, die Einspielung der letzten Dichtung Tapiola, die es schon in der symphonischen Box (BIS-CD 1286/88) gab, zu einer der mitreißendsten Lesarten zu erklären, die mir je untergekommen sind, und mich eigentlich nur meine chronische Abneigung gegen „superlativste” Attribute davon abhält, sie als „die beste” zu apostrophieren. Noch schwerer wird mir diese Zurückhaltung bei Luonnotar: Wie hier aus den feinsten Streicherfigurationen der Kosmos entsteht, als beginne sich ein Gott oder göttliches Wesen mit äußerster Behutsamkeit zu regen; wie Helena Juntunen die fremdartige Linie der Kalevala-Silben entsprechend vibrieren läßt, bis aus dem Zusammenwirken der beteiligten Kräfte und Spannungspole das Firmament sich wölbt – das habe ich fürwahr noch nie überzeugender, eindringlicher und, auch das kein unverächtliches Kriterium, einfach schöner gehört als hier. Allein für diese acht Minuten und fünfzig Sekunden lohnte sich die Anschaffung dieser Kassette, die sowohl nach Inhalt wie Ausstattung ein mehr als gelungener Anfang ist.


There’s Nothing Routine About “Resurrection”
November 25, 2007
Asbury Park Press
Carlton Wilkinson

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra performs Mahler’s Second Symphony, “The Resurrection”, at 8 p.m. Friday at the orchestra’s home concert hall, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.

Newark may seem far to go for an evening at the symphony, but this is one instance where I would advise making the trek.

The American premiere of Mahler’s “Resurrection”, with the composer conducting, took place in New York City almost 100 years ago — and by then it already was more than 10 years old. Since that time, it has become probably the most important symphony after Beethoven’s Ninth.

Like the Beethoven piece, the importance of this work rests not in one place, but everywhere in the music. For one thing, Mahler rethinks his orchestra at every turn, writing for specific instruments and instrumental combinations in a way that had barely been attempted before. His score makes notations for a complete clarinet choir, an overstuffed brass section, offstage instruments and a full percussion ensemble with untuned bells and other special-effects-style techniques. An alto soloist sings in the fourth movement and, in the last movement, a huge choir augments the already large orchestra.

All that doesn’t even hint at the degree of detail here — there is little that could considered routine in the orchestration or in any other aspect of the score.

Mahler’s goal, to express an entire world in each symphony, seems to us now both naive and egotistical. Even in his own time, his notions of “more is better” and his tortured message of man’s quest for meaning were becoming old fashioned, replaced by leaner textures and a return to a classical emphasis on music for its own sake, independent of any narrative.

But Mahler also attempted an aesthetic that unified the poles of good and evil, recognizing that grief and anguish existed within the happiness of normal life. For Mahler, that conflict inherent in our existence could be resolved only by the apocalypse. So the apocalypse is how this symphony ends — a vast uprising of the dead and a bell-ringing recognition of the glory of god in eternity.

Such monstrous ideas yield an almost unmatched emotional intensity and incredible beauty that seduces each new generation.

These days, much of what this master composer accomplished has passed into the realm of cliché. Legions of film score composers, most notably John Williams, owe Mahler an enormous debt of inspiration.

But in his own time, Mahler was largely unappreciated as a composer. He was acclaimed as the world’s leading conductor, directing the New York Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera. It was a more innocent age, before the First World War (and two generations after the horrors of the American Civil War). In their deep emotional and musical complexity, their violence and grandiose symbolism, Mahler’s symphonies appeared as simply bewildering excess.

It took the dawn of the Cold War to sink Mahlerian terror into the modern psyche. Lucky we are that his symphonies were handy to provide a balm.

Neeme Järvi conducts the NJSO in Mahler’s “Resurrection” on Friday, joined by the Westminster Symphonic Choir.

Kirov plays Stravinsky
Another monumental work of inestimable importance is on the agenda for this week.

“The Rite of Spring”, the Igor Stravinsky ballet that rocked the Western world, will be performed at 8 p.m. Thursday by the visiting Kirov Orchestra at the State Theatre, 15 Livingston Ave. in New Brunswick.

Also on the same program is Stravinsky’s “The Firebird”, once Stravinsky’s most popular orchestra work. Premiered in 1910, “The Firebird” now seems to have more in common with such 19th-century Russians as Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky than it does with the mature Stravinsky. But much about it also seems preparatory, paving the way for the more daring music that immediately followed, including “The Rite of Spring”.

Both scores, as well as “Petrushka”, were commissioned by the Paris-based Ballets Russes and use plotlines inspired by Russian folktales and tribal imagery. The group was playing up its roots, hoping the popularity and exotic character of Russia-bilia in Paris at the time would result in rush of ticket sales. And the group’s leader, Serge Diaghilev, also nurtured in his young composer a bold style that could supply a “succes de scandale”.

But “The Rite of Spring” transcended all expectations. The premiere ended in a riot. Overnight, Stravinsky went from minor composer to world famous and hugely influential. Almost single-handedly, he had transformed the musical landscape of the subsequent generation with a single, mind-blowing piece of music.

Listening to it today, the work still sounds contemporary. True, it has lost much of its shock value, but musically, it remains a towering achievement — daring, imaginative, deep and hugely satisfying. These days when people mention Stravinsky, it is “The Rite of Spring” that comes to mind — “The Firebird” is all but forgotten.


Young violinist dazzles
November 29, 2007
The Star-Ledger
Bradley Bambarger

Like the way Olympic athletes have raised the bar on physical prowess decade after decade, classical musicians have become more and more technically fluent.

Take the Brahms Violin Concerto, which pushed the 19th century’s great virtuosos to their limits. The composer would have been shocked to see a diminutive 20-year-old play his piece with aplomb – a woman at that.

But Brittany Sklar did so with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, her technical derring-do belying the fact this Garfield native is still a student at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. She won the NJSO’s Young Artists Audition competition this year, and a run of concerts with the NJSO and music director Neeme Järvi was the prize, ranging from Princeton, Red Bank and Morristown over the weekend to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on Tuesday afternoon.

The Brahms isn’t the usual glittering display piece favored by young dazzlers. It’s the deepest of all Romantic-era violin concertos, a score like a many-layered book that a reader spends a lifetime realizing. Sklar’s choice of the Brahms for her NJSO debut points to a thinking, feeling musician.

The NJPAC performance saw Sklar – her mounds of curly brown hair almost shrouding the violin play with articulate purity and a tone that could glint like the sun on water. In the first movement’s most volatile episodes, where the drama runs the length of the fingerboard, she didn’t let a single note escape. But it wasn’t the fireworks of the solo cadenza that showed the fiddler at her most impressive, but the lyricism right after; as Sklar pointed her instrument toward Järvi, her silky lines seemed to join hands with the orchestra as it crept quietly back in.

Of course, Sklar has room to grow. Her phrasing could be chaste, making the music seem smaller than it is, more like pretty Mendelssohn than red-blooded Brahms. But unlike the often steely Hilary Hahn, a former Curtis overachiever who is now a Deutsche Grammophon star, Sklar always radiated warmth – which is nothing if not Brahmsian.

The afternoon’s highlight, though, was Järvi and company’s way with Ravel’s suite from his “Mother Goose” ballet of 1911. This isn’t just music for children of all ages; it is music as magic – unpredictable, delightful. The score could have scarcely come more alive. There was gorgeous flute playing over dulcet strings in the “Sleeping Beauty Pavane”, and the silvery percussion of Ravel’s ingenious orchestration seemed to dot the air. Prosaic playing would have dulled this marvel, but the NJSO phrased it all with poetry – sumptuous and elegant.

The program had begun with Haydn’s Symphony No. 97, from his career-capping “London” series that Järvi and the NJSO have surveyed persuasively. Stylish and vigorous, the orchestra conveyed the C Major finale like the good-mood music it is. And the NJSO has reasons to be upbeat. Last week, the orchestra announced the sale of its “Golden Age Collection” of string instruments for $20-plus million, with the deal allowing the group to retain performing rights for at least five years. It’s too bad the sale was necessary, but the funds will make the orchestra debt-free for the first time in more than a decade.

The dance-themed second half continued with the ballet from Gounod’s opera “Faust” – far more predictable and superficial music than the Ravel. But Järvi conducted with such obvious relish that is was hard not to be charmed. By the time the orchestra got to the opera’s “Waltz Song”, even a listener constitutionally opposed to Gounod was tapping his toes.


Orchestra and choir rise to the occasion
December 3, 2007
The Star-Ledger
Bradley Bambarger

In a friendly debate with fellow composer Jean Sibelius, Gustav Mahler famously asserted that a symphony “must be like the world – it must be all-embracing”

Mahler meant the comment not only philosophically, but physically. To realize his aims, there was a small world of musicians on stage at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Friday and Sunday, as well as at Trenton’s War Memorial on Saturday. An expanded version of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra – plus the Westminster Symphonic Choir and two vocal soloists – performed Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection”, conducted by music director Neeme Järvi.

The “Resurrection” is no bean-counter’s favorite. That huge choir doesn’t come in until the 90-minute work’s final movement. And the couple hundred musicians on stage weren’t even enough for Mahler’s grand designs, as the work calls for offstage brass – with the players placed in an upper balcony at NJPAC’s Prudential Hall, which turned out to be a perfect acoustic setting for this dynamically vast music.

