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Press Quotes

A collection of review excerpts about The Cleveland Orchestra.

From the Orchestra’s 2014 European Tour:

“Welser-Möst exhibited the mellow, silky sound he has cultivated in his twelve years with the Clevelanders. . . . The Brahms had old-school character — the symphony’s middle movements have never sounded so Viennese.”   
                                                 —The Guardian (London), September 9, 2014

“Franz Welser-Möst is certainly an excellent technician — and last night all his skills were needed to keep a sprawling, fragmentary recent piece like Jörg Widmann’s Teufel Amor on track. . . . The Cleveland Orchestra can patrol contemporary music’s barricades with terrific expertise, commitment, and flair.”   
                                                 —The Arts Desk, September 9, 2014

“Ohio’s prize orchestra is still gleaming, giving performances as precision-tooled as the cars that once rolled out from Michigan’s factories. . . . The orchestra’s ensemble sense is perfect.”
                                                 —The Times (London), Sepember 9, 2014

“Welser-Möst’s approach was intimate. . . . In the Brahms First Symphony, the playing was . . . extremely refined, the velvet smooth orchestral texture illuminated with expressive solo contributions and a sense of the musicians listening to each other. . . . The playing was visibly committed and responsive.”
                                                 —Music OMH, September 10, 2014

“Franz Welser-Möst has managed something radical with The Cleveland Orch­estra — making them play as one seamless unit. . . . Brahms’s Tragic Overture and Symphony No. 2 flickered with a very delicate beauty that makes the Clevelanders sound like no other orchestra.”   
                                                 —The Times (London), September 10, 2014

““The interpretations of Jörg Widmann works by The Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst’s baton can be considered exemplary and significant.  They radiated an inner warmth and have been worked down to the finest detail, and are at the same time supported by large voltage playing.”
                                                 —Berliner Zeitung, Sepember 15, 2014

“The First Symphony of Brahms was interpreted by Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra with enormous precision, great tempo, polished dynamics, and dramatic intelligence. . . . One not only heard the romantic side of Brahms, but also the wild and almost revolutionary one.”
                                                 —Kurier (Vienna), Sepember 15, 2014

From the Orchestra’s 2013 European Tour and Vienna Musikverein Residency:

“The handshakes from Franz Welser-Möst said it all.   In acknowledging the principals of The Cleveland Orchestra Friday night at Vienna’s Musik­verein, the music director did what most in attendance probably wished they could do themselves: personally thank the group for three superb performances in a row.  Not once in their concerts Wednesday through Friday was it apparent that the group had been traveling abroad nearly three weeks.  No, here at the end of their 2013 European Tour, the artists played with new focus and energy, and made sure Vienna enjoyed the fruits of their long musical labor.  The main thing apparent, frankly, was that the orchestra had been playing Beethoven and Shostakovich nonstop for weeks, and knew their six scores inside and out.  Here as nowhere else, the artists transcended the numerous pages on their stands, and simply took advantage of the Musikverein’s legendary acoustics.  No less clear was that the audience recognized expertise, and liked what it heard. . . . The response each night was hugely enthusiastic, giving Welser-Möst cause to repeatedly acknowledge individual players and the ensemble as a whole.”
                                                  —Zachary Lewis, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, November 23, 2013

“Franz Welser-Möst’s interpretations are anything but sober, yet clear in their formal articulation.  It is not the conceited omniscience of someone who pretends to understand the world.  His concerts reveal an earth-bound assurance, free from spectacle, affectation, and sentimentality.  He reads the score and interprets what’s there.  Self-denial in favor of the message of the artwork — this penchant for directness is beneficial. . . . Franz Welser-Möst has long been able to concentrate on works that really suit him, working on pieces he likes to say are ‘close to his heart’.”   
                                                  —Concerti, November 2013

