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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | September 27, 2014
An extra spark in the playing at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's first program of the 2014-2015 subscription series a week ago made me think this would turn out to be an exceptional season. Something about the second program this weekend made me even more convinced. I know you are tired of hearing me say this, but I just want to make sure it's sinking in - the BSO is operating at a technical peak these days and demonstrating a tighter rapport than ever with music director Marin Alsop.
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | September 27, 2014
An extra spark in the playing at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's first program of the 2014-2015 subscription series a week ago made me think this would turn out to be an exceptional season. Something about the second program this weekend made me even more convinced. I know you are tired of hearing me say this, but I just want to make sure it's sinking in - the BSO is operating at a technical peak these days and demonstrating a tighter rapport than ever with music director Marin Alsop.
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | April 25, 2014
Marin Alsop began her tenure as Baltimore Symphony Orchestra music director in 2007 with one of Gustav Mahler's symphonies and has kept his richly challenging, richly rewarding works in the prominently in the picture since. Over the years, the conductor's approach to Mahler has been, above all, precise and propulsive. So it was again Thursday night when Alsop and the BSO revisited Mahler's Symphony No. 1, which they first performed together (and recorded) in 2008. Some of us Mahler nuts crave interpretations that are exceedingly liberal with tempos and emotions, that bend a phrase here or add a pregnant pause there -- the sort of super-individualistic versions Alsop's mentor Leonard Bernstein routinely offered.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | April 29, 2014
I think Arian Khaefi's tenure as artistic director of the Handel Choir of Baltimore is going to work out just fine. He capped his first season -- the choir's 79th -- with a program Sunday afternoon at Second Presbyterian devoted to Rachmaninoff's a cappella choral masterpiece, "All-Night Vigil," music well beyond the ensemble's usual terrain. The results proved very respectable. Khaefi was not inclined to dawdle. He emphasized momentum even when this richly atmospheric work was at its most reflective, but only rarely did things turn a bit brusque.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | February 26, 2001
With most major orchestras in this country apparently wedded forever to the notion that only foreign conductors are really qualified to hold the position of music director, it's comforting to be reminded of the remarkable fusion of talent and energy between Los Angeles-born Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony. Such a reminder came Saturday afternoon at the Kennedy Center. Presented by the Washington Performing Arts Society, the Californians served up a meaty, filling program that found both conductor and ensemble in impressive form.
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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | September 24, 1995
Rachmaninoff, Sonata No. 2 (opus 36), "Morceaux de fantasie" (opus 3) and "Chopin Variations" (opus 22), performed by pianist Santiago Rodriguez (Elan 82248); Rachmaninoff, 10 Preludes (opus 23), Three Nocturnes, "Song Without Words" and "Corelli Variations" (opus 42), performed by Rodriguez (Elan 82250); Rachmaninoff, Concerto No. 2, "Paganini Rhapsody" and several pieces for solo piano, performed by pianist Benno Moiseiwitsch, London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by (in Concerto No. 2)
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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,Sun Music Critic | April 27, 1991
Where talent is concerned, there are rarely any surprises in the music business. Two weeks ago when Ju Hee Suh was named by the Baltimore Symphony as a replacement for Zoltan Kocis in this week's performances of the Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 2, this listener suspected that she would give a performance that would bring the house down. Last night, of course, she did.Music insiders have been hearing reports for at least a decade about a fantastically talented young Korean-born pianist at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia.
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By David Donovan and David Donovan,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | April 11, 1997
The Baltimore Symphony is performing two staples of the 19th-century Russian repertoire through tomorrow at the Meyerhoff, the Tchaikovsky Sixth and Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto.Both are so famous that they are often referred to as war-horses. Unfortunately, only the Rachmaninoff transcended its reputation Wednesday night.Andre Watts delivered a sparkling and no-nonsense treatment of the Rachmaninoff Second Piano Concerto. His performance delivered in almost every department.Best of all was the eloquent second movement, when Watts played with tenderness and precision.
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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,Music Critic | May 15, 1994
Rachmaninoff, Sonata No. 1 in D minor (opus 28) and Variations on a Theme of Chopin (opus 22), performed by pianist Boris Berezovsky (Teldec 4509-90890). Rachmaninoff, Sonata No. 1 in D minor (opus 28) and Thirteen Preludes (opus 32), performed by pianist Santiago Rodriguez (Elan CD 82244).This is an embarrassment of riches. For years Rachmaninoff's First Sonata has fared poorly on records and in the concert hall. The work is gigantic -- almost as long the Concerto No. 3 -- and horrendously difficult.
