by Daniel Hathaway
Tonight at 7:30, CityMusic Cleveland presents the first of several performances around town of Symphony of Secrets. Brendan Slocumb (pictured) leads works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Florence Price, Domenico Cimarosa, Astor Piazzolla, Felix Mendelssohn, and Arturo Marquez at East Mount Zion Baptist Church. (Repeated at other venues this week).
Visit our Concert Listings for details.
Piano Cleveland has announced the 56 contestants who will participate in the 2024 Cleveland International Piano Competition, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this summer from July 28 through August 10. Click here to view the photo gallery and personal bios.
In announcing the competitors, Piano Cleveland wrote that “The 2024 CIPC redefines what ‘success’ traditionally looks like in a competition, by cultivating unique musical expression and creative artistic vision within and beyond the competition stage.
“Contestants will be eligible to receive newly designed prizes that meet the needs of artists today, in addition to the unparalleled opportunity to perform with The Cleveland Orchestra and to learn from our Honorary CIPC Ambassador, Lang Lang.”
The Cleveland Museum of Art has announced the addition of a second performance by five-time Grammy award winner, Jon Batiste. “A total of 650 tickets will be available for this intimate live recording on Sunday, February 25 at 9:30 pm in the museum’s Gartner Auditorium. All tickets will be made available for purchase through a lottery system beginning Monday, February 12 at 9:30 am.” Read more here.
The Washington National Opera announced on Tuesday that conductor Robert Spano will become the company’s new music director. Spano’s three-year term will begin in fall 2025. The Oberlin graduate adds the opera job to a portfolio that includes the Fort Worth Symphony and the Aspen Festival and School. Read the Washington Post story here.
“Zachary Woolfe, the classical music critic for The New York Times, has shared how he endeavors to make his writing accessible to both neophytes and experts.” Read A Critic Who Strives to Hit the Right Note here.
by Jarrett Hoffman
The first performance — which took place on this date in 1904 in Helsinki, when Victor Nováček played the solo part and Sibelius conducted the Orchestra of Helsinki Philharmonic Society — has been variously characterized as “dismal” and “a disaster.”
There are a few possible reasons, beginning with the fact that Sibelius (above) only turned to Nováček after the original dedicatee, violinist Willy Burmester, was unable to travel to Finland — Sibelius’ own fault, as he changed course from the original plan of performing it in Berlin.
Was Nováček the lesser player? Did the composer finish it so late that it couldn’t be properly learned in time? Both of those are probably true, and the result, as Sibelius biographer Erik Tawaststjerna writes, is that poor Nováček was “red-faced and perspiring” as he “fought a losing battle.”
It doesn’t help that this original version of the concerto was not only longer, but also significantly more difficult than the revised version (1905) that is almost exclusively heard today. Only on a few occasions have Sibelius’ heirs granted permission for the original to be performed, and Leonidas Kavakos is one of the rare soloists to have taken on both of them.
Listen to Kavakos play the original in 1991 with Osmo Vänskä and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra here, then hear him perform the revised version in a live performance from 2012 with Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra here.