It was an evening of magnificent music. The unequaled Yo Yo Ma returned to Miami’s Knight Concert Hall at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts last February 3rd where he joined The Cleveland Orchestra under director Franz Welser-Möst to play Antonin Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B Minor, op 114. It is an exquisitely melancholic rendering of the Czech composer’s inner universe pulsating with homesickness for his native Bohemia. He completed it in New York, on February 10th, 1895, the same day his son Otakak turned 10 years old. His last New World work premiered in London on March 1896 with the composer at the baton.
Ma’s quintessential interpretation of the lyrical, poignant and expansive composition made for a memorable experience. In the Allegro Ma elaborated with melodic scaling the theme introduced by Michael Mayhem’s superbly executed horn solo. But in the Adagio Ma seemed transfixed with such alluring emotion and for the Finale he established an intense dialogue with concertmaster William Peucil that built up to the rapturous coda. The delighted audience rewarded him with an extended standing ovation that culminated with an elegant encore: an arrangement for cello and orchestra of Dvorak’s pensive Silent Woods, op 68.
It is fascinating to witness Yo Yo Ma display his charming personality, from the reverence he shows for his instrument to the amiability he demonstrates toward his fellow musicians. Once he finished playing he filled the Knight with sheer joie de vivre: hugging Peucil, shaking hands with other players, laughing and, finally dancing with Welser-Möst. You couldn’t help feeling happy.
After a brief pause, the orchestra returned to play Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien, op. 45, its final movement dominated by the intense brass and percussion with the dance rhythms inspired on the popular tarantella.
The Cleveland Orchestra under Maestro Welser-Möst is back on March 24 – 25 for the last two concerts of its 2016 – 2017 season at the Arsht at which time Italy will be the theme of the program. Two ballet pieces by Verdi from the operas Macbeth and Don Carlo; the Italian Symphony by Mendelssohn and, Respighi’s monumental Pines of Rome.
Two of the performances to take note at the Arsht this week are:
February 10th: 8 p.m.
Knight Concert Hall
Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs
The multifaceted Cumming brings to Miami his adrenaline driven one-man cabaret show where he runs the gamut from bitter to anguished, romantic to humorous through songs with depth, irony, theatricality and an intense dose of humanity. This is a unique opportunity to catch a uniquely talented performer in a very personal staging.
February 11th, 8 p.m.
Chen, Eschenbach and the Bamberg Symphony
A winning musical trio brought together for the second concert of the 2016 – 2017 Masterworks Season of the Classical Music Series at the Arsht Center. The concert will open with the overture to Mozart’s Don Giovanni followed by Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 and conclude with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, the ambitious and revolutionary (Eroica). We will be watching with anticipation how the young virtuoso violinist Ray Chen will perform Bruch’s very demanding piece with its brilliantly rousing Finale.