From Russia with brio

BSO: Temirkanov, orchestra's director-designate, makes music to stir the soul.

April 06, 1999

EACH of its past two music directors, Sergiu Comissiona and David Zinman, raised the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to the next level. No less is expected of Yuri Temirkanov, who has just conducted his first series of concerts here since he was named to the job.

Audience expectation was high, and met. One sign of something special, for those with eagle eyes, was the distinguished soloist for the Barber violin concerto, Pamela Frank. After intermission, she sneaked into the last row of second violins to play the Beethoven Seventh Symphony. That isn't done. No one was supposed to see.

She just wanted to do it, a remarkable tribute to Maestro Temirkanov.

The effervescent Russian, music director of the famed St. Petersburg Philharmonic (in the city formerly known as Leningrad) is one of the top practitioners of his calling. His task for the next few years is to bring the Baltimore orchestra up to his own level of eminence. It is ready for that.

In the first season of his tenure, which begins in September, Mr. Temirkanov will be with the BSO only five weeks, starting in January. In later years, expect to see him in 12 weeks of concerts in Baltimore and also with the orchestra on tour. Longer would be better, but this is a common duration in the trade. He can still make his leave on a willing ensemble.

Mr. Temirkanov will make his initial impact on the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and its audiences three seasons before it is due to begin its other great adventure, repeating Baltimore concerts in a second home to be built at Strathmore Hall in Montgomery County.

By then, the BSO should be better known to the Washington audiences, and Mr. Temirkanov more associated in the public mind with his American, not his Russian, orchestra.

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