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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | September 29, 2014
The last weekend of September could not have been much more caloric, musically speaking, without actually clogging arteries. While the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra was reveling in the high romanticism of Rachmaninoff and Korngold ( my review was posted earlier ), the Peabody Symphony Orchestra gorged on hefty emotional outpouring by Brahms and Tchaikovsky. I rather enjoyed both lyrical feasts. On Saturday night, Hajime Teri Murai, director of orchestral activities at Peabody for more than two decades, got the conservatory's 2014-2015 concert series rocking with a crisp, jazzy little curtain raiser, Shafer Mahoney's "Sparkle.
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | September 29, 2014
The last weekend of September could not have been much more caloric, musically speaking, without actually clogging arteries. While the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra was reveling in the high romanticism of Rachmaninoff and Korngold ( my review was posted earlier ), the Peabody Symphony Orchestra gorged on hefty emotional outpouring by Brahms and Tchaikovsky. I rather enjoyed both lyrical feasts. On Saturday night, Hajime Teri Murai, director of orchestral activities at Peabody for more than two decades, got the conservatory's 2014-2015 concert series rocking with a crisp, jazzy little curtain raiser, Shafer Mahoney's "Sparkle.
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | August 28, 2013
This being an arts blog, I try to leave political issues aside, but, sometimes, there's just no way to avoid them. Case in point: The anti-gay laws and sentiments in today's Russia. The effect of those policies on the arts became all too clear and disturbing this week. It's bad enough to read about the seizure of satirical paintings that target Czar -- oops -- President Putin. The artist, Konstantin Altunin, has already fled to France seeking asylum, according to reports. What galled me even more, on a personal level, was the news that Russian filmmakers working on a biopic of Tchaikovsky, with some government financial support, plan to give the famed composer a form of posthumous ex-gay therapy.
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | March 19, 2014
The Los Angeles Philharmonic brought an inspired -- you might even say brave -- program to the Kenendy Center Tuesday night and made every note of it count.  Instead of picking the usual crowd-pleasing stuff to go with Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5, as touring orchestras are apt to do, the Philharmonic's celebrated young music director, Gustavo Dudamel, chose a challenging score that divided listeners when it was first heard in 1990 and may divide...
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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | October 4, 1999
This review appeared in late editions of Saturday's Sun.Gunther Herbig is one of the few modern conductors as much concerned with beauty of sound as with accuracy of rhythm, intonation and of the notes themselves. There have been occasions in the past when Herbig has sacrificed dramatic excitement in his painstaking avoidance of making an ugly sound. Friday night, when Herbig conducted the Baltimore Symphony in Meyerhoff Hall, was not one of them.His performance of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 in F Minor was as dazzling and fresh as it was beautiful.
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By DENNIS BARTEL | May 15, 1991
One hundred years ago today Baltimore received its most honored musical guest, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The great Russian composer, just turned 51, had come to America at the invitation of the conductor of the New York Symphony Society Orchestra, Walter Damrosch, to participate in the Carnegie Hall inaugural festival. It would be his only overseas journey.Tchaikovsky had deeply mixed feelings about making the trip, as he did about nearly everything in his life. He had always dreamed of seeing America, but whenever he traveled he suffered from homesickness -- ''a terrible, inexpressible, fiercely poignant despair.
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By Phil Greenfield and Phil Greenfield,Contributing Writer | November 25, 1993
The first three symphonies of Tchaikovsky are overshadowed by his blockbusters, the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth, but they are worthy pieces -- especially No. 1, titled "Winter Dreams."Gisele Ben-Dor and her Annapolis Symphony Orchestra made a nice case for Tchaikovsky's First Saturday night at Maryland Hall.The opening movements, "Reverie on a Winter Journey" and "Land of Gloom, Land of Mist," detail a rather bleak program but, as always in Tchaikovsky, there are enough spiky syncopations, waltzes, folk songs and good tunes to keep things from becoming too morbid.
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By Kenneth Meltzer and Kenneth Meltzer,Special to The Sun | February 3, 1994
Last night's Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Celebrity Concert was one of the most sparsely attended in memory. Perhaps the thought of enduring yet another routine performance of Tchaikovsky's warhorse First Piano Concerto discouraged music lovers from venturing into the cold.But Russian pianist Alexander Toradze is not given to routine, and he demonstrated that there is always something new to say about a great piece of music.This is not to suggest that Mr. Toradze's performance was flawless or even approached the ideal.
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By Ernest F. Imhoff and Ernest F. Imhoff,Evening Sun Staff | May 14, 1991
ONE HUNDRED years ago tomorrow, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the 19th century composer of sweeping Russian music, led an orchestra here in his one and only visit to Baltimore. He liked the city and The Sun ran a glowing review, but the composer apparently thought little of his Boston musicians, some of his dinner companions or Peabody's art gallery.Tchaikovsky's himself still draws hot raves or boos. Weeks ago in a New Yorker profile, Marcia Davenport, the biographer of Mozart, spoke of Tchaikovsky's "whiny music" and said, "I hate Tchaikovsky, God, how I hate Tchaikovsky."
