The Baltimore Chamber Orchestra is off for five months now until October. That's not wildly good news after Anne Harrigan's latest juggling act last night when she tossed up and deftly kept airborne a new chunk of mini-music, a 1942 Richard Strauss horn concerto and one of Mozart's liveliest symphonies.
First, conductor Harrigan flicked her wrists and ignited two percussionists, Larry Reese and John Locke, in their jazzy rhythmic playing of tambourines in the world premiere of Michael Daugherty's catchy "Flamingo." Daugherty's original name, "Melodic Crunch," was changed to suggest the Spanish flamenco dance, but there was a bit of both there.
The 10-minute work was snappily played as a series of dances, pulsating beats melting into soft strings, yearning woodwinds and muted brass, false endings and mostly fun that when it did end, shouldn't have . . . quite yet. The composer told the large Kraushaar Auditorium crowd at Goucher College that he wrote music as a visual drawing. If so, "Flamenco" was a modest, entertaining Garry Trudeau/Jackson Pollock.
Next came Harrigan's careful handling of the talented orchestra supporting horn player David Bakkegard in his mellow and often tricky solo in the Second Horn Concerto. His 17-minute performance was lyrical and had lovely backing, examples being one passage by dreamy cellos and violas and another by dying violins.
Lastly, the orchestra of 30 showed it was big enough for Mozart, agile enough to control the urgent runs and tender enough to evoke the pastoral in the composer's 39th Symphony (1788). Clarinetist Nik Hecker pronounced the famous minuet movement tune clearly.
Next season, just announced, opens with a big bang at 8 p.m. Oct. 16 at Kraushaar Auditorium with acclaimed pianist Santiago Rodriguez, winner of the 1981 Van Cliburn Competition, playing Franck's "Symphonic Variations for Piano and Orchestra."
Other highlights: Dec. 10-11, Bach's "Brandenburg Concerto No. 2"; Feb. 19, violinist Ronald Mutchnik playing a Saint-Saens piece.