SAN DIEGO READER (Tuesday, May 9, 2017 by Garrett Harris) “Regarding the San Diego Symphony and their performance of this first movement [of Mahler’s Third Symphony]…it was a stunning display. When the horns stated their case on Maestro Ling’s downbeat it was obvious that this promised to be a special occasion.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
SANDIEGOSTORY.COM (Saturday, May 6, 2017 by Ken Herman) “…Jahja Ling commenced his valedictory month as San Diego Symphony Music Director with a sweeping and at times sumptuous account of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 in D Minor. In roaring, full symphonic mode and through countless soaring solo flights, the orchestra proved its mettle beyond the shadow of a doubt, a fitting tribute to the improvement Ling’s patient nurture has brought about during his 13-year tenure.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE (Saturday, May 6, 2017 by Marcus Overton) “If any piece of music comes close to containing the whole of nature in organized sound, Mahler’s Third Symphony is it…Music Director Jahja Ling displayed magisterial control of its enormous six-movement conception, colored by an emotional palette that climbs from death-haunted despair to joyfully optimistic choral outbursts.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
SANDIEGOSTORY.COM (Wednesday, March 29, 2017 by Yochanan Sebastian Winston) “The work [Bruckner’s Eight Symphony] has the weight of leviathan and is fraught with technical and compositional challenges. Its successful presentation is truly a titanic struggle for all parties concerned. Its difficulties rank it among the most demanding of works to pull off, regardless of historical period. Somehow, despite these enormous difficulties, Saturday’s performance was a nearly unalloyed success.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
SAN DIEGO READER (Monday, March 27, 2017 by Garrett Harris) “The crowning achievement of maestro Jahja Ling’s tenure as music director of the San Diego Symphony came on Saturday night with Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8…This performance brought many a tear to my eye and bumps unto my skin. The sheer beauty of the sounds that the orchestra made were more than I could have hoped for in this performance.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE (Saturday, October 15, 2016 by Marcus Overton) “In Friday night’s performance — which kicked off the San Diego Symphony’s 2016-17 season — conductor Jahja Ling (and how sorely this great man will be missed when he leaves) revealed both its mystery and simplicity. Themes were not notes, but thoughts, development became dialogue. And what playing, from every part of the orchestra: no praise high enough for the woodwinds, no beauty more piercing than the horn solos, no majesty beyond the brasses’ reach.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
SANDIEGOSTORY.COM (Saturday, October 15, 2016 by Ken Herman) “Ling gave Shaham the royal treatment: vigorous, full-blooded orchestral support in the glorious extroverted moments of the [Mendelssohn Violin Concerto] opening Allegro molto appassionato, yet deftly scaled quiet murmers when Shaham pulled his dynamic level down to a feathery pianissimo in the tender Andante. This has always been one of Ling’s great virtues—his unfailingly adroit, seamless accompaniment of guest soloists.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE (Saturday, May 28, 2016 by Marcus Overton) “An American orchestra in full possession of its powers, responding to its music director, Jahja Ling, as if making music were as uncomplicated as breathing. A conductor whose talent (as pianist and conductor) has lifted him to an international career in which a global sensibility encompasses a sharply-focused understanding of the American idiom. A French pianist who eschews self-display, deploying technical brilliance in ensemble commitment, in music he can justifiably claim he owns world-wide at this point. The result: multi-faceted exploration of that word ‘American.'” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
SANDIEGOSTORY.COM (Saturday, May 21, 2016 by Ken Herman) “At the other end of the sonic spectrum, Richard Wagner’s gentle “Siegfried Idyll” revealed how much Ling has refined the sound and focused the unity of the orchestra’s string sections…Ling built the “Idyll” patiently, a strategy that paid off handsomely when the brass finally came in to climax nobly the work’s steady expansion.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
BACHTRACK.COM (Sunday, May 1, 2016 by Erica Miner) “Ling has spoken of his own closeness to the piece [Mahler’s Sixth Symphony], through his deep identification with the work’s tragic elements. That intensity of emotion was very much in evidence at this hearing, as Ling found ways to bring consistency and shape to the often-strident music in ways that were relatable to the audience.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
SANDIEGOSTORY.COM (Saturday, April 30, 2016 by Ken Herman) “Ling has always exhibited a zeal for precision and detail, but the orchestra has now attained a level where they are more equipped to respond to his demands with the polish and security that produces a rewarding account of these substantial works.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE (Saturday, April 30, 2016 by Christian Hertzog) “Since coming to San Diego 12 years ago, Ling has molded a rag-tag orchestra on the brink of dissolution into a disciplined ensemble with outstanding principal wind and brass players. These qualities shone in their performance of Mahler’s Sixth. In Mahler’s orchestration, melodies morph from one instrument to another. It’s difficult to make this happen in the concert hall, but Ling and the musicians did so magnificently.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
