Estonian-born, American raised Kristjan Jarvi conducted a blistering performance with the talented musicians of the National Repertory Orchestra at the Breckenridge Riverwalk Center last night. Conducting both Holst's "Jupiter" from The Planets and Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra from memory, while highlighting soloists from the orchestra in Mozart's Sinfonia Concertanta in E-flat Major, Jarvi displayed mastery of the music and graceful expression drawing out a stunning performance from a talented, but young orchestra. Maestro Jarvi kept the energy from start to finish at a fevered pitch practically vaulting the audience out of their seats to applaud.
"Jupiter" is a popular crowd pleaser and started the concert on a high note. Jarvi took the entrance of the second theme faster than most creating a buzz of excitement leading up to the main chorale. He slowed the pace slightly for the horn entrance, but didn't lose any impact. As the piece continues to build from this point Jarvi extended his enthusiasm for the music through the orchestra to a glorious conclusion.
The Sinfonia Concertante featured a pair of young soloists from the orchestra, Assistant Concertmaster Karin Andraesen and Principal Viola Elizabeth Breslin. Jarvi captured the classical style of Mozart's music perfectly, emphasizing the occasional emphatic pulse in the double basses with shoulder shrugs, while icing over the flowing melodic lines with a gliding hand. The orchestra responded to Jarvi's every move, all the while providing perfect accompaniment to the talented soloists. The first movement was so entrancing the audience broke into applause without thought of more to come.
The National Repertory Orchestra is comprised of performers from all over the world selected from over 800 auditions. These talented musicians come together for a two month long performance run with concerts twice a week. Last night's concert was nearing the end and yet the was no evidence of exhaustion or fatigue. Quite the opposite, the ensemble seemed to be more energized than many professional orchestras I've seen. Obviously they thoroughly enjoyed playing with Kristjan Jarvi.
"He's really fun. He brings a lot of energy into the performance making a talented orchestra play even better."
- Brandi Phillips, Co-Concertmaster
The second half of the program was the incredible Concerto for Orchestra by Béla Bartók. This difficult piece was chosen to show off the many talented musicians in the orchestra and did extremely well at just that. The opening movement with the sombre theme in the low strings and the disjointed fanfare is a challenge to do well, yet the orchestra captured each moment beautifully. There was a moment when Jarvi wanted the tempo to speed up and the orchestra responded, not only matching his tempo but heightening the energy in the music. In the final movement, like he did with "Jupiter", Jarvi took the tempo up a notch or two. What is already a demanding piece of music, became frantic and frenzied. Yet, even as the fingers of the first violins practically burst into flame, the musicians maintained focus and control.
Kristjan Jarvi captured the essence of the very diverse musical program and yet brought his own fresh, vigorous style to it. Holst was heroic and then some. Mozart was classical and still nuanced. Bartók was bold and yet subtle. Jarvi kept the music flowing and dancing, swamming and pouncing, pounding and delicate. The concert ran the gamut from heroic to manic, delightful to breathtaking, full of energy and life.