My Top 10 classical music events of 2010 in Baltimore and Washington
Since the performing arts world is more about seasons than the standard Jan-Dec calendar, I don't usually think about Top 10 lists at the end of the year. But, hey, people love lists, so here goes: My favorite musical moments on the Baltimore/Washington classical music scene during 2010 -- in chronological, not qualitative, order. Please feel free to tell me yours (and to dispute mine to your heart's content.)
Jan. 17: The recital by Peabody student Hans Kristian Goldstein for Music in the Great Hall. It was fun hearing a cellist so young with the artistic and technical chops to launch a serious career. Great tone, great musical feeling.
Feb. 6: Recital by pianist Till Fellner presented by An die Musik at the BMA. First, it was cool that the event happened at all, since we were still all coping with the blizzard that ate Baltimore. Then, there was the enjoyment of hearing a very intellectually and technically gifted artist exploring Beethoven sonatas in such vivid, absorbing style.
Feb. 15: The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra with conductor Mariss Jansons and violinist Janine Jansen, presented by the Washington Performing Arts Society at the Kennedy Center. There was an electrifying performance of the Sibelius Violin Concerto, filled with fascinating details and earthy emotion. I also loved Jansons' sumptuous, no holds-barred account of Rachmaninoff's Second Symphony. A magical night.
Feb. 21: Pianist Yefim Bronfman in a recital for the Shriver Hall Concert Series. It's always rewarding to be in the presence of this keyboard tiger, but the extra fun this time was that he brought along the 30-minute, zillion-note Tchaikovsky sonata that hardly anyone ever plays in this country. He made as strong a case for it as you're likely to hear anytime soon.
May 12: The Contemporary Museum's Mobtown Modern concert at Metro Gallery. Darryl Brenzel's jazz band version of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" got beyond the expected snap to create a whole new way of appreciating the grit and power of the original score. And the Mobtown musicians were really smokin.'
June 4: Washington National Opera's production of Ambroise Thomas' "Hamlet" at the Kennedy Center. Director/set designer Thaddeus Strassberger's Cold War-era setting was full of compelling visual touches. Liam Bonner looked the part of the Danish prince and acted the heck out of the role; the young baritone's beautifully nuanced singing proved just as expressively. Elizabeth Futral was the telling Ophelia.
Oct. 2, 15 (a tie): Two National Symphony Orchestra concerts with Christoph Eschenbach in his first weeks as music director of the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. On the 2nd, a gripping local premiere of Matthias Pintscher’s thorny "Herodiade-Fragmente" with the sensational soprano Marisol Montalvo; then, a freshly considered, deliciously romantic interpretation of Beethoven's Ninth. On the 15th, an intensely personal, affecting performance of
Mahler's Fifth. The chemistry of conductor and orchestra was palpable.
Nov. 11: The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra led by Marin Alsop at the Meyerhoff and, two nights later, at Carnegie Hall. This vivid program offered a striking affirmation of the steadily strengthening musical bond between music director and orchestra. There was a remarkably poetic version of Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 with soloist Simon Trpceski. To mark the Mahler anniversary season, Alsop dusted off the composer's arrangement of Beethoven's "Eroica." She seemed truly inspired by it and drew from the BSO considerable sonic richness. A cool performance.
Nov. 18: Peabody Opera Theatre's production of Massenet's "Manon." A lot of things clicked so tightly here that it was quite easy to forget that it was a student performance. The singers, especially soprano Jennifer Edwards and tenor William Davenport as the doomed lovers, got into their roles and sang with considerable style. I thought it was one of the best Peabody productions in my 10 years here, so it certainly deserved a spot on this Top 10.
Dec. 6: The Evolution Contemporary Music Series at An die Musik. Judah Adashi led a finely responsive vocal quartet in a mesmerizing account of David Lang's "The Little Match Girl Passion," winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for music. Lang added many layers to a Hans Christian Anderson tale of a poor girl left to die in the cold; both the words and the music touch a nerve. The performers brought out that subtle emotional power with remarkable skill. A most rewarding experience.
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