SAN DIEGO READER (Monday, February 1, 2016 by Garrett Harris) “The sound of the orchestra during the Pastoral was gorgeous from start to finish…Maestro Jahja Ling’s pacing of the music was reassuring. When “The Scene by the Brook” started, I thought, “Oh, thank God.” That second movement can go on forever if the conductor lets the brook turn into a bayou. The tempo felt as though it matched the ideal speed of a gentle brook in a forest glen…I don’t have that much experience with the tempo of brooks but Maestro Ling’s pace felt right with what Beethoven wrote about them…As the summer storm passed and the music transitioned into the “Shepherd’s Song” — one of Beethoven’s most fragile moments — the glory of this orchestra was obvious. I felt it to be one of the most gorgeous instances we’ve had in Symphony Hall.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE (Sunday, January 31, 2016 by Christian Hertzog) “In contrast to the brooding melancholy of Brahms, Mozart’s triple concerto sparkles with charm and wit. [Conrad] Tao and [Jessie] Chang were well-matched musicians, whether crisply elegant or bright and flashy. Ling’s part, originally composed for the weakest link of the Lodron family, was performed with no less care or grace than his two partners, and allowed him to preside over the orchestra from his piano bench.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
SANDIEGOSTORY.COM (Sunday, January 31, 2016 by Ken Herman) “Playing the third piano part did not impede for a moment Ling’s precise and efficient direction of his players, who gave the [Mozart] concerto energetic, stylish flare in the outer movements, projecting a lithe and fresh sonority that made the composer’s nimble themes even more attractive. This conducting arrangement gave an enticing approximation of how 18th-century concertos were actually performed, before the separate conductor came about in the era of Felix Mendelssohn.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
SANDIEGOSTORY.COM (Saturday, January 30, 2016 by Ken Herman) “Ling chose Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, the “Pastorale,” to open his program…Especially in the Symphony’s first two movements, the orchestra’s string sections produced that warm, polished sound we associate with the great Central European orchestras, a trait Ling has averred on numerous occasions to be an important goal he hoped to accomplish during his tenure at the San Diego Symphony. This velvet sound, combined with Ling’s joyous, unhurried tempos, allowed these movements to unfold gracefully…” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
BACHTRACK.COM (Sunday, December 13, 2015 by Erica Miner) “Jahja Ling masterfully commanded these troops [in Berlioz’ Te Deum] without seeming overly controlling, allowing the music to surge forth, and providing the opportunity for the vast numbers of performers…to display their full collective potential…In the opening, Ling elicited maximum sound from the booming chords of the orchestra and organ, provided stark contrast with juxtaposed hushed tones, seamlessly transitioned into the organ prelude introduction to the Tibi omnes, and then brought out the poignancy of the cry for mercy in the Dignare.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER (Wednesday, November 11, 2015 by Timothy Mangan) “Jahja Ling…led a disciplined performance. He attended to rhythmic concision, textural clarity and connective thought. The music took on a balletic grace much of the time, an eloquent suffering at others. Never did he allow a phrase to sag; propulsion, even in the final Adagio lamentoso, proved ever important.most sections all the room they needed.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
SAN DIEGO STORY.COM (Saturday, November 7, 2015 by Ken Herman) “San Diego Symphony Music Director Jahja Ling coaxed a supple lyricism from his strings to mirror that of the soloist, and provided a sumptuous cushion of support in dreamy sections such as the [Bruch Concerto] Adagio second movement. The orchestra sported an unusually tight ensemble in the Bruch, and Ling deftly calibrated the dynamic balance between Chang and the orchestra…” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE (Saturday, November 7, 2015 by James Chute) “This is obviously a piece [Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique] that’s important to conductor Jahja Ling, who was at his best in this concert…Conducting the San Diego Symphony without a score, Ling offered a thoughtful, well-proportioned account of this dynamic work…his sense of pacing and his strategy of pushing the work’s upper dynamic range and most rapid passages served to enliven the work. ” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
BACHTRACK.COM (Sunday, October 11, 2015 by Erica Miner) “Ling displayed the reasons for these [An-lun Huang Saibei] Suites’ popularity in the west with his lively, upbeat interpretation of the work’s folk-based music, dancing along with the quick tempi of this four-minute wild ride of a piece…In Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol, Ling and the orchestra took flight, with another opportunity for other principal players to display their extraordinary gifts…Ling kept the tutti orchestra in perfect balance with the soloists, allowing them to shine in their most prodigious moments.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
