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November 16, 2010

A look at other reviews of Baltimore Symphony's Carnegie Hall visit

For any orchestra, a New York visit is a chance to shine (or, of course, bomb) in front of a different audience and different critics, as well as assorted industry bigwigs.

Not every ensemble gets more than one shot at this in a given season. It says something about the Baltimore Symphony's stature that it played two Carnegie Hall gigs over the weekend, offering more or less standard fare Saturday night, then a gospel version of Handel's "Messiah" Sunday afternoon.

The New York Times weighed in favorably on both. Allan Kozinn, covering Saturday's performance, said "The orchestra sounds terrific these days." In Barber's Second Essay for Orchestra, "the woodwinds played with uncommon richness and character, and the string sound was gracefully shaped." Kozinn described listeners "wrapped in the sheer beauty of the sound" during the BSO's account of Beethoven's "Eroica" in Mahler's arrangement ("a fascinating alternative view").

There were high marks, too, for Simon Trpceski's "galvanizing account" of Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3. As for Alsop, Kozinn found that

her approach tended to involve "patience slowly giving way to explosiveness."

Steve Smith, covering Sunday's "Too Hot to Handel" for the Times, sounded upbeat: "You could hardly have wished for a livelier performance or for a better leader than Ms. Alsop, the rare symphonic conductor entirely at ease in vernacular idioms."

The Washington Post's Anne Midgette, reviewing Saturday's concert, took aim first at a program that favored "music written mainly by dead white European men." Midgette thought the Beethoven symphony sounded "more driven than lush," but found the account of the Barber work successful and liked Trpceski's performance of the Prokofiev concerto. She concluded that "it was a solid evening from an orchestra that sounds, if not breathtaking, in pretty good shape."


Posted by Tim Smith at 10:40 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: BSO, Classical, Clef Notes


Is there something wrong with dead white european men? Hmmm... I like them and live white men too--go figure.

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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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