Neeme Järvi is a powerhouse in the world of classical music. If you’re a fan of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, you may recognize his name: he is the Music Director Emeritus of the DSO after previously leading the orchestra for 15 years from 1990 to 2005. Currently, Maestro Järvi serves as Artistic Director and Principle Conductor of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, one of the finest orchestras in the former Soviet Union due largely in part to Maestro Järvi’s masterful involvement. During his time with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, he has significantly broadened the orchestra’s repertoire while at the same time continuing to advocate for Estonian music, and the orchestra has been leaving audiences spellbound wherever they go.
The Estonian National Symphony Orchestra is known worldwide for its spotlight on Estonian composers; often they have been the first orchestra to perform works from virtually every Estonian composer known and have been crucial in Estonia’s rising presence in classical music.
This Wharton Center debut features some of the most intriguing and powerful orchestral works, including Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor, written during Dvořák’s stay in the United States, and features a revised passage following his return to Bohemia after discovering that his sister-in-law Josefina had passed away. As a young man, Dvořák fell in unrequited love with Josefina but in the end married her sister, lending a bit of a twist on an already emotional piece. Tchaikovsky International Competition Gold Medalist Narek Haknazaryan, who is already being praised as a “seasoned phenom” by The Washington Post, is the featured cellist on the piece.
This majestic performance also features a popular Estonian composer’s work, the Overture No. 2 by Veljo Tormis. As an advocate for Estonian music, it’s no surprise that Maestro Järvi would feature this intense and powerful piece in the orchestra’s program.
Finally, the night is brought to a climactic end as the Estonian National Symphony performs the Symphony No. 5 by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, honoring the night’s continuing theme of intensely powerful orchestral works through its dramatic score. We love that music writer Donald Tovey equated the finale to “Thor swinging his Hammer,” and as the final note rings through Cobb Great Hall, there is no doubt that everyone in the audience will be left breathless.
Next week, don’t miss a musician/student perspective on the Estonian National Symphony.