October 22nd, 2019
CLEVELAND, Ohio — In Amit Peled, CityMusic Cleveland has doubled its investment.
Not only has it acquired a vibrant and energetic new music director. It’s also gotten a cellist of noteworthy skill, as evidenced by his reading Saturday night of Bruch’s “Kol Nidre” with accompaniment from CityMusic’s string sections.
Although CityMusic’s string players numbered only 17 for this performance, the very active acoustic of the Shrine Church of St. Stanislaus in Slavic Village seemed to multiply that number. Peled was superb in the role of supplicant, with full-bodied tone and a wide range of tonal colors. He was passionate and intense, two qualities that were also evident in his conducting.
The program was called “Between Two Giants,” the titans in this case being Mozart and Haydn, whose music book-ended an evening that also featured the Bruch and “Strum for Strings,” a recent piece by Jessie Montgomery, composer-in-residence for the Sphinx Organization.
Peled’s intensity was on display with the concert’s opener, Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 in D Major, the “Haffner” Symphony. Its celebratory nature was brought out by Peled’s brisk tempos and willingness to unleash the full potential of the small orchestra, with vivid playing from winds and brass. The Andante was well played and nicely balanced, the Menuetto boisterous and brisk.
The lively sound of the church’s nave meant that some of the fleet finger-work from the upper strings was a little blurred, but the overall effect was grand and unrestrained.
The Sphinx Organization was founded in 1997 in Detroit to address the very real problem of under-representation of minorities in classical music. Violinist and composer Jessie Montgomery, whose “Strum” followed Bruch’s piece on the concert, has been associated with Sphinx since 1999.
“Strum for Strings” began life as a work for string quintet in 2006, then went through a number of revisions as a string quartet, but seems to be most effective in the version for larger string ensemble that CityMusic played. As the title suggests, pizzicato plucking and outright strumming of the strings plays a large role in the work. Its appeal, however, lies in its combination of bow playing and the rhythmic and percussive effects created by the strumming.
The music inhabits an interesting place emotionally, with passages of great longing alternating with dance-like rhythms. It’s a tonal work, enriched by complex harmonies, and puts the listener in mind of similar works from the mid-20th century, by American composers as David Diamond and William Schuman. Montgomery, however, brings to the music a 21st-century sensibility and highly personal style that marks her as one of today’s leading composers.
Peled seems to enjoy addressing the audience, and before CityMusic played the final work, he invited the audience, on behalf of King George III, to hear the premiere of Haydn’s latest symphony, the Symphony No. 104 in D major. Then he launched into a reading of Haydn’s so-called “London” Symphony that underscored the work’s indomitable gravitas, perhaps the most Beethovenian symphony Haydn ever wrote.
The opening Adagio–Allegro was grand (made even grander by the church’s echoing spaces), and Peled brought dynamic intensity to the dramatic Andante. The rough hewn Menuet (a scherzo in all but name) was similarly forceful. In the finale, Peled employed a fast tempo to jolly effect.
CityMusic’s new director returns in May 2020 to conduct an all-Beethoven concert. If Saturday night’s concert is any indication, Peled is an exciting choice to lead this plucky ensemble.
CityMusic Cleveland is a professional chamber orchestra that performs free concerts throughout Northeast Ohio,often accompanied by exhibits of local artwork.
Since exploding onto the scene in 2004, CityMusic Cleveland has won cheering audiences with beautiful music, brilliantly performed in familiar neighborhood settings.
FREE concerts - make CityMusic concerts accessible to everyone!
Posted Oct 21, 2019 Cellist-conductor Amit Peled has begun his tenure as music director of CityMusic Cleveland. He conducted the group in a series of performances last week. By Mark Satola | Special to The Plain Dealer CLEVELAND, Ohio — In Amit Peled, CityMusic Cleveland has doubled its investment. Not only has it […]
With generous support from the Cleveland Foundation, CityMusic Cleveland has embarked on a mission to enhance our digital footprint to more fully engage with our local communities, especially younger audiences. Our social media consultant has documented the strategy so far as a resource for other non-profits who may struggle to find the resources to devote to digital media. (link to social media resource page)