Friday evening, Marin Alsop led the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in the world premiere of Jonathan Leshnoff’s Starburst, Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto with Gil Shaham, and Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony to a packed house. The program was introduced with a dramatic plea from BSO oboist Michael Lisicky, who led an arm-waving pep rally harping on the importance of purchasing subscriptions while pointing out the voluntary twenty percent pay cut made by the musicians to keep the doors open.
Starburst is an intensely driven work that unearths brilliantly unique colors through abstractly weaved lines. Instead of deriving color primarily through percussion, as often is the case with contemporary symphonic works, Leshnoff (pictured) finds purpose in every note with the winds and strings creating inimitable microcosms. When the piece eases midway through, the strings shimmer and muted trumpets hail, followed by the brass and xylophone driving the piece to its bursting, albeit slightly superficial end. There was enough material packed into this brief work to warrant a full symphony by this Baltimore-based composer. We have covered Leshnoff’s interesting Six Miniatures for Violin and Percussion, and your reviewer is currently preparing his intricate Cosmic Echoes for trumpet and organ for performance this week. Additionally, Leshnoff has some interesting commissions in the pipeline.
Joe Banno, BSO, Alsop offer new "Starbu[r]st," new-sounding Stravinsky with Shaham (Washington Post, May 2)
Tim Smith, BSO offers Leshnoff premiere, Stravinsky concerto, Rachmaninoff symphony (Baltimore Sun, April 30)
Next week's concerts by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will feature Beethoven's Triple Concerto (May 6 to 9).