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A Special Performance

Beethoven and Brahms from Pittsburgh,
enjoyed by KELLY FERJUTZ


Can your ears be spoiled by continually hearing only the very best orchestra in the country? Possibly. I know I'm extremely fortunate to be able to hear The Cleveland Orchestra nearly every week as it performs in its own resplendent home -- Severance Hall, which was built for the orchestra.

Critics are known to say these performances are 'routinely' excellent, and indeed, they generally are. There are a few occasions when perhaps another rehearsal would imbue a certain patina that renders the audience into a state of near disbelief. Could it really have been that wonderful? And to be sure, there are rare instances when a guest conductor hasn't quite figured out how to accurately convey his wishes to the musicians, and this creates a slight problem in translation.

I've heard a few of these slight glitches during the 27 or so years I've been attending concerts there. The marvelous acoustics in the hall were a major concern during the renovation that took place six years ago, but in all honesty, I think it's better now than before, and it's certainly a more beautiful space! Also, without disturbing the size and shape of the concert hall, they've managed to add in another fifty or so seats, for a grand total of just under 2100.

Of course, there have also been a good many concerts by visiting orchestras, which provided still another listening experience. Yet, it comes back to -- this is our hall, and we constantly hear about how well our musicians are able to listen to each other here. We also hear stories about our musicians being able to adjust themselves musically when they're on tour, so how much, then, might that affect a visiting orchestra when it plays here?

Last year, for the first time, I was able to hear another major US orchestra -- the New York Philharmonic -- in its own home, Avery Fisher Hall. I also heard the Cleveland Orchestra play at Carnegie Hall during that trip, and thought it a perfectly splendid listening experience. Unfortunately, neither of the times I was at Avery Fisher Hall came close to such musical splendor. We were told then that Avery Fisher is about to be renovated. Hopefully, the acoustics there will improve some.

This question, however, has been on my mind for some time, and so, last weekend I took myself off to the nearest city with a major orchestra -- Pittsburgh -- in the next state over, some 125 miles total away from home, one way. I'd heard them on the radio for years, and had also heard about the splendor of their home -- Heinz Hall. I was able to hear the same program performed twice, and came away extremely impressed by the total package.

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Copyright © 7 November 2006 Kelly Ferjutz, Cleveland USA


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