Arild Remmereit press reviews
Detroit Symphony Orchestra November 28, 2009
Remmereit steps in again with glorious results
And the beat goes on.
While Detroit Symphony Orchestra music director Leonard Slatkin continues to recover from the heart attack he suffered earlier this month, the orchestra opened its busy holiday season Friday with the gifted Norwegian conductor Arild Remmereit substituting at Orchestra Hall. This is the second week of DSO concerts that Slatkin has missed, and though he was expected back in December, his doctors have now advised an additional three weeks of rest. That means Slatkin, 65, won't return to the podium in Detroit until January.
Between Slatkin's health issues and the ongoing impact of the recession on DSO finances, these are trying times at the Max M. Fisher Music Center. But the concerns don't seem to be affecting the quality of performances. The musicians are playing with a focused intensity and subtle artistry that their sidelined maestro would be proud of, even as they tackle eclectic programs tailored specifically to Slatkin's strengths.
It certainly helps to have Remmereit back in town for the fourth time since 2007. In his mid 40s, tall, blond and as thin as his baton, he has developed a charismatic rapport with the DSO. He is also no stranger to the challenge of stepping in at the last minute, having made his reputation with a gaggle of 11th hour substitutions for high-profile maestros on both sides of the Atlantic.
Friday's concert opened with Leopold Stokowski's cinemascope transcription of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, and from the ominously rumbling opening to the theatrical climaxes, Remmereit drew Technicolor playing from the orchestra -- virtuosic, passionate and filled with subtle gradations of tempo, hue and dynamics. Remmereit's gestures were extroverted, but every twitch had a purpose.
The program then made a U-turn into the sublime with soloist Joseph Kalichstein performing Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 27, K. 595, his final essay in the form. The piece has a gentle, chamber music-like intimacy about it, qualities italicized by the warm lyricism of Kalichstein's tone and phrasing and his sensitive partnering with the orchestra. It was not note-perfect playing, but it was supremely musical and alive to fleeting shadows of melancholy — especially in the remarkable development of the opening movement, where Mozart's sudden shift to a remote minor key can break your heart.
After intermission, the music moved into the early 20th Century. Paul Hindemith's "Concert Music for Strings and Brass" (1930) is built from stout blocks of dissonant counterpoint, with dense brass chorales juxtaposed with deft string writing. I like Hindemith but have never warmed to this particular work, finding it pedantic; it sounds too much like a man poking his finger in your chest as he talks. Still, Remmereit led a clear and vibrant performance, the DSO brass section particularly distinguishing itself with calibrated aggression.
Two beloved works by Maurice Ravel replaced the stern Germanic vibe with gossamer melodies, gleaming colors and, in the concluding "La Valse," a silk-stocking opulence. The "Pavane for a Dead Princess" unfolded with the grace of a lullaby, before Remmereit and the DSO cut loose on Ravel's Gallic take on the Viennese waltz. The music swirled and swayed as Remmereit massaged each phrase without micromanaging the life or the personality out of either the score or the players.By Mark Stryker for Free Press
Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra November 2009
Concert review: RPO sparkles with guest conductor
Ever since substituting for Yoav Talmi last spring, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra has been taken under Norwegian conductor Arild Remmereit’s spell, a freelancing guest conductor known for final-hour rescues for ill conductors.
Remmereit’s performance with the RPO last season was electrically charged, similar to pick-up chamber music where first-time combinations of musicians just click and sparks fly.
When the RPO announced Christopher Seaman’s upcoming departure from the orchestra last month, Remmereit’s name became transfixed in my mind.
Surely, the orchestra feels the same way if Thursday night’s concert — Remmereit’s second appearance with the orchestra — was any indication.
Remmereit is tall and slim, and has golden, floppy hair that nods with his head and swings it to each side — all with the beat. And his hands shiver with detail, pulling out all of the witty statements in Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 as if they were appearing out of a magician’s hat. His baton circled, zigzagged and punctured the orchestra like a sword during each of the night’s peaking exaltations.
Compared to the eccentric performances of the young Gustavo Dudamel (the Venezuelan conductor now with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra), Remmereit is slightly more genteel. To the dominating performances of the Russian statesman Valery Gergiev, Remmereit can be more jocular.
Sparkle, a jazzy work composed by Eastman School of Music graduate Shafer Mahoney, opened the concert with a snapshot of the Empire State Building in New York City’s morning rush, the pulse of the city provided by a conglomerate of percussion instruments including bongos, castanets and sandpaper blocks. Remmereit was the crank that kept the work’s motors plowing forward.
The orchestra gave Remmereit all it could muster.
There’s no word whether Remmereit is looking for a full-time gig or whether he would even consider Rochester, but as one of the most dynamic conductors to come around without a home orchestra, he’s definitely on my short list.
Anna Reguero for Democrat and Chronicle
Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra April 2009
Stephan Jackiw violin
Glinka: Russlan and Ludmilla Overture
Mozart: Violin Concerto No.4
Rachmaninoff: Symphony No.2
...it was from the opening sweep of the violins in the Overture to Russlan and Ludmilla by Glinka an engaging, alive performance. The music breathed, hummed and sang. Even a light showpiece, as Glinka’s overture is, had authority, absorbing the audience from the get go. The applause brought the conductor out for two rounds of bows.
Remmereit stands tall and commanding over the orchestra. His baton doesn’t beat rhythm or give cues. Rather, it communicates gestures. Musicians don’t follow his baton – they listen to it. The RPO tonight was the most responsive I’ve seen or heard it in recent concerts.
...Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony proved to be the blockbuster of the night, eliciting hoots and howls from the audience after a breathtaking run to the end. Rachmaninoff’s melodies are so lovely that they rarely need much help from a conductor, but in the work’s third movement climax, Remmereit stood up and back, shivering with intensity as he asked the orchestra to pour out more sound. Throughout the entire work, Remmereit’s scrupulousness was a sight to watch, his hands fluttering, scooping and yelling with fierceness. The RPO’s response was even more affecting to hear.
Remmereit is Norwegian, an area mostly void of name-brand conductors, but he’s not from nowhere. He’s studied in Vienna and lists Leonard Bernstein as a major teacher. He’s made a name for himself as a substitute conductor with chops, which seems more like a lucky accident for the receiving orchestra than for him. He’s a top tier conductor, as proven by this performance – a level rarely seen in Rochester.
Remmereit’s tremendous performance with the RPO was fitting end to what’s been a season of exceptional performing from RPO. I hope they invite him back for future performances.
Democrat and Chronicle
For Thursday’s Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra concert, conductor Arild Remmereit drew remarkably polished performances from the RPO.
The Norwegian maestro began with Glinka’s familiar Overture to Russlan and Ludmilla. He caught its bustling high spirits: This could be theme music for the Energizer bunny.
...Then it was the RPO’s turn to shine with a virtuosic account of Rachmaninoff’s richly orchestrated Symphony No.2.
Remmereit’s conducting was most successful in the galloping second movement, a troika ride where the horses are really feeling their oats. He loosened the reins for a bracing ride, including real drama in the bustling fugal section. Similarly, his tempos were snappy and free flowing in the finale.