With his Second Symphony, premiered in 1895, Mahler not only took on the legacy of Beethoven’s “Choral” Symphony, long held untouchable; he exploded the limits of what a Romantic-minded symphony could be, technically and expressively. An artist of Mahler’s ego couldn’t accept one’s aspirations coming to an end with death. From a titanic opening funeral march to a rapt ode to the afterlife, his “Resurrection” melds Christian and Eastern ideals of eternal possibility.

Not only the NJSO’s most fiscally ambitious stage venture in years, this work was a test of the orchestra’s progress under Järvi – as well as a test of the conductor’s ability to marshal and inspire a group lacking a Mahler tradition. The performances were a milestone, and not just for the orchestra. Friday’s nearly full-house crowd at NJPAC was more attuned than any this listener has seen for an NJSO concert, with the usual coughs and fidgets sublimated into quiet excitement.

Mahler’s opening brims with tense drama. In this, the NJSO couldn’t compare with the electric intensity of the Cleveland Orchestra in its October performance of the “Resurrection” at Carnegie Hall under Franz Welser-Möst. It’s perhaps an unfair comparison – the Cleveland ensemble being one of this country’s most precise and powerful musical instruments. But the carefulness with which the NJSO started underscored the challenge of the occasion – as well as the way the group would eventually come to meet it.

The first movement climaxed with plenty of oomph, the bass drum’s thwack like a wallop to the sternum. But it was the middle movements – scherzos of chamber-music delicacy and folk-accented swing – that were the most impressive. With Järvi having schooled the orchestra in the virtues of dancing lightness in recent years, the NJSO conveyed this music with the utmost warmth and charm, the wind solos a delight.

The rapt vocal episode “Urlicht” (primal light) should be one of the symphony’s emotional peaks. But mezzo-soprano Nancy Maultsby scuttled any intimate communication with her matronly, text-distorting vibrato. The singing of Bernarda Fink, in the Cleveland concert, was far more stylish and beautiful, as was that of Susanne Mentzer when Järvi led an all-star ensemble in Mahler’s Second at Manhattan’s Riverside Church in 2006 (an event captured on a VAI DVD).

By the final movement, the performers had shed all inhibitions, playing with true Mahlerian scope (organ, bells and all). In particular, the brass section outdid itself with solos and chorales of virtuosic grandeur, the trumpets in the balcony ringing out like a halo in the air.

Prepared by Joe Miller, the young singers of Princeton’s ever-in-demand Westminster Choir – which also performed with the Clevelanders at Carnegie – sang with their usual finely tuned energy. When the chorus entered on its first quiet note, it was otherworldly, the passage eventually capped by the pure tones of soprano Twyla Robinson (who, like several NJSO players, participated in that 2006 Riverside concert).

The epitome of fluid control, Järvi’s way with the score maintained a momentum as natural as breath, not ultra-expansive à la Leonard Bernstein yet not reductionist like, say, David Zinman. With the orchestra seeming to grow into the music as it went, the performance felt like a journey, one that artists and audience alike were better for having taken – which was surely Mahler’s intention.

Neeme Järvi, NJSO provide glorious evening in Trenton
December 4, 2007
Carlton Wilkinson

What do you say when, some night in a concert hall, someone offers you the whole world and gives you only part of it? Maybe they give you even most of the whole world — maybe 98 percent — but they hold back here and there and give you one or two broken pieces to boot.

Thank you — that’s what you say. Ninety-eight percent of creation is a pretty good haul for one evening.

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra delivered just such a gift in Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection”, a full-evening’s length piece performed Saturday at Trenton’s War Memorial theatre. The composer has been famously quoted as saying that he intended his symphonies — each one — to contain a whole world of experience. The “Resurrection” attempts nothing less than an expression of the totality of human suffering and joy, ending with a reconciliation with the divine.

On the whole, conductor Neeme Järvi and the NJSO gave us a glorious evening and the audience’s standing ovation at the end, calling Järvi back to the podium four times for bows, was highly appropriate — a fitting “thank you”.

But along the way there were mishaps. Some fleeting trouble in the low strings at the start of the first movement foretold of unevenness to come, but thankfully, there wasn’t much more of that. More importantly, the overall texture of the first movement was so velvety that it lost some of its punch, never quite embracing the terror — and pain-filled existence that is the engine behind much of this symphony’s drama. A rather glaring error in the offstage brass ensemble rattled everyone’s nerves during the final movement, but it couldn’t stop that music from being the high point of the evening.

This fifth movement calls for the addition of vocal soloists and full chorus, roles filled here by soprano Twyla Robinson, mezzo-soprano Nancy Maultsby and the Westminster Symphonic Choir (directed by Joe Miller). The excitement and energy in this movement was palpable. If the ensemble was holding back in the first movement, it was explosively committed here. The young people of the Westminster Symphonic Choir held the perfect balance of emotional tension and tightly focused tone — not always an easy trick with such a large vocal group.

Of the inner movements, the third, with its dizzying, nearly futile attempts at a true joy, was a complete success, the ensemble wrapping us convincingly into the ecstatic comedy. The all-too-brief fourth movement also shone. This movement is a song for orchestra and alto voice, a hymn of almost existential endurance and tenacity framed as a resignation to the incomprehensible will of the divine. Maultsby was the soloist and the beautiful darkness of her tone was the perfect foil for Mahler’s mood. The second movement caught fire in the extended pizzicato section that occurs midway through and kept it to the end.


Maestro Neeme Järvi: me peame ise oma väikese riigi suureks rääkima ja tegema
17. detsember 2007
Eesti Päevaleht
Kärt Anvelt

Maestro Neeme Järvi kutsub eestlasi üles laiahaardeliselt mõtlema ning oma keelt ja maailma suurima laulumaa kultuuri üle ilma tutvustama.

Kuulsin teie suurepärasest ideest kanda Haagi sümfooniaorkestri ning meie ERSO ja kooridega järgmisel üldlaulpeol ette Mahleri kaheksas sümfoonia ehk „Tuhandete sümfoonia”. Braavo! Kas teete ära?
Olen tõepoolest juba tükk aega mõlgutanud mõtteid seoses tulevase, 2009. aasta laulupeoga!

2009. aasta üldlaulupeo teise õhtu viimase etteastena või kolmandal päeval tahaksin valikkooriga ja ühendatud orkestritega (ERSO, Haag) mängida lauluväljakul Gustav Mahleri „Tuhandete sümfooniat” ja tutvustada maailmale selle kaudu Eestimaad, meie kultuuri ning laulu- ja laulupidude traditsiooni.

Mahlerit kümnetuhandelise kooriga sealsamas lauluväljakul ette kanda... Siin on vaja aga kohe otsust ja rahalist tuge ning asi saab tehtud!

Algul mõtlesin kaasata ka New Jersey orkestri, kuid seda pole vaja, piisab Haagi orkestrist ja meie oma ERSO-st, lauluväljakust, lauljatest ning dirigentidest Ants Sootsist, Ants Üleojast ja Olev Ojast ning mõnest aktiivsest kolleegist, kes on laulupeoga seotud. Tohutult palju tööd tuleb juurde, aga ma usun väga Eesti laulupidude ja lauljate tasemesse – nad laulavad nagu professionaalid!

Mida teab üks eestlane Mahleri kaheksandast sümfooniast?
Ega ilmselt väga teagi, aga siis tutvustame neile seda võimast muusikat! Gustav Mahler ja Rudolf Tobias elasid umbes ühel ajal – üks Eestis, teine Saksamaal. Nüüdne generatsioon küsib: kes see Tobias niisugune on? Oli selline hull, kes kirjutas oratooriumi „Joonase lähetamine” ning mõtles aina Eestile ja eesti keelele.… Samamoodi nagu Gustav Mahler mõtles, kuidas leida uusi teid muusikas. Ta leidis ning kirjutas oma „Tuhandete sümfoonia”. Sümfoonia tuhandele ettekandjale. Mõelge!

Tema muusika oli tol ajal muidugi väga uudne, paljud ei saanud sellest aru. Tänapäeval on see aga kõige suurem, ilusam ja vägevam, mis on üldse kunagi kirjutatud. „Tuhandete sümfoonias” peab olema tuhat ettekandjat, tema sai võib-olla kokku 800–900. Meie siin väikeses Eestis saaks selle kümne tuhande inimese ja kahe orkestriga ette kanda! Võimendaks seda korralikult, teeks ühe erilise pidupäeva nendele, kes tahavad seda kuulata! Sel päeval oleks vähem joomist ja muud tsirkust.

Kas julgete meie inimestesse sada protsenti panustada?
Oleneb, kes ees on…

Ma arvan, et teie…
…ja tal peab olema tohutult palju abilisi. Koorijuhid peavad kooridele asja selgeks tegema. Samas olen ma kindel, et see tehakse väga hästi ära! Kunstilise poolega pole üldse probleemi, ma usun sellesse sada protsenti. Aga see muu, organiseerimise pool…! Poistekoor! Kaheksa solisti! Maailmatasemel.

See kontsert kestaks ainult kaks tundi. Teeks sellest video ja DVD ning saadaks maailma. Esimest korda maailmas kantaks Mahleri kaheksas sümfoonia ette mitte tuhande, vaid kümnete tuhandete inimestega ja seda Eestis! See jätaks tohutu jälje! Aga seda on võimalik Eestis teha ainult siis, kui inimesed sellest huvituvad! See vajab meie soovi ja erilist huvi asja vastu.

