In performance: Josefowicz with BSO
Josefowicz dazzles BSO
by Joe Banno
John Adams’s 1994 Violin Concerto gives its soloist quite a workout. As Leila Josefowicz played the first movement’s relentlessly busy solo line Thursday with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, there were moments when she appeared to be wrestling her violin into submission. Not that the athletic effort registered in her sound: She delivered finely wrought tone throughout that taxing movement, the radiant second and the hyper-kinetic third, infusing all those swooping and darting figures with passion and focus.
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The concerto’s mix of moodily shifting rhythmic patterns and evocative color (notably from marimbas, tubular bells and synthesizers), made it an apt coupling for Stravinsky’s “Firebird” Suite — another study in pulse and atmosphere that followed the Adams work on the program at Meyerhoff Hall. Conductor Robert Spano, who does some of his finest work with modern scores, drew out countless internal lines and textures in both works, and built the climactic sequences in the “Firebird” with a real sense of the music’s theatricality.
Rimsky-Korsakov’s luscious “Sheherazade” made an unlikely, and rather epic, curtain-raiser. Spano again brought out inner voices — the languorous phrasing and Arabic inflections in the second-movement bassoon solo were a particular delight — conducting a reading that ideally balanced sweep, clarity and sensuous allure. The BSO’s wonderfully fat, pungent lower brass commanded attention, the strings played with their accustomed unity and silken sheen, and concertmaster Jonathan Carney brought great refinement to the violin solos, with hushed high notes in the final bars spun of seamless silver thread.
— Joe Banno
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