Mini-review: Baltimore Symphony program includes passionate Bruch, stirring Copland
Just a quick wrap-up of Thursday's Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performance at the Meyerhoff:
Marin Alsop led a stirring account of Copland's Third, a work that ought to be as familiar to American audiences as all the played-to-death Beethoven or Tchaikovsky symphonies. Using his own Fanfare for the Common Man as a starting and arriving point, Copland fashioned a score that captures the essence of America, red state and blue state, in sounds and themes that ring true at nearly every turn. Alsop had the music flowing with considerable expressive power, and the BSO responded with dynamic, mostly well-disciplined playing.
The rest of the program was devoted to popular German pieces, Brahms' Haydn Variations and Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1. The former received a stately, pleasant account (thankfully uninterrupted by any shrieks from the folks who noticed a mouse darting across the main floor). The concerto featured concertmaster Jonathan Carney, who hit his highest peak to date as a soloist with the orchestra. Even allowing for an occasional off-center note, this was, on technical grounds alone, very classy fiddling. More importantly, Carney infused his phrasing with lots of good, old-fashioned, open-hearted lyricism. He had the music singing. He also had sensitive support from his colleagues onstage.
The whole program repeats Friday night; the Brahms and Bruch items will be played at Saturday morning's Casual Concert; the Copland gets all the attention at Saturday night's Off the Cuff presentation.