Kas teie kontserte produtseerinud New Yorgi produtsent Jason Starr oleks valmis siia tulema ja selle ära tegema?
Jah! Kui ta kevadel mu juubelikontserti salvestas, näitasin talle lauluväljakut ja ta vaimustus! Muidugi tuleb veidi ka probleeme, sest see ei ole ju kontserdisaal: vabas õhus salvestades peab mõne asja kindlasti ka ümber tegema, aga sellest pole midagi. Kannatust peab olema! Sellest tuleks niivõrd võimas asi – tuleb lihtsalt õlg alla panna. Samas ei oska midagi selle ideega teha – mina võin rääkida Ants Üleojale ja tema omakorda mulle. Kuid siis tuleb teade: meil pole sellist päeva, meil ei ole raha, me peame sellel lisapäeval koori ja orkestrantide elamise ja söögi kinni maksma... No kuulge! Laulupidusid tehakse Eestis iga viie aasta tagant. Tullakse kokku ja lauldakse kaks päeva. Tase on kõrge – au Eesti koorijuhtidele. Aga kus on meie DVD-d ja videod, mis tutvustavad Eesti muusikalist kultuuripoliitika suursündmust maailmas laiemalt? Neid ei ole. Kõik jääb siiasamasse Eestisse. Jälle see vana teema – Eesti riigil ei olevat selleks raha. Rahajutt on Eestis alati päevakorral, selle taha on hea peitu pugeda. Muide, välismaised tegijad on meie laulust nii vaimustuses, et tõid välja filmi „Laulev revolutsioon”, mida näidatakse just praegu kõigis Ameerika kinodes.

Aga ilmselt ilmub meie intervjuu kultuuriuudiste all ja vaevalt valitsuse liikmed seda rubriiki loevad.

Sellega annate justkui mõista, et kultuuri ei peeta enam millekski?
Muusika alla pannakse ajalehtedes ainult räpp ja rokk. Kultuurirubriigi all on siis tõsine muusika ja seda nimetatakse entertainment’iks, meelelahutuseks. Kas Heino Elleri sümfoonia ei olegi siis enam muusika? See on meelelahutus – aga kas see on päris õige? Ameerika mõju Lääne-Euroopale on väga negatiivne ja me ei tohiks seda mõju üle võtta.

Kas kultuuritegijad kannatavad seetõttu palju?
Väga palju! Nad on midagi suurt õppinud, aga neid ei väärtustata. Viiulit hakatakse õppima alates neljandast eluaastast, hiljem harjutatakse viis-kuus tundi päevas, et saada mingisugusegi tasemega meistriks. Niisuguseid detaile ei tea tavaliselt ei riigimehed ega oma kohale väga kergel teel, näiteks poliitika kaudu, saanud inimesed. Ka tavainimene ei saa aru, et professionaalne kunst on hoopis teine asi – see pole vaid tavaline viiulimängimine. Ikka mõeldakse nii: mis raha see klaveri- või viiulimängija tahab? Aga see on raske töö, mille eest tuleb maksta! Kuidas me saaks küll üle sellisest arusaamast? Oleme oma Eestiga juba nii arenenud, et peaksime hakkama teistviisi mõtlema. Eesti keele ja meele algus oli ju fantastiline. Meil oli omal ajal ütlemine (mis vastab tõele), kus professionaalse muusiku tööd võrreldi klassiga. NSVL-s oli ju kolm klassi – töölised, talupojad ja orkestrandid. Seda viimast ei võetud tõsiselt. See on tohutu töö, millest kahjuks ei suuda aru saada keegi, ka tavaline tööinimene.

Tunnetate, et keelt ja meelt enam ei väärtustata?
Tunnen jah. Tänu koorilaulule jäi eesti keel ellu. Miks ei tellita Eesti Vabariigi 90. aastapäeva tähistamiseks pidulikku teost Erkki-Sven Tüürilt, Arvo Pärdilt, Veljo Tormiselt või Eino Tambergilt? Unustatud!

Aga Eestit maailmas ikka teatakse veel või on see vaid müüt, meie lootus?
Praegu on tagasiminek tohutu. Vanasti olid Eesti, Läti ja Leedu, kuid keskus oli ka siis Riia. Nüüd on nii, et vaid Läti on see, millest räägitakse.

Kui kriitikud kirjutavad artikleid Paavost ja Kristjanist (Neeme Järvi dirigentidest pojad – toim), nimetatakse neid Läti dirigentideks! Ja muidugi peetakse meid ka soomlasteks. Keegi ei tea enam, mis on Eesti või kes on eestlased! Meie valitsusjuhtide probleem on see, et lisaks muule maailmale ei suuda nad ka Venemaale selgeks teha, mis see Eesti on.

Kujutage nüüd ette, ma ütleksin, lausa karjuvat olukorda, kus poliitikaga on koguni nii kaugele jõutud, et meil ei ole raha Peterburi Eesti kiriku taastamiseks! Varsti teeb Venemaa selle remondi muidugi ise ära või kisub maha, millega on ka ähvardatud. Aga ometi on see meie kultuuri ajalugu.

Eesti riik ei suuda seda organiseerida ega pole sellest huvitatud…

Tänu kunagise Pärnu linnapea Einar Kelderi eestvõtmisele ja Eesti Kontserdi direktori Aivar Mäe fantastilisele tegevusele tehti Pärnus alla aastaga valmis kontserdisaal. See on uskumatu saavutus, mis tuleks suurte tähtedega ajalukku kirjutada.

Kui Eesti riik ei suuda Peterburi eesti kirikut taastada, siis antagu Aivar Mäele võimalus ja raha ning ta teeb selle korda. Ta on erakordne talent! Ta teeb kõik ära, mis ette võtab! Peterburi eesti kirikut ei tohi käest lasta, sest kõige muu kõrval on see ka poliitiline küsimus. Lähendaksime Eestit ja Venemaad kultuuri kaudu. Seda sõprust on vaja, selle asemel, et üksteist kogu aeg sõimata.

Näitame siis kogu maailmale, milline on Eesti kultuur – meil võiks olla tuhandekohaline kontserdisaal Peterburi linnas! Eesti valitsus kas ei suuda või ei taha selle peale mõelda. See ei ole valitsusele tähtis. Selle asemel, et mõelda laiahaardeliselt, aetakse kohapeal pisiasju, mis nagunii korda saavad. Mulle ei meeldi väljend: Eesti on pisike ja tagasihoidlik. Ei ole! Me oleme võrdväärsed NATO ja EL-i liikmed ja peame ise oma riigi suureks tegema ja rääkima. Me ei saa kogu aeg vireleda kellegi sabas.

Kuidas teile tundub väljend „raha ei ole”?
See on nii õõnes! EL eraldab hiigelsummasid selle või teise valdkonna jaoks. Mille peale see raha pannakse? Kes otsustab? Miks ei saa sellest rahast midagi kultuur ja muusika? Miks ei ole Eesti Raadio juurde taastatud segakoori? Me oleme kõige suurem laulumaa ja meil ei ole professionaalset segakoori!

Lätis on..
…lausa kaks väga professionaalset segakoori ja need on maailmas tuntud Kui tahan kusagile saada head koori normaalse raha eest, kutsun esmajärjekorras Läti koori. Nad teevad palju parema töö kui lääne koorid. Või siis väga kalli Berliini Raadio koori. Eestis oli kunagi ka Jüri Variste koor, Eesti Raadio koor. Tegime kõik koos tööd, mina olin ju siis Eesti Raadio Sümfooniaorkestri peadirigent. Pärast Eesti taasiseseisvumist kaotati kõik ära, õnneks sai ERSO sai riiklikuks. Nii ongi rahvusringhääling nüüd ilma muusikakollektiivideta. Võtkem ometigi õppust BBC-ilt, kus on viis orkestrit, või Saksa Raadiolt! Loogem uuesti oma orkestrid ja koor.

Ruumipuudus oli aga siis ja on ka nüüd! Eestlasena tahan eestlasele selgeks teha, et Eestisse ei ole kunagi ooperiteatrit ehitatud. Estonia teater ehitati draamateatriks ja ta oli ning on ainult kui üks sümbol. Kuna kusagil polnud mängida, hakati teda kasutama muusikateatriks. Nüüd arvataksegi, et see on ooperiteater ja meil pole midagi muud vaja! Aga meil on vaja korralikku ooperiteatrit ja kontserdisaali! Estonia teater avas oma uksed 1913. aastal, kuid nüüd on ju 2007. aasta! Kas Tallinna linnapea, Eesti valitsus ja riigikogu on sellest teadlikud? Kus korraldatakse 2011. aasta Tallinna kultuuripealinna üritused?

Milline on teie kujutluses uus ooperiteater koos kontserdisaaliga? Kui suur?
Selline, et järeltulevad põlved ei peaks jälle uut ehitama. Jälgin suure huviga, milliseks kujuneb Sakala keskus ja mis mees on Peeter Rebane, kes selle enda kätte sai. Praegu on Sakala ainus lootus Eesti Suure Muusika Keskuse loomiseks. Vaadake, kui magus paik! Ühel pool on ju muusikaakadeemia, mille eest sai omal ajal tohutult võideldud – ka välis-eestlastelt saime miljon dollarit, et aidata seda ehitada. Aga kuidas kõik venis aastaid, enne kui akadeemia valmis sai! Teispool on Estonia.

Sakala keskuses võiksid olla teatrid, kultuuriürituste keskus ja kobarkino muidugi ka. See koht sobiks ideaalselt kontserdisaaliks ja ooperiteatriks. Kui Peeter Rebane teeks sellise kultuurikeskuse ega mõtleks ainult ärile, oleks see ausammas talle endale.