THE CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER (Monday, July 27, 2015 by Zachary Lewis) “No doubt still elated from the first half, Cleveland’s former resident conductor and Blossom Festival director [Jahja Ling] returned from intermission with a personal offering of his own: a luxurious, deeply-felt performance of Elgar’s “Enigma” Variations. The hallmark in this case was pacing. Rather than hurry through the familiar music, as many do, Ling refreshingly basked in it, enforcing contrast and giving the orchestra and soloists in most sections all the room they needed.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
LA OPUS (Sunday, May 24, 2015 by Erica Miner) “In his capacious rendering of the Brahms, Ling opened up the cloud covered atmosphere established by the melancholy Beethoven concerto to let in one after another ray of musical sunshine, and his orchestra responded with a performance that justifiably electrified the audience. One would never have known that this was the first time Ling was performing the work with his orchestra in a Masterworks series. His background and knowledge of European tradition in composition and performance were keenly in evidence as, conducting without a score, he built the magnificence of the piece layer by layer until the full power of the orchestral forces burst forth in a wave of ebullient virtuosity, allowing the optimism of the work to shine through. ” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
THE SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE (Saturday, May 23, 2015 by James Chute) “Conducting without a score, it was clear Ling knew every nuance of the Brahms. His pacing and sense of the work’s large-scale architecture were exemplary…there were effective pianissimos and dynamic contrasts. Transitions were unexaggerated and generally smooth, climaxes were carefully calibrated, and his movements on the podium were relatively constrained, as he focused on communicating with the orchestra.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
THE SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE (Saturday, May 16, 2015 by James Chute) “Simply stated, the orchestra was at its best. Ling’s pacing of the piece by the early 20th century Spanish composer was masterful. But more importantly, the tone of the piece was exactly right. It was just light enough to allow it to dance and to show off the score’s myriad colors and the fine contributions by the orchestra’s principal players, but the piece also had enough heft so that when the music reaches its climax in the “Final Dance,” there’s an explosion of energy.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
THE CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER (Friday, March 20, 2015 by Zachary Lewis) “Most visits by Jahja Ling feel like home, of course. The orchestra’s longtime former resident conductor and a regular guest here, Ling enjoys a relationship with the group rivaled by few others. This visit, though, is special. Performing Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2, a mammoth, richly emotional work recorded first by the Cleveland Orchestra in 1928, the artist Thursday wore his heart prominently on his sleeve. Beyond that, too, the piece in his hands played right into the orchestra’s, to its famously polished strings and the lavish acoustics of Severance.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
SANDIEGOSTORY.COM (Sunday, February 8, 2015 by Ken Herman) “Ling made the most of Strauss’ mercurial mood swings in his colorfully orchestrated tone poem [Death and Transfiguration], and on Saturday (Feb. 7) the [San Diego Symphony] Orchestra responded adroitly to his meticulous and deftly modulated direction. The roiling themes from the contrabass and cello sections midway through the piece showed laudable muscular drive, and the orchestra’s more cohesive ensemble I take as a new plateau for the symphony.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
SANDIEGOSTORY.COM (Sunday, December 14, 2014 by Ken Herman) “I am happy to report…they played the Rachmaninoff [Symphony No. 2] with supreme confidence, a warmly cohesive ensemble, and a sensitive awareness of the composer’s signature melodic expansion. While it was a long journey…, Ling kept his troops clearly focused and energized throughout. This struck me as some of the finest playing Ling and the orchestra have achieved over the last several years.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
SANDIEGOSTORY.COM (Saturday, December 6, 2014 by Ken Herman) “Ling consistently brought out the wit and drama in Haydn’s orchestral writing [in the Paukenmesse] — the composer wrote his large concert masses at the end of his prolific career as Europe’s premier symphonist — and the orchestra responded with crisp attacks and elegant phrasing. From the Master Chorale, Ling demanded a wide range of dynamic contrast and textual nuance, and the result was an unsually vibrant performance that embraced equally the composer’s musical and theological acuity.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
BACHTRACK (Sunday, November 23, 2014 by Erica Miner) “In a convoluted work such as [Mahler’s 7th Symphony], both control and insight are of utmost importance. With this performance, Ling showed masterful control of the ever-changing nuances, drawing deep emotion in the melodies and hushed restraint in the quiet, introspective passages. The maestro kept the many simultaneous voices clearly distinct when needed, and also made sure these voices were woven together as a coherent whole…The partnership between Ling and his ensemble was at its pinnacle in this exemplary display of virtuosity: truly an epic moment.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
BACHTRACK (Sunday, November 16, 2014 by Erica Miner) “Maestro Ling faithfully recreated [La Valse‘s] ethereal initial ambiance, with its seemingly limitless harp glissandos and shimmering upper strings, later shaping contrasts between delicacy and boldness, subtlety and assertiveness, evoking the work’s balletic nature.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
