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Needleman and BSO Bursting with Style

The Thursday evening performance at the Music Center at Strathmore showed the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at their finest: poised, stylish, and featuring their own Principal Oboist Katherine Needleman (pictured) as concerto soloist to a nearly full house.

In Haydn’s Symphony No. 100 in G major (“Military”) the orchestra was reduced to chamber forces and struck the elusive balance of exuding both strength and lightness simultaneously. Leadership of this stylishness was shared equally by guest conductor Carlos Kalmar and concertmaster Jonathan Carney. The combination of Haydn’s bright key, perfect tempos, and cohesive ensemble drew the listener into a heightened receptive awareness. The joy experienced from tuttis of excessive triangle and bass drum remedied any muddled clarity in the quick, repeated notes of the top of the theme of the final Presto movement.

It is likely that Bohuslav Martinů's Oboe Concerto was new to most ears in the hall; however, many in the audience likely were in attendance to hear Baltimore native Katherine Needleman in the solo part. With soaring and sparkling tone, Needleman and the orchestra – with the help of the piano – created unique neoclassical flavors for the audience to savor. Each of the soloist’s notes were clear, while faster groupings sparkled. Neo-Baroque dialogues and echoes in the final movement between the soloist and herself provided a contrast to the piano clusters under the soloist and multiple cadenzas in the second and third movements that were always lyrical, even if busy. The quality of Needleman’s musicianship is testament to the legacy of her teacher Richard Woodhams, Principal Oboist of the Philadelphia Orchestra and professor at the Curtis Institute of Music, and the musical ancestry of his teachers.

Other Reviews:

Tim Smith, Kalmar leads BSO in colorful, engaging program (Clef Notes, January 23)
The BSO gave a contained reading of Dvořák’s eight Slavonic Dances with meticulous control of volume and flexible tempo. Although the conductor generally seemed to conduct with the orchestra instead of being ahead, the outcome was splendid, despite that your reviewer is not quite sure if the concertmaster or conductor was really in charge. The string sections were at their utmost lushness for the stylish waltzes and the brass never went overboard until the very end. Do not wait to purchase your tickets.

This concert will be repeated this evening (January 23, 8 pm) and, in a reduced Casual Concert version -- without the Martinů oboe concerto -- tomorrow morning (January 24, 11 am), both in Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That Martinu was the best thing I have ever heard on any instrument.