Fleezanis back in the news

The last time I was in Pendleton before this week was for our performance of the Elgar Violin Concerto with Jorja Fleezanis in February, a memorable week for all concerned. Funny that the week I return to Pendleton is the week she returns to the Elgar, this time with the Minnesota Orchestra and Neville Mariner.

The Star Tribune has this long and very good feature on Jorja with some unusally insightful remarks about the Elgar. The OES concert even gets a brief mention “I was flying in Oregon,” said Jorja.

That she was. I just got my hands on the CD of our concert- I’m happiest with the orchestra’s playing of the piece out of everything we’ve done here. We had a beautiful sound going that week, but most importantly, we were flawlessly with her through every twist and turn in that famously impossible accompaniment.

 And we did fly- the entire performance came in at 46’51.” That’s over ten minutes faster than Kennedy’s recording, and, to the best of my knowledge, the fastest performance this side of Heifitz, who actually used some rather lousy cuts in the finale, for which I assume he is still burning in hell.

At our tempos the piece feels bigger because it hangs together in one huge, al-powerful arch, instead of being a serious a stagnant, strung-together single events.

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at www.kennethwoods.net

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5 comments on “Fleezanis back in the news”

  1. ComposerBastard

    46′51 – thats awfully fast indeed. My recording by Hilary Hahn LSO is 49’46” – close…I think she dropped her bow though

  2. Reid

    A friend of mine in MN emailed me that article. Is the OES, an ‘enterprising’ orchestra in Pendleton boldly going where no small-town orchestra has gone before?

  3. Guy Aron

    OK, good not to stagnate – as long as there’s enough DWELLING. I am hopelessly biased about the Elgar as it is possibly my favourite work – any period, any genre. The recording I grew up on was the Menuhin with Boult; when I heard him playing it with E.E. conducting it sounded a little terse. Of course composers aren’t always their best interpreters (how about that for a future post, Ken?). But with all the flash and excitement of the score – like falling in love – there’s also such a lot of aching loss and longing. Of course, it doesn’t need to wallow or fall asleep. Good on you all for playing it however long you took – wish I had been there.

    BTW one of the best performances I heard of it was here in Melbourne with the MSO and a German soloist and conductor (I forget the fiddler – Ulf Hoelscher? anyway the conductor was Marcus Stenz). Forgive the cliche, but truly, an international language.

  4. Kenneth Woods

    Hi All-

    Lisa- I do wish we could release the CD, but it’s not allowed. However, I’m pretty sure her Minnesota Orchestra concert will be broadcast and webcast- watch their website for details. Of course, I doubt it will be as well conducted and I can guarantee fewer cowboy boots in the audience…..

    Guy- I understand where you’re coming from, but that’s the beauty of Jorja’s interpretation, it feels more timeless and spacious because it hangs together. I grew up with Kennedy, and still admire it, but I feel like the performance doesn’t quite hang together from beginning to end.

    All best

    Ken

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