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April 26, 2010

Weekend concert scene (Part 2): Music in the Great Hall

Sunday afternoon found me at Towson Unitarian Universalist Church for the season finale of Music in the Great Hall.

At the start of the program, Qing Li, principal second violin of the Baltimore Symphony, gave a fiery account of Beethoven's "Kreutzer" Sonata, sometimes sacrificing beauty of tone, but certainly getting expressive mileage from the intensity in her phrasing. She was ably partnered by pianist Adam Mahonske (I wouldn't have minded more tonal nuances from him, though).

The violinist and pianist were subsequently joined by cellist and BSO member Bo Li for

Schubert's divine E-flat Trio. I admired the vitality the players brought to the music, even if, as at the end of the first movement and in parts of the scherzo, the sound sometimes got a little heavy (I know Schubert isn't Mendelssohn, but there are moments in the trio that can handle lightness and delicacy). Bo Li's poetic shaping of the the melancholy theme that appears in the Andante and haunts the finale proved particularly effective.

The long-running Music in the Great Hall series will return next season with a five-concert lineup. Among the attractions: a chamber music program with clarinetist Anthony McGill (one of the starry quartet that participated in the Obama inauguration), cellist Amit Peled and pianist Lura Johnson (the artistic director of the series); a performance by Duo Transatlantique (classical guitarist Benjamin Beirs and Maud Laforest); and a concert celebrating the founder of the series, pianist Virginia Reinecke.


Posted by Tim Smith at 2:12 PM | | Comments (0)

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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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