Timing off in Carnegie tune-up

April 09, 1993|By Stephen Wigler | Stephen Wigler,Music Critic

The program that music director David Zinman and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performed last night in Meyerhoff Hall is essentially the one that they will play in Carnegie Hall next week. The only addition to last night's Mozart's Piano ConcertoThe program that music director David Zinman and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performed last night in Meyerhoff Hall is essentially the one that they will play in Carnegie Hall next week. The only addition to last night's Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 22 and Mahler's Symphony No. 4 will be the world premiere of a short work by George Perle. Last night's concert was good -- this orchestra and conductor rarely play poorly -- but I hope the program (at least the Mahler part) gets better.

Three years ago, Zinman, the BSO and soprano Shari Greenawald, who sang the child's vision of heaven that is this symphony's last movement, broke my heart in this piece. Last night, despite many beautiful moments, I found myself looking at my watch. While I'm willing to concede that part of the difference might have been my mood, I suspect that some of it wasn't. Three years ago the playing in the slow movement, for example, was achingly nostalgic -- as if the conductor and orchestra were trying to hold on to lost time even as it slipped away in memory. Last night the movement just seemed slow. This wasn't so much a matter of tempo -- it was basically the same interpretation -- but I suspect that the orchestra needs another performance or two for the interpretation to have the refinement that it needs.

But the fourth movement, in which the soprano soloist was Dawn Kotoski, was just too slow: too slow for either the orchestra or Kotoski to make effective phrases and too slow to sustain this listener's interest. Kotoski, whose voice is a lovely one, sometimes had difficulty in projecting over the orchestra and sometimes sang with a vibrato that seemed too wide for the music.

There were no reservations about the performance of the great Mozart concerto that stood alone on the first half of the program. Emanuel Ax played the piece with elegance, virtuosity and feeling, and Zinman and the orchestra -- as they almost invariably are in Mozart -- were magnificent.

The program will be repeated tonight and Saturday night at 8:15.

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