by Stephanie Manning
On February 9, concertgoers approaching Severance Music Center likely noticed the dramatic lighting choices — the building had been lit up in a deep red. With Mahler’s Fifth Symphony on the program, it felt fitting. The composer’s intense and passionate works are popular with both musicians and audiences, and an unsurprisingly crowded house packed Mandel Concert Hall for the occasion. Not only was the music guaranteed to generate interest, but so was the conductor: young Finnish phenom Klaus Mäkelä, in his second consecutive week this season with The Cleveland Orchestra.
Audiences did not see much of Mäkelä the previous week, as illness forced him to bow out of three of four performances. But on Thursday evening, he was back and characteristically full of energy. With fluid, yet bouncy movements that make his style easily identifiable, the conductor is a fascinating watch on the podium. Frequent changes in stance and an unabashed expressiveness create the feeling that the beats are echoing through his body.
The musicians were responsive to Mäkelä’s every move. [Read more…]