Following last week’s performance at the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York, the Huffington Post must have written what is every artist’s dream review:
“At the close of Friday night’s Mostly Mozart concert in Geffen Hall, Paavo Järvi and the Festival Orchestra brought down the house with Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony—and how many times do you get to say that of anyone these days? You might think that everything that could be done with this piece had already been done a thousand times over, but you would be wrong.
“Without reaching or pulling anything out of shape, Järvi took a piece that’s usually programmed as a familiar makeweight and clattered through in a quaintly calisthenic manner (“Well, it’s not the Fifth, you know.”), and played it as if it were bran-new, fresh as paint, and thrillingly important. Tempi were perfectly judged: a rocket-ride of a first movement, erupting out of a truly mysterious introduction; a real, singing Adagio, with heart-stopping rubato; a zingy scherzo-menuet, torquing down perfectly to a floaty, sly trio; and a lightning-quick, hilarious finale with a mock-breakdown just before the end that got a spontaneous Chris Matthews-style shout of laughter from somewhere audience-left. (If Järvi ever gets tired of the conducting game, he’s got a great career as a comedian ahead of him.) Counterpoint was brought to the fore and brilliantly played. The syncopations in the first and third movements—usually slammed so hard that they confuse the beat rather than pointing it—were perfectly controlled, played for wit and winkingly varied each time around. And you could hear where this piece sat in its time, combining Haydn’s punch and vigor with Mozart’s dash and sheen, while opening a door not only to many of Beethoven’s most important later developments, but to Schubert and Rossini as well.
“And let’s not waste words about the performance: it was magnificent in virtually every way. Järvi is musical down to his toes, and watching him work is almost as much fun as hearing the result. The Festival Orchestra, which is on a roll this year, played beautifully, even for them. It is hard to believe that a group so cohesive, so attuned within itself, so united in its ensemble and so eloquent in its expression, only works together for—what?—six weeks out of the year. Järvi gave out solo and sectional bows all around, and the orchestra, which plainly adores him, insisted that he take one, too—and a good long one, at that. Richly deserved. Bravo, one and all.”