To be a music critic in this town on Sundays, you've got to move fast. It also helps to wear a watch, scribble notes, leave early, hit the road and arrive late. Oh, and then there's the music.
Music? Many Baltimore music directors, it seems, feel that classical music can best be heard only at 3 p.m. or sometime Sunday afternoons, the music ghetto. And each director figures audiences and critics must come to the hottest music in town, his or her own.
Half a dozen recitals can be set at 3 p.m. The Choral Arts Society and the Handel Choir even started their seasons at the same moment last fall with totally different and inviting programs.
For music fans each Sunday, there are decisions, decisions. So, yesterday, plied with the usual invitations to cover a half dozen or more concerts, I copped out and hit not one but five concerts in four hours. (Concerts usually last 90 minutes to two hours).
From Dundalk to the Walters, it was 30 miles of music, a symphony of snippets, Mozart to Randall Thompson. My percussion was the traffic. Luckily I wasn't caught in it.
Caught in recital were two married musical couples, one playing oboe and piano, the other cello and piano; chamber music by Pro Musica Rara, a recital by a solo pianist and finally the Morgan State University Singers joining the Annapolis Brass. Three of the five concerts were the last in a season series.
You know symphonies. I know snippets.
Loosening up Saturday night for the marathon, I heard Tom Hall and his Choral Arts Society's brisk 100-minute concert showing off John Rutter's jazzy "Gloria" and Thomas Beveridge's "Once", a picaresque tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The "Once" message was as soft and loud, short and clear as the impressive music: decide now, not later, for the right side.
Yesterday's look through the Sunday music kaleidoscope started with ResMusic America at Dundalk Community College for a free 3 p.m. recital by a fine young oboist, Vladimir Lande, and pianist Irina Lande, a Soviet couple who have settled here.
Their "Adagio for oboe and piano" was a clear-headed and smooth, yet moving interpretation of Mozart. A week ago, Vladimir played a lovely solo in the Handel Choir's Manzoni Requiem by Verdi. He apparently has discarded the pronounced vibrato, or pitch fluctuation, so evident in the Soviet Union but discouraged in the West. Irina accompanied him brightly yesterday.
Though the Landes were inviting, it was time to move on. In 30 minutes, the scene was the Baltimore Museum of Art. Tenor Jeffrey Fahnestock and baritone Randal Woodfield held forth in a sober and melodic Handel chamber duet. They were aided by Shirley Matthews on cembalo (harpsichord) and Allen Whear on cello, all from the talented Pro Musica Rara.
The 3:30 p.m. concert followed with violinists Craig Richmond and Diane Duraffourg playing with Matthews and Whear in a breezy Corelli piece, "Ciacona." Pro Musica's music director is Matthews, dividing her time between teaching here, living in Maine and planning rich early music programs at the museum.
Sadly, it was time to shove off. Up Charles Street in an annual free Steinway series at Second Presbyterian Church, Mihaly Virizlay, the main cello man on the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and pianist Robin Kissinger played the second half of another 3:30 p.m. recital. The married couple played some grim, passionate and eerie music with precision and feeling to show why they're highly regarded players on the chamber music circuit.
With composer Joseph Castaldo listening enthusiastically, they played two of the Philadelphian's works. The more impressive was "Lament for Cello and Piano", a extremely dour, mournful piece full of loud single piano notes in the cello's sad journey marking the death of a teacher of Castaldo. Most impressive, however, was the couple's totally moving performance of Kodaly's dreamy, melodic piece "Adagio".
A few blocks north in the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen on Charles Street, pianist Frances Cheng showed magnificent scale work in Liszt's "Legends-St. Francis Preaching to the Birds and St. Francis Walking on the Waves". The quieter moments were fine. But she played in a narrow Cathedral alcove and the acoustics jumbled the fast notes, unpleasantly at times. The Cathedral Concert Series has been a fixture for a number of years, partly because it stands alone at 5:30 p.m.
The day's road finally ended at The Walters Art Museum. It was a 6 p.m. lecture-concert, the final one in the first year of "Great Music in Great Spaces", a first rate success on Mt. Vernon Place this season. The series mainstay, The Annapolis Brass, led off with some peppy numbers by Thomas Simpson, "Three Pieces" (1617) and Gregory Pascuzzi, "Brass Quintet", (1983). Pascuzzi's Army musician at Fort Meade.