by Stephanie Manning
No matter how many times certain symphonic staples are performed, the music always invites the opportunity to dig deeper — and on Friday, April 22 at Severance Music Center, The Cleveland Orchestra did just that. Under the baton of rising star Klaus Mäkelä, the ensemble took two masterworks in the classical canon to a new level with a performance that plumbed the emotional depths of both Sibelius and Shostakovich.
The young Finnish conductor seemed to relish his third appearance on the Severance podium, and both he and soloist Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider approached Sibelius’ Violin Concerto with passion. Though the compositional process of Sibelius’s only concerto was hampered by uncertainty, there was nothing uncertain about Szeps-Znaider’s interpretation. His full, warm sound blended effortlessly with the Orchestra, whose lush, Romantic playing never obscured the soloist.