2 guest artists bring out best of orchestra

Concert: A Washington conductor and a gold-medal pianist perform Schumann's Piano Concerto with the ASO.


Arundel Live

April 01, 2004|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra welcomed a pair of visitors to Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts on Saturday evening for a collaborative effort that showed the local orchestra to its best advantage.

Visiting on the podium was Emil de Cou, a young American maestro who is associate conductor of Washington's National Symphony Orchestra.

Joining him for Robert Schumann's Piano Concerto was Jon Nakamatsu, the gold medalist at the 10th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 1997 who gave Annapolis audiences a bustling "Emperor" Concerto of Beethoven last season with Leslie Dunner on the podium.

It was a felicitous union.

Nakamatsu's account of this long-winded but lovable concerto combined the best of both interpretive worlds; volatile temperament (a Romantic trademark) married to classically poised approaches to tone production and phrasing. So while Schumann got worked up, he never got out of hand. And while his many poetic asides were rhapsodic to a fault, they were never precious or swoony.

Conductor de Cou proved a sympathetic partner, joining his soloist for a snappy conclusion to the first movement after Nakamatsu's stirring solo cadenza, and coaxing sweet sounds out of his strings in the expansive interludes of Movement II.

The visitor also presided over an affecting performance of Tchaikovsky's fatalistic 5th Symphony, imbuing the work's interior movements with individual touches.

If the opening "Andante" and final "Andante maestoso" seemed more generic by comparison, there can be no quibbling with the orchestra's playing, which was first-rate, or with the level of commitment that went with it.

The verdict is unambiguous. If de Cou is at all interested in setting up shop on Maryland Hall's podium, the Annapolis Symphony would do well to make that interest mutual.

Morgan State choir

One of Maryland's most exciting choral ensembles, the Morgan State University Choir, performs this evening at Severna Park High School under the aegis of the Anne Arundel Community Concert Association.

The program, which begins at 8 p.m., will include classical, gospel and contemporary selections.

The charismatic Nathan Carter, who has turned the Morgan choir into one of the country's best-loved musical organizations, will conduct.

Information: 410-647-6873 or 410-263-9553.

Other concerts

Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church in Severna Park is known for the robust music program it offers its worshipers, and this Lenten season is no exception.

At 8 p.m. tomorrow, the Woods choir, soloists and orchestra, under the direction of Raymond Weidner, will present the "Salve Regina" Mass of French composer Jean Langlais, Felix Mendelssohn's brief cantata "O Sacred Head Now Wounded," and "O Vos Omnes," Weidner's Good Friday Cantata scored for organ, percussion and strings.

Woods Memorial is at 611 Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd. Information: 410-647-2550.

Thomas Pandolfi, a Silver Spring pianist whose repertoire spans from Mozart to Gershwin, performs at 8 p.m. tomorrow at Southern High School in Harwood as part of the South County Concert Series.

Information: 410-867-2029.

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