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BWW Reviews: Baltimore Symphony Features Movie Music Maven Jean-Yves Thibaudet


When I first saw the 2013-14 Baltimore Symphony Orchestra schedule, one concert jumped out at was entitled "Thibaudet Plays Bernstein".

I remember so well French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet's last time at the Meyerhoff Symphony Halls in November, 2009 when he performed Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" under Maestra Marin Alsop. I first became familiar with Thibaudet thanks to his marvelous piano solos in the films "Atonement" and "Pride and Prejudice". His performance was just plain outstanding.

The evening started with George Gershwin's wonderful ten minute "Cuban Overture" written in 1932. It is written in three sections and the first and last make you want to do the Rumba. The middle portion included a hint of "Rhapsody in Blue". The entire perscussion section shined, especially Christopher Williams who seemed to be having a blast on the bongos. It was a great way to open the concert.

To end the first half of the evening, Maestra Alsop took to the microphone to talk a little about Leonard Bernstein's Symphony No. 2, "The Age of Anxiety". Alsop mentioned Bernstein wrote three symphonies, this was his second. The basis for the work was a poem by W. H. Auden in 1947 of the same name. Four individuals meet at a bar, three men and a woman named Rosetta. Then they head to Rosetta's apartment and listen to the radio about news about World War II. She mentioned the beautiful solo of two clarinets and a descending scale by the flute...the stages of life. Birth and innocence is represented by the solo piano. She continued that adolscence was represented by an awkward meter, 5/8 time. This was followed by adulthood.

She mentioned the work deals with the meaning of life. Bernstein used atonality to represent crisis in life. When the four individuals head to Rosetta's apartment, each remembers snippets of the party. What emerges is a terrific muted trumpet portraying a sense of faith. (Principal Trumpet Andrew Balio was just plain terrific.) Alsop then mentioned the performance was being recorded by Naxos records. Not one audible cough could be heard.

Due to the complexity of the piece, Thibaudet used a page-turner for his music. After the 35 minute piece, he gave Alsop a big hug to a thunderous standing ovation.

The native of Lyon wasn't done yet. He returned after intermission for the lovely jazzy Ravel Piano Concerto in G Minor. Here, the soloist didn't need any music and rocked back and forth thoroughly enjoying himself during this wonderful piece.

Thibaudet and Alsop looked exhausted.

The concert ended with a great rendition of Ravel's "Suite No. 2 from "Daphne et Chloe".

It was just as I expected...a night to remember.

For a nice preview of the concert, see Baltimore Sun's Tim Smith's article on September 27, 2013.

Coming next to the BSO is "The Streisand Songbook with Ann Hampton Callaway October 11 to October 13, 2013. Conductor Jack Everly conducts. On the piano will be the Resident Music Director of the Signature Theatre, Jon Kalbfleisch. The first part of the program features a tribute to Irving Berlin, Cole Porter's "Just One of Those Things" and the Overture to FUNNY GIRL by Jules Styne. Callaway will announce her program from the stage.

For tickets, call 410-783-8000 or visit

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From This Author Charles Shubow