Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Jarvi, CSO, Stravinsky heavenly musical match

By Janelle Gelfand
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Paavo Jarvi's third album with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is evidence that this is a musical marriage made in heaven.

In his first Stravinsky album with the CSO (in stores today), the Russian ballet scores, Petrouchka and the Firebird, are simply magical. Details leap out in living color and Telarc's sound is warm and atmospheric. It is so vivid, you want to stand and cheer at its conclusion.

Jarvi inspires playing that is brimming with character, and the result is a stunning re-creation of the little puppet that loves a ballerina in Petrouchka, here in its revised 1947 version. Every note has expression, and the puppet is amazingly life-like.

There is precision, but also spontaneity - the musicians play as if they're on the edges of their seats. The "Russian Dance," with pianist Michael Chertock, has brilliant energy; "The Shrove-Tide Fair" is a galaxy of spinning color.

In the Introduction to the Firebird (1919), Jarvi sets up a mysterious, dark and spine-tingling mood.

Since taking over the orchestra in 2001, the string ensemble has grown increasingly plush; the "Round" has wonderful string color, and wind phrasing breathes.

Katschei's "Infernal Dance" could be more ominous, but it is played with controlled power in the brass and booming percussion. The Finale is achingly beautiful, with its broad horn theme (Thomas Sherwood) against quivering strings.

E-mail jgelfand@enquirer.com

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