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Marin, Savion and the BSO at Strathmore

March 3, 2007

Savion Glover
The Washington Post 3/5/07:   Marin Alsop, flirting once again with the notion that symphony concerts can be (shudder) fun, brought a hugely entertaining "celebration of dance" to the Music Center at Strathmore on Friday night -- part of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's "Symphony With a Twist" series.

Actually, it was more a "celebration of Savion Glover" -- the tap-dancing phenom who's 50 percent rubber and 50 percent exuberant grin. As the BSO launched into Duke Ellington's jazz-classical suite "The River," Glover mounted an amplified platform and began to tap, turning the work into a sort of concerto for percussion and orchestra.

Glover is almost scarily gifted -- he moves with a spontaneous and utterly natural fluidity, and appears powered by the sheer joy of being alive. And what came out was a solo so detailed, so colorful and so full of the complex rhythms of the human body that it almost overwhelmed the orchestra itself -- a force-of-nature performance that brought down the house.

James P. Johnson
The rest of the program wasn't quite as spectacular, but offered jazzy fare like James P. Johnson's "Victory Stride," which rolled and strutted with propulsive rhythm and featured fine solos from half a dozen BSO players. Dominick Argento's "Tango" from "The Dream of Valentino" was given a lush but languid performance that, for all its subtle colors, lacked the erotic tension that makes a tango tango. But Leonard Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from "West Side Story" was a surprising pleasure -- like seeing old friends in an unfamiliar setting. The orchestrations may have been a bit froufrou at times ("Maria" played pizzicato?), but the whole thing had a retro '60s charm that you had to love.


Henri Dutilleux
Lots of other good stuff this weekend, too:  the Post's Mark Estren says the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra (with Yundi Li in Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1), played "as precisely as a chamber group, but with rafter-rattling power when needed" in a mostly-Strauss program (read the review here); Cecelia Porter heard the Aron Quartett's "inspiring" performance of Schoenberg, Haydn and Korngold at the Library of Congress (read here); and Tim Page has a lengthy review of an amazing program by the Left Bank Quartet that included Messiaen's "Quartet for the End of Time" (with the NSO's Loren Kitt on clarinet), a "joyfully weird" piece by Heinrich Biber called "The Assumption of the Virgin";  and Henri Dutilleux's brilliant string quartet "Ainsi la nuit."  Page was not so enthusiastic about the Dutilleux, but it's a work I'm almost magnetically drawn to -- a stunning, perfect piece of modernist writing that ranks up there with the top quartets of the 20th Century. IMHO, of course.


Posted on Monday, March 5, 2007 at 10:13AM by Registered CommenterStephen Brookes | CommentsPost a Comment

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