Not every ensemble gets more than one shot at this in a given season. It says something about the Baltimore Symphony's stature that it played two Carnegie Hall gigs over the weekend, offering more or less standard fare Saturday night, then a gospel version of Handel's "Messiah" Sunday afternoon.
The New York Times weighed in favorably on both. Allan Kozinn, covering Saturday's performance, said "The orchestra sounds terrific these days." In Barber's Second Essay for Orchestra, "the woodwinds played with uncommon richness and character, and the string sound was gracefully shaped." Kozinn described listeners "wrapped in the sheer beauty of the sound" during the BSO's account of Beethoven's "Eroica" in Mahler's arrangement ("a fascinating alternative view").
There were high marks, too, for Simon Trpceski's "galvanizing account" of Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3. As for Alsop, Kozinn found that
her approach tended to involve "patience slowly giving way to explosiveness."
Steve Smith, covering Sunday's "Too Hot to Handel" for the Times, sounded upbeat: "You could hardly have wished for a livelier performance or for a better leader than Ms. Alsop, the rare symphonic conductor entirely at ease in vernacular idioms."
The Washington Post's Anne Midgette, reviewing Saturday's concert, took aim first at a program that favored "music written mainly by dead white European men." Midgette thought the Beethoven symphony sounded "more driven than lush," but found the account of the Barber work successful and liked Trpceski's performance of the Prokofiev concerto. She concluded that "it was a solid evening from an orchestra that sounds, if not breathtaking, in pretty good shape."
PHOTO COURTESY OF BSO