With BSO in Asia, Philadelphia comes to Baltimore

Sunday's Arts & Entertainment section incorrectly listed a performance in the schedule of the Peabody Institute's Opera Theatre and Symphony Orchestra. The groups will perform Haydn's "The Perils of Fidelity" on Nov. 18-20.

The Sun regrets the error.


The big musical event this season in Baltimore takes place outside Baltimore. It will be the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's first trip to Asia -- a four-week tour this October and November that will take the BSO and its music director, David Zinman, to cities in Korea, Taiwan and Japan. Fortunately, however, there are several other musical occasions that should entice music lovers with the spice of anticipation.

One of those events will be made possible by the BSO's absence. On Nov. 1, for the first time in over a decade, the great Philadelphia Orchestra will visit Baltimore. The Philadelphia's 22 concerts here, which date to the beginning of this century, were once the premier musical events of this city. Tickets were all but impossible to get, and families handed down series subscriptions from generation to generation. That began to change in the late 1960s, as the once lowly BSO became a better orchestra.


Unfortunately, the BSO's improvement, while a good thing for the city, also meant that regular concerts by this country's great orchestras -- the Boston Symphony and the New York Philharmonic were also regular visitors -- became a thing of the past. One hopes that this visit by the Philadelphians will revive an important tradition.

The concert should be terrific. Joshua Bell, perhaps this country's finest home-grown violinist, will perform Robert Schumann's neglected Violin Concerto, and Christoph Eschenbach -- one of the handful of genuinely great conducting talents -- will lead the Philadelphia in Mahler's mighty Symphony No. 5. Another enticing orchestra visit will be one sponsored by the Yale Gordon Trust at Temple Oheb Shalom on March 9. The Warsaw Sinfonia will be conducted by none other than Krzysztof Penderecki, one of the greatest composers of the second half of the 20th century.

Penderecki will conduct his own music as well as that of Beethoven and Mendelssohn.

The other orchestral concert that aficionados will most want to attend takes place Sept. 25 at the Kennedy Center and features Valery Gergiev conducting the Kirov Orchestra of St. Petersburg. Gergiev, a Russian still in his 30s, is perhaps the hottest young conductor in the world. American orchestras and audiences seem to adore him, but he has repeatedly turned down offers of important American posts because of his loyalty to the Kirov Orchestra -- Russia's equivalent to the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra -- and his devotion to maintaining the great musical traditions of his country.

Before leaving for Asia, the BSO will present concerts featuring Yo-Yo Ma (Oct. 13-15) and Anne Akiko Meyers (Oct. 19-20), who will later each perform with the orchestra while on tour.

For the season's most unusual operatic offering, music lovers will also have to go to the Kennedy Center. The Washington Opera is staging Eugen d'Albert's "Tiefland" (in March and April).

D'Albert (1864-1932) was one of the greatest pianists in Europe -- he was a favorite student of Liszt -- and was considered one of the most important composers of his day. His early operas were written under the influence of Wagner, but "Tiefland" (1902), his seventh opera, was influenced by Mascagni's "Cavallera Rusticana" and Leoncavallo's "Pagliacci." This hot-blooded and passionate work remains enormously popular in the German-speaking world and is a fascinating example of how the verismo style of the Italianate south could be translated to the Germanic north. "Tiefland" was first performed at the Metropolitan Opera in 1908, but the Washington Opera's production may be the first in this country in more than 70 years.

Two other interesting operatic productions this season will be forthcoming from the Peabody Opera Theatre in Friedberg Hall: Mozart's "Idomeneo" (Nov. 18, 19 and 20) and Leonard Bernstein's "Candide" (March 9, 10 and 11). "Idomeneo" is a great work that has achieved standard repertory status in the last 30 years in the opera houses of large cities such as New York and San Francisco, but performances in cities Baltimore's size are rare and are to be prized.


This is also the case with "Candide," one of Bernstein's most fascinating theater works, but a problematical one that was a failure when it was first performed on Broadway in the 1950s. The question with "Candide" is this: Is it musical theater or is it opera? Baltimore listeners will be able to decide for themselves.

The highlight of the Baltimore Opera Company's season is likely to be a rare duo recital by two superstar singers: tenor Chris Merritt (who lives in Baltimore) and bass-baritone James Morris (who was raised here) will join forces at Meyerhoff Hall Feb. 26.

Three other recitals no one should miss are by pianist Richard Goode (Sept. 18 in the Candlelight Series in Columbia at Howard Community College's Smith Theatre); pianist Evgeny Kissin (Jan. at the Kennedy Center); and cellist Nathaniel Rosen (March 26 at Shriver Hall in the Shriver Series' annual Piatigorsky Memorial Concert).

Goode, who will play an all-Beethoven program, has succeeded his teacher, Rudolf Serkin, as the United States' most interesting Beethoven player. The 23-year-old Kissin, who was one of the greatest prodigies in the history of music, is now the greatest Chopin player since Arthur Rubinstein was in his prime.

And Rosen, who is not as famous as he deserves to be, sounds more like his great teacher, Piatigorsky, than any other cellist now before the public.

No music season is ever complete without a performance of Bach's B Minor Mass, a work that ranks with Einstein's Theory of Relativity and Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel as one of the giant works of the human imagination. Tom Hall, music director of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, rarely -- if ever -- disappoints in the music of Bach, and the B Minor Mass will conclude the society's subscription season in Goucher College's Kraushaar Auditorium on May 7.

For the record