U-T SAN DIEGO (Friday, November 14, 2014 by James Chute) “Ling took [Sibelius’s Symphony No. 1] just a shade under the conventional tempo and allowed those melodic lines a little extra room to blossom, but he also paid careful attention to the work’s structure. The transitions were seamless and Ling’s sense of pacing and proportion was impeccable.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
BACHTRACK (Sunday, October 26, 2014 by Erica Miner) “One of the most winning qualities of Ling’s conducting is his ability to physically demonstrate a work’s dancelike character without its seeming out of place, and numerous audience members, albeit seated, danced [to On the Town] along with him.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
BACHTRACK (Sunday October 12, 2014 by Erica Miner) “Season after season, the orchestra and Maestro Ling continually excel at performing dynamic full-length works that demonstrate the synergy of their partnership. Their performance of Mendelssohn’s crowd-pleasing Third Symphony as a rousing finale in this concert was no exception. It was as if the combined forces of players and conductor, rather than spend their musical capital on the first two strenuous, challenging works in the program, used the accumulated energy as compounded interest to shout their enthusiasm in musical terms for the third and final work.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
SAN DIEGO READER (Saturday, October 11, 2014 by Garrett Harris) “The Scottish Symphony — what can I say? Maestro Ling and the orchestra may as well have been wearing kilts and been painted up like woad warriors. It was awesome. The sound of this edition of The San Diego Symphony is beyond the achievements of previous years. This season is bound for glory.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
BACHTRACK (Monday, August 18, 2014 by Timothy Robson) “The audience was rewarded with an encore, Tchaikovsky’s Andante cantabile for solo cello and string orchestra, in a performance notable for its gentleness and very soft dynamic range. It was as if Ma, Ling and the orchestra were singing a lullaby, holding the audience rapt. At the end, in his ebullient manner, Yo-Yo Ma hugged the front row string players and “high-fived” Jahja Ling and again waved to the audience.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
SAN DIEGO READER (Thursday, May 29, 2014 by Garrett Harris) “If there’s one thing Jahja Ling and the San Diego Symphony can do, it’s play Brahms. Over the past few seasons we’ve heard all four of the Brahms symphonies and each time the performance has been nothing short of spectacular.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
SANDIEGOSTORY.COM (Saturday, May 24, 2014 by Ken Herman) “Sometimes opening a concert with an upbeat opera overture is little more than a razzle-dazzle warm-up exercise, but Ling treated Carl Maria von Weber’s Overture to Oberon as an elegant miniature, exploiting every deft touch the composer secreted in his brilliant score…Ling directed a clean, vibrant accompaniment, bringing out the most winning contrapuntal lines from Prokofiev’s sophisticated textures [in t]his 1935 Violin Concerto…From the dark opening chords and insistent beats of the timpani, Ling declared his intention to make his Brahms’ First Symphony a noteworthy statement. Working without a score, he delivered a minutely detailed realization that underscored both the gravitas inherent in the work and the solemnity with which he expected his audience to accord it… If this piece had been the orchestra’s final exam for the academic year, I would unhesitantly award their performance an “A” and compliment their musical growth over the year.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
SANDIEGOSTORY.COM (Sunday, May 18, 2014 by Ken Herman) “Admittedly, this 1945 work [“Symphony in Three Movements”] from Stravinsky’s middle period is easier to admire than love, but it was refreshing to hear it, especially with the flare and conviction Ling and the orchestra brought to this infrequently programmed symphony. Wisely, Ling relentlessly drove the first movement’s bustling urban rhythms, maintaining its emotional tension and underscoring the Symphony’s connection with Stravinsky’s earlier and more popular dance scores. ” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
BACHTRACK (Sunday, May 18, 2014 by Erica Miner) “First performed with San Diego Symphony in their 1987-88 season, Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements has not been heard here since the 1993-94 season. The precipitously changing meters in this movement would provide a challenge for any conductor, but Maestro Ling held his own, keeping the orchestra precisely together while losing none of the work’s energy or momentum…From beginning to end, it was a memorable Russian-themed evening that soared to the heights..” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
LOS ANGELES TIMES (Monday, May 12, 2014 by Richard Ginell) “The Pasadena Symphony is an excellent Shostakovich orchestra, with a backlog of terrific performances of several symphonies under ex-music director Jorge Mester in its DNA. [The guest conductor, San Diego Symphony’s Jahja] Ling was able to tap into that energy in Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 in the first of two performances Saturday. He received a solid response from the orchestra, with good rhythm throughout, building steam toward the climaxes, getting impressively hushed playing in the first and third movements that conveyed tragedy and desolation.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
