With a guest conductor at its helm, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra presented an energetic and elegantly expressive concert of two perennial favorites Thursday evening at the Music Center at Strathmore.
Under the baton of Tito Muñoz, music director of the Phoenix Symphony, the BSO dove into Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, the “New World” symphony, Op. 95, with vitality and nuances. Conducting without a score, Muñoz made full use of his podium space, swooping his arms to encourage bright, galloping passages and floating his left hand and rippling his fingers in the air to massage phrases into tidy conclusions. Conveying passion through his demeanor, Muñoz inspired the musicians to create colorful contrasts in the first movement, emotionally wrought melodies in the Largo, sprightly technique in the Scherzo and resounding joy in the regal finale.
In Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64, the BSO featured Juilliard student Ariel Horowitz as soloist. Horowitz gave the concerto a sweetly lyrical, if somewhat methodical, performance. She took care to enunciate technical passages and excelled in the Andante’s plaintive melody. But nerves caused some rushing in the virtuosic sections and a timid tone in others. Still, with time and experience, the young violinist will find confidence to put her own stamp on a work and play with spontaneity.
Samuel Barber’s Overture to “The School for Scandal” — an eight-minute piece filled with alternating mercurial and tender statements — opened the concert and spotlighted the BSO’s meticulous playing.
Jean is a freelance writer.