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November 19, 2010

A few suggestions for another musically overloaded weekend

Here we go again -- another weekend with too many musical goodies crammed into the same few hours. This happens so often that I've given up trying to provide recommendations every time I see such a pileup, but, since I've agonized myself over this particular one so much, I figured it was worth a shot.

Let's start with the Baltimore Symphony. Fresh back from a well-received Carnegie Hall visit last weekend (except for one out-of-town reviewer who allowed only that it sounded "pretty decent"), the orchestra has an extremely attractive program that is only being performed once at Strathmore, once at Meyerhoff.

The mysterious ways of BSO scheduling elude me sometimes, although I know lots of variables are in play when the calendar is planned. (This particular schedule is the main source of my own personal consternation over what to catch, and what will be missed as a consequence.)

Anyway, Gunther Herbig is back to conduct, always a reason in itself to attend, and he's tackling one of the greatest 20th-century symphonies, the Tenth by Shostakovich. The program also contains Ravel's "Mother Goose" and Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 1 (with Tianwa Yang).

Saturday night finds

Concert Artists of Baltimore presenting an unusual program that ought to be well worth checking out, as I've noted elsewhere.

Sunday afternoon at Towson U's Center for the Arts, Pro Musica Rara offers a colorful assortment of works for cello and piano by Beethoven and his little known contemporary Joseph Wolfl, along with keyboard pieces by Mozart and Clementi. Along with Pro Musica artistic director/cellist Allen Whear, the concert features Christopher Hammer at the fortepiano. If you haven't checked out this organization lately, you're missing some fine music-making on period instruments, a terrific way to shift aural gears.

Back to the BSO. Several of its players will be participating in a typically wide-ranging program as part of the Chamber Music by Candlelight series at Second Pres -- works by Beethoven, Poulenc, Piazzolla, Robert Muczynski (heard a lot of Muczynski lately?) and the orchestra's own Jonathan Jensen.Speaking of chamber music, go back to Saturday. That afternoon, in the gem of a theater at the Evergreen Museum, the Claremont Trio plays a 20th century program of Ravel, Shostakovich and more.

Now, the vocal side. I'll write a proper review of Peabody Opera Theatre's production of Massenet's romantic classic "Manon" as soon as I can, but let me hasten to say now that it's well worth considering. Remaining performances are Friday and Saturday evenings, Sunday afternoon.

And wouldn't you know -- there's more opera this weekend. UM's excellent Maryland Opera Studio presents the regional premiere of Daniel Catán's "Florencia en el Amazonas," a work based on the writings of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The opera, about a famed diva's boat ride down the Amazon, turned out to be the most popular of more than two dozen premieres by Houston Grand Opera (I was quite taken with it myself there back in 1996). The UM production, using a chamber orchestra reduction of the original score, opens Friday evening, repeats Sunday afternoon and Monday and Tuesday nights.

Also on the vocal front, consider a concert Sunday afternoon that will traverse several centuries of choral music, from Galuppi and Haydn to Howells and Hovhaness, featuring the choir of Grace and St. Peter’s Parish, led by organist/choirmaster John Martin Marks.

Not bad for one weekend, and that's just the classical side.


Posted by Tim Smith at 9:41 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Classical, Clef Notes


Good to see a rare Alan Hovhaness performance on Sunday ... a composer too little known, and next year is his birth centennial.

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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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