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Cleveland Orchestra opens new season with triumphant performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony

John Eldridge

Issue date: 10/2/09 Section: News
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Cleveland Orchestra conductor and music director Franz Welser-Möst leads the acclaimed ensemble for his seventh, and possibly most successful year.
Cleveland Orchestra conductor and music director Franz Welser-Möst leads the acclaimed ensemble for his seventh, and possibly most successful year.
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Upon listening to the Cleveland Orchestra's performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, a common thought among audience members was likely something along the lines of, "Where can they possibly go from here?" Beginning the year with such a masterpiece sets the bar almost too high, but according to executive director Gary Hanson, "the Cleveland Orchestra is changing." Perhaps he's referring to new outreach programs or to "expanded programming" that will reach a wider audience, but this past weekend it appeared to draw from the courage to lead off their season with arguably the most popular orchestral work of the last 200 years. It takes courage not only to address the critics who complain "but everyone knows that!" but to perform it with flawlessness bordering on perfection, because yes, everyone does know it. Be that as it may, few ensembles in the world could stand up to that scrutiny like Cleveland, under the direction of Maestro Franz Welser-Möst, did this past Saturday night. It sounded like a different orchestra than the one that's been performing for the last few years, an ensemble with a renewed sense of unity but with the same stronghold on its tradition of excellence.

Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D- minor (Opus 125) begins surprisingly gently, with simple flutters in the strings, but quickly escalates to a full-blown fanfare within the first 30 seconds. Saturday seemed to be an off night for the brass sections, who were remarkably insensitive and even sloppy for the first three movements; they cleaned up extraordinarily halfway through the fourth movement, however, with a heavenly entrance of the 'Ode to Joy' theme. The second movement features a fascinating explosion of counterpoint between strings and woodwinds, a clear sign of Bach's enormous influence on the composer. Cascading fugal figures are punctuated with brief timpani solos, and the movement fades into oblivion only to have one final violent cadence in the strings. Surprisingly, the third movement kept the audience's attention when it often tends to be the low point of the evening. While it is still a weak point of the symphony, Welser-Möst created a sense of great anticipation through his interpretation, and it kept the audience on the edge of its seat, drawn in by the beautiful woodwind phrasing and long, cantabile string melodies.
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In This Issue


  • Can you name this place?
  • Have you heard about Case Western Undergraduate Bioethics Society?
  • Homecoming at CWRU
  • Preparing for 2009's local and state elections
  • President Barbara Snyder engages the student body in first-ever student State of the University address
  • RAD classes aim to protect students
  • Six CWRU students test positive for H1N1
  • Students celebrate sustainability at campus-wide GreenFest


  • At least Anderson keeps it close
  • First round robin puts Spartans in driver's seat
  • Football Gameday: Case vs. Wooster
  • For Denison QB, first test is daunting
  • Judges bring Spartans down to earth

Fun Page

  • Combo Scramble Solution
  • Crossword Solution
  • Maze Solution
  • Sudoku Solutions


  • Drastic healthcare reform unnecessary, wasteful
  • Editorial: USG must take action, stem abundance of resignations
  • Moore's Capitalism: an undeserved bully pulpit
  • Recycling: getting to know your plastics
  • State sex education legislation provides needed overhaul
  • State your case: what do you do on a rainy day?


  • Acappella for Africa successful fundraiser for Global Medical Initiative, showcases CWRU's multiude of a cappella talents
  • Baker-Nord Center to hold student-run Flip Camera Film Festival
  • Botanical Gardens, Baker-Nord Center present compelling afternoon of poetry reading and composition
  • Cleveland Museum of Art opens Paul Gauguin: Paris, 1889 exhibit
  • Eldred Theater season opens with Heidi Chronicles
  • GLTF season opens with gut-busting Edwin Drood
  • Hitting the Spot: Cody Wood
  • Kid Cudi brings introspective musical perspective to Case Western
  • The Buzz
  • Thinking about summer jobs and real-world employment can never start too early

Cross Country

  • Women emerge from "mud pit" with title


  • Nicely catches 3 TDs in win

Sex and Dating

  • The real reason to get a flu shot


  • Streak snapped: Spartans get first UAA win since '06

Spartan Spotlight

  • Spartan Spotlight: Brian Evans

Worst Case Scenario

  • Cold season
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