Lyrical afternoon with Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Ana Vidovic
The Baltimore Chamber Orchestra has only three concerts listed this season, each scheduled a few months apart. It would be perfectly understandable if things sounded a little, well, unpolished, when the ensemble takes the stage, but that's not the case. If anything, the BCO sounds better each time I hear it.
The group boasts some fine musicians, a mix of free-lancers and Baltimore Symphony veterans (including Madeline Adkins, who clearly has much to offer as BCO concertmaster), so I realize that a certain level of technical quality is to be expected.
Still, it was remarkable to hear such impressive work during Sunday afternoon's performance at Goucher College, as if the orchestra had been giving concerts every week since opening the season last October.
Music director Markand Thakar, who evident knows how to maximize rehearsal time, had the players producing a consistently well-balanced sound.
Thakar knows how Wagner's "Siegfried Idyll" goes, and he had it going very well at the start of the program. Tempos were spacious, dynamic contrasts beautifully attended to, phrases sensitively molded.
The strings summoned a velvety tone throughout, while woodwinds and brass likewise offered subtlety and warmth.
It was much the same at the end of the evening, in ...
Schubert's Symphony No. 5. Thakar got the music percolating nicely, and the musicians again paid keen attention to details of color and contrast.
In between came Rodrigo's exquisitely atmospheric Concierto de Aranjuez, with Ana Vidovic as soloist. The Peabody-trained guitarist demonstrated much more than effortless technique. Her phrasing, seemingly spontaneous and filled with delicate touches, communicated richly.
Thakar provided smooth support from the podium, and the orchestra purred nicely, with many a telling solo effort within the ensemble.
The famous Adagio, which enjoyed a whole new life years ago as soundtrack to a Chrysler TV ad featuring Ricardo Montalban and the ad man-created "rich Corinthian leather" (see below), emerged with particular care and tonal beauty; Leslie Starr's English horn solo here matched Vidovic's playing for elegance.
Although the audience did not exactly demand an encore from the guitarist, she returned to the stage to deliver one anyway -- a most welcome one, too. She played Tárrega's ever-haunting "Recuerdos de la Alhambra" with admirable finesse and a gently glowing tone.
PHOTO FROM ANAVIDOVIC.COM