On short notice, Hege leads spirited, engaging program

October 09, 1997|By Stephen Wigler | Stephen Wigler,SUN MUSIC CRITIC

Someone's good luck usually has nothing to do with his being lucky. It's more often the case that a state of readiness enables one to take advantage of situations that, without preparation, might otherwise prove disastrous.

Last week, Swiss conductor Mario Venzago was forced to cancel his appearances this week with the Baltimore Symphony. Last night, in Meyerhoff Hall, the orchestra's assistant conductor, Daniel Hege, stepped into the breach to lead Venzago's program of Ravel's "Rhapsodie Espagnole," Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto (with soloist Yuliya Gorenman) and Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade."

If there were no fresh revelations about these pieces, one did not expect any. That is next to impossible to accomplish, particularly on short notice, in such over-familiar repertory. In making this program spirited and engaging, Hege did a fine job, suggesting -- as his past concerts have -- that he has a bright future.

"Rhapsodie Espagnole" was impressively shaped and subtly controlled. "Scheherazade" was equally persuasive. The manner in which Hege held its episodic narrative together demonstrated a talent for storytelling. There were impressive moments in the second movement (the brass interchanges) and in the final one (the way in which the storm's climax was held back only to make its effect, when unleashed, even greater).

This is not to say that there was not room for improvement in Hege's performances. The slow movement of "Scheherazade," for example, was insufficiently languorous and the string playing not especially refined, and the "Rhapsodie Espagnole" could have used more fragrance and atmosphere. But if Hege needs to grow, he has the necessary time and talent.

Yuliya Gorenman, a young Russian who has resided in this country for the past few years, performed Rachmaninov's Concerto No. 2 with artistry and taste. There were occasions in the slow movement that wanted sufficient ardor. But there were others, particularly in the finale, in which Gorenman's scintillating finger work provided excitement. In that movement's climax, unfortunately, Hege failed to match his soloist's surging momentum.

The program will be repeated tonight at 8 o'clock.

Pub Date: 10/09/97

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