Aga kui see variant suurejoonelise muusikakeskusena läbi ei lähe? Mis siis?
Siis jääb üle loota Viimsi vallavalitsusele! Teeme ooperiteatri sinna – mere äärde. Olen Viimsi meestega sellest rääkinud ja nad on selleks valmis. Muidugi on neil rahalist abi vaja, aga nende mõtlemine on õige. Sidneysse sisse sõites köidab kõigi pilke arhitektuuriliselt fantastiline ehitis – ooperiteater. Miks ei kasuta Eesti sama võimalust? On ju Tallinn merelinn. Trademark of Estonia.

Tõeliselt armas oli see, kui teie lapselaps Lukas eelmisel üldlaupeol koore juhatas. Kui mõelda positiivselt ja ooperiteater Eestisse tuleb, kas Lukas võiks olla Järvide dirigendidünastia järgmine maailmakuulus dirigent!
Ta soovid muutuvad kogu aeg ja nüüd on käes pigem selline häbelikkuse aeg. Eelmisel laulupeol ta nägi, et kõik juhatavad, ja nii pidi temagi juhatama. Ja see nägi tõesti tore välja. Tal tulid kõik need lõpud nii vahvalt välja! Ta lõpetas loo nii energiliselt, samal ajal kui päris dirigent. Ja kummardas ka! Kõige naljakam oli siis, kui dirigentidele pärjad kaela pandi. Tema isa sai ka pärja, aga kuna Lukas ei saanud, siis oli ta väga solvunud. Näis, mis poisist saab.

Millise mulje on teile jätnud Estonia teatri juhtkond?
Estonia teatri juhtkond ei tee midagi selleks, et oma elu natukene paremaks teha ja võidelda uue teatri ehitamise eest. Estonias on vaid suured intriigid ja seetõttu jääb ta väikeseks kohalikuks teatriks. Miks nad ei taha oma elu parandada? Puudub aktiivne, juhtiv lähenemine tulevikule. Kus mängida Wagnerit, Richard Straussi?

Praegusesse Estonia teatrisse sobib operett, samuti draamaetendused. Teatril on küll kõlav nimi – rahvusooper –, aga ooperimaja see ei ole. See maja on akustiliselt kõlbmatu koht ja vaid hädaväljapääs.

Kuidas venelased saavad ja jõuavad? Tallinnas on vene kogukonna käes kaks suurt ilusat hoonet – Vene Draamateater ja Ohvitseride maja – mõlemas on väga head saalid.

Seega on eestlased sabassörkijad…
Kui Eesti tahab olla esirinnas, peaks ta oma inimestele tooma kultuuri kätte ka välismaalt, kutsuma siia Maria Teatri Peterburist, Viini Ooperi, La Scala. Aga neid pole kuhugi tuua, meil on ainult Saku suurhall. Kas Eestil sobib Saku suurhalliga uhkustada? Arvan, et ei.

Räpp! Rokk! Sport!!!

Kunagi Eesti ajal hakati Eestis noote trükkima, nüüd seda enam ei tehta. Keegi ei propageeri Eesti muusikat maailmas, ka sellepärast, et meil ei ole nooditrükkimist ega plaadivabrikut. Nõukogude ajal oli Eestis Moskvale alluv plaadivabrik Melodija, kus me heliplaadistasime Eesti muusikat . Imelik ja koguni halenaljakas, aga ERSO mängib tihti veel Nõukogude-aegsete nootide järgi. Kujutage ette, käsitsi kirjutatud nootidest Beethovenit!!!!

Kas keegi hakkab selle peale mõtlema, kas keegi üldse mõistab seda olukorda?
Jah, väljastpoolt vaadatuna pole justkui midagi viga. Eesti muusika on professionaalne, meie heliloojad ja interpreedid on maailmas tuntud. Andres Mustonenil on väärikas koht muusikailmas, Anu Talil läheb väga hästi, Pärt on maailmanimi, Järvid ajavad ka oma asja.

Aga meie vist oleme need, kes oma Eesti päritolust kõige rohkem räägivad. Eestlane ei taha oma päritolu ju väga propageerida, sest talle on tähtis MINA. Mina ja maailm. Aga peaks olema vastupidi – maailm minus. Tõsi on see, et olen maailmakodanik, aga ma olen ennekõike ikka eestlane. Meie mõtlemine peaks muutuma radikaalselt – mitte kohalikult, aga suurelt…

Mis on teie arvates Eesti kultuurielus halvasti?
Üldine olukord on see, et paraku ollakse Eestis kerjused. Vähemalt kultuuris. Läänemaailmaga võrreldes on meie muusikute palgad, honorarid ja kogu süsteem võrreldamatu, mõtlemine on allutatud vanale, Nõukogude süsteemile. Nõukogude ajal oli orkestrandi palk 100 rubla ja tal polnud muud väljapääsu, kui vingus näoga mängida ühes ja samas orkestris. Poodides polnud ka ju midagi saada. Nüüd on vahe selles, et poodides on kaupa külluses, aga piltlikult öeldes on palk ikka sada rubla.

Tahate öelda, et tõsise muusika viljelejad on unustatud?
Aga on ju! Tuletage meelde, mis toimus lauluväljakul, kui Eesti vabanes. Rahvas ja kõik poliitikud olid lippudega seal. Miks nad (poliitikud – toim) sinna trügisid? Kas polnud mitte nii, et Eesti vabanes tänu laulule ja kultuurile? See tõsiasi, nagu ka laul ise, on aga unustatud. Samamoodi on ununenud ka need inimesed, kes võitlesid Nõukogude ajal Eesti Vabariigi eest ja saadeti Siberisse. Praegu räägib igaüks vaid oma minast ja kohast, millest ta kinni hoiab.

Mis toimub Eestis praegu kaugelt vaadatuna?
Eesti kunsti ja kultuuri seisak ning langus. See on kurb. President Lennart Meri ja esimese valitsuse ajal pandi Eesti arengule tõesti hea põhi, aga seda ei hoia kaua, kui edasised põlved ei tee oma tegudega veel paremaid käike.

Kui arvatakse, et see on minu isiklik kapriis, siis eksitakse. Asi on käest ära ja tõsine!

Kultuuriministeeriumi alla käivad võrdselt nii kultuur kui ka sport. Kuidas jagatakse aga raha? See on Eestis suur asi, kui sportlane võidab. Valitseb mõtteviis, et sportlase võit on riigile väga tähtis ja võitja peab saama korraliku raha. Ma ei vaidle vastu, see peabki nii olema. Aga miks peab kultuur jääma siin tagaplaanile? Säärases hoiakus on midagi väga-väga valesti. Kui palju pannakse Eestis üldse tähele seda, kui Eesti muusik või orkester saab USA-s Grammy? Eestlased on Grammysid saanud! Aga see jääb riiklikult märkamata. Samas on Grammy võit Eestile justkui ausamba panemine, sest üldjuhul saavad selle auhinna ju ainult USA muusikud.

Soomlased, taanlased ega Venemaa – keegi pole Grammyt saanud. Aga Eesti on saanud!

Eesti muusik peab Soomes või Inglismaal lisaraha teenima…
Täpselt. Meie muusikute palgad on alandavalt madalad. Ja loomulikult on paljud inimesed nördinud, ka mina.

Teate, kuidas see innustaks noori õppima muusikat, kui palgad oleksid normaalsed! Muidugi, kuulen kohe vastust,: kellele seda muusikat vaja on?

Moskvas ja Peterburis kümnekordistati tippmuusikute palgad ja anti riigi esinduskollektiividele – teatritele ning sümfooniaorkestritele grant’id. Küsisin Eestis olles ühelt ministrilt, kas Eestis ei saaks sama teha. Vastus oli, miks ei saa, aga sellest tuleks palju jama. Eestis kardavad millegipärast kõik jama ja seepärast ei võeta igaks juhuks midagi suurt ette. Kas teised ministrid ja riigikogu mõistaksid kultuuriministrit, kui ta hakkaks grant’e sisse seadma? Aga kultuuri arendamiseks ja viljelemiseks tuleb teha erand ning kindlakäeliselt otsus raha eraldamiseks vastu võtta! Palju jõudu kultuuriministrile!

Mul on ka hingel, mille järgi on tehtud nende inimeste valik, kes Eesti saatkondade juures välismaal kultuuri esindavad. Keegi ei saa aru, millega need inimesed üldse tegelevad.

Nad on lihtsalt oma kohtadel. Aga peaksid ihu ja hingega hommikust õhtuni võitlema, korraldama festivale ja igasugu kultuuriüritusi – neil on ju selleks võimalus! Asukohamaa keskkond nende teenindamiseks on olemas.

Nagu eestlane ütleb: ei kippu ega kõppu. Vaikus. Kas jälle pole raha? Või ei viitsi? Või ei oska?

Mida siis teha tuleks?
Kõigepealt mõelda, kuidas saaks asjad kiiresti joonde. Mulle ei meeldi aeglane tegutsemine. Kui mul on kontsert, siis teen neli proovi. Teisipäeval hakkan peale, kolmapäeval on kaks proovi ja neljapäevast pühapäevani on kontserdid. Selleks ajaks on tükid selged ja rahvas kuulab head muusikat. Ma ei ole harjunud aastate viisi nämmutama, et teeme-teeme ja tegelikult ei tee midagi. Eesti peab mõtlema mastaapselt! Globaalselt!

Kas ma tahan liiga palju! Ei! Üldse mitte… Need asjad, millest ma räägin, on Eestis tegemata. Ja kui keegi midagi ette ei võta, siis ei maksa imestada, kui jääme teistest riikidest jäädavalt maha. Ikka järjest rohkem ja rohkem. Lausa piinlik lugu.

