Cleveland Orchestra shares vibrant night in musical Vienna with Naples (review)

Gil Shaham
The Cleveland Plain Dealer

By Zachary Lewis

Some programs are just too good to present only twice. Case in point: The Cleveland Orchestra’s “Night in Vienna.”

Two days after thrilling two crowds in Miami, the ensemble took its Vienna program across the Everglades to the Gulf coast, playing works by Schubert, Korngold and Strauss to a third full house Monday night at Artis Naples.

Very little was different beyond the change of venue. The performances under music director Franz Welser-Most were as warm and airtight on a proscenium stage as they were in the bright, reverberant Arsht Center, and Gil Shaham again soared over all as the soloist in the Korngold Violin Concerto.

Schubert’s Symphony No. 2 was another opportunity for the fired-up orchestra to demonstrate its Classical chops, to provide for Naples flawless examples of cohesion and dynamic control. In the Andante, the ensemble evoked the musical equivalent of weightlessness.

Likewise, in the five waltzes and other dances that comprised the second half, the orchestra under Welser-Most revealed themselves to be masters of the form. With everything from the fluttering figures of Josef Strauss’s “Dragonfly” to the red-hot Czardas and “Fledermaus” Overture of Johann Strauss, Jr., the team achieved maximum impact.

But if any one individual stole the show, it was without question Shaham, whose account of the Korngold Concerto in Naples marked the finest of his three performances in Florida.

Beyond caught up in the music, the soloist Monday seemed truly spellbound by its yearning, cinematic melodies. He also took extra care in ensuring the purity of high pitches and soft dynamics, and greater delight in bantering with the orchestra.

None of this escaped the crowd, of course. However much Shaham enjoyed himself, the audience enjoyed itself doubly. Luckily for Northeast Ohio, Naples didn’t mark his Cleveland finale. In about a week, Shaham will be at the Cleveland Museum of Art.