Orchestra concert to offer music of varied inspiration

January 21, 1999|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

This weekend's concerts by the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra are of interest on several counts.

The program to be performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Maryland Hall consists of favorites that sit in the middle of the popular repertoire: Rossini's Overture to "The Italian Girl in Algiers," the Sibelius Violin Concerto, and the much-loved "New World" Symphony of Antonin Dvorak.

These works provide the listener with delightful stops at each of the four points of the compass.

At the north, we encounter the icy fire of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius' magnificent work, which has become one of the staples of the repertoire.

Impassioned and dramatic, the concerto's first two movements contain more than a hint of the desolation to be found in the northern reaches of Sibelius' native land, while its concluding Allegro is, in the words of musicologist Sir Donald Francis Tovey, "a Polonaise for polar bears."

Gifted young violinist Livia Sohn will be the soloist, wringing all the Nordic drama she can out of the concerto.

Sohn won first prize at the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition when she was 12. Now 21, she is active on both sides of the Atlantic and has appearances with the Boston Pops, Pittsburgh Symphony, Brooklyn Philharmonic and Aspen (Colo.) Festival Orchestra to her credit.

Moving south

At the southern point of the compass is Rossini's "Italian Girl," brought to life in this fizzy, joyous overture that exudes Mediterranean sunshine in every bar.

Running east and west simultaneously is Dvorak's Symphony "From the New World," which was sketched out in New York City and completed at a Czech community in Iowa, where the Bohemian composer spent the spring of 1893.

Slavic elements are everywhere in the music. And while the work doesn't quote any American tunes verbatim, it has themes inspired by both African-American and Native American melodies.

Conductor's debut

The weekend's concerts also mark the Annapolis debut of young conductor Christopher Wilkins, now in his eighth season as music director of the San Antonio Symphony.

A Boston native and the recipient of undergraduate and graduate degrees from Yale, Wilkins has held a variety of conducting posts with the orchestras of Utah, Oregon and Cleveland.

Information: 410-263-0907.

Pub Date: 1/21/99

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