Te elate nii kaugel ja olete samas justkui siin – niivõrd hästi tajute siin valitsevat olukorda ja mõttelaadi. Kuidas see on võimalik?
Ilmselt seetõttu, et olen seda Eesti-tunnet tajunud terve oma elu. Olen oma nime ja oma kunsti alati Eestiga sidunud, sellest alati ja igal pool rääkinud. Ka oma lastele olen seletanud, et me oleme eestlased, teeme eesti kultuuri, eesti kunsti. Me oleme osa maailma kultuurist, aga kõigepealt oleme eestlased.

Ja Eesti muusika on osa maailma muusikakultuurist. Piinlikkust ei tunne, kui meil on Tobias, Tubin, Eller, Kapp, Tormis, Pärt, Tüür, Tamberg jt!

Eestisse lihtsalt ei tule maailma tasemega kunstnikud ja muusikud. Kui palju on haruldasi muusikuid, aga nad töötavad välismaal.

Tooge tagasi need inimesed, kes on välismaal enesele nime teinud! Tehke Eestist sündmus! Olgu tipptegijail võimalus Eestis teha samamoodi kultuuri nagu välismaal. Andke neile võimalus, makske neile väärilist palka! Nii et tipptegija saaks väga head palka ja teised mõnevõrra madalamat. Kui valitsus ja partei(d) – näete, sama väljend nagu Nõukogude ajal – teeksid vastava põhimõttelise otsuse, siis asi laheneks. Aga ei, käib vaid üks suur vaidlus ja seda on kurb vaadata! Üheski küsimuses ei leita üksmeelt.

Tänapäeval, kahjuks, puuduvad otsustajad, juhid!

Mulle tundub, et te võiksite olla rahul oma tegevusega USA-s ja Euroopas, olete üks maailma armastatumaid dirigente, teie juures käiakse õppimas, annate suurepäraseid kontserte. Sel sügisel olete juhatanud selliseid maailma tipporkestreid nagu Berliner Philharmoniker ja London Philharmonic Orchestra. Aga teie muretsete ikka kõige rohkem Eesti pärast! Miks?
Eesti on minu kodumaa, isamaa. Räägin oma emakeelt – eesti keelt. Ma ei kannata seda, kui tulen Eestisse ja pean rääkima võõrkeelt. Eesti keeles rääkimine ja eestlastega suhtlemine on mulle väga tähtis. Eestlane on arusaaja inimene ja temaga on võimalik individuaalselt suhelda, teineteisele läheneda. Nii nagu praegu teiegagi – ma saan rääkida otse ja südamest. Häbiasi on seda maad ja keelt käest ära anda ja rääkida, et tehkem multikultuuri nii – see maailmas praegu moes on –, nagu arvab heaks mõni Euroopa Liidu vastutav juht.

Noored dirigendid kogu maailmast tulevad kokku, et õppida teie juures (näiteks teie seitse aastat kestnud meistrikursused David Oistrahhi festivali raames Pärnus ning 2007. aastal värskelt alustatud meistrikursused Haagi Kuningliku Konservatooriumi juures). Mis on see fenomen, et nad tulevad sinna, kus teie olete? Miks tahate ise neil kursustel õpetada?
Dirigeerimise ala on tundmatu ja keeruline. Rimski-Korsakov on öelnud, et dirigeerimine – eto tjomnoe delo. Ega inimesed ju ei tea, nad ka ei mõtle sellele, mis on dirigeerimine. Kas see on taktilöömine või hoopis suurem kunst? Ma ei oska seletada fenomeni, mis toob inimesi mu juurde. Võib-olla see, et muusika on mu armastus. Ma elan dirigeerimise maailmas. Olen salvestanud palju plaate, kaasa aitab seegi, et mu nime tuntakse maailmas.

Aga peamine on dirigeerimise tehnika, mida on raske selgeks saada. Samamoodi on mängimine igal pillil raske, kui pole tehnikat. See on hea ja halva dirigendi vahe.

Ja veel.... Pärnu on ju kultuuripealinn! Olen osa sellest haruldasest festivalist juulis.

Eesmärk oli viia meistrikursused rahvusvahelisele tasemele ja ma saavutasin selle. Dirigendid üle maailma tulid kokku just Pärnusse. Ma sain näidata, kui ilus ja armas linn see on. Praegu räägivad paljud maailma muusikainimesed Pärnust kui muusikalinnast.

Dirigendid Järvid – Neeme, Paavo ja Kristjan Järvi. Kas nüüd õpivad pojad teilt või teie neilt?
Oleme loominguline perekond – me mitte ei jäljenda üksteist, vaid õpime üksteise käest. Paavo ja Kristjan on palju kuulanud mu plaate, mis ei tähenda, et minu maitse peaks olema nende oma. Pigem me innustume vastastikku ja vaimustume üksteise tööst. Räägin siin ka Maarikast, kes on solistina heliplaadistanud koos Kristjaniga kõik Eesti heliloojate flöödikontserdid. Minu lapsed on mu suurim inspiratsioon.


Parsonnet quits after years of harmony and one ill-fated purchase
December 20, 2007
The Star-Ledger
Peggy McGlone

It is the end of an era for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

Victor Parsonnet, the orchestra’s influential and popular chairman, announced yesterday he will retire from the volunteer position Jan. 1.

Parsonnet joined the orchestra’s board of trustees in 1986 and became its chairman in 1991. A respected cardiac surgeon and amateur pianist, he is credited with stabilizing the organization’s operations, raising its artistic profile and improving relations with its musicians.

He was also behind the acquisition of 30 rare Italian strings, a transaction that mired the orchestra in controversy and crippling debt until a buyer for the instruments was found last month.

Parsonnet, 83, is to be succeeded by co-chairs Stephen Sichak and Ruth Lipper while he assumes the title of chairman emeritus for life.

“I’m still on the board... and I have lots of things to do, but I don’t have the same pressure”, said Parsonnet, who admitted to mixed feelings about stepping down as chairman.

“I love the orchestra. I love what we do. It’s been tremendous”.

During his 16 years at the helm, the orchestra underwent sweeping changes affecting just about every aspect of the organization. During that time, the NJSO hired three chief executives and two music directors – including its current maestro, the highly regarded Neeme Järvi – and it became the resident orchestra of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center when the showcase venue in Newark opened in 1997.

“He is a legendary person. I know him as intelligent, knowledgeable about music, a great doctor”, said Järvi. “It is very rare for an American orchestra to have such a leader. All this time I was happy to work with him”.

In 2003, Parsonnet led the effort to acquire the 30 strings from New Jersey collector Herbert Axelrod. The spectacular deal – a $17 million purchase put together through a patchwork of grants, loans and personal guarantees – came under scrutiny a year later when Axelrod was indicted and jailed for tax fraud in an unrelated matter.

While the purchase raised the orchestra’s profile, the debt it incurred, as well as declining attendance, pushed the organization to the brink of financial disaster.

The issue was resolved last month when the orchestra sold the 30 instruments for $20million upfront and a share of their future resale. The buyers, twin investment bankers Seth and Brook Taube, agreed to give the orchestra playing rights to 28 of the instruments for at least five years. The sale cleared the orchestra’s debt.

“Took a Chance”
Parsonnet cited the acquisition of the instruments as the significant milestone of his tenure.

“Despite the fact that there’s been criticism about it, there was nothing underhanded about it and it did a lot”, said Parsonnet. “It gave us fame. I think it gave us a wonderful sound. It gave musicians something that they didn’t think they’d ever have – a Stradivarius or del Gesu in their hands. It brought Neeme Järvi – and it brought André Gremillet, I think. He saw it differently. He saw an orchestra that took a chance”. Gremillet became NJSO chief executive in January.

Perhaps Parsonnet’s most lasting legacy will be the collaborative spirit he brought to the institution, especially regarding the musicians’ role in the organization.

“There are not words enough to express our love and admiration for him, what he’s meant to us and what he’s done for us,” said Robert Wagner, principal bassoonist and board member.
Sichak, who served as interim president of the NJSO from August 2005 until January, said Parsonnet transformed the organization.

“What Victor has done has been nothing short of amazing. He has really been the heart of the organization,” he said.

Lawrence P. Goldman, president and chief executive of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, has witnessed the change in the symphony during his 19 years in Newark.

“It’s clear that the different parts of the symphony are in harmony, and that’s a huge achievement,” said Goldman. “I don’t think there’s another case in the country ... where there’s a better relationship between the symphony and the arts center, and a large amount of that credit goes to Victor’s collaborative spirit.”

Goldman said Lipper will continue the tradition. A former president of the NJPAC Women’s Association, Lipper is an advocate for both the orchestra and the arts center.

“I always believe strongly in leveraging the mutual strengths of both organizations,” she said. “The PAC is our natural partner, as are the park systems. We need to work closely with them.”

Parsonnet was born in 1924 in Deal. He is a graduate of Cornell University and New York University College of Medicine.

He was the first in New Jersey to perform coronary bypass and heart transplant surgeries. He is medical director of the pacemaker center at Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark and has achieved international recognition for his work with pacemakers.

Parsonnet said the thought of retiring was not new, “but it never became serious because there was always so much to do, so much to worry about. I didn’t really want to step down until I felt comfortable.”

Parsonnet said his health is fine – he still performs surgery, and he plays singles tennis twice a week. “Don’t make too much of 83,” he said. “My patients think I’m 33.”

Sichak, who joined the board in 2004, is president of BD Diagnostics, a division of the pharmaceutical giant BD (Becton Dickinson).

Lipper, who joined the board in 2003. a former executive of Lipper Analytical Services and has been associated with many nonprofit arts organizations, including the Newark Museum.

