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Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, Miami, Florida, USA  
    [ photos Knight Concert Hall ]
    [ photos Ziff Ballet Opera House ]

Different seat offers fresh angle on Cleveland Orchestra

Zachary Lewis / Plain Dealer
January 30, 2010

MIAMI, FLA. -- It's amazing how different the same piece of music can sound from different seats, especially in an acoustically bright space like Miami's Knight Concert Hall.

Curious to hear the Cleveland Orchestra Saturday -- in a repeat of Friday's program -- from a fresh angle, I chose to sit in a first tier box, rather than on the main floor. While the performance itself was not substantially different in terms of execution, the experience from an alternate location was enlightening.

Sitting immediately above and to the right of the musicians, the performance of Bernstein's Symphony No. 2 by principal keyboardist Joela Jones sounded, if possible, even more rawly expressive than it did the previous night. Clearer, too, was the pristine nature of her technique.

Equally gorgeous details emerged from the orchestral fabric, under the baton of music director Franz Welser-Most: delicate filigree in the harp, fierce vitality in the percussion section, the shadow-like contributions from pianist Carolyn Gadiel Warner in the work's final moments.

The seat may have entailed some loss of overall musical balance, but it was both thrilling and chilling to sit almost literally in the orchestra's midst.

Artistically, the performance of Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony No. 3 Saturday was every bit as potent as Friday's. Seat location was irrelevant in that regard. Acoustically, too, the box didn't produce many striking differences.

Instead, from my new perch, I took away a richer appreciation for the orchestra's discipline and precision. I could actually see the players listening to each other, following cues from Welser-Most and each other as they charged through the Allegro Vivace or negotiated complex fugues.

As I write, Welser-Most is reportedly treating the musicians to a private post-concert reception. It's a party well deserved.

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