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February 03, 1995 - Image 3

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-02-03

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, February_3, 1995 - 3


" 7

b .

Acclaimed orchestra
jeturns for full
weekend of classics
By Brian Wise
Daily Arts Writer
"What I find wonderful is that you
hear everything the composer wrote on
the page," explained Ronald Bishop, prin-
cipal tuba player of the Cleveland Or-
chestra. "When the music says crescendo
we make a crescendo and when it says
diminuendo we diminuendo. That's what
this orchestra is famous for - for being
more honest to the composer and not
playing something the conductor decides
to do instead."
This guiding philosophy, along with a
spirit of discipline and communication
among its members, an astounding sense of
precision and an unrivaled stylistic flexibil-
ity, has elevated the Cleveland to the ranks
of the world's top orchestras. Music Direc-
tor Christoph von Dohninyi provides a
firm backbone to this musical organism
with intelligent and probing interpretations.
Dohninyi is only the sixth conductor
in the orchestra's 77-year history, and
carries on a legacy of musical discipline
and professionalism stemming from or-
chestra founder Nikolai Sokoloff, and his
successors Artur Rodzinski, Erich
Leinsdorf, George Szell, Pierre Boulez
and Lorin Maazel. He has maintained a
level of excellence while expanding the
orchestra's base with more inventive and

Hill Auditorium, 8 p.m.
Schnittke: (K)ein Sommernachstraum
Schoenberg: Kammersymphonie No. 1, Op.
Brahms: Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op.
Sat Ja
c:4n EvEning of3raltn
Hill Auditorium, 8 p.m.
Christoph von Dohninyi, music director
Emanuel Ax piano
Brahms (arr. Schoenberg):
Piano Quartet in G minor, Op. 25
Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15
f..-arn gel<:::4 uSic wIA rn? ZII Qf t/&
Cf~edand ta
Rackham Auditorium, 4 p.m.
Stephen Paulus: Music of the Night
Victor Ewald: Symphony for Brass Quintet
in B-flat Major. Op. 5
Brahms: Sextet No. 1 in B-flat Major. Op.
Call UMS at 764-2538 for availability
Friday and Saturday: $55, $45, $36 and $18
Sunday: $32, $30, $26 and $20
Whole Series: $128, $108, $88, and $50
Student Rush: Half the lowest price plus
$1, available the day of the performance
master classes on their respective instru-
ments at the School of Music tomorrow.
The weekend events will conclude Sun-
day afternoon with a chamber music con-
cert at Rackham Auditorium.
Bishop joined the orchestra in 1968
when it was under the autocratic com-
mand of the legendary George Szell.
"In my three years with Szell, he instilled
a level of musicianship in all of us that carries
on," he explained. "There are still high de-
mands put on us by Mr. Dohninyi - he is
certainly not allowing us to rest on our
laurels. That the orchestra is still playing so
well, even as he has made considerable
changes, is a tribute to Mr. Dohninyi."
While Dohninyi has made several
personnel changes over the past decade,
the ensemble has not lost its famed sense
of discipline that Seellinstilled during his
tenure from 1946 until 1970. Szell was
largely accredited with building the or-
chestra to its international stature with an
iron fist; musicians were said to play for
him as if their lives depended on it.
During his reign, he enlarged the size

Christoph von
Music director of the Cleveland
Orchestra since 1984
Has led the orchestra to regular
appearances at the Salzburg
Festival and on two trips to Asia
Led the complete cycle of Wagner's
four-opera Ring of the Nibelung
cycle during the 1992-93 season,
only the third such performance in
the history of the Vienna State
Has helped make Cleveland the
most frequently recorded
orchestra in America including the
complete symphonies of
Beethoven, Brahms and

"There are still high
demands put on us by Mr
Dohnanyi - he is certainly
*ot allowing us to rest on our
- Ronald Bishop
Principal Tuba Player of
the Cleveland Orchestra

resourceful ap-
proaches to pro-
This sense of in-
ventiveness will be
evident when he con-
ducts the orchestra
for a three-day resi-
dency in Ann Arbor,
sponsored by Soci-
ety Bank and the
University Musical

