Your last-minute weekend musical suggestions
Having been out of town for several days, I quickly fell far, far behind when I got back to work on Friday. Among the many tasks left undone was a list of suggestions for your weekend listening pleasure.
However, this means that I can actually recommend one of the items from first-hand experience -- the Baltimore Symphony's program, which I heard Friday night at the Meyerhoff. There's a repeat at 8 on Saturday night at Strathmore, so, if you feel you can beat the onslaught of snow (oh, please, they've GOT to be kidding about that), the drive will be worth it.
For one thing, you'll get to hear a wonderfully refined, yet still passionate, account of the Grieg Piano Concerto from soloist Orion Weiss. There's something quite distinctively poetic in his tone and his phrasing; the evergreen music seemed to reveal lots of fresh growth as he played. The pianist enjoyed smooth rapport with conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier, who drew warm, dynamic playing from the BSO. Cello, flute and horn solos purred beautifully.
The program also offered terrifically animated, nuanced performances of two prismatic masterpieces: Ravel's "Valses nobles et sentimentales" and Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra. The orchestra really does sound great these days. That sound would benefit from more strings (the BSO remains under ideal personnel size for budget reasons), but there's still an admirable richness, clarity, polish and, above all, expressive weight from these musicians on a regular basis.
If you're staying in Baltimore Saturday night, the Peabody Institute looks like the place to be at 8 p.m. There, Edward Polochick will lead his Concert Artists of Baltimore in a Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, a work likely to bring out the best of this engaging conductor's gifts. The concert also includes the "Emperor" Concerto, with soloist Clinton Adams, so this means one big Beethoven blast.
Sunday's many options include two choral events in Baltimore churches that should be well worth checking out -- or Czeching out, in one case. At 4 p.m., Christ Lutheran Church in the Inner Harbor will be the site of a world premiere presented by ...
And at 5 p.m. Columbia Pro Cantare, augmented by the choir of the Church of the Redeemer in a program of works by two great Czech composers whose choral music is not encountered often enough in live performance. Frances Motyca Dawson will conduct the combined ensembles in Dvorak's Mass in D and Janacek's Our Father.
PHOTO OF ORION WEISS (by Leslie van Stelton) COURTESY OF BSO