FEATURES
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | May 14, 2005
For sheer novelty value, this week's all-20th-century Baltimore Symphony Orchestra program was hard to beat. For substance and potent music-making, it stood out, too. Two well-known composers, Rachmaninoff and Bernstein, were on the bill, but represented by lesser-known pieces. And anything by contemporary Austrian composer HK Gruber is well out of the mainstream. It takes nerve, not to mention imagination, for a conductor to lead such a program in his debut with an orchestra. Junichi Hirokami, former principal conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, seemed thoroughly fearless Thursday night as he led the BSO for the first time.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | April 25, 2014
Marin Alsop began her tenure as Baltimore Symphony Orchestra music director in 2007 with one of Gustav Mahler's symphonies and has kept his richly challenging, richly rewarding works in the prominently in the picture since. Over the years, the conductor's approach to Mahler has been, above all, precise and propulsive. So it was again Thursday night when Alsop and the BSO revisited Mahler's Symphony No. 1, which they first performed together (and recorded) in 2008. Some of us Mahler nuts crave interpretations that are exceedingly liberal with tempos and emotions, that bend a phrase here or add a pregnant pause there -- the sort of super-individualistic versions Alsop's mentor Leonard Bernstein routinely offered.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | March 8, 2014
Russian repertoire was so prevalent and played so passionately during Yuri Temirkanov's tenure at the helm of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra that it seemed to some people that there was no point in touching such music again. I confess I entertained that notion myself for a little while. The tendency to romanticize the Temrikanov years is absolutely understandable, but not all that productive. The world goes on. So does the music. And it sure went on stirringly Friday night at Meyerhoff Hall.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | March 25, 2013
Last year, when Concert Artists of Baltimore planned the March program for its 2012-2013 season, the most interesting part was the repertoire -- an unusual pairing of Beethoven's Mass in C with Saint-Saens' Piano Concerto No. 2. By the time that program arrived over the weekend, there was something a lot newsier about it. The soloist in the concerto, Peabody grad Eric Zuber, was recently chosen to be one of 30 participants in the International Van...
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | October 21, 2011
Blond and boyishly handsome, Vasily Petrenko might be mistaken for a gymnast, or perhaps a player of his favorite sport, soccer. But when the 35-year-old Russian conductor steps onto a podium, there's no doubt about his true calling. In 2009, Petrenko made a striking debut with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in an all-Russian program that included the most arresting Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich performances since Yuri Temirkanov stepped down as that ensemble's music director a few years earlier.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | October 28, 2010
Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff is best known for two wildly popular piano concertos, his sumptuous Second Symphony and some brilliant solo keyboard music. But if he had written nothing but the "All-Night Vigil," an unaccompanied choral work from 1915 also known as the "Vespers," Rachmaninoff would still rank among the greats. This subtly powerful setting of texts from the Russian Orthodox liturgy will be performed by the Baltimore Choral Arts Society in an unusual presentation incorporating readings from by Shakespeare, Chekhov and others.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,tim.smith@baltsun.com | June 14, 2009
With a coming-full-circle flourish, the Baltimore Symphony is putting the grand in the grand finale of its 2008-2009 season. Way back in September, music director Marin Alsop started things off with the Immolation Scene from Wagner's Gotterdammerung, those traumatic/cleansing moments at the end of the composer's massive Ring Cycle. Alsop now wraps things up with a good 50 minutes or so of excerpts from the four Ring operas, culminating, of course, with that cathartic Immolation Scene. Nice symmetry.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,Sun Music Critic | January 10, 1992
Alexander Toradze's account of Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto is both fascinating and perverse, enthralling and infuriating.The performance that the 39-year-old Georgian-born, Russian-trained pianist gave of the piece last night in Meyerhoff Hall with the Baltimore Symphony and guest conductor Zdenek Macal was the slowest that this listener has ever heard.At about 48 minutes, it was a full quarter of an hour longer than the first recorded performances of the composer himself and of Vladimir Horowitz (albeit with a few cuts)
NEWS
By TIM SMITH and TIM SMITH,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | April 30, 2006
At nearly the last hour, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has found a way to offer the public an opportunity to own a permanent souvenir of its exceptional chemistry with outgoing music director Yuri Temirkanov. It doesn't come cheap, but it's worth the price. A compact disc of Rachmaninoff's surging Symphony No. 2, recorded live in 2004, will go on sale tomorrow, available for a contribution of $100 or more to the orchestra's newly established Great Artists Fund. Since Temirkanov and the BSO made no commercial recordings during his six years at the helm, the release has instant significance.
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By Tim Smith ... and Tim Smith ...,sun music critic | July 23, 2007
It's something of a cliche that young musicians keep getting better and better technically, that they attain virtuosity at an earlier and higher level than ever before. A truer cliche was never spoken. Fresh evidence emerged Saturday night during the finals of the 2007 William Kapell International Piano Competition. Russian-born Sofya Gulyak, the 27-year- old winner of the $25,000 first prize, demonstrated fearless technique in Rachmaninoff's Concerto No. 3, tearing through the finger-busting-est passages as if they were exercises for beginners.
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