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S & H Concert Review

The Baltimore Symphony, Théàtre des Champs-Elysées, December 3, 2001 (FC)


The Paris performance of this fine orchestra had different program from the all-Brahms programs for their turn in the U. K. It featured an early work by American composer Samuel Barber and a Liszt Piano Concerto with the formidable American pianist, André Watts as soloist. The impressively played Brahms Symphony No. 2, played in England, concluded the second half.

For the opening work for this concert, Yuri Temirkanov chose the First Essay for Orchestra of Samuel Barber. This work, Opus 12, is a sister to Barber's most popular work, the famous Opus 11 Adagio for Strings. Scored for brass and wind instruments in addition to strings, it still featured a soaring principal theme played by the string section and the closeness to the Adagio is clearly apparent.

It was certainly a bravura performance of the Second Concerto of Franz Liszt and André Watts attacked the piano with a gusto that recalled the late Emil Gilels. It was a megawatt delivery, full of excitement and detail. Temirkanov rather than just beating time, which so many do, treated this work like it was Brahms, layering it with sculpted phrasing and rich orchestral colour. What emerged was a muscular and profound performance which gave this opus new relevance.

Frank Cadenhead


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