Symphony offers a buoyant, elegant rendition of Beethoven's `Eroica'

Passion of composer is evoked by conductor of Arundel ensemble

November 25, 1999|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The more I see of Annapolis Symphony conductor Leslie Dunner, the more I like him.

The "Eroica" symphony he gave us Saturday night was admirable, and then some. If you like your Beethoven lean, brusque and mean, Dunner is not your man. His "Eroica" was lithe and buoyant, yet when the animating passion of Beethoven's vision rose to the surface, I heard no lack of feeling.

Everywhere you looked, there was elegance. The accents that dot "Eroica's" score were suavely pinged, not clobbered with abandon.

Oboist Fatma Daglar's solos in the Funeral March were spun out atop gorgeously articulated string accompaniments, while the horns sang with authority (but no glare) as the churning fugue at the core of that nobly sad second movement reached its climax.

The interlude could take more intensity, but how nice, now and again, to hear a tasteful conductor take a step back and allow the music to speak for itself.

Even 194 years after its premiere in Vienna, "Eroica" is still a tall order technically, and Dunner's troops responded to its challenges with style and verve.

Transition points in Movement 1 (especially the second ending of the exposition and the entry into the coda), elicited some scratchiness from the violins.

Everything else, from the exposed woodwind solos to the extra glossy horn playing, sounded first-class. The players like this guy, and it shows.

Also bursting with energy and charm was Shostakovich's 1st Piano Concerto. From the neo-baroque passages of the opening movement to the daffy conclusion, I was delighted by what I heard.

Yuliya Gorenman, a young Russian pianist who has won numerous major prizes, proved an engaging soloist, while principal trumpet Tage Larsen showed us why his first year with the orchestra could be his last. (Rumor has it that one of the country's major orchestras may be on the verge of snagging him for its 2000-2001 season. It wouldn't surprise me.)

String tone in the first of Haydn's 104 symphonies lacked variety of expression here and there. Otherwise, brio and charm ruled.

Haydn composed the symphony as courtly background music, but you couldn't prove that to me. Despite No. 1's fluffy, unpretentious demeanor, the light of Haydn's genius illuminates every bar.

Pub Date: 11/25/99

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