“The second evening of their visit to Frankfurt started luxuriously:  The Cleveland Orchestra’s own chorus performed Beethoven’s Mass in C major at the Alte Oper, joined of course by the orchestra itself from Northeast Ohio, which was the focus of two concerts in the city.  The Cleveland Orchestra . . . juxtaposed works by Beethoven with the Sixth and Tenth Symphonies by Dmitri Shostakovich.  The symbiosis between the orchestra and the chorus was unsurpassable.  Under Austrian conductor Franz Welser-Möst, who has been music director in the city on Lake Erie since 2002, Beethoven’s lyrical, literal setting of the Latin Mass came across lean, subtle, and transparent, despite all the opulence in the performing forces.  The balance between singers and instrumentalists was perfect in the soft and mild passages.”
                                                  —Allgemeine Zeitung, November 12, 2013

From the Orchestra’s 2012 European Festivals Tour:

“If the strings are the heart and soul of the symphony orchestra, then The Cleveland Orchestra is essentially in terrific shape. . . . It was the full-bodied attack of the strings in the gutsy opening bars, and their brilliantly delicate and muted virtuosity in the second movement, that were the icing on the cake.” 
                                                  —The Scotsman, August 22, 2012

“The Cleveland Orchestra is often described as the aristocrat among American orchestras.  If ‘aristocratic’ means spellbinding finesse in sound and style, then their first Edinburgh Festival concert certainly came up trumps. . . . The music we heard gave a lot of pleasure, largely because it was shrewdly chosen to show off the Clevelanders’ fabulous sheen and warmth.” 
                                                   —London Telegraph, August 22, 2012

“In this one heard a courageous Bruckner, unafraid of dissonances, magnificently brought alive by Franz Welser-Möst and his Cleveland Orchestra..”
                                                  —Deutschland Radio, August 25, 2012

“Representing the ruins of a demolished tower of concrete and lead, Matthias Pintscher orchestrates a catastrophic destruction in his Chute d’Étoiles (‘Falling Stars’).  Metallic explosions of sound run into the calm of a post-apocalyptic ‘sea of lead,’ and it is left to two solo trumpets to drive this cycle of destruction and new creation forward. . . . Michael Sachs and Jack Sutte performed with great verve and in a mirage-like whisper, using idioms not far removed from free jazz; they gradually soar to a state of golden splendor.” 
                                                  —Die Südotschweiz, August 27, 2012

“The host of strings (eight double basses, an unusual complement of twelve violas seated on the conductor’s right, etc.) was amazing — a sound mass with a lot of fighting power. . . . This string section can clearly do anything perfectly, and Welser-Möst was able to demonstrate that fact with brio.” 
                                                  —Südwest Presse, August 29, 2012

“[In Smetana’s Má Vlast] Welser-Möst had the harpist touch the strings with great subtlety, and the wiry immediacy of the strings (with William Preucil as concertmaster) was striking.”
                                                  —Stuttgart Nachrichten, August 29, 2012

“[In Smetana’s The Moldau] the coloring was precise, almost pointillistic, the tempo flowing and animated, with furious explosive power and dramatic brio in the passage of the cataracts, and with silky sparkle in the violins for the scene of the mermaids in the silvery moonlight.  The conductor thoroughly cleansed this earworm from all the patina of spa concerts.  The familiar sounded excitingly new — this was definitely worth listening to carefully.”
                                                  —Esslinger Zeitung, August 29, 2012

From the Orchestra’s 2012 U.S. West Coast Tour:

“There were times during the two evenings when the sheer splendor of the orchestra’s playing made you sit upright in awestruck appreciation. On Sunday, the expansive, dark-hued slow movement that takes up most of Shostakovich’s Sixth Symphony was a miracle of expressive grandeur, which Welser-Möst paced with weight and fluidity.” 
                                                  —San Francisco Chronicle, April 17, 2012

“The playing was gorgeously refined and gorgeously grand.” 
                                                  —Los Angeles Times, April 15, 2012

“This orchestra is truly world-class. Its sound is rich and full. . . . Welser-Möst has continued the tradition of his distinguished predecessors by retaining the identifiable ‘Cleveland sound’ while bringing a fresh concept of ensemble playing featuring exceptionally subtle dynamic interrelationships, especially within the strings.”
                                                  —Las Vegas Review-Journal, April 22, 2012

From the Orchestra’s 2011 European Tour and Vienna Musikverein Residency:

“And in fact, the music sounded fabulous — with the weapons that Welser-Möst handles so scrupulously:  precision, rhythmic control, a certain highly effective minimalism.  All that, plus the assurance of having an orchestra like Cleveland at his command:  compact, secure, even luminous.”
                                                  —El Pais, October 22, 2011

“Welser-Möst was restrained in Mendelssohn, dominating in Stravinsky, and brilliant in Ravel.  His gestures are sober, his movements a bit mechanical; his image ranges from timid to robot-like, from subtle to introverted.  The analytic part takes precedence over the expressive.  The artistic results are overwhelmingly effective.  It is the art of perfection, pure and simple.  No excessive emphases, no special effects, none of those ‘strokes of genius’ that are so often arbitrary.  He even smiled in the Ravel, completely won over by the work’s rhythmic and timbral richness.  All sections of the orchestra responded homogeneously and with great class.”
                                                  —El Pais, October 22, 2011

“We were immediately won over by the agility of the strings, the warmly streaming sound of the woodwind, the unshakable security of the brass.  The true miracle, then, occurred in the two major works on the program, Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony and, before intermission, the Doctor Atomic Symphony by John Adams.”
                                                  —, October 30, 2011

“Franz Welser-Möst navigated his orchestra, which cannot be called anything but fantastic, with a secure sense of control and great restraint.  At no time did he give in to sensationalism in this music, which is so rich in contrasts between pandemonic eruptions and soothing major-mode consonance.  Some members of the orchestra distinguished themselves with impressive solos; above all, trumpeter Michael Sachs knocked our socks off with his sovereign technique.”
                                                  —, October 30, 2011

“In concerts Tuesday and Wednesday at Salle Pleyel, an historic hall near L’Arc de Triomphe, the orchestra and music director Franz Welser-Möst more than proved themselves worthy of a long-term presence here, dazzling two nearly sold-out crowds and leaving audiences eager for more. Both nights, in fact, they were regaled with multiple rounds of synchronized clapping.”
                                                  —Zachary Lewis, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, October 27, 2011

“This pure-bred elegance is transmitted to all sections; the brilliance of the winds is inspired by the transparencey of the strings, though their sound is never overpowering.  Are American orchestras too flashy, too thundering?  Cleveland is the dream antidote to this persistent cliché.  Here is the most refined of orchestras, where the supernatural cohesion of the attacks never turns into a power show by an advancing army.” 
                                                  —Le Figaro, October 28, 2011

“The triumph of the evening, marked by a prolonged acclaim, was due to Mozart’s great C-minor Mass (K. 427).  Here Welser-Möst gradually unveiled an overall plan that was as comprehensive as it was successful, dashing and radiant, expressive and stylish.” 
                                                  —Vienna Kurier, November 2, 2011

“Yet for all the technical craftsmanship, one can also bring out the eloquence of this music, if one lets true emotions resonate.  Franz Welser-Möst has succeeded in doing just that, since he has the finest string playing to build upon and is thus able to turn a breathtakingly beautiful study in sound into a moving, expressive musical statement without forcing the interpretation in the least.”
                                                  —Die Presse, November 1, 2011

From the Orchestra’s 2011 Lincoln Center Festival Residency:

“Mr. Welser-Möst comes from Linz, Austria, Bruckner’s hometown, and his devotion to this music was palpable. . . . In the Fifth Symphony, the stretches of the Adagio where the music turns two tiered, with ostinato figures in the lower strings and a wafting melody in the violins, were exquisitely rendered. Mr. Welser-Möst brought structural shape to the run-on scherzo, which is not easy. His account of the elusive, iconoclastic finale, which somehow merges complex fugues with a sprawling sonata form, was exhilarating.”
                                                  —The New York Times, July 2011

