Firsts, bests and greatests: Superlatives best describe BSO's 1992-'93 season

February 28, 1992|By Stephen Wigler | Stephen Wigler,Music Critic

The strongest lineup of guest conductors in the Baltimore Symphony's history will be one of the highlights of the orchestra's 1992-'93 season. The schedule, which was announced yesterday, also includes a number of interesting soloists, new works and pieces that have not been played by the orchestra before, and expanded -- by one concert each -- celebrity, favorites and casual series.

"This is not a departure but a continuation," BSO executive director John Gidwitz said in calling attention to what he predicted would be a "great" season.

Two important conducting debuts will be made by Yuri Temirkanov and Leonard Slatkin. Temirkanov, a Russian who is music director of his country's greatest orchestra -- the St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad) Philharmonic -- is a hot property on many of the world's most important podiums. He can be erratic, but when he is at his best his conducting can be as brilliant as an exploding star and it's considered a real coup for the BSO to have been able to engage him.

Slatkin, the music director of the St. Louis Symphony, doesn't have quite the same celebrity status. But his recordings on BMG classics have caused quite a stir and some of his performances of English music -- he will conduct Vaughan Williams' "Sea Symphony" here -- are regarded by the parochial Brit critics as in a class with those of such fondly remembered native conductors as Sir Adrian Boult and Sir John Barbirolli.

Other excellent guest conductors will be Gunther Herbig, whose performances of German music have made such a strong impression here in past years, Eri Klas, the Estonian conductor who made a brilliant debut last season, and the underrated George Cleve, whose Mozart is very nearly as wonderful as BSO music director David Zinman's.

While in its current season the BSO seems sometimes to have taken a bargain basement approach to the engagement of soloists, next year's roster is most impressive. The pianists include Nelson Freire, who plays large-scale Romantic works with more red-blooded fervor than anyone since the late Arthur Rubinstein, and Zoltan Kocis, whose Bartok is justly celebrated. The lineup of fiddlers includes Pinchas Zukerman, Cho-Liang Lin and Shlomo Mintz. And Yo-Yo Ma, the most popular cellist on earth, will play no fewer than three concertos with the orchestra in a single evening.

The season will also include 14 first performances, including the world premiere of a newly commissioned piece by Adolphus Hailstork, an African-American whose work Zinman has championed for several years. Other never-before-performed-works by the BSO include Copland's complete ballet music for "Rodeo" and "Billy the Kid," Lutoslawki's "Livre pour Orchestra," Stravinsky's "Oedipus Rex," and -- incredibly enough -- one of Bach's greatest masterpieces, the Clavier Concerto No. 1 in D Minor.

And, the BSO has received a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to syndicate broadcasts of four "Casual" concerts.

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