Sunday, September 28, 2003

Pianist, Jarvi create music to remember

Concert review

By Janelle Gelfand
The Cincinnati Enquirer

His concerto was brilliant, but the encore - Liszt's dazzling "La Campanella" - had the crowd on its feet cheering.

For the second week, a spectacular pianist joined the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. On Friday morning, Chinese-born Yundi Li made his CSO debut with a spellbinding performance of Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1. With Paavo J”rvi on the podium leading Brahms' Symphony No. 1, it was an unforgettable concert.

Li, 21, who will tour Japan with the CSO in November, displays the kind of effortless, note-perfect playing that wins contests (and he's won several). Besides that, he is a poetic musician who has something to say, and he says it with sensitivity and heart.

Throughout Chopin's glittering E Minor Concerto, Li wove an elegant tapestry of color; his keyboard-spanning runs sparkled. The "Romanze" had lovely expression, and he illuminated its themes with ringing tone. The dance finale took on a character that was both spontaneous and whimsical, and he and J”rvi were in perfect communion.

J”rvi's inspired reading of Brahms' C Minor Symphony, which concluded the concert, will be remembered as one of the great performances of the season. It was powerful, noble, and at times, heaven-rending.

The opening timpani strokes were steady heartbeats; the ensuing Allegro was full of drama. The strings played with bite; lyrical themes peeked through like sun in the clouds.

CSO soloists made polished contributions, including Timothy Lees' soaring violin solo in the slow movement and the great horn call of the finale (Thomas Sherwood). J”rvi brought out myriad details, building with intensity up to the stunning brass chorale of the finale.

J”rvi dedicated the program to cellist Geraldine Sutyak, a CSO member of 34 years who died last Sunday, and led Bach's "Air" from Suite No. 3 after intermission.

The curtain raiser was Johann Strauss, Jr.'s Emperor Waltzes.

Comics fans: Take our survey

MOTH attracts Midpoint's bright lights
History goes to the movies
Read more about it
Americans love their Westerns
New creative team to lead SSNOVA alternative gallery
Persistent local playwright's 'One' opens
Workshops often first stop for local playwrights
Theater veteran enters hall of fame
Help kick off local theater season
Ovation's production gives a 'Voice' to women authors
CCO concertmaster relinquishes his chair
New executive says orchestra must find niche
Desmarais' return to curating comes as no shock to art scene
New director expected to keep up momentum

'Cold Case,' 'Lyon's Den,' 'Practice' premiere tonight

It's a rose, for Pete's sake

Pianist, Jarvi create music to remember
Ekoostik Hookah jams for Cash, Palmer tributes

Get to it!

Kendrick: Alive and well

Maisonette joins move toward fixed-price menu
Pumpkin pancakes deliver the flavor of fall