Orchestra to close season of transition

Concerts: A Canadian violinist will join the symphony and conductor Leslie B. Dunner in their last 1998-1999 performances.

May 13, 1999|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Annapolis Symphony's 1998-99 season comes to a close this weekend with a pair of concerts conducted by Leslie B. Dunner, completing his first year at the helm.

The program will be brought to us by the letter "B": the G minor Violin Concerto of Max Bruch and the "Egmont" Overture and Symphony No. 7 of Ludwig van Beethoven.

Young Canadian violinist Lara St. John will be the soloist in the Bruch.

A grand winner of the Canadian Music Competition at the age of 9, St. John went on to win prizes at the Yehudi Menuhin Competition, the Philadelphia Orchestra Competition and the Concours Nerini in Paris.

She has performed with the orchestras of Cleveland, Philadelphia and Toronto.

St. John has released two compact discs on the Well Tempered Productions label, one of them containing first-class accounts of J.S. Bach's music for solo violin.

If her Bruch is anywhere near as sultry as her picture on the Bach disc jacket, Maryland Hall will be a warm venue indeed come the weekend.

These concerts tomorrow and Saturday will close out a disjointed, but thoroughly likable ASO season. Because of the lateness of Dunner's hiring in June, this season became the year of the visitor, as outsiders were brought in to conduct the concerts the new maestro's schedule wouldn't allow him to handle.

The most impressive of the visitors was Christopher Wilkins, the 41-year-old director of the San Antonio Symphony who gave us a stunningly good "New World" Symphony of Dvorak in January.

Peter Rubardt of the Pensacola (Fla.) Symphony wasn't as good, but his program of Mendelssohn, Schubert and Weber had its moments, especially the Weber Bassoon Concerto performed by the extraordinary David McGill, principal bassoonist of the Chicago Symphony.

Both of the Camerata Concerts proved worthwhile as ASO management brought in a pair of consummate pros to keep the fledgling chamber series on its feet.

Both Elizabeth Schulze and Piotr Gajewski hit it off nicely with the reduced ASO forces and presided over evenings of generally distinguished music-making.

As for Dunner himself, the evidence certainly suggests that the ASO got the right guy.

His opening program of Brahms Firsts (Symphony and Piano Concerto) didn't exactly scale the heights, but was solid enough to create a positive impression.

Dunner seemed much more at home in his second concert when he gave us ringing accounts of Howard Hanson's "Romantic" Symphony and Leonard Bernstein's "Jeremiah."

The few personnel moves Dunner has made in his first season have already begun to pay off (great new first flute!), and the players certainly seem to be giving it their best under his baton.

Comings and goings aside, this has been a productive season for the ASO to build on.

Pub Date: 5/13/99

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