News

05.05.2018

Praise for Baltimore Symphony Debut

 

Nicola made her debut this week with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Marin Alsop. The performance was met with glowing reviews including the one below from the Baltimore Sun. Nicola also spent some time working with the orchestras youth programme ‘Orchkids’ taking part in their season performance.

 

..The superb, Scottish-born violinist Nicola Benedetti, in her BSO debut, delivered the solo part with a sweet, but penetrating, tone and a keen sense of the music’s rich character.

 BSO delivers bracing Bernstein program with Benedetti, Alsop

Tim Smith  The Baltimore Sun

But you can’t miss the attention generated by the 100th anniversary of the birth of Leonard Bernstein, the composer, conductor and pianist who possessed seemingly super-human talents. This milestone is being celebrated far, wide and often.

Locally, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra chimed in over the weekend with an all-Bernstein program that showcased some of his most familiar work composed for the musical theater, as well as one of his most substantive scores for the concert stage.

There was room, too, for three fun pieces written on the occasion of Bernstein’s 70th birthday by eight notable composers and premiered at the Tanglewood summer music festival in Massachusetts, two years before his death in 1990.

The orchestral miniatures have in common some sort of variation on “New York, New York,” the big tune from Bernstein’s musical “On the Town.” Of course, a refrain of “Happy Birthday” slips in, too.

BSO music director selected three of these 1988 birthday salutes to open her program.

Luciano Berio’s “For Lenny” is a swift mash-up of classical music’s greatest hits. John Corigliano does cheeky stuff in “For Lenny, with love — and candor,” referencing the other Big Apple song, the one composed by John Kander and famously bellowed by Sinatra (“If you can make it there…”).

The contribution by John Williams — “To Lenny! To Lenny!” — shows off a great deal of cleverness, wit and enthusiasm. It’s the most substantive and endearing of the three and, on Friday night at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, inspired a particularly vivacious performance.

Bernstein’s 1954 Serenade, a concerto for violin and orchestra in all but name, was inspired by Plato’s “Symposium.” Had Bernstein written it after being more open about his own sexuality, it might have been an even more intriguing work (there’s a lot of same-sex talk in the “Symposium”).

Still, the Serenade is fascinating, imaginative, eventful. And you don’t have to think Platonic thoughts at all.

As Bernstein friend and biographer Humphrey Burton put it, “The work can also be perceived as a portrait of Bernstein himself: grand and noble in the first movement, childlike in the second, boisterous and playful in the third, serenely calm and tender in the fourth, a doom-laden prophet and then a jazzy iconoclast in the finale.”