by Kevin McLaughlin
Undeterred by clouds in the sky, The Cleveland Orchestra let joy prevail on opening night of the 2023 Blossom Music Festival on Saturday, July 1. Somehow the weather held, families gathered, blankets came out, and Beethoven’s jubilant message issued forth.
Susanna Mälkki was a persuasive presence on the podium, leading the orchestra, the Blossom Festival Chorus, and soloists in music by William Grant Still, Samuel Barber, and Ludwig van Beethoven.
Still’s “Mother and Child,” a slow movement from his 1943 Suite for Violin and Piano here arranged by the composer for string orchestra, is a soft and sincere work alluding to folk song. Under Mälkki’s direction, the strings gave a beautifully timbred, reverential reading.