“We’d like to continue to vision that Victor had... by continuing to solidify our position as the premier arts organization in the state,” Sichak said.

Added Lipper: “There will be equal emphasis on artistic excellence and fiscal responsibility. You have to have symmetry between the two.”


NJSO Focuses On European Composers
December 23, 2007
Carlton Wilkinson

We tend to think of the smallness of the world as being a relatively new idea, a feature of the 20th and current centuries.

Before that, cultures kept pretty much to themselves, right? Each culture rattling around in a world-shaped box of its own design?

Well, no. Cross-fertilization occurs between cultures all over the place throughout history, even between cultures that we think of as starkly dissimilar.

Remember the “Turkish” fad that shot through Viennese music during Mozart’s time? The generation that grew up after the second Siege of Vienna became fascinated with Turkish culture. Mozart’s “Rondo alla turka” is only one of a whole slew of pieces that had a new rhythmic vitality inspired by Western mimicry of Turkish percussion instruments.

These messy affairs typically have been swept into the margins of history books, but among present-day scholars, they are becoming increasingly more important, highlighting the preoccupations of our own era with globalization and cultural identity.

With that in mind, it is a welcome and timely theme that the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra brings to its 2008 Winter Festival, beginning Jan. 4. Titled “Coming to America”, the festival focuses on European composers, musicians and specific works that represent a cultural bridge to the Americas.

Some of the pieces chosen for this festival are well-known examples of Europeans in the United States. In the 1890s, visiting Czech composer Antonín Dvořák composed “Symphony from the New World” in New York City. Based partly on the sounds of American folk music styles, this symphony is now legendary having served as a model for an entire generation of composers on this side of the Atlantic.

Likewise, it is well known that Béla Bartók came to the United States in the 1940s and was living with his family in New York City when he received a commission from the Boston Symphony Orchestra for his now-famous “Concerto for Orchestra”.

But other connections are not so obvious. How many people know that Peter I. Tchaikovsky conducted the orchestra at the official opening night of Carnegie Hall in 1891, a program that included the composer’s Piano Concerto No. 1? Or that the American conducting debut of NJSO director Neeme Järvi was in a Metropolitan Opera performance of Tchaikovsky’s opera “Eugene Onegin”?

Other works and composers featured include Igor Stravinsky’s “Circus Polka”, Paul Hindemith’s “Symphonic Metamorphosis on a Theme by Carl Maria von Weber”, Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’ “The Oceanides”, as well as the Second Symphony by Bohuslav Martinů and Yefim Bronfman playing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3.

Like Bartok, Hindemith, Stravinsky and Martinů all came to the United States to escape World War II. What these programs lack most obviously is mention of U.S.-linked non-European contributions to classical music, for example, the highly influential Chinese-American composer Tan Dun or Japanese composer Joji Yuasa, who for years taught at the University of California in San Diego.

All of these works and more are gathered into three programs performed at various sites around New Jersey over three weeks. The first, “Bronfman Plays Prokofiev”, will be performed at 8 p.m. Jan. 4 at Richardson Auditorium on the Princeton University campus in Princeton; 8 p.m. Jan. 5 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, 1 Center St. in Newark; and 3 p.m. Jan. 6 at the State Theatre, 19 Livingston Ave. in New Brunswick.

The second program, “From the New World”, will be performed at 8 p.m. Jan. 11 and 3 p.m. Jan. 13 at NJPAC, and 8 p.m. Jan. 10, at the State Theatre. The third, “Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto”, featuring 17-year-old soloist Haochen Zhang from Shanghai and guest conductor Gilbert Varga of Britain, will be performed at 8 p.m. Jan. 25 and 3 p.m. Jan. 27 at NJPAC, and 8 p.m. Jan. 26 at the War Memorial, West Lafayette and Barrack Streets, Trenton.


New Jersey Orchestra Presents Winter Festival
December 27, 2007

Ever since 1850, when P. T. Barnum helped to make Swedish soprano Jenny Lind a household name, America has been a vital destination for classical musicians. Some have come to advance their careers, others to escape political strife. All have contributed to the unparalleled richness of American concert life.

One such musician is the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s Estonian-born Music Director Neeme Järvi, an American citizen since 1987. Under his direction, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra is proud to present the 2008 Winter Festival: Coming to America, a three-week celebration featuring composers who have brought their creative inspiration to this country, whether as visiting virtuosos or permanent residents. Dvořák, Tchaikovsky, Bartók, and Stravinsky are just a few of the masters represented in Coming to America. Says Järvi, “We’re very excited to be playing this festival. We’ll be bringing the audience great music which we rarely perform in our regular subscription concerts.”

The Winter Festival takes place during the first three weekends of 2008, beginning Friday, January 4 and continuing through Sunday, January 27 at venues throughout New Jersey. Tickets to all Festival events and performances may be purchased by calling 1.800.ALLEGRO (800.255.3476) or by visiting www.njsymphony.org. Groups are welcome, and can save up to 30 percent off regular ticket prices. In choosing Coming to America as the theme for its Winter Festival, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra is paying homage to those who play the music, as well as those who create it. Among the NJSO’s 68 regular members are musicians born in Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Korea, Poland, Romania, Taiwan, and Ukraine – reflecting the tremendous diversity of the orchestra’s home state. Says section first violinist Judy Wu, who came to the U.S. from Taiwan at the age of eleven, “We’re so much luckier here, since we’re surrounded by so many world-class musicians, especially in the TriState area... I definitely wouldn’t be the same kind of player had I not come to America. It’s so different here – you’re always encouraged to explore, to be creative, to step outside the box.”

Week 1: January 4–6
Bronfman Plays Prokofiev
Pianist Yefim Bronfman shares the stage with Maestro Järvi and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra on Friday, January 4 at Richardson Auditorium in Princeton (8 pm), Saturday, January 5 at Prudential Hall, NJPAC in Newark (8 pm), and Sunday, January 6 at the State Theatre in New Brunswick (3 pm).

Bronfman takes the solo role in Serge Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 – a work written in the United States and given its premiere by the Chicago Symphony in 1921 with the composer as soloist. In a letter written shortly before the premiere, Prokofiev complained that the part he had written for himself was “devilishly difficult... I’m practicing hard three hours a day.” Deftly balancing drama and introspection, dazzling technique and sly wit, Piano Concerto No. 3 is one of Prokofiev’s most finely crafted concertos.

The program opens with The Oceanides by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, who came to America for the first time to conduct this 1914 tone poem, commissioned by an American arts patron for a festival in Norfolk, Connecticut. Inspired by the ancient Greek legend of the oceanides – ocean nymphs who lived in rivers, streams, and other waters – this shimmering, luminous score displays the composer’s mastery of orchestral color – an apt showcase for Järvi and the NJSO.

German composer Paul Hindemith emigrated to America in 1940, and wrote his most famous work, Symphonic Metamorphosis on a Theme by Carl Maria von Weber, in 1943 while teaching at Yale University. Contrary to the title, Hindemith actually treats several themes by his German Romantic predecessor to concise and imaginative transformations. The piece originally began life as a ballet, and even the slower Andantino movement is charged with kinetic energy and excitement.

Stravinsky arrived in America in 1940, settling in Beverly Hills, and became an American citizen five years later. The Barnum and Bailey Circus commissioned his witty Circus Polka: Composed for a Young Elephant (1942), and it was at Madison Square Garden that the piece had its premiere, danced by 50 elephants and a corps de ballet consisting of “50 beautiful girls.” Brief, yet indelible, the Circus Polka is full of musical jokes, and aptly conjures the festive, incongruous spectacle of dancing elephants.

The 2007/08 season marks Neeme Järvi’s third season as music director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, a vibrant partnership that has recently been extended through the 2008/09 season. He is also Chief Conductor of the Hague Residentie Orchestra in the Netherlands, Music Director Emeritus of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Principal Conductor Emeritus of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra (National Orchestra of Sweden), Conductor Laureate of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and First Principal Guest Conductor of the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra. Born in Tallinn, Estonia and an American citizen since 1987, Järvi is one of today’s busiest conductors, making frequent guest appearances with the major orchestras and opera houses throughout the world.

Yefim Bronfman is widely regarded as one of the most talented virtuoso pianists performing today. Born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, he became an American citizen in 1989. His commanding technique and exceptional lyrical gifts have won him consistent critical acclaim and enthusiastic audiences worldwide. He appears regularly with such celebrated ensembles as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the Orchestre de Paris and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He is an exclusive SonyBMG recording artist, and won a Grammy in 1997 for his recording of the three Bartók Piano Concertos with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Week 2: January 10, 11, 13
From the New World
Neeme Järvi takes the podium to lead the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in three concerts: Thursday, January 10 at the State Theatre in New Brunswick (8 pm); Friday, January 11 (8 pm) and Sunday, January 13 (3 pm) at Prudential Hall, NJPAC in Newark.

The program opens with the Polonaise from Tchaikovsky’s greatest opera, Eugene Onegin. In the opera, this Polish dance, with its skipping triple-meter pulse, takes place during an elegant ball in the home of a Russian noble, striking a note of grandeur and intrigue. Tchaikovsky came to America, though only once: he toured the country in 1891, conducting in the very first concert given at Carnegie Hall. Some 88 years later, Maestro Järvi crossed the Atlantic to make his debut with the Metropolitan Opera – conducting Eugene Onegin.

