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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,Sun Music Critic | January 11, 1991
Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10 is a piece that can make a listener feel like committing murder. At moments it's flooded by the paralysis of tragic introspection, at others by a satirical strain filled with the gaiety of cruelty and at still others by music that is as riotously joyous as a bar mitzvah in hell. It's dangerous music.It was the Symphony No. 10 that was the centerpiece of Sergiu Comissiona's homecoming last night in Meyerhoff Hall with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The BSO's conductor laureate was in high form: His hair was tossing, arms were semaphoring (his right hand doing things with the baton never seen before on land or sea)
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | March 12, 2005
After a few weeks of OK-to-good playing, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has climbed back up to higher ground this week with the help of some notable guests. You couldn't miss the difference Thursday night at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Instead of the often tentative guidance from guest conductor Eri Klas last week, or the rather bland sound and somewhat constipated interpretative ideas from Marin Alsop last month, the ensemble was operating at maximum capacity and breathing real life into the music with Yan Pascal Tortelier at the helm.
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By J.D. Considine and J.D. Considine,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | March 31, 2000
Typically, romanticism is assumed to favor qualities the old school would ascribe to women -- softness, roundness and a pronounced emotionality. But the sort of romanticism Sergiu Comissiona evoked at the Meyerhoff last night suggested a far more enlightened view of femininity, one which emphasized strength and intelligence as much as grace and fervor. It was an unlikely program to offer such a lesson. Although Rachmaninoff's "Variations on a Theme by Paganini" clearly speaks as much to the mind as the heart, Tchaikovsky's Byronesque "Manfred" symphony usually emphasizes the score's implicit heroism above all else.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | March 8, 2005
The history of many an orchestra has two starting dates - one when the organization is officially founded, the other when it truly arrives artistically. Those dates can be very far apart. For the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, formed in 1914, things didn't really get going until 1968, with the appointment of Sergiu Comissiona as music director. His death over the weekend at age 76 reminds BSO fans of the debt owed to this colorful, engaging Romanian-born conductor. "He brought the orchestra to a position of international prominence," eminent pianist Leon Fleisher said yesterday.
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By Walter Wager and Walter Wager,Special to The Sun | August 20, 1995
For Sergiu Comissiona, who was music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for 17 years and remains its conductor laureate, today's performance leading the Asian Youth Orchestra marks a happy return to the city he considers his American home.Nguyen Quoc Truong, 19 years old, has never been to Baltimore before. Until six weeks ago, the slim and courteous violinist from the small Ho Chi Minh City Conservatory had never traveled outside Vietnam.Most of his 95 associates in the Asian Youth Orchestra and accompanying 98-voice chorus hadn't previously left their native lands either.
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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,Sun Music Critic | May 13, 1994
When one watches Sergiu Comissiona conduct, one sometimes wonder how an orchestra can follow his directions precisely. All of that choreographic swaying and a beat that never seems sharply defined would not appear to be able to produce the kind of clarity that most conductors strive for. And that, as Comissiona's superb concert last night in Meyerhoff Hall with the Baltimore Symphony demonstrated, is exactly what makes this Romanian-born musician a great...
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | March 8, 2005
The history of many an orchestra has two starting dates - one when the organization is officially founded, the other when it truly arrives artistically. Those dates can be very far apart. For the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, formed in 1914, things didn't really get going until 1968, with the appointment of Sergiu Comissiona as music director. His death over the weekend at age 76 reminds BSO fans of the debt owed to this colorful, engaging Romanian-born conductor. "He brought the orchestra to a position of international prominence," eminent pianist Leon Fleisher said yesterday.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,Music Critic | December 4, 1992
Last night in Meyerhoff Hall it was impossible to forget that Romania is a Latin, not a Slavic, country. The reasons were the performances by the Romanian-born Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Conductor Laureate Sergiu Comissiona with the BSO of two masterpieces of the "Spanish" repertory - Ravel's "Rapsodie espagnole" and Manuel de Falla's ballet music from "The Three-Cornered Hat."Comissiona has always had a flair for highly colored music of the French school and a special affection for that of the Spaniard Falla.
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By Ernest F. Imhoff and Ernest F. Imhoff,Evening Sun Staff | January 11, 1991
MUSIC, AS Wallace Stevens suggests, was feeling rather than sound last night at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under its old boss Sergui Comissiona put on a sure-fire display of the bitterness, rage and yearnings that Dmitri Shostakovich poured into his "Symphony No. 10" in 1953 after Stalin died.Comissiona says he loves Shostakovich. Few could doubt it as he extracted from the BSO "the 10th's enormous span of feelings" let loose by the twice censured composer in that one summer of composing, eating, sleeping and composing once Stalin was gone.
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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,Sun Music Critic | January 6, 1995
Only a few measures into the "Montagues and Capulets" section of Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" there is an entrance by the trombones. In most performances, this entrance is prominently emphasized -- almost italicized -- so that the listener cannot miss it.In the performance of excerpts from the great ballet with which he concluded last night's concert with the Baltimore Symphony in Meyerhoff Hall, Sergiu Comissiona handled that trombone entry somewhat differently....
