Conductor Jakub Hrůša made triumphant returns to both the Cleveland Orchestra and The New York Philharmonic in November 2019.
“If there is one guest conductor who has dependably yielded stellar results with The Cleveland Orchestra in recent seasons, surely it would be Jakub Hrůša,” writes Sam Jacobson in Bachtrack. Hrůša conducted two subscription weeks: first featuring Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1 (with Sergey Khachatryan as soloist) and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 “Eroica” on 7 – 10 November and Adams’ On the Transmigration of Souls and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with soprano Joélle Harvey on the 14 – 17.
Of the first programme, Zachary Lewis in The Plain Dealer writes, “There’s a reason Hrůša has become a regular, even frequent guest in Cleveland since his debut here in 2012. Talk about tried-and-true. The chief conductor of Germany’s Bamberg Symphony has a line on this orchestra, such that he’s able consistently to communicate and execute solid ideas in a wide range of music.
Bachtrack’s Jacobson adds of Hrůša’s Eroica, “his performance was simply beyond reproach on all levels, a reading marked by raw vigor, poignant expression, and thoughtful flexibility of tempo and dynamics.”
Of the Adams/Mahler week, Lewis notes, “If ever a Cleveland Orchestra program could be called a match made in heaven, surely it is this one. …No measure passed unconsidered. Out of every bar, Hrůša seemed to seek maximum contrast, pulling back and surging forward with utter freedom. Lyrical lines, meanwhile, he endowed with all due warmth and weight, and solo passages stood apart with individual brio.
“The level of adherence to Mahler’s ‘serene’ directive in the third movement was also impressive. Working at a leisurely pace and beautifully aided by principal horn Nathaniel Silberschlag, Hrůša crafted a flawless meditation, yielding to the onset of Mahler’s heavenly vision only gradually.”
Hrůša brought a “much-needed dose of joy” (The New York Times) to The New York Philharmonic on 21 – 23 November. The concerts, “that had the audience applauding before the orchestra had even stopped playing,” featured cellist Alisa Weilerstein as soloist for Saint-Saëns: Cello Concerto No. 1 and also included Borodin’s Symphony No. 2 and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 6.
The New Times’ Joshua Barone writes “[Hrůša] maintained an alluring balance of restraint and grandeur throughout — pastoral playfulness and serenity in the second and third movements, a buoyant rambunctiousness in the finale — as well as a mastery of [Borodin] symphony’s dramatic sensibility. …
“Mr. Hrůša’s reading welcomed the [Dvořák]’s mixed identity, with a patient opening that allowed the theme’s rich orchestration to blossom and, later, a quintessentially Dvorakian scherzo of topsy-turvy dynamics, rollicking exuberance and surprisingly sweet melody.
“Mr. Hrůša kept his hands raised after the scherzo to begin the finale with no pause, as if the symphony’s second half were one long, propulsive crescendo toward the majesty and pure delight of the major-key ending. …
“This performance was the musical equivalent of light therapy. Soak it up while you can.”