<< -- 2 -- Lawrence Budmen A VERITABLE DYNAMO
Looking forward to his appearance with the young New World musicians Järvi waxed enthusiastic. 'I love working with youth orchestras. In addition to the New World Symphony I have led the European Union Youth Orchestra, the Russian-American Young Artists' Orchestra, and the Verbier Festival Orchestra. These young ensembles have fewer preconceived ideas and bring tremendous energy to their music making. When I made my début with the New World Symphony in 2002 I conducted a score by my friend Erkki Sven Tuur. The NWS musicians really identified with the music from the point of view of rock. They understood when I told them to play this piece like Led Zeppelin -- a very fond memory.'
The music of Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) is very close to Järvi's artistic heart. 'Nielsen deserves more recognition. His music is looking for a good champion,' the conductor noted. For his New World concert Järvi chose Nielsen's late, enigmatic 6th Symphony. Järvi marvels that 'the symphony was written in the first quarter of the 20th century (1925) at the time of Walton and Copland. The musical language of the Nielsen 6th Symphony is fantastic, wonderfully strange, and extremely original.'
When Järvi mounted the New World Symphony podium on 16 April 2005 at the Lincoln Theater in Miami Beach, Florida, USA, he galvanized the young musicians to some of their most riveting performances of the season. At once witty and pessimistic, Nielsen's Symphony No 6 (Sinfonia Semplice) is a musical portrait of a world on the verge of chaos and disintegration. The score's opening subject is deceptively light and elegant. Thematic and harmonic ambiguities preface the grim humor of the Humoresque movement (with an enlarged percussion battery). The Proposta seria movement is deeply moving with its darkly pensive and emotional writing for the lower strings. Järvi's magisterial performance never lost sight of the grand arc of Nielsen's musical discourse. He superbly gauged mercurial changes of tempo and mood in the concluding Theme and Variations. Järvi and his superb players recreated a unique sound world that encompassed Mahler's expressionism, Stravinsky's tart neo-classicism, and Schoenberg's excursions beyond tonality. While vividly delineating the agony and the ecstasy of this restless score, the conductor demonstrated a vibrant dynamic palette. Järvi unleashed the ensemble in full throttle fortissimos and brought the sound down to a mere whisper. A great performance!
Järvi preceded the Nielsen with Mozart's Symphony No 39. He promised an unconventional performance. 'I use a small string section -- not a Wagnerian sized orchestra', he explained. 'It is important to understand the performance practice of the era. In Mozart's scores Adagio has a different meaning than in the works of Liszt or Wagner. I have been greatly influenced by the early instrument movement. When I heard Nikolas Harnencourt and John Eliot Gardiner conduct this repertoire, it was shocking and extremely powerful -- a totally different sound and logic.'
Järvi led a brisk, supple account of this Mozart masterpiece. His bracing performance was definitely not powdered wig Mozart. From the first bars of the introductory Adagio Järvi commanded astonishing orchestral control. Taking his cue from the period instrument movement, he fielded a reduced ensemble with vibrato-less strings and felicitous woodwinds. It was delightful to hear the Menuetto played with such incisive energy and vigor. (No one has led this movement at such a rapid clip since Toscanini.) The final Allegro sparkled with vivacity and élan.
Copyright © 11 July 2005
Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA