Programs take cues from real life


Music Column

October 16, 2007|By Tim Smith | Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC

The music scene moves ahead this week with the start of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra's 25th anniversary season and the Concert Artists of Baltimore's 21st.

BCO music director Markand Thakar has put together programs that will revisit issues, concerns and ideas that were at the forefront back when the orchestra was founded, including AIDS and the greedy economic boom.

The first program, taking as its starting point the fight against apartheid, offers works by South African composer Stefans Grove and Nigerian composer Fela Sowande. Balancing that unusual fare will be the much-loved Violin Concerto by Beethoven, who was something of a freedom-fighter himself. Russian-born Mark Peskanov will be the soloist in the concerto.

Performances are at 7:30 tonight at Beth Tfiloh Synagogue, 3300 Old Court Road; and 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at Goucher College's Kraushaar Auditorium, 1021 Dulaney Valley Road. For tickets (sold through the Towson University box office), call 410-704-2787. For more information, call 410-685-4050 or go to

Concert Artists, the choral/orchestral ensemble directed by Edward Polochick, will open its season with another of the narrated musical biographies that have proven very popular with audiences in the past few years. This one will be devoted to Handel, with excerpts from some of his best-loved operas, oratorios and instrumental works.

The concert is at 8 p.m. Saturday at Gordon Center for Performing Arts, 3506 Gwynnbrook Ave., Owings Mills. Call 410-625-3525 or go to

Chamber music ahead

Chamber music fans should note that the BSO Musicians Series opens its second season at the University of Baltimore tomorrow night with clarinetist William Jenken, violist Peter Minkler and pianist Sylvie Beaudoin. The program includes sonatas by Brahms, trios by Mozart and Jean Francaix, as well as Tangissimo! by Thomas Benjamin, who will be on hand to discuss his work.

The concert is at 8 p.m. tomorrow in UB's Student Center Performing Arts Theater, 21 W. Mount Royal Ave. Call 410-837-4053, or go to or

Trios (and some BSO musicians) also figure in the next program on the Cylburn Chamber Music Series. Violinist Ken Goldstein, cellist Ilya Finkelshteyn, and pianist Eva Mengelkoch will play works by Haydn and Smetana. And violist Noah Chaves will join those players for Faure's Piano Quartet No. 1.

The concert is at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Cylburn Arboretum, 4915 Greenspring Ave. Call 410-367-2217.

Trio Jean Paul

Speaking of trios, there's one from Germany that may well be setting a new gold standard for technical fluency and expressive impact. Trio Jean Paul gave an electrifying performance Sunday night for the Shriver Hall Concert Series, a performance so rich in character, so full of ideas that I hated for it to end.

The program opened with the C major Trio by Haydn (Hob. XV:27), which found violinist Ulf Schneider, cellist Martin Lohr and pianist Eckart Heiligers articulating with extraordinary clarity, cohesiveness and, in the amusing finale, breathless exuberance.

The ensemble tapped deeply into the urgent romanticism of Mendelssohn's C minor Trio, while reserving plenty of lightness and an almost giddy energy for its feathery Scherzo (I'm not sure that movement can be played more brilliantly than it was here).

In Shostakovich's sobering Trio No. 2, there was from each musician a remarkable level of incisiveness (and, given several odd distractions in the audience, of concentration).

Trio Jean Paul, founded in 1991, was named for the pseudonym used at the turn of the 19th century by German writer Johann Paul Friedrich Richter, who wrote that "art is not the bread but the wine of life." By that reckoning, Sunday's concert was a case of the finest Bordeaux.

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