In the heat, Moser, Grant Park Orchestra perform a delicate Dvorak

06.30.18
Johannes Moser
Chicago Tribune

Hot weather forced a deletion from Friday night’s concert by the Grant Park Orchestra, narrowing an Eastern European program to an all-Czech evening that had cellist Johannes Moser as its star.
A heat alert resulted in a mandatory 30-minute intermission at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, with the ironic result that Zoltan Koday’s rarely heard “Summer Evening” was dropped, leaving just a little over an hour of music.
However, Moser’s return to the Grant Park Music Festival, where he last appeared three years ago, was more than adequate compensation, providing an especially satisfying account of the apex of all works for his instrument, Antonin Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B Minor.
Previous Chicago outings gave a good idea of the German-Canadian’s stylistic range: from Bernard Rands to Franz Joseph Haydn and Edouard Lalo. But none of those works approaches the latitude and depth of expression of the Dvorak. And, unusually, Moser’s interpretation proved more memorable for inwardness than emphatic display.
Dvorak specified that the first entry of the cello be made resolutely and with marked accent. Moser eschewed declamatory fervor. In fact, most everything grand and noble in the first movement the composer reserved for when the orchestra plays alone. Instead, Moser impressed with a musing delicacy at the directive “very sustained with much expression,” which Dvorak gives the soloist three times in short order. Such tender and fragile playing could not help but set a seal on the entire interpretation.
Likewise, the second movement was most commanding when most tranquil, with Moser whitening color and relaxing tone. A screaming child spoiled much of the quiet, as did sirens, which interrupted the tread at the start of the finale. Yet, despite excessive heat, wind and string solos in the orchestra were played finely, and even Moser’s third-movement high trill that began at the threshold of audibility remained soft and pure. In sum, the performance was more electric than Moser’s recording with the Prague Philharmonia, disproving the oft-made claim that native musicians inevitably beat all comers in scores of their home country. Read the rest of the review here