Zukerman's musicianship inspires BSO in a program of Mozart works

April 21, 1995|By Stephen Wigler | Stephen Wigler,Sun Music Critic

Pinchas Zukerman is so identified with the giant violin concertos of the repertory that he is not usually associated with the music of Mozart. Some listeners -- though certainly not the great violinist's fans -- might have been pleasantly surprised, therefore, by the fine concert of Mozart's music that Zukerman (in the dual role of conductor and soloist) gave last night with the Baltimore Symphony in Meyerhoff Hall.

The violinist -- along with several other famed soloists of his generation -- was first bitten by the conducting bug in the 1970s. Zukerman, who was music director of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra through most of the 1980s, may nev- er become a great symphonic conductor. But he is a great musician who is clearly an inspiration to other string players.

And with an orchestra such as the BSO, which is one of the finest Haydn-Mozart-Beethoven ensembles in the land, Zukerman can produce fine results.

His account of the Symphony No. 33 in B-flat (K. 319) exhibited supple rhythms in its outer movements and delicacy of feeling in its slow movement.

And the first movement of the "Haffner" Serenade in D (K. 250) had a sense of breadth that did not eschew warmth and polish.

But it was Zukerman's work as a violinist that made the evening most memorable.

The second third and fourth movements of the "Haffner" -- the final four movements were omitted -- constitute a violin concerto, and here Zukerman was in superb form. The playing had warmth, humanity and character, and the fiddle playing itself was inimitable. The perpetual-motion finale may have been treated more like a virtuoso showpiece than usual; but it is a showpiece, and one would have to have been a stone to be unmoved by Zukerman's effervescence, -- and accuracy.

One of the hallmarks of the violinist's playing is his sweetness of tone, and the other violin-and-orchestra works on the program were crafted like superb Viennese confections.

He languished with warmth, tenderness and grace in the E Major Adagio (K. 261), turned out the the Rondo in C Major (K. 373) with fantasy and bite and the Rondo in B-flat (K. 269) with delicacy and incisiveness.

The concert will be repeated tonight at 8:15 and Saturday morning at 11.

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