Cleveland Orchestra, guests conjure musical magic with baton and bows on lush evening at Blossom (review)

Johannes Moser
Cleveland Plain Dealer

Say this much about Spanish conductor Gustavo Gimeno: the guy's got the magic touch.

That is to say, he knows better than most how to handle magic-themed music, as his luminous performance with the Cleveland Orchestra Saturday night at Blossom Music Center night made clear to all who were listening.

Playing to a sizeable crowd on another picture-perfect evening, Gimeno Saturday brought to vivid life both Stravinsky's Suite from "The Firebird" and De Falla's Suite from "El Amor Brujo," as well as two other exotic works from the era, Ravel's "Alborada del Gracioso" and Lalo's Cello Concerto.

Different tale, similar result in the case of "El Amor Brujo," the night's penultimate offering.

Into this aromatic realm then stepped Johannes Moser, the soloist in the Lalo Cello Concerto. Rather than a disruption, however, the artist proved the ideal complement, a voice of great power, breadth, and expression comparable in every respect to Gimeno's orchestra.

Moser, in fact, was the complete package. No wallflower, he wielded a big, beefy tone and evinced no shyness or reluctance to command. All the virtuoso runs of the first movement he nailed head-on, and to the final Allegro he brought a combination of bold lyricism and polished intensity.

Yet neither was Moser any musical brute, any hog of stage or spotlight. His performance of the Intermezzo was earnest and transcendent, full of nuance and gloriously unwedded to bar lines. What's more, his partnership with the flutes was complete and utterly natural.

If only that distant train hadn't blown its horn so many times or forced Gimeno to pause so long between movements. Oh, well. Moser's performance was more than worth the wait.
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