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Cleveland Symphony Orchestra and conductor Franz Welser-Möst - CD Review, April 6th, 2023

Monday, 16 October 2023 , ora 11.55

Cleveland Symphony Orchestra and conductor Franz Welser-Möst - CD Review, April 6th, 2023

The Cleveland SymphonyOrchestra'swillingnesstogiveusa newversion of Sergei Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony Op.100 in B flat major, conductedby Franz Welser-Möstisremarkable- a digital release on March 3rd under their own label. It's one of the Symphonies with the most versions on disc, which is no impediment to new releases of no less value. Any great symphony orchestra on any continent invariably looks in this direction too, because the musical material retains its relevance, creativity and importance beyond time - a symphony composed in the midst of war in 1944, in the author's view a "hymn to a free and happy man, to his strength, to his noble and pure spirit".

In this new recording, we find everything that has to do with monumentality, an all-encompassing sonority; an impeccable string section, like a violin amplified "n" times and the sensation of "inhuman perfection" (an expression I borrow from the comments intended for pianist Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli). I add the wide-ranging phrases of Part I - Andante, which exude an inner sustain that touches on deep melancholy, acutely dramatic moments, and also a comforting serenity. The dynamic register covers a huge palette, going all the way to moments of paroxysm. In Part II - Allegro marcato, Prokofiev's genius is fully revealed as a style, we recognise the acidic, unflappably rhythmic formulations, the ironies and the unmistakable satire - so colourfully expressed timbrally. Part III - Adagio, is shaped with the same dramatic consistency as the first part, but in a slower tempo, building up sound stages gradually towards an impressive climax, in a sometimes sombre, sometimes melancholic note. While the finale leads us into the familiar register of the "Romeo and Juliet" ballet, brilliant, incisive, percussive, giocoso.

It is not by chance that people talk about the legendary sound of this orchestra, formed over the years by established masters of the baton - Erich Leinsdorf, George Szell, Lorin Maazel, Christoph von Dohnányi, which is also fully highlighted in this recording. Let's also mention Franz Welser-Möst, for 21 years at the helm of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, with a contract signed until 2027 - the longest in the orchestra's history. He is valued both for his professionalism and creativity. The Cleveland ensemble led by Franz Welser-Möst is, according to a New York Times columnist, "the most brilliant American orchestra, unparalleled in virtuosity, elegance of sound, coloratura, and a cohesion found only in chamber ensembles." Not coincidentally, it is the only American orchestra with residency contracts at the Musikverein in Vienna. We hear them in a version we're sure to remember and admire of Sergei Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony in B flat major.

Marina Nedelcu
Translated by Bianca-Daniela Penaru,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year I
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu