Press Quotes

Select 2022 Quotes

“On Friday, too, the notion of perfection came to mind. The Clevelanders played, as usual, with clarity, poise and adroit balances among the sections, elegance without reticence, urgency without pressure, airiness without weightlessness. But while descriptions of their precision and transparency sometimes make them seem cool, even chilly, this was poignant, humane, truly warm music-making.”

"...few ensembles are ready to do Schubert’s Ninth and “Otello” back-to-back with such accomplishment. Part of it is doubtless the enchanted, silvery atmosphere of Severance, but there is always a sense of occasion when this orchestra performs."
– The New York Times, May 2022

"The unifying quality of the Cleveland Orchestra’s concert Wednesday night in Carnegie Hall was just that—quality, meaning the musicianship from this excellent orchestra. Music director Franz Welser-Möst’s program collected pieces from three different eras and locations, played with typical skill and also an amount of sheer force one does not always hear from this refined ensemble."
– New York Classical Review, June 2022

Strauss: Three Tone Poems Recording

"...a breathtaking record, from Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra, that offers the complete opposite: an ensemble showcase, to be sure, but not that alone. Much like the composer’s own, this is Strauss conducting that puts drama at its core, driving scores on quickly, wringing them out tight. Surely few accounts of “Macbeth” — never one of the canonical tone poems, probably for good reason — have matched the coherence and the tragedy of this one. Could the “Don Juan” seduce more evocatively in its passions, or swagger with a little more character? Could the “Till Eulenspiegel” play for laughs a touch more? They could, and Welser-Möst’s approach might strike some as too dry compared to, say, that of Manfred Honeck’s with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra a decade ago, let alone George Szell’s with the Clevelanders long before. But that is the bargain you make with Welser-Möst, trading a lack of self-regard and playing with a pristine lightness of touch — the woodwinds here are downright extraordinary — for a last palpitation of the heart, a last hair unattended on the back of the neck. Sometimes, it’s a deal I’ll willingly take. "
– The New York Times, June 2022

“There’s more exceptional orchestral work on the latest release from the Cleveland Orchestra’s house label, which brings together live performances of three of Richard Strauss’s tone poems under their music director Franz Welser-Möst. It’s a long time since we’ve heard the Cleveland in Britain, and these swaggering performances are a reminder of what a peerless ensemble it is, at the very top of the world league. Both Don Juan and Till Eulenspiegel receive suitably extrovert treatment, but it’s the account of the much less familiar Macbeth that best shows both the refinement of the playing and the unfaltering pacing and dramatic shaping of Welser-Möst’s conducting.”
– The Guardian (London), July 2022

“Although there are plenty of recordings of Richard Strauss’s tone poems in the market, few currently available measure up to the outstanding quality of the wonderful new album by The Cleveland Orchestra and Music Director Franz Welser-Möst, released on the orchestra’s own label.”
– Adventures in Music (Finland), July 2022

“An essential purchase...the live recordings are full of punch and colour. You need this disc.”
– The Arts Desk (London), July 2022

“I enjoyed this disc very much. It’s a fine addition to the Cleveland Orchestra’s discography and shows that its Strauss tradition is very much alive.”
– MusicWeb International, June 2022

“...a beautiful helping of Romantic masterworks, a nourishing meal composed of three major tone poems by Strauss.”
–, June 2022

Select 2021 Quotes

“…not just America’s most elegant symphonic ensemble, but also one of its premier opera bands...”
– The New York Times, September 2021

The Cleveland Orchestra: A New Century recording label debut 2020

“…the performances over which [Wesler-Möst] presides are masterful, the work of an ensemble in peak form. This is no longer George Szell’s orchestra. It is Welser-Möst’s.”
– Musical America May 2020

"The recording stands as testament: The Cleveland Orchestra is America’s finest, still."
– The New York Times, October 2020

"It may be a wipe too clean for some, but it still has that precision and togetherness of old, and an elegance, too — pointing to an admirable, airy turn in a tradition this conductor has made his own."
– The New York Times, October 2020

“The new label is the latest chapter in a recorded history that is as long and distinguished as that of any orchestra in the United States.”
– The New York Times, October 2020

“The best new classical albums: Editor's Choice, July 2020”
– Gramophone (United Kingdom), June 2020

“Elegantly sweeping Strauss, an excellent Prokofiev Third, a stylish up-scaling of Beethoven’s Op 132 String Quartet – and more – this set reflects an orchestral partnership of the first rank.”
– Gramophone (United Kingdom), June 2020

“There’s nothing standard, let alone safe, about it. Even before considering the performances – which are quite something – every other aspect of the set manifests pride, care and sound instincts on the part of The Cleveland Orchestra’s members and staff, even the often over-ascribed sense of family that brings such ensembles together (and often drives them apart).”
– Gramophone (United Kingdom), June 2020

“I fancy that the orchestra has never sounded finer on disc.”
– Gramophone (United Kingdom), June 2020

“To be clear, Welser-Möst hasn’t declawed the symphony; he has instead pulled back a fraction to show us the whole cat, and a wary, sinuous beast it is too.”
– Gramophone (United Kingdom), June 2020

“Certainly the whole set matters, as a flag planted in shifting sands.”
– Gramophone (United Kingdom), June 2020

“Five Stars – Recording of the Month”
– BBC Music Magazine (United Kingdom), August 2020

“Overall, they paint a picture of sovereign technical command, with an upholstered warmth of tone not automatically in the DNA of American orchestras.”
– BBC Music Magazine (United Kingdom), August 2020

“…it’s the expressive insight of the playing which is really striking.”
– BBC Music Magazine (United Kingdom), August 2020

“…the rushing strings in the Scherzo are tinglingly febrile.”
– BBC Music Magazine (United Kingdom), August 2020

“The sound on all three discs is outstandingly well balanced and transparent, reflecting the exceptional acoustic of the orchestra’s Severance Hall headquarters.”
– BBC Music Magazine (United Kingdom), August 2020

“…the empathy and expressive latitude Welser-Möst has added make you wonder if the orchestra has ever sounded better.”
– BBC Music Magazine (United Kingdom), August 2020

Schubert / Křenek recording 2020

“Musically, it’s astonishing, the three discs containing six works spread across three centuries…An outstanding package, brilliantly engineered.”
– The Arts Desk (United Kingdom), October 2020

“Five Stars”
– BBC Music Magazine, October 2020

“The trademark Cleveland sound, both ultra-classy and gloss-free, here intersects with Welser-Möst’s masterly approach to this greatest of symphonies – surely one of music’s supreme triumphs of the human spirit – to produce something very special.”
– BBC Music Magazine, October 2020

2019 Select Quotes

“Yet the 21st century has seen—and heard—a revival of the orchestra’s glory. Both financially and artistically, the outfit is stronger than ever. Much of its success can be credited to the latest music director, Franz Welser-Möst.”

The Economist, February (online) March (print) 2019
“Cleveland’s orchestra is perennially ranked one of the best in the world…And Severance Hall is, in a word, glorious.”
The Daily Beast, April 2019

From The Cleveland Orchestra’s 2019 Carnegie Hall concerts:
“…as played by the Clevelanders, with the discipline and clarity that make them one of the finest ensembles in the country (if not the world), the piece was more dignified than light.”
–The New York Times, October 2019

“…the players were virtually flawless under the reliably commanding baton of their music director, Franz Welser-Möst.”
–The New York Times, October 2019

“Mahler’s symphony was the capstone on a long crescendo that began with the modest Nicolai overture the evening before and swelled to a magisterial finale…”
–The New York Times, October 2019

“…the Cleveland Orchestra’s brass and woodwinds filled the hall with their glorious sound.”
–Seen and Heard International, October 2019

“With cymbal crashes, special effects from the woodwinds and other orchestral flashes of color, the first concert of Carnegie Hall’s 2019-2020 season came to a brilliant conclusion.”
–Seen and Heard International, October 2019

From the Orchestra’s 2019 Asia Tour:

“Led by music director Franz Welser-Möst, the overall performance was elegant and balanced, utterly in the European manner. . . . It has been thirty-two years since the orchestra visited Taipei, and this fine orchestra’s concert was without doubt worth the wait. . . . The entire audience was captivated and the applause continued for a long time. . . . The Cleveland sound was perfectly balanced, embedded with deep cultural intellect. The experience was like standing in the middle of an ancient forest, inhaling the fragrance of the trees. The lower sonorities were firm, but under Welser-Möst the woodwinds come across very clearly, bearing testament to the conductor’s strength in fine-tuning orchestral timbre.”
China Times (Taipei), March 2019

“The nuanced, balanced, and refined musical performance captivated the audience. The evening’s applause — before the interval, following the concerto, and for Daniil Trifonov’s encore — added up to nearly 15 minutes.”
Liberty Times (Taipei), March 2019
“From Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto to Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, from the mountains of Germany and Austria to the vast wilderness of Russia, The Cleveland Orchestra under the baton of Franz Welser-Möst was clean, refreshing, and nuanced. The audiences were totally enraptured. At the end of the second piece, cheers and applause from the audience continued at extended length.”
Wuhan Evening Post (Wuhan), April 2019

“With Franz Welser-Möst’s conducting choices, The Cleveland Orchestra abandoned pursuing a rich sound, and focused instead on making the music flow. Within this framework, while performing Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, they replaced emotional expression with a stable, smooth, and highly-integrated combination of brass, percussion, and strings. This was distinctive and unique, when compared with other American orchestras. . . . The most exciting part of the two nights was without a doubt Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben. This work was full of musical details, providing the orchestra with an opportunity to showcase its strength to the fullest extent. Welser-Möst’s logical and calm style emphasized structure, both in depth and breadth, reflecting what the work authentically requires. . . . The orchestra’s high artistic standard showed that Welser-Möst is an indispensable force in the ensemble’s history.”
Music Weekly (Beijing), April 2019

Select 2018 Quotes

“The shimmering Severance Hall, part of the reason to attend a performance here. The other part: the spectacular Cleveland Orchestra.”
–The Los Angeles Times, November 2018

“…one of the most amazing classical orchestras in the world…”
–The Los Angeles Times, November 2018

“There's one orchestra, from the U.S. heartland, that critics say just might be our nation's finest.”
–NPR, December 2018

“The Heartland Band With The World Class Sound”
–NPR, December 2018

From the Orchestra’s 2017 European Tour:

“The Cleveland Orchestra’s visit to the Philharmonie de Paris was unquestionably a can’t-miss musical event. . . . Our expectations were fully met as we found the Austrian conductor’s interpretation of Mahler’s Sixth Sympony convincing, both in substance and in form. . . . The orchestra upheld its reputation for excellence. . . . This was a pertinent and intelligent interpretation, a very committed and convincing performance. Bravo!”
ResMusica (Paris), October 2017

“Music is the primary focus — with the excellence of The Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst taking any listener’s breath away. Even while briefly closing your eyes, you will still hear everything (and so much more) of what is happening visually in the opera. This was fully-rounded sound with nuance — an event! Flawless too were performances by Martina Janková as a touching Little Vixen, by Jennifer Johnson Cano as the fox and Alan Held as the Forester, or by Raymond Aceto as Harasta. . . . The cheers at the end were for every aspect of this performance.’”
Vienna Kurier, October 2017
“This was a brilliant performance. . . . . Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring was . . . impressive; the music was precisely led by Franz Welser-Möst through the angular rhythms and contrasts into a thrilling final at the end.“
NDR Kultur (Hamburg), October 2017

“Welser-Möst unfolds the details of Mahler’s colossal symphonic scenario in forward-pressing tempos. . . . In doing so, he can safely rely on the abilities of the instrumental sections and soloists of his Clevelanders, who flawlessly savor Mahler’s expressive phrasing and colorful scales. Powerful crescendos are performed with the same perfection as the softly melting hues of the strings. . . . Great applause followed.”
              —Kronen Zeitung (Austria), October 2017

“Franz Welser-Möst conducted Mahler’s Sixth Symphony on the second evening of the performances with his Cleveland Orchestra in the Grosser Saal of the Elbphilharmonie. . . . Mahler, known for his demanding requirements, would probably have approved of what Welser-Möst did with this Mahler symphony.  How he merged together dramatic, hard-hitting, and frenetically loving characteristics.  How brilliantly and with caring focus on each detail this American orchestra proved itself in excellent form, especially throughout all the solo wind instruments. . . . Where to start the praise, where to end with the amazement?  Magnificent, for the urgency with which Welser-Möst kept the manically agitated pulse alive. . . This version was delightfully unsentimental, quite lean and sinewy, with the wallowing fat of pathos exercised away, offering an existential rollercoaster ride.  Every single measure called for everyone to give their all, a collective tour de force, an emotional burden that exhausted and animated at the same time.  At the end, there was the hard-earned standing ovation.”
Hamburger Abendblatt, October 2017
“The Cleveland Orchestra under the direction of Franz Welser-Möst impresses with its customary clarity and balance, which is their trademark.”
—Der Standard (Austria), October 2017

“At this year’s residency in the Musikverein’s Goldener Saal, The Cleveland Orchestra and its chief conductor Franz Welser-Möst brought with them a shrewdly-conceived stage production, digitally-created at the highest caliber.  This was Yuval Sharon’s staging of the ‘Cunning Little Vixen,’ developed in 2014 for Severance Hall, Cleveland’s counterpart to the Musikverein. . . . Though the production’s image world was created digitally, it draws from fold-out paper models in a style commonly found in old books.  The full moon is by no means round.  Rather, it resembles a potato. The props impress by their charming imperfections, as if crafted from cardboard.  The audience’s imagination is not suffocated, but challenged. . . . The Cleveland Orchestra cultivates its musical rendering of Janaček at the highest level of color and nuance.  The airy explorations of the score are played with such delicacy, so light and brilliant, they seem to be of silk. . . . Great jubilation and applause for a unique operatic enterprise.”
Die Presse (Austria), October 2017

From the Orchestra’s 2016 European Festivals Tour:

“Welser-Möst creates the necessary space indeed for this orchestra to shine.  The dense sound is indicative of a tightly-knit team; Welser-Möst’s reputation of having been instrumental in developing the orchestra’s sound during his tenure as chief conductor is well deserved.  The performance was rewarded at the end with enthusiastic applause and congratulatory calls of ‘bravo’ from the audience.”
APA (Austrian Press Agency), August 2016

“This is an orchestra that has the marvelous ability to shift between pathos and clear, structured thought, without exaggerated sound splitting, without theatrics.  This is especially true for their conductor — Welser-Möst’s interpretation of Beethoven was exemplary in its clarity while avoiding extremes, even in the tempos.”
Badische Zeitung, August 2016

“Rousing applause sounded on Thursday in Salzburg’s Grosse Festspielhaus in celebration of The Cleveland Orchestra and music director Franz Welser-Möst.”
Salzburg Nachrichten, August 2016

“Welser-Möst’s ideas were matter of fact and clear.  He never hesitated, despite the many tempo changes and transitions.  The orchestra forged this piece in a single casting from the initial engaging, exciting note to the final accord.”
Salzburg Nachrichten, August 2016

“Under the guidance of maestro Franz Welser-Möst, The Cleveland Orchestra proved itself a superbly trained, beautifully sounding single body.”
Kronen Zeitung, August 2016

“The audience could admire the enormous transparency and sensitive subtleness of the chamber music in Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta, throughout the entire evening that The Cleveland Orchestra played at Salzburg’s Great Festival Hall.”, August 2016

”The Cleveland Orchestra demonstrated its fabulous technical skill, coupled with rhythmic agility. . . . The adagio featuring some ghost-like effects was especially explored with attention to precision and coloring.”
Die Presse, August 2016

From the Orchestra’s Carnegie Hall performances in January and February 2016:

“It’s not often that a performance of a challenging new piece receives the kind of ovation typically awarded star virtuosi.  But that’s what happened on Sunday night at Carnegie Hall when the conductor Franz Welser-Möst led The Cleveland Orchestra in the New York premiere of the Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen’s ‘let me tell you.’ . . . Sunday’s program also offered an outstanding performance of Shostakovich’s formidable Fourth Symphony. . . . Mr. Welser-Möst and his great orchestra just played the piece to the hilt.  In this incisive, brilliant performance, the symphony seemed a purposeful entity, however shocking and excessive.”
The New York Times, January, 2016

“Both works require utmost precision and high-level solo contributions, abundantly provided by the magnificent Clevelanders.”
The Wall Street Journal, January, 2016

“The mighty Clevelanders turned their formidable attention to the often grotesque, ultimately sublime, hour-long ramblings and rumblings of Shostakovich’s rarely performed Fourth Symphony."—Financial Times, January, 2016

“Less than a month after bringing an astonishing, hair-trigger program to Carnegie Hall — a wintry new vocal cycle by Hans Abrahamsen and a sensitive yet turbocharged Shostakovich performance — the Cleveland Orchestra returned on Sunday with something completely different . . . an evening of Mozart.  Clarity, enthusiasm, commitment, a cohesion that’s warmly responsive rather than coldly exact.  You always get the sense that this is a quartet in symphony orchestra’s clothing.  The redoubtable Mitsuko Uchida . . . led two concertos from the piano. . . .Perceptive, receptive music-making. . . . The glory of The Cleveland Orchestra remains its balances:  the smooth yet complex blend of its winds, the way the lower strings offer subtle depth to the higher ones.”
The New York Times, February, 2016

From the Orchestra’s 2015 European Tour and Vienna Residency:

Franz Welser-Möst led The Cleveland Orchestra on their sixteenth international concert tour and eighth biennial Vienna Residency together, performing twelve concerts in ten cities between October 15 and 31, 2015.  The tour featured performances in a number of Europe’s premier concert halls, including their debut performance at the new Philharmonie de Paris.  The following excerpts are taken from from reviews and commentary about these concerts:

“The Cleveland Orchestra’s sheer virtuosity, the honed precision of its interaction, and the scintillating silver gleam that was once its trademark, are still breathtaking.”
—Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, October, 2015

“From the famous theme to the most tragic or airy passages, the conductor showed his masterful skill, not leaving out any detail, and transcending each motif.  The promise of a very high quality concert was kept, giving the audience the opportunity to hear one of the best American orchestras in Europe.”
Crescendo, October, 2015 (Brussels)

“Welser-Möst’s uncommonly vivid conducting left no doubt — the interpretation was an argument that this work, as Beethoven said of his “Pastoral,” is more an expression of feeling than a painting. . . . The burst of excitement that followed gave the strings another opportunity to demonstrate their excellence.”
Luxemburger Wort, October, 2015

“Without a doubt, the superb Cleveland Orchestra, which prefers roundness to brilliance and never flashy virtuosity, adheres to the approach perfectly.  Their Austrian director successfully avoids the trap of going overboard and shows he knows how to conduct the music, from start to finish, making a tight, unified ensemble.”
ConcertoNet, October, 2015 (Paris)

“The strings and brass provided gleaming opulence, and Welser-Möst played the mountain guide in overdrive.  Overall, as was made clear at the Konzerthaus this evening, the musicians from Cleveland can play anything.”
Westfälische Nachrichten Münster-Stadt, October, 2015 (Dortmund)

“Conductor Franz Welser-Möst also strikes the necessary balance between attack and withdrawal, using timbre to maintain the internal tension. . . . Also key: the orch­estra’s clarity and transparency are always present in service of expression. . . . It was a brilliant evening by a great orchestra.”
Der Standard, October, 2015 (Vienna)

From the Orchestra’s 2015 Lincoln Center Festival performances:

“. . . right now The Cleveland Orchestra may be, as some have argued, the finest in America. . . . At the end of the opera, the ovations for Ms. Hangler, Mr. Schager and especially Mr. Welser-Möst and this remarkable orchestra were ecstatic.”
The New York Times, July, 2015

“This is a score that thunders and roars, and the Clevelanders absolutely nailed it … ensemble playing was perfectly judged. The sheer musicality of the players’ work was a wonder.”
Musical, July, 2015

“. . . the opera poses plenty of challenges for the orchestra and the principal singers, which were handily surmounted in The Cleveland Orchestra.”
The Wall Street Journal, July, 2015

“. . . The Cleveland Orchestra exemplifies the finest kind of effortless virtuosity, as it demonstrated on Friday night at Avery Fisher Hall during the last of three eagerly anticipated programs for this summer’s Lincoln Center Festival.”
The New York Times, July, 2015

“The Cleveland Orchestra sounded absolutely radiant from the wispiest pianissimo to the most thundering fortissimo, and even in the iffy acoustic of Avery Fisher Hall, there was a sumptuous bloom in the tone.”
New York Observer, July, 2015

From the Orchestra’s 2014 European Tour:

“Welser-Möst exhibited the mellow, silky sound he has cultivated in his twelve years with the Clevelanders. . . . The Brahms had old-school character — the symphony’s middle movements have never sounded so Viennese.”   
Guardian (London), September, 2014

“Franz Welser-Möst is certainly an excellent technician — and last night all his skills were needed to keep a sprawling, fragmentary recent piece like Jörg Widmann’s Teufel Amor on track. . . . The Cleveland Orchestra can patrol contemporary music’s barricades with terrific expertise, commitment, and flair.”   
Arts Desk, September, 2014

“Ohio’s prize orchestra is still gleaming, giving performances as precision-tooled as the cars that once rolled out from Michigan’s factories. . . . The orchestra’s ensemble sense is perfect.”
London Times, Sepember, 2014

“Welser-Möst’s approach was intimate. . . . In the Brahms First Symphony, the playing was . . . extremely refined, the velvet smooth orchestral texture illuminated with expressive solo contributions and a sense of the musicians listening to each other. . . . The playing was visibly committed and responsive.”
Music OMH, September, 2014

“Franz Welser-Möst has managed something radical with The Cleveland Orch­estra — making them play as one seamless unit. . . . Brahms’s Tragic Overture and Symphony No. 2 flickered with a very delicate beauty that makes the Clevelanders sound like no other orchestra.”
London Times, September, 2014

““The interpretations of Jörg Widmann works by The Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst’s baton can be considered exemplary and significant.  They radiated an inner warmth and have been worked down to the finest detail, and are at the same time supported by large voltage playing.”
Berliner Zeitung, Sepember, 2014

“The First Symphony of Brahms was interpreted by Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra with enormous precision, great tempo, polished dynamics, and dramatic intelligence. . . . One not only heard the romantic side of Brahms, but also the wild and almost revolutionary one.”
Kurier (Vienna), Sepember, 2014