Uchida, Boulez and Cleveland

This past weekend pianist Mitsuko Uchida was the guest soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra and Pierre Boulez for a long, but fascinating program. The opening work, Dalbavie’s Concertate il suono was commissioned several years ago by the orchestra and Boulez conducted the premiere in 2001. The work calls for three small instrumental groups spread around the balcony of Severance Hall, as well as the full orchestra on the stage. It was a “sonic spectacular” hearing the waves of sound from various places in the hall. (Even sitting at the top of the balcony behind them all it was still quite interesting.)

The second work was Olivier Messiaen’s “Oiseaux Exotiques” with Uchida as the soloist. It was a splendid performance with Mitsuko Uchida attacking the solo piano part with gusto.

The second half of the program after intermission consisted of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major (again with Uchida as an elegant soloist), and Bartok’s complete Miraculous Mandarin ballet. The ballet was given an absolutely complete performance, even with a portion of the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus there for the few wordless measures they sing at the end of the work.

If there could be one quibble with the evening, which did not finish until almost 10:30, was that the extended set-up changes that were required between each piece really slowed the whole thing down. But with Boulez, one can always count on an intellectually stimulating evening, and this was no exception.

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