The Annapolis Symphony's 1990-1991 season came to an end Saturday evening as Karen Deal, the ASO's music adviser and resident conductor, staked her claim to the permanent directorship of the orchestra.
The program featured Bizet's "Carmen Suite No. 1," the second suite from de Falla's ballet, "The Three Cornered Hat," Rimsky-Korsakov's "Capriccio Espagnol" and Rodrigo's famous "Concierto de Aranjuez." The guitar soloist in the "Concierto" was William Feasley, head of guitar studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Although nominally a "pops" concert, Deal's program featured music of substance and difficulty.
"The Three Cornered Hat," for example, is a sort of Hispanic Ravel and demands orchestral color and rhythmic precision in great abundance.
Rimsky-Korsakov's "Capriccio" is an episodic work that must be pieced together with care.
This was clearly not a "Broadway highlights" evening but a program in need of a talented, spirited conductor to bring such wonderful music alive.
Deal made the most of her opportunity. The ASO was in splendid form under her baton. She got from the orchestra an expansive sound that was often quite thrilling. This is an orchestra at its best when playing loudly.
Rhythms retained a snappy Mediterranean flair and wind solos spoke eloquently all concert long. (The English horn player surely deserves overtime for Saturday's concert.) The ASO strings sounded as polished and secure as they have all season.
Deal also proved to be a first-class collaborator on the podium. The orchestral accompaniment in the fiendishly difficult Rodrigo was balanced and secure despite a soloist who was all over the place in his choice of tempos.
The Prelude of the "Carmen Suite" demonstrated a flair for thedramatic as well; passages were built up energetically yet tastefully, with no tendency toward melodrama.
Deal cuts a no-nonsense figure on the podium. Her motions are clear, and there is a minimum of gymnastics. Her controlling energy is considerable. It is obvious that she has earned the affection and respect of the players.
There is every reason to think her name will figure prominently in the deliberations of the ASO'sconductor search committee later this week. She needed to get everyone's attention in a big way and she did.
Saturday's concert was also the final performance for ASO harpist Deborah Fleisher, who is leaving the area. A fine performer on that most celestial of instruments, Fleisher played with the orchestra for 19 years. Her artistry will be missed. Her father, Leon Fleisher, the great pianist and founder of the Annapolis Symphony, was in attendance Saturday.