of the ensemble to 105 members (42 of
whom remain today), and extended the
length of the performing season from 30
to 52 weeks a year. The orchestra made
its first tours to Europe and Asia and
recorded often during this period, bring-
ing it to its current status as the most
frequently recorded orchestra in America.
When the Szell era ended with his
death in 1970, the ascetic composer and
conductor Pierre Boulez took over briefly
as musical director. He departed for
France in 1972, but has returned periodi-
cally over the years as a guest conductor,
making acclaimed recordings of 20th
century works.
Following Boulez, the baton was
handed over to Lorin Maazel, who con-
stituted a slightly new direction for the
group. While continuing a productive
recording and touring schedule, he strove
for a bigger, more flamboyant sound from
the orchestra, which at times drew cen-
sure from musicians and critics. When he
became director of the Vienna State Op-
era in 1982, full-time directing duties
were assigned to assistant conductor
Dohnanyi by September of 1984.
Dohnanyi, whose contract was re-
cently extended to the year 2000, took up
where Maazel left off, broadening the
group's repertory through recordings and
live performances. Response from audi-
ences and players alike has generally
been very favorable.
"I find the programming extremely
interesting," observed Bishop. "You cer-
tainly get a wonderful mix of literature.
When you're playing an instrument that's

fairly recent, you don't get to play if the
orchestra always does Beethoven,
Schumann, Bach and Mozart."
Often by presenting modern works in
the contexts of their musical traditions,
Dohnanyi has been able to shed new light
on contemporary music. In 1993 the
Cleveland released a three-disc set that
united the orchestral works of Mozart
and Anton Webern. The latter composer
is regarded as the vanguard of 20th cen-
tury modernism, yet paired with Mozart,
his music can be heard as part of a longer
Viennese tradition. In similar fashion,
Dohnanyi has placed Beethoven and
Mahler alongside such modern icono-
clasts as Edgar Varese and Charles Ives.
The pairing of Johannes Brahms and
Arnold Schoenberg for the current tour
shows a similar ingenuity. Few compos-
ers have provoked more trepidation
among audiences than Schoenberg, while
few are so widely exalted as Brahms.
Schoenberg, in popular belief, was a revo-
lutionary who aimed to destroy a distin-
guished musical tradition by creating "ato-
nality" - music that eschews major and
minor scales as its foundation. In con-
trast, Brahms was among the most con-
servative musicians of his era, assailed
by contemporaries for his obstinate ad-
herence to outdated musical forms.
While Brahms and Schoenberg may
seem to be polar opposites, the combination
presents Schoenberg in a different manner
-as a German Romantic in disguise. Advo-
cates of his music point out that its many
revolutionary traits were often couched in
the familiar forms, phrasing and thematic

relationships of established models.
Dohninyi will take issue with this unique
paradox beginning with tonight's perfor-
manceof Schoenberg'sChamberSymphony
No. I and Brahms's First Symphony. In
addition,a rondo by Russian composerAlfred
Schnittke, titled "Kein Sommer-
nachtstraum," will open the program.
Ax will perform tomorrow night with
Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1, coupled
with Schoenberg's orchestral arrangement
of Brahms's Piano Quartet in G minor.
Also an advocate of Schoenberg, Ax re-
cently concluded a Carnegie Hall series
that featured many of his piano works.
The principal string players will be
featured on Brahms' beautiful and mas-
terful Sextet No. 1, Sunday at Rackham.
A symphony for Brass Quintet by Victor
Ewald and a chamber piece titled "Music
of the Night" by American composer
Stephen Paulus will highlight other com-
ponents of the concert.
An added benefit of the Brahms and
Schoenberg works is their ability to dis-
play the orchestra's famed virtuosity. The
Piano Quartet will be among the most
challenging, and as Bishop remarked, "The
arrangement has extremely virtuosic writ-
ing for the orchestra, and it is a wonderful
showcase of colorful orchestration."
He noted the same could be said for the
Chamber Symphony, which has seldom
played in live performance because of its
numerous difficulties. However, with a
sense of pride and esprit de corps that lies
at the heart of the Cleveland Orchestra,
Bishop added, "I guess you've come to
right orchestra to hear virtuosity."

Society. The Cleveland has appeared be-
fore Ann Arbor audiences 25 times since
1936, but it has been more than a decade
since its last visit.
The German musical legacy of Brahms
and Schoenberg will be the centerpiece
of the concerts at Hill Auditorium tonight
and tomorrow night. The orchestra will
be joined by Pianist Emanuel Ax on the
latter performance, while Ax and various
musicians from the orchestra will present

Emanuel Ax
4aptured public attention in 1974
by winning the first Arthur
Rubinstein International Piano
Competiton in Tel Aviv
Has earned three Grammy Awards
for duo recitals with cellist Yo-Yo


Lyrical pianist highlights tomorrow's show

By Brian Wise
Daily Arts Writer
When the Cleveland Orchestra arrives for a concert
series and residency in Ann Arbor this weekend, join-
ing them will be one of the most popular and recognized
pianists on the scene. Emanuel Ax has been capturing

his gifted lyricism and technique that have earned
him the approval of critics and audiences alike. His
musical personality is frequently described as "com-
municative" and "immensely likable" - valuable
qualities to bring to a series of Schoenberg and
Brahms, given that the former is often accused of

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