Thursday September 10th 8 p.m. – The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra previewed its upcoming season with a concert. It was array of classical snippets intended to give you a taste of the exciting season ahead. Among the composers represented were the likes of Beethoven, Debussy, Mendelssohn, Prokofiev, Vivaldi and Edward Elgar. Christopher Seaman conducted the BSO Season Preview Concert at at The Music Center at Strathmore, which included a showing from concert master violinist Jonathan Carney. It was the opening to a pair of performances, the Friday concert being held at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.
The program was a mix of various movements acting as sort of an overture to the upcoming BSO season. Thursday marked Christopher Seaman’s return to the BSO after a fifteen year absence. He has an impressive resume as a conductor. He was the Music Director of the Rochester Philharmonic in New York until 2011. He’s a regular guest conductor having performed routinely with the Nashville Symphony and has also conducted the Detroit, Houston, St Louis and Seattle Symphony orchestras. He’s also a frequent visitor to Australia and Asia where he has conducted the Hong Kong Philharmonic and Sydney Symphony orchestras.
It was an appealing mix of music. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 “Pastoral,” and Vivaldi’s “Spring” have such a naturalistic sound. I always found music that imitates nature to be fascinating. That’s what in essence Vivaldi and Beethoven were trying to do. Capture the sound and feeling of spring and beautiful weather in general. It’s a very avant-garde technique for the seventeenth and eighteenth century when Vivaldi and Beethoven practiced this in their works but it’s still a approach used in music today. Hearing the comforting familiarity of these songs was splendid.
Numbers like Prokofiev’s “The Montagues and Capulets” were like a raucous clash between powers. The sound was filled with danger and suspense and action. The clamoring introduction made way for exciting horns stanza that was both rhythmic and dark. It’s great villain music and was unbelievably enjoyable. Prokofiev’s version of Romeo and Juliet is a fantastic version! These selections were my favorites of the evening.
Debussy’s “Ibéria” was a pleasant surprise. Debussy is known for his subtle approach and this score showed off his mastery of this technique. This was another favorite performed this evening. It was hard not to have a favorite in a program filled with such gems.
This was a terrific start to the BSO’s 2015 season. Things get really interesting next week when they perform Rachmanioff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini at Strathmore, Thursday September 17th with conductor Marin Alsop and guest musician pianist Olga Kern. It’s a great time of year for orchestral premiers and classical music!