Perhaps the best thing about my job is that I get to hear David Zinman and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra perform the works of Mozart and Haydn. I don't know of another conductor who leads these composers with Zinman's insight or authority or of another orchestra that produces more satisfying results in these masterpieces.
The opening of Mozart's Clarinet Concerto had what I think of as the Zinman trademark in this composer: a brisk pace, a fresh and spring-like rhythm and -- most important of all -- a perpetually singing line. To call the beautiful accompaniment that conductor and orchestra offered the clarinet soloist, Steven Barta, merely an accompaniment is to prize it beneath its worth. Throughout the piece -- but particularly in its great slow movement -- conductor and orchestra participated as if they were singing in a great operatic duet.
Barta, the orchestra's principal clarinetist, gave a fine performance -- lovely in tone and mellow in sentiment. Fine as he was, however, I suspect that he will be even better when the performance is repeated tonight. If his phrasing and his dynamics are more adventurous, they will be even more expressive.