More thoughts on BSO's season-opener
Last night's season-opening concert by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (reviewed in today's paper) is still resonating with me this morning -- above all, the sound of the ensemble. Something in the consistent richness really caught my ear, and brought back memories of the Temirkanov years. I didn't spot any numbers of extra players; this seemed to be just the good old BSO, operating at its best, producing an admirable depth and solidity of tone. Maybe it was an aural sign of how comfortable the musicians are these days, what with a recently negotiated, and favorable, three-year contract; more recording projects; the prospect of a high-profile return to Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center next month. And there certainly was every indication last night at the Meyerhoff that the players are clicking more tightly than ever with music director Marin Alsop, who also was in terrific form in this performance, adding layers of nuance and sensitivity to the momentum and structural clarity that are her trademarks. I was, frankly, amazed how much I enjoyed hearing Holst's The Planets again, and I realized that it was because Alsop managed to make it all sound so fresh and alive, as well as substantive. This was classy, involving, arresting music-making, and it bodes well for her work with the orchestra during the rest of the season.
One thing I missed, though -- some lighting effects to match the other-worldly, fade-out ending of The Planets. Earlier, for Michael Daugherty's UFO, theatrical lighting was effectively employed throughout (helping distract the eye from the work's less interesting musical bits), so it would, I assume, be easy to do something for the Holst piece, too. Not during each movement, mind you, just a slow dimming of all the lights as the women's' voices gradually evaporate into the distance. Like the Maria Callas line in Master Class has it, "Never miss an opportunity to theatricalize."