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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,Music Critic | April 4, 1992
The subtitle for Samuel Richardson's novel "Pamela" is "Virtue Rewarded." It thus cannot be an easy name to live up to, but Pamela Frank did so last night in Meyerhoff Hall when she played Dvorak's Violin Concerto in A Minor with David Zinman and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.She is a wonderful player -- one of the very best of our time, I think -- and she gave as fine a performance of this piece as anyone is likely to hear for a long time.The virtue that is rewarded in this preternaturally mature young violinist -- she is only 24 -- is her open-heartedness, an emotional generosity that suffuses every note of her playing.
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | July 12, 2014
The worlds of pop and classical music do not meet all that often — or all that well, as a rule — but certain artists have proved quite adept at bridging the gap. Ben Folds is one of them. The Winston-Salem, N.C.-born, Nashville-based songwriter and pianist has been on an international tour billed as the Ben Folds Orchestra Experience. The tour brings him to Charm City on Thursday for a concert with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, which first joined Folds in a gig nine years ago. That 2005 program featured Folds songs enhanced with orchestral arrangements.
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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | November 25, 1995
Pianists who perform Beethoven's Concerto No. 1 in C Major usually fall into two groups: those who play the familiar, shorter cadenza and those who choose the longer, more difficult third cadenza written almost 15 years after the concerto's 1795 premiere. Short-and-early cadenza folks (Fleisher, Argerich, Gilels and Lupu) almost invariably place the concerto in a classical, almost Mozartean context; long-and-late ones (Richter, Michelangeli, Pollini) usually justify their choice with large-scale, dramatic performances that suggest the C Major concerto's Romantic progeny.
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | February 28, 2014
In Peter Shaffer's wildly fanciful play “Amadeus,” the mediocre and oh-so jealous composer Salieri describes the moment he realized the genius of his nemesis - hearing a phrase in Mozart's Serenade for Winds that was “filled with such longing … it had me trembling.” Any Mozart fan is bound to have a similar example, some little moment of Mozart that seems impossibly beautiful, unusually affecting. For me, it comes in the Adagio of the Clarinet Concerto, when the soloist begins a tender descending melody that gets gently answered by the orchestra.
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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | May 23, 1997
I feared the worst last night in Meyerhoff Hall for Gershwin's Concerto in F.I expected conductor David Zinman to choose tempos that were much too slow for the piece and for the Baltimore Symphony to play in a too-refined manner that would make Gershwin's trashy-flashy minor masterpiece sound bloated.Zinman did exactly as I expected -- he led the slowest performance of the Concerto in F I have heard and his approach was indeed refined.What surprised me was how much I enjoyed it. Instead of sounding bloated, Zinman's affectionate and coaxing, even seductive, response to Gershwin's blues-based melodies made the concerto sound unexpectedly (and delightfully)
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By Tom Keyser and Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF | April 10, 1997
The owners of Concerto, a Triple Crown prospect stabled in Maryland, have decided to race their colt in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness -- after a final tuneup April 19 at Pimlico.Hank Steinbrenner said yesterday that the horse deserved a chance in the spring classics after winning four consecutive stakes, including the Grade II Jim Beam Stakes at Turfway Park. Steinbrenner manages the horse business for his father, George, the owner of Concerto.John Tammaro III trains the horse. He is stabled at Laurel Park.
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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,Sun Music Critic | March 3, 1995
Every time this listener hears Elmar Oliveira play the violin -- whether it is a concerto, a solo recital or chamber music -- he is elated by the magnificence of his playing and also a little saddened. The sadness derives from the circumstance that Oliveira, who performed Saint-Saens' Concerto No. 3 in B minor last night with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and conductor Christopher Seaman in Meyerhoff Hall, has never received the recognition due a musician who may be the finest American-born violinist of his generation.
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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,Music Critic | April 8, 1992
That Liszt once compared the second movement of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 to the story of Orpheus taming the Furies is apparently apocryphal: There is no record of Liszt saying or writing such a thing and the story probably originates with Donald Francis Tovey's essay on the piece.But the fact that this metaphor has taken such hold in the imagination -- you cannot read a set of program notes without an account of it -- proves how apt a description it is. The piano's yielding, pleading phrases do indeed conquer the fierce, stentorian cries of the orchestra: It is Beethoven at his most operatic.
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By Phil Greenfield and Phil Greenfield,Contributing Writer | April 30, 1993
Mstislav Rostropovich has taken more than a few critica shots during his tenure as music director of the National &L Symphony Orchestra, but no one doubts "Slava's" ability to recognize a first-class cellist when he hears one.He is God's own gift to the instrument, after all.Rostropovich's hiring wisdom was borne out Saturday evening when a pair of his NSO cellists, Steven Honigberg and David Teie, joined Gisele Ben-Dor and the Annapolis Symphony for a...
