Baltimore Symphony soars with conductor Robert Spano
Not long after I arrived in Baltimore in 2000 (you thought you'd been suffering from me for a lot longer than nine years, didn't you?), I started asking why certain music and certain musicians didn't seem to turn up at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. I often got shrugs or vague answers from some of the folks who were running the show over there at the time.
One name I remember asking about was Robert Spano, the conductor who had hit the radar big-time in New York for his adventurous programming as music director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic and who was tapped by the Atlanta Symphony in 2001. It seemed to me back then that Baltimore should be hearing what the fuss was all about. I'm happy to report that we have that opportunity this week. (UPDATE: Just learned that Spano first led the BSO out at Oregon Ridge in 1991 and returned in 1999 to conduct a program at Meyerhoff. I'm surprised it took a decade before he was got back.)
Spano is here leading
a colorful program that surrounds a major contemporary work -- the Violin Concerto by John Adams -- with two war horses, Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade" and Stravinsky's "Firebird" Suite. If you know what's good for you, you won't miss it.
Thursday night's performance at the Meyerhoff found Spano generating music-making of exceptional beauty and power in those two standard scores (concertmaster Jonathan Carney outdid himself in the "Scheherazade" solos), and providing supple support for brilliant violinist Leila Josefowicz in the concerto. I'll be writing a more detailed and maybe even cogent review later on today, but I wanted to get the word out early.
The full program repeats Friday night; the Adams and Stravinsky pieces will be played at the Casual Concert Saturday morning; "Scheherazade" is the focus of Saturday night's Off-the-Cuff concert.