Bso Concert Goes American With Vigor

Review

April 18, 2009|By Tim Smith | Tim Smith,tim.smith@baltsun.com

Ideally, concertgoers in this country would know and love at least two big, hearty all-American symphonies - I'd vote for No. 2 by Charles Ives and No. 3 by Aaron Copland - as deeply as they embrace European classics. But that's not likely to happen if our orchestras don't make more room for them.

Although the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra enjoys a solid reputation for its support of American music, it has programmed Copland's Third only four times in the past four decades and has never played Ives' Second.

So this week's presentation of the Copland score, led by one of its ardent champions, BSO music director Marin Alsop, is most welcome. I hope that the enthusiastic reception it received Thursday night at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall will encourage her to bring it back soon.

By using his own Fanfare for the Common Man as a starting and arrival point for the Third Symphony, and enhancing the rest with the kind of harmonic and instrumental idioms that spice his descriptive ballet music, Copland fashioned a score that seems to breathe the essence of America.

Alsop had the symphony flowing with great expressive power, and the BSO responded in dynamic style.

The rest of the program was devoted to popular German pieces. Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 featured concertmaster Jonathan Carney. Even allowing for an occasional off-center note, this was, on technical grounds alone, very classy fiddling. More importantly, Carney infused his phrasing with lots of good, old-fashioned, open-hearted lyricism.

The BSO performs at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. 410-783-8000, or bsomusic.org.

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