Perhaps to make up for its absence for three weeks during its fall tour of Japan and Taiwan, and for the eight-month absence of music director David Zinman during a sabbatical that begins in January 1995, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has put together the most impressive lineup of guest conductors and soloists in its recent history for its 1994-1995 season.
In its brochure for the 1994-1995 season, mailed to BSO subscribers this weekend, the BSO announced:
* More important guest conductors: While most good second-tier orchestras such as the BSO find it relatively easy to engage well-known soloists, their most difficult task is securing conductors of the first rank. This year the orchestra has engaged more interesting conductors than ever. The two most significant debuts will be made by Finland's Paavo Berglund and Germany's Herman Michael.
Berglund, who has been among Europe's most prominent conductors for more than two decades and is widely considered a nonpareil in the music of his native Scandinavia, will conduct one of his specialties in Sibelius' Symphony No. 1 (Feb. 24 and 25, 1995).
Michael, once the late Herbert Von Karajan's assistant at the Vienna State Opera, is best known as an opera conductor. He will conduct excerpts from Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde" as well as the American premiere of Otto Ketting's Symphony No. 3 (April 12 and 13, 1995).
Headlining the list of interesting guest conductors making reappearances are Great Britain's Roger Norrington (March 30, 31 and April 1, 1995) in two of his specialties, Schumann and Mozart, and Russia's Yuri Temirkanov (May 10, 11, 12 and 13, 1995) in a program that includes the music of Shostakovich.
* A roster of unusually interesting soloists: You can tell a lot about an orchestra's taste from its commitment to introducing its audiences to important artists who are not widely known.
The BSO is bringing the popular superstars it needs to keep its audiences happy -- cellist Yo-Yo Ma, (Oct. 13, 14 and 15, 1994), violinist Itzhak Perlman (May 24 and 25, 1995) and pianist Andre Watts (April 12 and 13, 1995). But it's also bringing in a number of great, if lesser-known, musicians to challenge its audiences. Among them are two great Russian pianists in their prime who are only now beginning to make careers in the West -- Dmitri Alexeev (May 11 and 12, 1995) and Elizo Virsiladze (Feb. 3, 4 and 5, 1995); also, the scholar-pianist Robert Levin, who also happens to be one of the most interesting Mozart players alive (March 30, 31 and April 1, 1995). Particular highlights should include pianist Nelson Freire's performances of Brahms's Concerto No. 2 (Sept. 22 and 23, 1994) and soprano Dawn Upshaw in Mozart arias, and in the world premiere of "The Heavenly Feast," a new song cycle commissioned by her from the talented young American composer Robert Beaser (Dec. 8, 9 and 10, 1994).
* New works: Besides the Beaser and Ketting works, the BSO will perform Christopher Rouse's new violin concerto, with concertmaster Herbert Greenberg as soloist (March 9 and 10, 1995), and Richard Danielpour's new cello concerto, with Yo-Yo Ma (Oct. 13, 14 and 15, 1994).
* Special events: While the BSO is away in the Far East, the Philadelphia Orchestra will make its first appearance in Baltimore in over a decade (Nov. 1, 1994), performing Schumann and Mahler under the baton of Christoph Eschenbach.
Edward Polochick, the orchestra and the BSO Chorus will celebrate the chorus's 25th anniversary with an all-Mozart program that includes the mighty "Requiem" (March 22, 1995). And, in its concluding concerts (June 15, 16 and 17, 1995), BSO associate conductor David Lockington will conduct the uncut film score -- not the cantata the composer edited from it -- of Sergei Eisenstein's "Alexander Nevsky," while the audience will see a restored print of this famous Russian movie with subtitles.
* An all-Mozart Summerfest: For the second summer in a row (this July 14-30), the BSO and music director Zinman will devote themselves to the music of the world's most popular composer. Pianists Barry Douglas and Christian Zacharias and violinists Joshua Bell and Pamela Frank will join the orchestra to play some of Mozart's greatest concertos. And -- for the first time in Summerfest's history -- there will also be pre-concert recitals, as nTC Douglas and Frank (July 23) and Zacharias and Bell (July 30) combine forces to perform the composer's Sonatas for Piano and Violin.