Music is among the most evanescent of the arts -- it disappears into the air -- but it is probably the one that produces the most highs (when performances are good) and lows (when they are bad). What follows, therefore, is a guide to performances in the season about to begin that (in this listener's view) seem the most likely to produce the former rather than the latter.
Baltimore's premier musical organization is the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and the 1993-1994 season promises a bumper crop of interesting new works, established and emerging soloists, and, in addition to BSO music director David Zinman, several important conductors.
Among the young composers the BSO will showcase is Lowell Liebermann, one of the best of the New York-based "new Romantics," whose Flute Concerto will be performed by the musician who commissioned it, James Galway, on Oct. 21, 22 and 23. Two younger composers whose work Zinman has consistently championed in his "Discovery" concerts are David Dzubay and Michael Daugherty, and this season both men have works in the orchestra's main subscription series -- Dzubay's "Snake Alley" on Nov. 18, 19 and 20, and Daugherty's " 'Superman' Symphony" on Jan. 6 and 7 in Baltimore and on Jan. 9 in New York's Carnegie Hall.
Not all the new works will be by younger composers, of course. Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated (Sept. 22 and 23) will be the Symphony No. 3 of the 60-year-old Henryk Gorecki, which has become a cult favorite largely because Zinman's recording of the piece (with the London Sinfonietta) on the Nonesuch label became one of the best-selling classical records in history. On April 14, 15 and 16 Zinman and the BSO will give the world premiere of the Symphony No. 2 by Gordon Cyr, who teaches at Towson State University and whose warmhearted music is never afraid to go its own way. The following week, the orchestra and its music director will give the Baltimore premiere of John Corigliano's moving and much talked-about Symphony No. 1, a work that the composer wrote in memory of the gifted friends he has lost to AIDS.
The orchestra rarely fails to engage a large number of interesting soloists, and this season is no exception: the Irishman Barry Douglas in Mozart's Concerto No. 25 (Oct. 8, 9 and 10); the extraordinarily fluent Argentinian Bruno-Leonardo Gelber in Rachmaninoff's Concerto No. 3 (Nov. 18, 19 and 20); the 25-year-old Frenchwoman Helene Grimaud, who ranks with Evgeny Kissin as one of her generation's most interesting pianists, in Brahms' Olympian Concerto No. 2; the Romanian Radu Lupu, whose playing is often as inspired as his demeanor is crazed, in Beethoven's Concerto No. 1 (Jan. 20, 21 and 22); that Czech master of 1,000 shades of pianissimo, Ivan Moravec, in the Schumann Concerto (Feb. 17, 18 and 19); Awadagin Pratt, who has been taking the country by storm the last year since becoming the first African-American instrumentalist to win an important international competition (1992's Naumburg), in the Grieg Concerto (Jan. 14, 15 and 16); and the always interesting (if somewhat idiosyncratic) Alexander Toradze in the Tchaikovsky Concerto (Feb. 2, 3, 4 and 5).
The season will also feature several fine European conductors: the BSO debut of the most frequently recorded conductor in history, Sir Neville Marriner, in Berlioz, Mozart and Tchaikovsky (Nov. 5, 6 and 7); and the reappearances of the German Gunther Herbig conducting Beethoven's mighty "Missa Solemnis" (March 10, 11 and 12) and the Dutchman Hans Vonk in Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky (Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 and 2).
Although it may be the best orchestra south of Philadelphia, the BSO is not this city's only orchestra. In its concerts at Goucher College's Kraushaar Auditorium, the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra and its music director, Anne Harrigan, have developed a loyal following in the 10 years of its existence. In its 11th season, Harrigan and the BCO have at least two programs that promise to be of interest. The first is the season opener, which sandwiches Mozart's "Jupiter" Symphony between works of Beethoven, the "Coriolan" Overture and the "Emperor" Concerto (Nov. 3). The second is the season's finale, in which the talented pianist Stephen Prutsman should reap rich dividends in Mozart's Concerto No. 15 from his characteristic elegance and thoughtful lyricism (May 11).
Concert Artists of Baltimore