Review: "Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra: Bruckner and a Briggs premiere"

Music Director Brett Mitchell leads the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra in performance at Severance Hall on Friday, Nov. 18. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni)

Music Director Brett Mitchell leads the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra in performance at Severance Hall on Friday, Nov. 18. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni)

ClevelandClassical has published a review of the first concert of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra's 2016-17 subscription season, led by music director Brett Mitchell:

Since taking the helm of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, Brett Mitchell has continued the long tradition of challenging the first-rate ensemble to achieve higher artistic standards with each program. On November 18 at Severance Hall, Mitchell and his young musicians took on what was arguably the most demanding program of his tenure, and the results were stellar.

The evening began with the world premiere of Roger Briggs’ Fountain of Youth....

Drawing a full, clear sound from his players, who were at the top of their game from beginning to end, Mitchell led an energetic, rhythmically secure performance of the captivating eighteen-minute tone-poem. The audience and the orchestra cheered as Roger Briggs came on stage to take a bow. It was a pleasure to be introduced to Briggs’s music and hopefully we will hear more of it in the future.

Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 (“Romantic”) is a monumental work that requires an orchestra to have a mature understanding of large ensemble playing, individual musical prowess, and — with a duration of 65 minutes — a concentration level not often required of a youth orchestra. However, Mitchell and the Orchestra proved they were more than up to the task during their impressive performance...

Mitchell’s pacing of the opening “Bewegt, nicht zu schnell,” allowed the music to breathe, and never become stagnant. The strings sounded full-bodied, never tiring during the movement’s long phrases, and the winds and brass played with a warmth that was never overpowering.

Mitchell led a nuanced Andante, and the cellos and violas produced beautiful section solos.... The Orchestra unleashed a huge sound during the Finale. Here too, Mitchell’s thoughtful pacing, combined with subtle tempo changes, kept the very long movement sounding fresh and captivating. This was a spectacular performance, and the large audience showed their appreciation with an immediate and long ovation.

To read the complete review, please click here.