Symphony, guest musician receive warm reception in Italy

Bso In Europe

October 29, 2005|By TIM SMITH | TIM SMITH,SUN MUSIC CRITIC

PARMA, ITALY -- Fog followed the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra through northern Italy.

It created a shroud (so to speak) over Turin Thursday morning as the ensemble, fresh from a particularly well-received concert the night before, started a three-hour bus ride to Parma. There, a mist enveloped, quite beguilingly, the neo-rustic concert hall where the BSO opened that city's concert season before a capacity audience that included the wife of the Italian president and other government dignitaries.

Whatever the atmospherics outside, there was nothing damp about the music-making inside. Except for the perspiration. The BSO has been playing in uncomfortably warm halls throughout this tour (Europe is enjoying mild autumn weather).

Brow-wiping was particularly evident onstage at the Auditorium Paganini in Parma Thursday night. The heat no doubt helped to claim the first casualty of the tour - English horn player Jane Marvine, who had been feeling under the weather for a few days.

She dropped out of the concert after delivering, as she has on each previous occasion of the tour, a lovely solo in Gershwin's An American in Paris. This meant that the famous, even bigger solo in the Largo movement of Dvorak's New World Symphony after intermission had to be picked up by Michael Lisicky, a guest musician for the tour who has been playing oboe for some of the selections.

Borrowing Marvine's instrument (he had packed English horn reeds and mouthpiece just in case), he stepped into the assignment on 15 minutes' notice. And another star was born.

As sweetly as Marvine has been playing this solo, Lisicky made it unusually touching with his magical nuances. Music director Yuri Temirkanov joined in the applause from the orchestra and capacity audience after the performance; Lisicky was greeted by another hearty ovation from his colleagues later in their dressing room.

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quiet park, suggests a large, elegant barn with beamed ceilings, and brings the outdoors inside by means of all-glass walls at the front and rear. Acoustics, like those elsewhere on the tour, were not totally satisfying, but the orchestra gained something in overall richness here.

The playing was very much on form, the Dvorak piece full of lyrical weight and the Gershwin items alive with character. Fazil Say, the brilliant, eccentric Turkish pianist, joined the BSO Wednesday for the final four performances of Rhapsody in Blue, giving the music a welcome jolt of rhythmic fire and a spontaneity of phrasing.

Wednesday night the BSO scored a success in Turin in the cavernous, severely rectangular Auditorium Giovanni Agnelli, part of a mammoth arts, shopping and lodging complex ingeniously created out of the original Fiat factory.

The hall was full, the crowd remarkably enthusiastic, generating the most sustained applause of the tour so far. (There have been no standing ovations on this trip. Europeans apparently have not yet picked up the bad American habit of jumping up for anything that moves onstage.)

The biggest roar of the night greeted Temirkanov's solo bow. The Turin public clearly knows this man's artistic worth, better, it seems, than some folks back in the States. And that worth was evident in every curve of the music, as he once again encouraged the BSO to get far beyond the mechanics of producing sound to the joy of making music.

tim.smith@baltsun.com

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