by Mike Telin
After an illness forced Klaus Mäkelä to withdraw from three of the four scheduled performances last week, the Finnish conductor will return to The Cleveland Orchestra podium on Thursday, February 9 at 7:30 pm at Severance Music Center. The program will include Unsuk Chin’s SPIRA – Concerto for Orchestra and Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 5, and it will be repeated on Saturday at 8:00 pm. Tickets are available online.
Last week I caught up with the friendly conductor by phone for a brief chat while he was backstage at Severance.
Mike Telin: How did you come to pair the Unsuk Chin with the Mahler?
Klaus Mäkelä: The Mahler is a tough piece to program with because it is a bipolar symphony. It’s tragic and then dramatic and has some of the most beautiful music ever written. And it ends in contrapuntal joy. It’s a symphony where everybody has an opportunity to shine. And Unsuk Chin’s piece is a beautiful concerto for orchestra. She was a student of Ligeti, and she has an extremely detailed and careful way of writing for the orchestra. In a way she reminds me of Mahler in that she is precise down to the very last detail.
Of course the piece is a showcase for the orchestra but in a virtuosic way. The strings play fast and very high and the horn has a big solo. But everything blends together. It takes a group mentality to play, which is something about The Cleveland Orchestra that is very special for me. [Read more…]