NEWS
By Josh Mitchell and Josh Mitchell,SUN STAFF | March 6, 2005
Sergiu Comissiona, the elegant Romanian-born conductor who transformed the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra from a little-known ensemble into a nationally respected orchestra, taking it to Carnegie Hall and Europe and winning for it the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, was found dead yesterday in his Oklahoma City hotel room. Maestro Comissiona apparently died of a heart attack, hours before he was to serve as guest conductor for the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. The New York resident was 76. Known for the spontaneity and flair that he brought to the orchestra's playing, Maestro Comissiona led the BSO from 1969 to 1984.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | October 4, 2003
Sergiu Comissiona, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's conductor laureate, is back in town this weekend to open a concert series he founded in a concert hall he helped get built. He received quite a welcome last night from the ensemble, which played splendidly - would lovingly be too strong a word? - and presented him with a 75-flower bouquet, in honor of his recent 75th birthday. There was a hearty Happy Birthday serenade from the orchestra and audience, too, although a better tribute would have been a full house; you could have bowled in just about any direction at Meyerhoff Hall and bruised hardly a soul.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | June 8, 2002
Atinge of nostalgia haunted Meyerhoff Hall last night. On the podium was someone from the past - former Baltimore Symphony Orchestra music director Sergiu Comissiona. Before the concert, he joined in an affectionate tribute to Mihaly Virizlay, who was principal cellist before Comissiona started his stewardship in 1968 and who has just been named principal cellist emeritus after 40 years on the job. There was a lot of looking back involved in the music on this stylishly delivered hit-parade program, too. Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme for cello and orchestra finds the composer trying to place himself in the elegant sound-world of Mozart's time.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,Sun Music Critic | January 14, 2001
You might say that the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will have the best of three worlds come the 2001-2002 season. Music director Yuri Temirkanov, who will continue putting his distinctive stamp on the ensemble during 13 subscription programs, has picked lots of meat-and-potatoes favorites off the German and Russian shelves, as well as a few surprises. Immediate past music director David Zinman will return to lead the kind of off-the-beaten-path fare that made his tenure so noteworthy.
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By J.D. Considine and J.D. Considine,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | March 31, 2000
Typically, romanticism is assumed to favor qualities the old school would ascribe to women -- softness, roundness and a pronounced emotionality. But the sort of romanticism Sergiu Comissiona evoked at the Meyerhoff last night suggested a far more enlightened view of femininity, one which emphasized strength and intelligence as much as grace and fervor. It was an unlikely program to offer such a lesson. Although Rachmaninoff's "Variations on a Theme by Paganini" clearly speaks as much to the mind as the heart, Tchaikovsky's Byronesque "Manfred" symphony usually emphasizes the score's implicit heroism above all else.
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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | November 16, 1998
This past weekend's Baltimore Symphony program in the orchestra's "Favorites" series certainly deserved such a sobriquet.Vivaldi's "Four Seasons," Rossini's "William Tell" Overture and Respighi's "Roman Festivals" are certainly popular favorites. And it didn't hurt that the man on the podium was the beloved Sergiu Comissiona, who was music director here 14 seasons. Meyerhoff Hall was sold-out on all three days Comissiona performed these works, and on Friday -- the night I attended -- the music and the popular conductor were heartily cheered.
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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,Sun Music Critic | January 4, 1995
If you don't believe that absence makes the heart grow fond, ask the music director of any orchestra.In the first years of David Zinman's tenure, whenever the name of Sergiu Comissiona, the Baltimore Symphony's conductor for the preceding 17 years, came up in conversation with BSO musicians, it was sometimes with a certain amount of derision.Now it is Zinman that the players occasionally grumble about, while references to Comissiona -- who guest-conducts the BSO tomorrow, Friday and Saturday -- sometimes suggest that the BSO's Romanian-born conductor laureate now enjoys the status of a saint.
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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,Music Critic | March 20, 1992
The beautiful becomes boring very quickly. This can be especially true in an all-French orchestral program of works by Faure, Debussy and Ravel. Two hours of this stuff is like a binge in a high-class pastry shop: The satisfactions begin to pall, and you just want to go to sleep.That was not a problem last night in Meyerhoff Hall when Sergiu Comissiona conducted the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in a program of Faure's Requiem, Debussy's "La Damoiselle Elue" and Ravel's second "Daphnis et Chloe" suite.
NEWS
March 28, 1997
Yesterday's edition of Live gave incorrect dates for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's performances of "Carmina Burana" under conductor Sergiu Comissiona. Besides a dress rehearsal Wednesday, the performances are April 3, 4 and 5. Call for information.The Sun regrets the errors.Pub Date: 3/28/97
ENTERTAINMENT
By Stephen Wigler | March 27, 1997
Yesterday's edition of Live gave incorrect dates for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's performances of "Carmina Burana" under conductor Sergiu Comissiona. Besides a dress rehearsal Wednesday, the performances are April 3, 4 and 5. Call for information.The Sun regrets the errors.Concerts by the Baltimore Symphony's laureate conductor, Sergiu Comissiona, tend to be events. Comissiona's concerts with the BSO in Meyerhoff Hall this week should be no exception. With soloists Zheng Zhou, baritone, and soprano Janice Chandler, and the Boys of St. David's Choir, Comissiona will conduct two great and contrasting choral works: Poulenc's gloriously sweet and joyous "Gloria" and Orff's barbaric and energetic "Carmina Burana."
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