Maestro Järvi considers Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů “a great composer whose music should be played much more often. His Second Symphony is a masterpiece.” Certainly, this compact and engaging piece is ripe for discovery. Martinů favors propulsive rhythms that call both Baroque and folk music to mind; his themes are by turns playful and melancholy, forceful and tender. Fleeing the Nazis, Martinů and his wife emigrated to the United States in 1941.

Five of Martinů’s six symphonies were written here, including Symphony No. 2, commissioned by the Cleveland Orchestra, which gave the work its premiere in 1943. The music of another Czech composer completes the program as Järvi leads the NJSO in Antonin Dvořák’s well-loved Symphony No. 9 “From the New World.” Tradition holds that the composer adapted many of his themes from folk songs and spirituals he heard during his years in America, 1892-95. In fact, he once wrote, “I have only composed in the spirit of such American national melodies,” as he was equally affected by the music of his own homeland. Dvořák composed Symphony No. 9 while living on East 17 Street in New York City; while the building is gone, a statue of him stands in Stuyvesant Square.

Week 3: January 25–27
Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto
Guest conductor Gilbert Varga conducts pianist Haochen Zhang and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in three concerts: Friday, January 25 at Prudential Hall, NJPAC in Newark (8 pm); Saturday, January 26 at Patriots Theater at the War Memorial in Trenton (8 pm, preceded by a Classical Conversation at 7 pm) and Sunday, January 27 at Prudential Hall, NJPAC in Newark (3 pm).

Many of the young musicians now coming to America are from East Asia, where interest in classical music has seen a tremendous surge. So it’s particularly fitting that 17-year-old pianist Hoachen Zheng, from Shanghai, joins British conductor Gilbert Varga and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in Tchaikovsky’s dazzling showpiece, Piano Concerto No. 1. Tchaikovsky himself conducted Piano Concerto No. 1 at Carnegie Hall during his visit to New York in 1891, to rapturous response. Wrote The Evening Sun newspaper, “Tchaikovsky’s concerto is one of the finest in modern music. It is replete with expressive melody lines and fresh orchestral effects.” By turns dramatic and sentimental, the work adapts themes for its outer movements from Ukrainian folksong, while the lovely slow movement draws on French song material.

It was in New York City that Béla Bartók, who had emigrated to America from Hungary in 1940, composed his most famous work, the Concerto for Orchestra (1943), commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. This, too, is a virtuoso showpiece – but for the entire orchestra. Nearly every instrument has a turn in the spotlight, giving the gifted players of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra ample opportunities to display their artistry. In the second movement, Bartók introduces an ingenious device: a “game of the pairs.” Introduced by a side drum, like a ringmaster announcing a circus parade, the winds enter two by two, displaying their musical personalities with distinctive melodies. Inventive and gripping, with moments of deep reflection and raucous humor, Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra serves as a brilliant finale to Coming to America.

Gilbert Varga has conducted many of Europe’s major orchestras including the Munich Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic Bayerische Staatsoper Orchestra, Orchestra of Santa Cecilia. In recent seasons, Varga’s American profile has seen exponential growth. In 2005, he made a highly successful debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and in 2007/08 he will make his debut with the orchestras of Dallas and Detroit. Varga is a regular guest with the St. Louis Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra, having conducted both orchestras almost every season since his debuts in 2002. Further afield he has conducted at Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Sydney Symphony and the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony in Tokyo. Varga’s discography includes recordings with ASV, Discover Records, Tring (The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s Collection), Koch International (Munich Chamber Orchestra and Bamberg Symphony) and Claves Recordings (The Basque National Orchestra).

Haochen Zhang entered the Curtis Institute of Music in 2005 and studies with renowned pianist Gary Graffman. In 2006 Haochen Zhang won the junior division of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Albert M. Greenfield Student Competition and performed as soloist with the orchestra in November 2006 and will appear again in February 2007.

He began studying piano at age 3, and in 1996 at the age of 5, he made his debut with a solo piano recital in Shanghai Music Hall playing works by Mozart, Haydn, and Bach. Since then he has appeared as a soloist with the Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen symphonies; Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra; Hong Kong Children’s Symphony Orchestra; Krakow State Philharmonic; and China National Symphony Orchestra. Haochen Zhang won first prize in the Fourth International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians, third prize in the Fourth Moscow International Frederick Chopin Competition for Young Pianists, and the Golden Prize in the all ages concerto competition at the Fifth International Chopin Piano Competition in Asia. – www.njsymphony.org


Finding Musical Harmony in America
December 30, 2007
The Star-Ledger
Bradley Bambarger

“I am a big shot here, I really am,” wrote Pyotr Tchaikovsky in a letter home to Russia during his feted visit to the U.S. He was here to help inaugurate Carnegie Hall with concerts in 1891. But, the composer added later, “Being among strangers all the time is very hard on me. I miss Russia and my loved ones very much.”

Tchaikovsky’s letters reflect something of the promise and hardship that have faced those coming to America to work and live. He was only a visitor, like Antonín Dvořák, Jean Sibelius and Sergei Prokofiev after him. Many other composers would follow them in a more desperate era, with Igor Stravinsky, Béla Bartók, Paul Hindemith and Bohuslav Martinů among those fleeing a Europe engulfed by World War II. As asylum seekers, the stakes were higher for them.

Titled “Coming to America,” the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s annual winter festival features the composers mentioned above, in concerts across the state from Jan. 4 to 27 (see schedule, Page 4). The theme cuts close to home for several of the performers. Along with NJSO music director Neeme Järvi, who emigrated to the U.S. from Soviet-dominated Estonia in 1980, 13 of the orchestra’s musicians came to America to make new homes and careers.

With immigration’s costs and benefits to society weighed heatedly in an election year, the content of the NJSO’s festival helps illustrate a win-win aspect. The U.S. offered safety and opportunity to émigré composers, while they gave the country an invaluable cultural infusion. But the recollections of Järvi and some NJSO players also remind us of the difficulties they faced. The artists recall how they overcame a new language and homesickness to achieve their American dreams; they note what’s not so dreamy, too.

Leaving home
Having led what was then called the Leningrad Philharmonic on tours in the West, Järvi was able to accept an invitation to conduct Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” at the Metropolitan Opera in 1979. Sensing a chance, he emigrated to the U.S. the next year, fulfilling “a dream of every Soviet citizen to be able to get out into the world.”

Järvi was able to take his wife and children with him, but he was declared persona non grata by Soviet authorities. He lost many of his possessions and would never see his mother again: “They wouldn’t even let her come visit me when I was in Sweden,” he says. “Even writing letters home was a problem, because the officials read everything.”

The Järvis stayed with friends in Rumson, and then the conductor bought a home in Shrewsbury, commuting by bus for work at the Met and spending time among a sizable Estonian community in Lakewood, where there was even an Estonian church. They would later buy an apartment in Manhattan, but Järvi says that he and his wife have retained “warm feelings” for New Jersey ever since.

NJSO violinist Alexandra Gorokhovsky remembers the exact day she came to America – Feb. 2, 1990, at age 20. She and her parents were fleeing Russia – the Chernobyl nuclear accident there, as well as pervasive anti-Semitism. Her father had also suffered a second heart attack at just 41, and they hoped that life would be easier in the West. They emigrated via Vienna and Italy, having only $100 by the time they arrived in the U.S.

The Gorokhovsky family settled in Brooklyn, with some of her father’s relations there to welcome them. Still, it was hard going. The violinist pulled double duty, studying at the Manhattan School of Music and playing in regional orchestras to earn money. Her jobs included a stint with Connecticut’s Hartford Symphony; she would commute the four hours to Hartford, “getting home at 2 a.m. after a concert and having to be at school just a few hours later,” she remembers. “Sometimes, I would just collapse at the kitchen table and cry.”

Gorokhovsky’s first violin teacher was from Russia, which made things easier linguistically and culturally. She would later have “wonderful” teachers from the New York Philharmonic. But it was her family that she relied on – they were “all I needed,” she says. “I wasn’t homesick. It was a gray life in Russia, with no one smiling. I still don’t want to go back, unless it would be to show my sons where I was born.”

Violinist Fatima Aaziza was deeply homesick when she came to America alone at age 17 from Poland to study at the Juilliard School. It was a dream come true that had its nightmarish aspects. She arrived two weeks before 9/11. A shy person used to having a big family around, she also had to cope with the competitive Juilliard milieu, plus general culture shock.

“Even the little things were strange,” Aaziza recalls. “People would say, “How are you?” in the hallway, and I’d stop to tell them how I was really doing. But they were already gone, down the hall. I had to learn that they were just using a polite expression and didn’t really want to know.”

One upside was that “being in New York was amazing – I was able to experience so much and see so many famous artists perform that I could never dream of seeing in Poland,” Aaziza says. “The quality of life was so much higher, too; even as a student, I could live better than some of my friends with jobs at home.”

Violinist Judy Lin Wu came to the U.S. from Taiwan in 1983 at an even younger age – 11. She accompanied her 15-year-old cellist sister, who was entering the pre-college program at Juilliard. While her sister stayed at a boarding school in New York, Wu lived with a host family in Danbury, Conn., and soon began coming into Manhattan to Juilliard herself.

“I didn’t speak a word of English, and my host family didn’t speak Chinese – I hardly opened my mouth for the longest time,” Wu says. “But one night I dreamed in English, and I was on my way... Being so young and naive, I wasn’t nearly as scared as I would be now if you told me that I had to move to a strange new country where I didn’t speak the language.”

American dreams
Järvi, like Gorokhovsky, remembers the thrill of seeing “the shops full of food in the U.S. In Estonia and Russia, it was just one type of cheese and one type of sausage and lines for everything. The “Soviet paradise” wasn’t really a paradise – but America seemed to be. The orchestras were fantastic. But, of course, the freedom was everything.”