“On Sunday afternoon . . . the Ninth Symphony revealed Bruckner at his most forward-looking. The score itself is emotionally tumultuous and daring harmonically, and the performance, another glorious effort under Welser-Most, only amplified these qualities. That the audience sat silent for several seconds before erupting into applause after the Finale was almost no surprise, given the severity of the journey just completed.  But Saturday’s performance of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 was in a class by itself, one of those special occasions when conductor and orchestra are in perfect alignment. Every gesture was infused with uncommon zest, from the pounding cascades of the Scherzo to the Adagio’s glimmering harps and shattering climax. Just as the orchestra in the Finale always held one new emotional level in reserve, so did the entire reading sound both surprising and inexorable.”
                                                  —The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, July 2011
“The performance moved naturally and inexorably, feeling neither unduly padded nor overlong. Mr. Welser-Möst’s feel for Bruckner’s sound and idiom was evident in lucid balances, well-judged tempos and a keen sense of how to shape phrases naturally. Other conductors have milked from this work a greater impression of mysticism; Mr. Welser-Möst’s knack is to let Bruckner provide his own best testimony. The orchestral playing was transcendently beautiful, with warm, burnished strings and radiant, weighty brass chorales that were particularly breathtaking. A roaring ovation rang out at the end, undiminished for more than five minutes.”
                                                  —The New York Times, July 2011

From the Orchestra’s 2010 Asia Tour and Tokyo Residency:

“Eight years after Welser-Möst first assumed his post as conductor, the combination seems today to be going perfectly.  Starting from the dreamy soft tones of the principal flautist in Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun . . . the stage was set from the beginning in the Cleveland Orchestra style.  The themes were presented all the more clearly through Welser-Möst’s delicate direction, leading the audience into the dreams of the slumbering faun.”
                                                  —Mainichi Shimbun, Tokyo, November 2010

“The sound of the orchestra was also thoroughly refined.  The inner voices that provide subtle flavors and the vivid tonal colors of the woodwinds could be heard with real clarity.”
                                                  —Hokkaido Shimbun, Sapporo, November 2010
“The performance of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 in the second half was singularly outstanding.  . . . Under Welser-Möst’s direction, there were no rough or uncouth sounds to be heard anywhere in this “rustic” score.  Even the first movement, which is like a great river, had a chamber-music-like precision throughout, and was soft and beautiful.  What’s more, the second main theme in the second movement, which continues that mood, was sung gently, with slim lines, raising a delicate beauty that is not heard in ordinary Bruckner performances.”
                                                  —Mainichi Shimbun, Tokyo, November 2010
“The Cleveland Orchestra performed in Seoul Arts Center.  They showed a refreshed interpretation of Bruckner.  Commonly Bruckner’s work is considered as sacred music, but Welser-Möst presented a new point of view about Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony by bringing out vivid tempos and solid expression. . . . The Cleveland Orchestra showed great insight into the music of Bruckner through this concert.”
                                                  —Yeonhap News, Seoul, November 201

From the Orchestra’s 2010 European Festivals Tour:

“The orchestra negotiated Berg’s opaque harmonies in a way that made the music sound not just staggeringly beautiful but also effortlessly joined-together — a feat seldom achieved by the Clevelanders’ European peers. Their Brahms Second Symphony might seem old-fashioned to some ears, but it worked on its own terms: technically flawless, exceptionally well-blended, yet full of luminous touches from individual sections and section principals. . . . The orchestra itself is the star.” 
                                                  —The Financial Times (London), August 2010

“The Cleveland Orchestra proved that they are still one of the world’s great musical beasts. With Franz Welser-Möst conducting, this titanic piece reverberated alike in the Usher Hall and in the souls of the audience.”
                                                  —The Wall Street Journal, August 2010

“A gorgeous, sumptuously phrased performance of Brahms’s Symphony No. 2”
                                                  —The New York Times, August 2010

“Their reputation as one of the world’s great ensembles is richly deserved.”
                                                  —The Guardian (London), August 2010

“The Austrian Welser-Möst led his ensemble in perfect rhythm and tempo, and infused the whole work with great radiance in sound and expression.”
                                                  —Daily News of the Dolomites, August 2010

“There is hardly any better constellation for Bruckner’s music. . . . The performance left a deep impression for
the audience.”
                                                  —Volksblatt (People’s News), August 2010

“These professionals developed all the details of this brilliant composition . . . and allowed the audience to revel in the elements, used by the composer, of romance, impressionism and the color of sound.”
                                                  —News of Upper Austria, August 2010