“On Thursday night at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra music director Marin Alsop shaped accounts [of Debussy’s La Mer and Ravel’s La Valse] that never felt routine,” writes Tim Smith in Sunday’s (1/14) Baltimore Sun. “The orchestra sounded terrific in both pieces… In … Saint-Saens’ ‘Carnival of the Animals’ … in place of [Ogden] Nash’s poems, the BSO invited Baltimore rapper Wordsmith to fashion a new text…. The artist’s delivery, full of theatrical flourishes, proved fun…. [Alsop] brought [Philip Glass’s] ‘Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists’ into the orchestra’s repertoire on this occasion, a most welcome addition. I still recall the jolt of the concerto’s first Baltimore performance in 2001 by the Peabody Symphony Orchestra. On Thursday, the jolt proved even more intense. The daunting solo assignments were brilliantly handled by BSO principal timpanist James Wyman and his National Symphony Orchestra counterpart, Jauvon Gilliam. Both drew abundant power and a wealth of tonal nuances from their batteries of timpani. Alsop kept the orchestra in a taut groove throughout, ensuring a galvanizing impact in the whirlwind finale, where Glass tosses in almost giddy, Gershwin-esque woodwind flourishes amid the orchestral pulsations and the driving impact of the timpani.”

Posted January 17, 2018