Zinman's 'Haffner' is a triumph

June 08, 1996|By David Donovan | David Donovan,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The penultimate concerts of the 1995-96 Baltimore Symphony opened Thursday evening at the Meyerhoff under the inspired leadership of Music Director David Zinman.

Maestro Zinman presented an all-orchestral night of Mozart and Wagner that offered many splendid contributions from all sections of the orchestra. That the Mozart "Haffner" Symphony was a triumph and the Wagner "Ring" Symphony was only a partial success had less to do with Zinman and his forces than with the delicate art of composition.

Both the Mozart symphony and the Wagner "Ring" music started their musical lives as larger works. Mozart originally intended this symphony to be a 30-minute serenade but he removed two movements and turned it into a 20-minute symphony.

The Wagner music comes from the titanic "Ring" cycle of four operas. The 16-hour epic was edited and consolidated into one hour by Henk de Vlieger. The "Ring" just did not add up to a satisfying whole simply because orchestral excerpts from the "Ring" can come into the symphony hall but the whole work is best understood in the opera house.

This is not to overlook the fact that the BSO gave a heroic account of this complex and demanding score. The arrangement took the excerpts and linked them together, offering no rest during the entire hour of music.

Principal horn David Bakkegard deserves special bravos for his fearless solos. He gave his all in this Mount Everest of horn calls.

The most hair-raising music-making came from "Siegfried's Funeral Music." Zinman did his best Georg Solti act, pulling seething and boiling masses of sound from the giant orchestral forces.

The other sections were also masterful, but this arrangement was simply too much in too little time. The Mozart that opened the program was a universe away. Zinman gives possibly the most heavenly Mozart performances of any conductor in the late 20th century. Some will say this symphony is not top-drawer Mozart, but in Zinman's hands every bar of this score is precious. The fast movements were exhilarating, but the slow movement was a miracle of color and shading. The perpetual motion finale was airtight, and Zinman made the most of the dynamic contrasts that fill the score.

The program will be repeated this evening at 8: 15.

Pub Date: 6/08/96

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