BACHTRACK (Sunday, May 4, 2014 by Erica Miner) “Maestro Ling drew shimmering tones from the orchestra, evoking the colors of the Stéphane Mallarmé poem from which the title [Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune] is borrowed, capturing the effect of Debussy’s whole tone scales, tritones, and sensuous harmonies. The overall harmonic fluidity conjured the dreamscape of a piece that should be listened to emotionally rather than intellectually…The maestro gave a lively, balletic rendering, literally dancing on the podium to inspire equally vigorous playing from his orchestra. The length of [Tchaikovsky’s “Polish” Symphony], and its seemingly unrelated movements, presents a special challenge to conductor, musicians, and audience alike. The maestro maintained energetic control throughout. The orchestra responded with lush sounds from the strings, crisp articulation from the winds and brass, and masterful solos from the principals in the French horn and bassoon sections. ” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
U-T SAN DIEGO (Friday, May 2, 2014 by James Chute) “”..The San Diego Symphony and Ling were in top form Friday at Jacobs Music Center in a rewarding program of Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun,” Bartok’s Violin Concerto No. 2 (with [Jeff] Thayer as soloist) and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 3, “Polish.” This was among the season’s most accomplished and most consistent performances in three pieces that demand markedly different approaches. ” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
THE WEST AUSTRALIAN (Monday, March 31, 2014 by Neville Cohn) “It would have been well worth attending this concert if only to listen to the WASO’s more-than-satisfying performance, with conductor Jahja Ling clearly in his element, conveying the overarching design of the work while also paying the closest attention to detail…A consistently responsive WASO was zealous in its focus, with robust, muscular climaxes invariably within the bounds of good taste, and always stopping short of a descent into the bombastic…In the opening measures of the finale, Jahja drew a powerful response from his forces in the lead-up to the [soloist Alina Pogostkina’s] entry.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
THE BAREFOOT REVIEW .COM (Friday, March 21, 2014 by Kym Clayton) “There were many standouts tonight, but guest conductor Jahja Ling stood tallest. The work of the maestro begins long before the performance, and long before the first rehearsal, and Ling has clearly done his homework on Dvořák. Ling has an affinity for Dvořák’s über-melodic and lyrical Symphony in G (No. 8), which concluded the concert. He demanded the ASO play it at close to full bore, but he balanced this with a masterful control of dynamics: the ‘louds’ were imposing and they fell away exquisitely to the softest of “softs,” and the occasional silences demanded by the score were rendered ever so poignant. Not afraid to extract as much emotion as possible, Ling was precise, warm and in control, and the audience was instantly thunderous in its appreciation at the final note.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
THE WEST AUSTRALIAN (Monday, March 17, 2014 by Rosalind Appleby) “Jahja Ling…the Chinese/ Indonesian conductor (music director of the San Diego Symphony) had only one full day of rehearsal before performances [with the West Australia Symphony Orchestra] began…Ling conducted with composure, driving momentum forward and engaging playfully with Strauss’ humour. For Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony he strode sternly into a darker sound world, delineating layers and stirring up climaxes…conducting without a score, he spanned the breadth and depth of what Tchaikovsky described as “the ceaseless alternation of bitter reality with evanescent visions and dreams of happiness.” The second movement mellowed to allow for Leanne Glover’s melancholic oboe solo and Ling’s rhythmic propulsion, together with some steely brass playing, resulted in a blazing finale. This concert shone the spotlight on an orchestra and conductor working under pressure and they came up trumps.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
NEW YORK TIMES (Wednesday, October 30, 2013 by Anthony Tommasini) “On Tuesday night, the ensemble played its Carnegie Hall debut before an enthusiastic audience, a program that offered a new work; Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, with the superstar pianist Lang Lang as soloist; and Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony — a technically solid, hard-driving and feisty, if sometimes raucous, account of this popular work…On Tuesday, the rapport between the musicians (including noticeable numbers of younger players) and their kinetic conductor was palpable.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
FEASTOFMUSIC.COM (Sunday, November 3, 2013 by Melanie Wong) “San Diego Symphony Music Director Jahja Ling has said, ‘We should never call ourselves a world-class orchestra…only other people will say what kind of orchestra we have.’ Well, Maestro Ling, you’ll be happy to know that after Tuesday night’s exhilarating Carnegie Hall debut—a historic moment for the nearly 103-year-old orchestra—a world-class orchestra is exactly what we will call you…The program ended with Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony, and it was here that the orchestra was truly at its best; Ling’s exciting and masterful interpretation showcased the players’ resplendent sound and fiery energy…At the evening’s close, Ling glowed with delight. ” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!