Järvi is on the phone from West Palm Beach, Fla., where he is spending the holidays, joined by the family of his eldest son, Paavo (conductor of orchestras in Cincinnati and Germany). Paavo was 17 when he came to the U.S. with his younger sister, Maarika (a flutist), and brother, Kristjan (a conductor).

“My children had a whole new world of impressions growing up here,” says Neeme Järvi. “They became Americans. Kristjan’s favorite composer is even John Adams.”

When Wu came to America, the country seemed like “a children’s paradise,” she says. “School wasn’t nearly as strict and rigid, and I would grow up appreciating that were encouraged to speak our minds here. Not everything is about being “proper”.”

In the mid-’90s, Wu and her husband relocated to Hong Kong for several years. Missing the U.S., she found that “when we came back to the States, I felt like I was home. And when I go back to visit Taiwan now, my relatives there see me as American.”

Wu joined the NJSO in 1998, Gorokhovsky in ’95, and Aaziza last year. All are quick to characterize the orchestra as a warm, supportive organization. Gorokhovsky has special ties. She is marrying New Jersey native James Neglia, personnel manager for the NJSO.

It isn’t just the personal but the professional that appeals to Gorokhovsky about life in an American orchestra: “In Russia, orchestras would rehearse for months on one program. Here, no one has that time – you only have four rehearsals, and it’s time to perform. But because of this, everyone is professional, disciplined; in Russian rehearsals, the concentration isn’t the same – the musicians are always talking!”

Business as usual
Tchaikovsky and the Finn Sibelius were celebrated in their lone U.S. visits, and the Czech Dvořák stayed awhile in New York to teach as an iconic figure. The German Hindemith became a stalwart figure at Yale. The cosmopolitan Stravinsky – who had lived in Paris after the Bolshevik revolution – settled in Los Angeles in the ’40s and then New York, growing to appreciate the U.S. and achieving success here. But the Hungarian Bartók, broke and ill, never felt at home. The Czech Martinů fared better, although he pined for European culture and resettled in Switzerland.

From the sounds of America, Dvořák drew inspiration for his “New World” Symphony (featured in the NJSO festival). He stated that the school of native composers should look less to Europe and “strike roots into its own soil,” emphasizing the rich vein of African-American spirituals. But that touched a nerve in a country just a generation or so away from slavery.

Race relations have evolved, but the New World still has some old problems. For Wu, racial differences are more apparent now, “especially after having kids,” she says. “I don’t want to see them hurt. My husband was born in the U.S. of Chinese ancestry. And even in this big melting pot, we’re not always accepted as being as Americans first.”

It wasn’t race but commerce that bothered Prokofiev about the U.S. in 1920. He had sharp recollections about the conservative, business-first mindset in American life: “I thought with fury of the wonderful American orchestras that cared nothing for my music; of the critics who repeated for the hundredth time, “Beethoven is a great composer,” while balking violently at new works; of the managers who arranged long tours for artists playing the same hackneyed programs 50 times over.”

Järvi likes to point out that American ensembles commissioned Martinů’s symphonies and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. But, he adds, “values in America really are changing now, with everything oriented to money and business – and classical music doesn’t represent big business anymore. “Entertainment” is what’s big now.”

Ironically, even the NJSO’s “Coming to America” festival has its parochial aspect, focusing on composers from Eastern and Western Europe. There are no works by, say, such noted Asian-American composers as Tan Dun and Bright Sheng. And for all the great music on the bill, some of the pieces featured are warhorses that audiences hear often.

“I love the standard repertoire,” Wu says, “but we should be more adventurous. Asian-Americans are an untapped community, in particular. Whenever there is an Asian soloist, like a Yo-Yo Ma or a Sarah Chang, you see Asian faces in the audience. Identity can be a hook with the actual music we play, too. So many Asian families have musicians in them. I think there’s a future there.”

This is the performance schedule for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s “Coming to America” festival:

Stravinsky’s “Circus Polka,” Hindemith’s “Symphonic Metamorphoses,” Sibelius’s “The Oceanides” and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3, with conductor Neeme Järvi and pianist Yefim Bronfman.

Jan. 4 – 8 p.m., Richardson Auditorium, Princeton (Nassau Street and University Place)
Jan. 5 – 8 p.m., Prudential Hall, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Newark
(1 Center St.)
Jan. 6 – 3 p.m., State Theatre, New Brunswick (19 Livingston St.)
Tchaikovsky’s Polonaise from “Eugene Onegin,” Martinů’s Symphony No. 2 and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 “From the New World,” with conductor Neeme Järvi
Jan. 10 – 8 p.m., State Theatre
Jan. 11 – 8 p.m., Prudential Hall, NJPAC
Jan. 13 – 3 p.m., Prudential Hall, NJPAC

Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, with pianist Haochen Zhang and conductor Gilbert Varga
Jan. 25 – 8 p.m., Prudential Hall, NJPAC
Jan. 26 – 8 p.m., Patriots Theater at the War Memorial, Trenton (West Lafayette and Barrack streets)
Jan. 27 – 3 p.m., Prudential Hall, NJPAC
For tickets or more information, call (800) 255-3476 or go to www.njsymphony.org.


A. Kapp: Don Carlos; E. Kapp: Suite from Kalevipoeg; V. Kapp: Symphony No. 2
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra; Neeme Järvi (Chandos CHAN10441)

December 2007
William Norris

This attractive new release from Chandos is dedicated to orchestral music written by Artur Kapp (1878-1952), his son Eugen (1908-1996) and his nephew Villem (1913-1964). These three musicians were largely responsible for founding and maintaining the so-called “Estonian orchestral tradition” during a time of great volatility in their country’s history. Admittedly, this tradition is deeply indebted to composers from across Estonia’s eastern border (with occasional references to Scandinavia) and trails behind its neighbours from a temporal stylistic standpoint. Nevertheless, the works presented here are enjoyable and rewarding, and deserve to be heard outside their land of origin. And who better to make a case for the oeuvre of this national compositional lineage than the head of the same country’s own conducting dynasty – Neeme Järvi.

Though the senior Kapp had a long and productive career, writing five symphonies, five concertos and an oratorio based on the Biblical story of Job (amongst other works), the work chosen here is his first for orchestral forces. Written in 1899 as an examination piece at the St Petersburg Conservatory, the dramatic overture Don Carlos is brimming with attractive melodies and inventive instrumentation. Given the piece’s compositional proficiency, with its dexterous treatment of thematic material in relation to Schiller’s tale, it surprises me that Järvi has not previously committed it to disc. He directs a sparkling account at the helm of the superlative BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, shaping the composer’s organised tumult with the utmost care.

Eugen Kapp studied with his father Artur at the Tallinn Conservatory and went on to become the institute’s Rector from 1952 to 1964. His ballet Kalevipoeg (1947) was based on Estonia’s eponymous national epic poem (which has no fewer than 19,032 verses), penned by Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald nearly a century earlier. Thankfully, the orchestral suite presented here is not quite as daunting as its source material, divided into six short, enchanting movements.

These pieces are not unlike those Tchaikovsky composed in an effort to bring The Nutcracker to concert audiences. However, beyond the sweeping melodies and expert orchestrations, Kapp’s work does manage to set itself apart. There is a greater sense of folk music in the Kalevipoeg Suite, particularly in “Forging of the Swords” (a rambunctious gallop which should unquestionably be used as the theme for a TV western) and, unsurprisingly, in the appropriately named “Folk Dance” (which relies staunchly upon an irregular 3-2-3 quaver beat). There is also a palpable tinge of twentieth-century modernity, both in harmony (such as the juicy introduction to “Kalevipoeg’s Dance with the Maiden of the Lake”) and in texture (the whirling woodwind semiquavers in “Dance of the Wind” are reminiscent of Stravinsky’s Firebird). Järvi and the BBC Philharmonic capture the essence of these mouth-watering miniatures, with vivacious woodwind solos and a remarkable intensity from the strings.

Villem Kapp – who also received tutelage from Artur at the Tallinn Conservatory – has written the most “out-of-date” work on this disc. His Symphony No. 2 in C minor (1955) appeared about seven decades after the era in which it belongs. It is, nevertheless, a neat, tautly constructed composition. The opening movement is based around a simple yet highly functional motif somewhat akin to first four notes of Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1. The second subject, though not the most memorable, threatens to launch itself wholeheartedly into “I Vow to Thee My Country” before opting to take an alternative path. Following a fairly conventional working-out of material Kapp presents an inspired and unforeseen conclusion which is ably executed by conductor and orchestra.

The almost-Brahmsian Adagio espressivo is notable for its sumptuously unpredictable harmonic inflections. The BBC Philharmonic is tender in its performance, though they might have shown greater expressivity in Kapp’s luscious countermelodies (particularly in the strings during the introduction). The ensuing Allegro is a waltz in which both mischief and magnificence abound. Its carefree nature allows us a few minutes of idyll before the Finale brings us full circle by reintroducing the overwhelming tension of the first movement. The four-note motif from the first movement is immediately thrust upon us, followed by a rekindling of the tragedy initially experienced during the symphony’s introduction. A thrilling allegro passage follows, after which the movement reaches its peak with a radiantly majestic restatement of the second subject’s principal theme. Järvi and his orchestra navigate these junctures with flair and panache, bringing the work to a triumphant close.

Accompanied by concise yet informative booklet notes, and aided by exceptional recorded sound, these performances are a resounding success, and fully deserve to garner the Kapp family greater recognition away from their homeland.

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