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October 31, 2009

A little more on the BSO/Robert Spano reunion

You must get tired of my excuses, but I fell behind Friday working on stuff for Sunday's paper, then writing a review of the Baltimore Symphony with guest conductor Robert Spano, then rushing off to catch a concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen. What I forgot to do was post the BSO review on the blog, which I had promised to do in my quick-shot post Friday morning.

Now you know not to trust me about anything. Except my impeccable judgment and good taste, that is.

Anyway, my review, if you still care (and even if you don't), is in Saturday's paper. To reiterate, the combination of Spano and the BSO really was notable Thursday night, and I am sure Saturday's Off the Cuff concert focusing on "Scheherazade" will be well worth catching (Spano will chat about the work before leading a complete performance).

What impressed me greatly Thursday was

the conductor's affectionate phrasing, a sense that the music meant much more than notes and structure. And the players sure sounded as if they were right on the same wavelength all the way.

I also should note again how powerful Leila Josefowicz was in the Adams Violin Concerto, one of the most substantive additions to the repertoire of the past few decades. It's a fascinating work, with so many things packed into it, a journey propelled by darkly beautiful harmonies and often arresting rhythmic motion. It was great to hear such challenging -- and rewarding -- music so vividly performed.

Posted by Tim Smith at 11:21 AM | | Comments (1)


Beg to differ with you about the Adams Concerto. Dissonances don't faze me (one of the 1st pieces I liked as a teen was "The Rite of Spring") but what I heard Thursday was a sour-sounding and overlong 1st movement. And some of Ms. Josefowicz's physical movements looked and made the music downright ugly. Musically, only the 2nd & 3rd movements came together for me. I've heard this concerto live before (plus its initial Nonesuch recording), but I still think it's not quite the masterpiece others feel it is.

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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