U-T SAN DIEGO (Tuesday, October 29, 2013 by James Chute) “It’s hard to imagine a better birthday present for Qualcomm co-founder and arts philanthropist Irwin Jacobs than what the San Diego Symphony gave him Tuesday night in Carnegie Hall. And that’s not counting the rendition of “Happy Birthday” pianist Lang Lang, conductor Jahja Ling and the San Diego Symphony offered him from the stage or the reception celebrating his 80th birthday that followed the sold-out concert, the orchestra’s first in Carnegie Hall.”
U-T SAN DIEGO (Saturday, November 2, 2013 by James Chute) “Bernstein’s Overture to “Candide” …opened the symphony’s program in the Poly Grand Theatre. Maybe there’s a conductor who takes this score faster than Jahja Ling, but it’s doubtful. Under his baton, the overture was a quick burst of energy. It displayed flawless teamwork, especially among the wind players who effortlessly passed the theme back and forth. Ling took a little more time in an uplifting account of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8. If Ling sometimes tends toward emphasizing the more extroverted aspects of the music, this interpretation was well balanced, with the loud, visceral passages having even more impact and the softer, more lyrical moments offering that much more to savor.”
SANDIEGOSTORY.COM (Saturday, October 5, 2013 by Kenneth Herman) “Working from memory, Ling confidently built each movement with a clear pacing that revealed both the work’s grand architecture and its emotional depth. The somber third movement, the Adagio, came across not so much as an elegy to the war dead (the Symphony was completed in 1945), but as a striking, profound monument to survival. Ling’s exuberance on the podium at the end of the Allegro giocoso had that note of well-earned triumph—for both orchestra and its conductor.”
CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER (Monday, August 12, 2013 by Mark Satola) Rossini’s overture to The Thieving Magpie is so well-known that it might be difficult to present it afresh without straying into eccentricity. Ling’s solution was elegant, setting a leisurely pace that allowed the details of Rossini’s fine orchestration to blossom. That “behind-the-beat” tempo served Rossini’s mechanical processes well, too, in the steady build-up of the two so-called “Rossini crescendos,” so that when Ling accelerated the pace for the brief coda, the impact was magnified splendidly.
U-T SAN DIEGO (Sunday, April 14, 2013, by James Chute) “Conductor Jahja Ling and the San Diego Symphony were sympathetic to her approach, particularly in the first two movements. When she wanted to take a little more time with the end of a phrase, Ling was right with her. And then when she turned around and executed a string of arpeggios in almost metronomic fashion, he was right there too. The degree of attention the orchestra brought to Brahms was also evident in Anton Webern’s Im Sommerwind.”
SANDIEGOSTORY.COM (Sunday, April 14, 2013, by Kenneth Herman) “Inspired by a poem praising the rejuvenating effects of nature on pallid urbanites, Im Sommerwind (‘In the Summer’s Wind’) vividly evokes bucolic languor with all the colors of a large orchestra used selectively in the mode of Gustav Mahler or Richard Strauss. Ling meticulously guided his forces through its vivid contrasts and shifting textures, coaxing an unusually warm color from the strings. From the Second Viennese School we lept back in time to the First Viennese School with Franz Schubert’s Fifth Symphony, which Ling aptly conceived as a chamber symphony, reducing the orchestra to some 40 players. If only he had been able to reduce the length of this ambling symphony, particularly the second movement. Marked Andante con moto, most the motion I experienced was my attention meandering while Herr Schubert pasted on yet another sweet melody his extended thematic collage. Ling and the orchestra offered a polished, sympathetic account of Schubert’s Fifth, notably the rousing Menuetto with its dark, minor-mode motifs that allude to Mozart’s great G Minor Symphony No. 40.”