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By Phil Greenfield and Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | February 9, 1996
From the looks of him, Tzimon Barto is the only pianist in the world who can play the No. 1 Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto, then bench-press the Steinway when he is finished.The enormous bodybuilder-pianist who was in town last weekend to play Tchaikovsky's top warhorse with conductor Gisele Ben-Dor and the Annapolis Symphony probably never will be confused with Alfred Brendel or Charles Rosen as a patrician intellectual of the keyboard.Mr. Barto's playing is too much of the moment for all that.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | August 28, 2013
This being an arts blog, I try to leave political issues aside, but, sometimes, there's just no way to avoid them. Case in point: The anti-gay laws and sentiments in today's Russia. The effect of those policies on the arts became all too clear and disturbing this week. It's bad enough to read about the seizure of satirical paintings that target Czar -- oops -- President Putin. The artist, Konstantin Altunin, has already fled to France seeking asylum, according to reports. What galled me even more, on a personal level, was the news that Russian filmmakers working on a biopic of Tchaikovsky, with some government financial support, plan to give the famed composer a form of posthumous ex-gay therapy.
NEWS
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | June 6, 2012
The most famous piece of music about a conflict in 1812 has nothing to do with what is dubbed the second war of American independence. That won't stop Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture," with its famous bells and cannons, from being part of the "Star-Spangled Symphony" concert June 17 as part of the events in Baltimore commemorating the War of 1812 bicentennial. But Tchaikovsky's depiction of Russian and French armies colliding at the Battle of Borodino will have an American companion piece on this Baltimore Symphony Orchestra program.
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | January 21, 2012
It is possible to quibble with the idea of cramming three blockbuster works into a single program, but the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra carries it off. Ravel's "Bolero," that brilliant study in rhythmic and melodic reiteration, not to mention crescendo, is more likely to serve as a concert finale than a curtain-raiser for Tchaikovsky's barnstorming Piano Concerto No. 1. But here they are, back to back. And after two of classical music's greatest hits, why not one more? Well, at least one of classical music's greatest minutes — the introductory passage of Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra," now more commonly identified as the theme from the sci-fi classic "2001.
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By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun and Baltimore Sun reporter | November 1, 2010
Charles Sussman, a retired Baltimore County public schools administrator who was a decorated World War II veteran, died of congestive heart failure Wednesday at Sinai Hospital. He was 85 and lived in Pikesville. Born in Baltimore and raised on Bryant Avenue near Druid Hill Park, he worked as a cashier at the popular delicatessen Sussman and Lev, at 923 E. Baltimore St., which was operated by his father, Jacob. While attending City College, where he graduated in 1942, Mr. Sussman befriended Russell Baker, who went on to become a Baltimore Sun reporter, New York Times columnist and author.
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By Tim Smith | tim.smith@baltsun.com | February 19, 2010
The last time Itzhak Perlman appeared with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, a decade ago, he brought only his violin. For his return this weekend, he's bringing along a baton, too. It's not uncommon for soloists to feel the lure of the podium, but Perlman, one of the most popular violinists in the world, landed there more by chance. "The conducting bug never bit me," Perlman, 64, says. "My wife [Toby] started the Perlman Music Program for talented young string players 15 years ago. She told me one day, 'They need a coach.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,tim.smith@baltsun.com | October 3, 2009
Although it's convenient for some to think of music being divided into totally separate worlds, with the classical variety way over in some isolated corner where only the "elite" indulge in it, there are innumerable connecting, welcoming points between genres. One mission of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's new season is to emphasize such links, programming works that reveal roots planted in folk music or jazz, for example. Last week, bluegrass found its way into the picture via a concerto by Jennifer Higdon featuring a hotshot crossover trio; this week, the folk influences behind familiar pieces by Tchaikovsky and Bartok are being given fresh attention.
NEWS
By Phil Greenfield and Phil Greenfield,Contributing Writer | March 12, 1993
Last Friday's Annapolis Symphony Orchestra concert turned out to be one of those enjoyable, slightly off-center repasts in which the appetizers prove more sumptuous than the main course, though I doubt anyone went home hungry.The suite from "Der Rosenkavalier," a compilation of "hits" from Richard Strauss' most popular opera, seemed like a suicide mission for a smallish orchestra based in the provinces, but the ASO thrived on this murderous score. Despite some technical glitches, Gisele Ben-Dor's players responded to Strauss' extraordinary demands with top-notch horn playing, lovely solos from the principal oboe, and a contagious sense of good fun, especially in the waltzes that inject the opera with that lilting Viennese flair redolent of Johann Strauss.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,tim.smith@baltsun.com | October 1, 2009
The first time violinist James Ehnes visited Baltimore, it was to catch a game at Camden Yards. Don't hold it against him, but he was rooting for the Red Sox. He's been a fan since he was a kid, when his father would drive him to Boston from their home in Canada. "The highlight was going to Fenway Park," Ehnes says. This week, he'll try for a musical homer with his 1715 Stradivarius, playing Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. At his BSO debut in 2007, performing a Mozart concerto, Ehnes left quite an impression with his refined technique, sweet tone and elegant phrase-making.
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