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30.5.11

Karen Gomyo Plays Sibelius

Saturday evening, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performed works of Mahler, Sibelius, and Walton in the Music Center at Strathmore for a full house. The young virtuoso violinist Karen Gomyo joined the orchestra, which was in top form, in a remarkable performance of the Sibelius violin concerto. In a perfect match between performer and her instrument, the ex-Foulis Stradivarius with an even range exhibiting a pleasing blend of light and dark tone, Gomyo luxuriously shaped phrases, reinforced by the orchestra. Instead of wrapping closely around her violin to demand more sound, at times Gomyo would lean back and let its tone soar through the resonant acoustic. Gentle chords in perfect intonation by the horns were contrasted by the bassoons entering the soloist's path. The final movement triggered imaginary visions of a primeval Viking dance with pulsing pedal points from the orchestra over which the soloists writhes wildly.

Other Articles:

Robert Battey, Baltimore Symphony gives first-rate performance under Carlos Kalmar (Washington Post, May 29)

Tim Smith, Baltimore Symphony gives dynamic concert with Carlos Kalmar, Karen Gomyo (Baltimore Sun, May 28)

Marie Gullard, 'Once upon a time' at Strathmore for violinist Karen Gomyo and the BSO (Washington Examiner, May 26)
William Walton's thrillingly intense Symphony No. 1 was featured on the second half of the program. The orchestra's playing, while tight, also implied exciting risk; the brass had ample opportunity to splat; and the dueling timpani in the final movement's kaleidoscopic fugue were brilliant. The only weak link of the program was conductor Carlos Kalmar, whose overly broad gestures seemed to have been choreographed in front of a mirror. His seemingly limited stick technique left nuance to the orchestral musicians and their impressive concertmaster. He was more or less able to keep out of their way, except in the stifled What the Wild Flowers Tell Me of Mahler (arr. Britten), which needed massaging. It was great to hear the BSO in such fine form and to see their loyal Washington-based audience in town supporting them on a holiday weekend.

Next weekend's program from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra features the local premiere of a recent work by Osvaldo Golijov, Sidereus, Emanuel Ax in the first Brahms piano concerto, and Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (June 2 to 5).

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