U-T SAN DIEGO (Friday, March 1, 2013, by James Chute) “Antonín Dvorak was in an especially good mood in a sunny, optimistic, even uplifting account of his Symphony No. 6 by an equally impressive San Diego Symphony and conductor Jahja Ling (who were, of course, also Gomyo’s willing accomplices in the Shostakovich concerto). Ling’s Dvorak, however, was easy to love and just as easy to respect, even if the orchestra — particularly the violins — lost some of its focus as the piece progressed. Ling has an obvious affection for this work and his carefully considered, masterfully paced performance revealed the orchestra and the music’s best qualities. The strings played with warmth and clarity, the brass sounded with unwavering authority, and the woodwinds provided moments of sheer delight. Rather than the soul-searching cadenza Shostakovich offers the soloist in his concerto, Dvorak in the second movement of his symphony silences the ensemble and gives the flute a cascading solo that when played by Rose Lombardo, brought a smile to your face.”
SANDIEGOSTORY.COM (Saturday, January 12, 2013, by Kenneth Herman) “San Diego Symphony Music Director Jahja Ling and the orchestra gave a rich, probing account of Carl Nielsen’s Fifth Symphony at Copley Hall Friday (Jan. 11), a lesser known work in the genre of music inspired by war. Completed 3 years after the 1918 Armistice, Nielsen’s Fifth Symphony is a complex orchestral tapestry that depicts the forces of good and evil in unambiguous military imagery. If Nielsen’s symbolism is far from subtle, his compositional craft is deft and sophisticated. Unlike, say, Bruckner or Scriabin, this great Dane’s musical ideas never overstay their welcome, and his inventive thematic development never misses an emotional payoff. Happily, Ling’s pacing was right on the money, energetically unwrapping Nielsen’s manifold musical gifts with a keen sense of surprise and expectation. Ling opened the concert with Rossini’s evergreen Overture to La gazza ladra, an apt choice for this program because of its prominent display of snare drum solos. And there was nothing perfunctory about his crisp, well-proportioned account of this overture.
U-T SAN DIEGO (Friday, January 11, 2013, by James Chute) “The orchestra and conductor Jahja Ling also earned their ovation for a relentless Nielsen Symphony No. 5. Commentators can’t agree on whether this piece reflects the angst of a world transformed by World War I or Nielsen’s problematic but enduring marriage that survived his wife’s independence and his multiple affairs. Or maybe it’s something else completely. Whatever. It’s a battle royale between the forces of darkness and light, even if at times it’s not clear exactly which is which (just like life). Ling never let the tension slip in an expertly paced interpretation.”
THE NEW YORK TIMES (Friday, January 25, 2013) “The vivid interpretation of three dances from Smetana’s “Bartered Bride,” a comic opera that reflects the composer’s interest in traditional Bohemian dance forms and folk idioms, was equally rewarding. Mr. Ling led a beautifully shaded and detailed performance that fully conveyed the exuberant character of the work.”
SAN DIEGO READER (Tuesday, December 18, 2012 by Garrett Harris) “Maestro Jahja Ling and the orchestra gave a signature performance of Berlioz’s musical opium trip. It is common for the audience to give a soloist a standing ovation. It is uncommon for the audience to give the orchestra a standing ovation but that happened at this concert.”
U-T SAN DIEGO (Friday, December 14, 2012, by James Chute) “Ling and the ensemble were in an extremely receptive and agreeable mood in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, one of Mozart’s best known concerts. They provided soloist Jeremy Denk with the support and flexibility he needed. It was a good night to be a member of the string section. Especially in the Verdi and Mozart, they also played with welcome vibrancy and singleness of purpose. It was a good night to be a member of the audience.”
SANDIEGOSTORY.COM (Monday, November 5, 2012, by Kenneth Herman) “Ling worked diligently over the stormy second movement, prodding heady climaxes but allowing the light to radiate in quiet moments. The cello section stood out in this movement and in the lush Adagietto for sensitive, soulful thematic offerings. The Scherzo of the Mahler FIfth is a gigantic haunted house version of the traditional symphonic scherzo, and Ling gave every section a chance to frolick. Who could not relish the clarinets’ crazed squels, the braying brasses and the flutes’ playful antics? If the Adagietto provided the evening’s most sublime moment, the Scherzo lavished the greatest sonic rewards. Ling and crew saved the most polished and compelling playing for the finale, purposefully layering its broad, hopeful climax.”
SANDIEGOSTORY.COM (Monday, October 29, 2012 by Kenneth Herman) “Music Director Jahja Ling and the orchestra conjured a luxurious accompaniment that brought out at every turn Sibelius’ brilliant orchestration, one that emphasizes those instruments in the lower ranges. It was a great evening for the horns and trombones, whole plangent chorales eloquently communicated the concerto’s Nordic grandeur.
