BSO concert builds slowly, ending with Mozart's best

July 19, 1993|By Stephen Wigler | Stephen Wigler,Classical Music Critic

If Saturday's concert in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's all-Mozart "Summerfest" series was not good as Thursday's opening concert, that was simply because not all the music was as fine as it was on the earlier program.

Mozart's name does not make everything a masterpiece, and I suspect that we would hear less of the composer's Symphony No. 36 in C Major, K. 425 ("Linz") and the Concerto for Flute and Harp in C Major, K. 299 -- which occupied the first half of the program that David Zinman conducted in Meyerhoff Hall -- were they by another composer. The symphony sounds a little like less-than-top-drawer Haydn and the concerto has inherent problems -- the lack of balance between the penetrating flute and the subdued sounding harp and the harp's inability to be played at sufficiently high speeds -- that no composer could have satisfactorily solved.

These were, however, good performances. Zinman conducted the symphony with the usual humanity and warmth he brings to this music.

And he provided fine accompaniments for harpist Eileen Mason and flutist Emily Controulis's sensitive and stylish performances in the concerto.

The program's second half was Mozart at his greatest: the Concerto No. 2 for Horn in E-flat and the Symphony No. 39 in E-Flat Major, K. 543.

BSO principal hornist David Bakkegard was in superb form, playing with an alternately velvety and virile tone and with imaginative phrasing. He was alive to the tenderness and the jokes in the music and his nimbleness made the concluding rondo a joy.

Zinman's performance of the concluding Symphony No. 39 was terrific: a slow introduction that was full of grandeur; a subsequent allegro that was light and resilient; a slow movement that was elegant and full of feeling; a minuet that was vigorous as well as graceful; and a finale that raced like the wind, shedding light and geniality at every moment.

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