BSO and soloist are superb in all-Vivaldi program

January 28, 1995|By David Donovan | David Donovan,Special to The Sun

Thursday night, the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall was filled with the treasures of eight delicious concertos by Antonio Vivaldi, thanks to the spirited efforts of the Baltimore Symphony and guest conductor and violinist Jaime Laredo.

Surprisingly, this was Mr. Laredo's debut with the BSO. The long wait was definitely worthwhile as he displayed virtuoso solos and alert conducting talents reminiscent of the best efforts of the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in its heyday.

The program opened with four double concertos for two violins, two flutes, two oboes and two trumpets. Each was a jewel in its own right. The variety of solos and ritornello material in these works put to rest the notion that Vivaldi composed one concerto and reworked it 500 times.

The opening concerto in A minor for two violins is a compact masterpiece that can stand with any of the great Bach double concertos as supreme Baroque towers of achievement. Mr. Laredo and Herbert Greenberg were equal and sympathetic partners; the slow movement was especially moving.

The Concerto in C major for Two Flutes may not be the best concerto written by Vivaldi, but it is a happy and sunny piece with ample flute gymnastics, handled with ease by Emily Controulis and Laurie Sokoloff.

Next came a brooding D minor Concerto for Two Oboes. This was a shocking little work reminiscent of the double reed music of the Dresden master Zelenka. The superb efforts of Joseph Turner and Jane Marvine were given alert continuo support by bassoonist Phillip Kolker.

The last work before intermission was the fabulous Concerto for Two Trumpets in C major. The clarion trumpets were heroic and gallant as Don Tison and Langston Fitzgerald --ed through this justifiably famous showpiece.

The second half was devoted to "The Four Seasons," maybe the most recorded set of concertos outside of the Bach Brandenburg Concertos. This music can be enjoyed on two levels. First, there are four delightful solo violin concertos that give the violin soloist the equivalent of playing four works that combine the warmth of a Mozart concerto along with the pyrotechnical fireworks of a Paganini violin show-stopper. Second, the four concertos offer a musical portrait of one year in Venice through the eyes of Vivaldi.

This was simply a great performance of these masterful concertos. The slow movements, especially the ones in "Spring" and "Winter," were deeply moving, and the strings of the BSO gave Mr. Laredo a varied and rich musical landscape on which he painted his solo efforts.


What: Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performs an all-Vivaldi program with violinist Jaime Laredo as conductor and soloists Herbert Greenberg on violin; Emily Controulis and Laurie Sokoloff on flute; Joseph Turner and Jane Marvine on oboe; Don Tison and Langston J. Fitzgerald III on trumpet

Where: Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St.

When: 8:15 tonight

Call: (410) 783-8000

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