Boertz concerto highlights BSO program

October 30, 1998|By Stephen Wigler | Stephen Wigler,SUN MUSIC CRITIC

Hans Graf concluded his second and final week guest conducting the Baltimore Symphony with yet another intriguingly presented program -- this time of the Mozarts, father and son; the Swedish composer Daniel Boertz; and Sibelius.

The big surprise on the program was Boertz's Trumpet Concerto ("Songs and Dances"), in which the soloist was the Swedish virtuoso, Hakan Hardenberger.

L Boertz, 55, is regarded as Sweden's most important composer.

If this concerto is typical of his output -- and listeners I respect tell me that it is -- he is also one of Europe's most important composers.

His concerto, which Hardenberger, Graf and the orchestra performed brilliantly, is a large (almost 30 minutes long), ambitious piece.

Through his teacher, Ingvar Lidholm, Boertz has a lineage that extends back to Carl Nielsen.

From Lidholm, he presumably acquired his expertise with a whole range of techniques, including serialism.

But, like his teacher, Boertz uses his technical fluency to create colorful orchestral language in music that expresses itself with an undeniable, almost vocal, lyricism.

This concerto calls for fascinating textures, not just from the soloist, but from the whole orchestra.

There were echoes of Berg, of Shostakovich and (in the slow movement) even of middle-period Miles Davis.

But this piece, like so many of the masterpieces of Scandinavian music, moves with an inexorable tread toward its final catastrophe and has a voice that is unmistakably Boertz's own.

The concerto concluded the first half of a program that began with works of the Mozarts -- Wolfgang's Symphony No. 1 and Leopold's Trumpet Concerto No. 1.

Graf is an expert Mozartean (his budget-priced recordings of the composer's mature symphonies on the Laserlight label are among the best in the catalog) and it was scarcely a surprise that the 8-year-old composer's Symphony in E-flat was conveyed with such finesse and warmth.

This was also the case with the short, two-movement concerto of the elder Mozart, which Hardenberger dispatched with elegance and nobility.

Sibelius' Symphony No. 5 received a reading of unusual breadth. Graf's tempos were so slow that the orchestra's winds were not always able to play in tune -- even the last movement's final chords took about 15 seconds longer than usual. But Graf was nonetheless able to maintain a granitic sense of purpose that achieved remarkable weight and power.

The program will be repeated tonight at 8.

Pub Date: 10/30/98

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