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | October 24, 2003
Composers inevitably reveal much of themselves in just about anything they write, but when they choose the piano concerto as a medium, the revelations have a way of becoming particularly telling. You can get a strong reminder of this in the latest Baltimore Symphony Orchestra program, which offers two exceptional examples - and a superlative soloist to facilitate the communicating. Mozart couldn't be more direct and open-hearted than he is in his Concerto No. 27; for all of its grand C major flourishes and decorative trimmings, what shines through is an incredible eloquence and ingenuity of expression.
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Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | February 15, 2014
Gilbert Varga made a memorable debut as Baltimore Symphony Orchestra guest conductor four years ago and impressed again in a return engagement last season. He's three for three now. The Hungarian conductor is back this weekend to lead a hearty program that includes Tchaikovsky's searing "Pathetique" Symphony and a gem of a concerto by Saint-Saens, along with the "Roman Carnival" Overture by Berlioz. On Friday at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, it was clear from the first notes of the overture that it was going to be a night of tightly focused, all-out music-making.
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | January 6, 2014
The number of concertos for guitar and orchestra is not long; the list of those heard regularly in concert halls is shorter still. This week, a Baltimore-rooted guitar concerto will enter the repertoire and, given the considerable assets behind it, should have a good chance of becoming one of the more successful works of its kind. Jonathan Leshnoff, a rising figure in the contemporary music world and a Towson University faculty member, is the composer. He has written the concerto for and dedicated it to prominent classical guitarist and longtime Peabody Conservatory faculty member Manuel Barrueco, who will be the soloist for the premiere, backed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and music director Marin Alsop.
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | September 23, 2013
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra opened its 2013-2014 season Friday night with a burst of sax and violence. Of particular note was the U.S. premiere of the Saxophone Concerto by eminent American composer John Adams, who has given the small repertoire of concertos for that instrument a huge boost with this half-hour work. Co-commissioned by the BSO, the Saint Louis Symphony, Sao Paulo Symphony and Sydney Symphony (which gave the world premiere last month with the composer conducting)
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | August 12, 2013
Longtime record collectors will have previous incarnations of releases in the 23-compact disc boxed set, "Leon Fleisher: The Complete Album Collection" from Sony Classical. Ultra-serious collectors, of course, will still have the original LPs from the 1950s and '60s weighing down shelves (artwork and liner notes from those vinyl days are reproduced here on the CD sleeves). But it's still great to have Fleisher's recorded legacy on the Columbia Masterworks/Epic and Sony Classical labels gathered in one tidy box. Make that treasure-trove.
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June 2, 2011
Some musicians develop firm ideas about how to play a particular piece and stick to them no matter what. Others keep their options wide open. Emanuel Ax is one of the latter, which helps explain why this Polish-born pianist has been a major force in the classical music world for 35 years. Ax, who performs Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra this weekend, is celebrated for the freshness of his music-making, as well as a brilliant technique. "I learned this concerto when I was 21," said Ax, who turns 62 next week.
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | July 22, 2010
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra doesn't always generate hot sellers for its annual summer season, but it sure has a cool concert this year, surely one of the coolest programs in decades. Marin Alsop, the BSO's intrepid music director, will lead the ensemble in examining two sides of an intriguing coin — orchestral works written by a Baltimore-born rock star, Frank Zappa; and a symphony written by a Baltimore-born composer, Philip Glass, inspired by the rock songs of David Bowie and Brian Eno. That would be cool enough, but Friday's performance at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall also features Baltimore beatboxer Shodekeh.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | September 20, 2003
Thrown off-course by a rude visitor named Isabel, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra opened its 2003-2004 season last night at Meyerhoff Hall 24 hours later than scheduled, but without really missing a beat. A packed house was on hand to hear a program that might have been labeled, at least by low-imagination marketers, "Something Borrowed, Something New." John Corigliano's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, which had its highly anticipated premiere, borrows from his Academy Award-winning film score The Red Violin, but contains a great deal of fresh material; John Adams' The Chairman Dances borrows from the first draft of his groundbreaking opera Nixon in China, but has its own life; and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 2 borrows liberally from Ukrainian folk songs, yet takes them on new paths.
SPORTS
By Tom Keyser and Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF | April 23, 1997
Concerto has joined Captain Bodgit at Churchill Downs, providing Marylanders with two rooting interests in the Kentucky Derby on May 3.After a 12-hour van ride from John Tammaro III's barn at Laurel Park, Concerto arrived Monday in Louisville about 6: 30 p.m."He walked off the van playing," Tammaro said yesterday. "He's feeling real good."Concerto warmed up for the Derby with a victory Saturday in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico. Tammaro said that after the race he talked with George Steinbrenner, who owns Concerto, and Mike Boyd, who manages Steinbrenner's horse farm in Florida.
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By Tim Smith | tim.smith@baltsun.com | November 14, 2009
A big trend in classical music over the past several decades is historical authenticity, the attempt to re-create how works sounded when they were new. This usually involves repertoire from distant centuries, but pieces from relatively recent times can come in for the authentic treatment, too. A case in point is the latest Baltimore Symphony Orchestra program, devoted entirely to George Gershwin. This presentation, conducted by Marin Alsop and showcasing the superb French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, does raise an interesting question about the whole historic reclamation business.
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