Thursday I attended a concert of the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall. The concert was conducted by Franz Welser-Most who has been the orchestra's music director for fifteen years.
Our orchestra is probably Cleveland's greatest cultural asset. The New York Times has written that it is the best orchestra in the United States, and it is generally considered to be one of the greatest orchestras in the entire world.
The concert began with a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 8. This symphony is not as well known as some of his others, and at 25 minutes in length it is shorter than most. Although it was written during a very stressful time in Beethoven's life, it is cheerful in mood, and reflects the "classical era" of Hayden and Mozart more than the drama of the "romantic era". The orchestra played the work flawlessly.
After intermission the orchestra played three pieces by the Italian composer Ottorino Respighi... his three "Roman" tone poems, "Roman Festivals", "The Fountains of Rome", and "The Pines of Rome". These three brilliant showpieces were performed spectacularly by our orchestra. The thunderous finale of "The Pines of Rome", which conjures up visions of Roman armies marching down the Appian Way, brought the audience to its feet.
Next year, the Cleveland Orchestra will celebrate its centennial season. Long may it reign as one of the world's premier musical groups!