Orchestra strength in the Sibelius was only a prelude to the Johannes Brahms Fourth Symphony that filled the program’s second half. Ling presided over a masterful, beautifully detailed account of this symphony, one of the cornerstones of the symphonic canon. Working from memory, Ling stressed equally the orchestra’s suave sonic sheen and the dramatic surges that shatter it. Of the inner movements, the deftly turned intimate instrumental conversations of the second movement (Andante moderato) and the almost martial cadence and cohesive rhythmic ensemble of the third (Allegro giocoso) demonstrated how far this orchestra has traveled under Ling’s tutelage. His interpretation of the finale (Allegro energico e passionato) found more gravity than passion in this gran passacaglia, but his approach allowed Brahms’ superlative counterpoint to stand out in even greater glory.”
U-T SAN DIEGO (Friday, October 27, 2012, by James Chute) “In the Brahms’ Symphony No. 4, Ling took the opening Allegro non troppo more non troppo (not too fast) than usual. As a result, he was able to give more space and shape to the simple, two-note theme that dominates the movement.”
U-T SAN DIEGO – (Friday, October 13, 2012, by James Chute) “With the strong, enthusiastic support of conductor Jahja Ling, Ohlsson made the piano sing at every possible opportunity. Concertmaster Jeff Thayer and principal cello Yao Zhao matched him line for line in the second movement and everyone involved seemed to relish the third movement’s high spirits. The orchestra was in excellent form in a well-balanced program that also included Respighi’s Suite I from Ancient Airs and Dances and Haydn’s Symphony No. 102. The strings in particular were able to create two entirely different sound worlds: a darker, more substantial sound suitable for Tchaikovsky, and a lighter, more articulated approach to Haydn. The energy and the finesse the musicians brought to the Haydn was especially impressive. If Ohlsson’s Tchaikovsky left you humming, the orchestra’s Haydn left you dancing. It’s a rare concert that can accomplish both.”
SAN DIEGO READER – (Saturday, October 6, 2012, Garrett Harris) “Anyone in their right mind would want to come back for the whole season after hearing the orchestra tear Mussorsky a new one.”
U-T SAN DIEGO (Saturday, October 6, 2012, James Chute) “The crowd was alredy rising to its feet Saturday even before conductor Jahja Ling cut off the final chord.”
CLEVELANDCLASSICAL.COM (Saturday, July 28, 2012) “Jahja Ling brought to the orchestra, which knows him so well, his usual exuberant love of the music. I loved in particular his ability to coax the orchestra into pianissimo when it was needed. The ending, with a long-held, barely heard dissonance (a cello A flat on a G chord) was poignantly beautiful.”
THE CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER (Monday, July 9, 2012) “As for the ending, well, that was more fiery than charming. Brahms’s first, fifth and sixth dances, the most famous of the bunch, exerted their powers once again via Ling, the orchestra, and the kind of propulsive, driven performances Ax might have given had he been asked to play them on piano.”
CLEVELANDCLASSICAL.COM (Sunday, July 8, 2012) “On Saturday evening, July 7 at Blossom Music Center, conductor Jahja Ling and guest pianist Emanuel Ax joined with The Cleveland Orchestra in a program featuring works by von Suppé, Mozart, Nicolai, Chopin and Brahms. To say that it was an awe-inspiring performance would be an understatement. It was yet another Cleveland Orchestra summer evening program at Blossom filled with profound musicianship and gilt-edged proficiency. On this night of 90 degree heat, Ling and Ax enthusiastically raised the heat index as they paired to present an evening’s worth of exhilarating musical perfection that set the audience ablaze with enthusiasm and appreciation. From the beginning, Ling had the audience in the palm of his hand. With Ling at the helm, the winsome ensemble won over an almost full Blossom audience who awarded the players with several standing ovations and shouts of enthusiasm.”
THE CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER (Friday, July 6, 2012) “It was a dramatic coda to an evening already shaping up to be special. Well before the storm blew in at such incredible speed, conductor Jahja Ling was leading a patriotic program of incredible vitality and picturesque interest.Repeating a work from Monday’s Public Square concert, Ling and the orchestra gave another rollicking account of Bernstein’s Candide Overture. This they followed with ‘On the Trail’ from Grofe’s Grand Canyon Suite, in a reading full of personality thanks to soloists on violin, bass clarinet and celesta.Two movements from Copland’s Rodeo, ‘Hoe Down’ and ‘Saturday Night Waltz,’ received sparkling performances. The latter was especially gorgeous, soulfully treated by the entire ensemble.”