Symphony looks to past for the season ahead


If you experience a bit of deja vu when attending Annapolis Symphony Orchestra concerts at Maryland Hall next season, it won't be by accident.

For the 1995-1996 season, the roster of soloists and even some of the repertoire itself have been selected precisely because of their past connections with the orchestra.

Kicking off next season will be an appearance by Leon Fleisher, the great pianist, teacher and ASO conductor emeritus whose musical magnetism did so much to advance the Capital City's artistic fortunes during the orchestra's early years.

Afflicted with a muscle ailment in his right hand for much of his adult life, Mr. Fleisher has devoted his concert performances to the several concertos composed for left hand alone.

The most notable piece is the Ravel concerto, which was commissioned by Paul Wittgenstein, the Austrian pianist who lost his right arm during World War I.

Another familiar face returns to Maryland Hall in November when Ruben Gonzalez, co-concertmaster of Daniel Barenboim's Chicago Symphony Orchestra, joins Gisele Ben-Dor for the Beethoven Violin Concerto.

Mr. Gonzalez, who has collaborated with the ASO twice before in the Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky concertos, also is a composer PTC and conductor. This trip, he brings with him a sample of his work, "Dionisias and the Solitary Wolf," which he will conduct.

The concert promises to be a three-way tour de force by one of the ASO's favorite guest artists.

Tzimon Barto, the American pianist and body builder who performed such a crowd-pleasing Rachmaninoff Third last season, returns in February for a favorite war horse, the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto.

In March however, the ASO will provide its own soloists. Percussionist Donald Spinelli will perform the Robert Macht Percussion Concerto, and cellist Suzanne Orban, whose long overdue solo debut was snowed out by the winter of 1994, finally will get to play the Saint-Saens A-minor concerto with her orchestra.

Also in March, ASO concertmasters past and present -- Brynn Albanese and Philip Spletzer -- join forces for Bach's Concerto for Two Violins, and principal trumpet Ted Jones joins ASO pianist Kerri LeJeune for the saucy First Piano Concerto of Dmitri Shostakovich.

The season concludes with the immense Ninth Symphony of Beethoven, which was last performed at these concerts under Peter Bay's auspices in 1989. In the great "Ode to Joy," another reunion will take place as the ASO is joined by the 120-plus singers of the Annapolis Chorale for the composer's stirring hymn to universal brotherhood.

Not everything next season will evoke the past. For the first time in recent memory, ASO audiences will hear Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" in its blockbusting Ravel orchestration and "The Planets," Gustav Holst's popular set of symphonic poems keyed so evocatively to our solar system.

We also get a pair of 20th century works that are a bit farther off the beaten path: the extraordinary Second Symphony of Charles Ives and Shostakovich's "Age of Gold" Suite.

David Ott's "Annapolis Overture" is a new work commissioned expressly for the October opening, but even there we find a familiar face.

It was Ott's Concerto for Two Cellos, you might recall, that made such a tremendous impression at Maryland Hall in April 1993, when Ms. Ben-Dor conducted National Symphony cellists David Teie and Stephen Honigberg in one of the finest concerts of her tenure here.

To subscribe to the Annapolis Symphony's 1995-1996 season, call 269-1132.


* Oct. 20 and 21:

Gisele Ben-Dor, conductor

Leon Fleisher, piano

Ott: Annapolis Overture

Ravel: Concerto for the Left Hand

Ives: Symphony No. 2

* Nov. 17 and 18:

Gisele Ben-Dor, conductor

Ruben Gonzalez, conductor and violin

Gonzalez: Dionisias and the Solitary Wolf

Mussorgsky (orch. Ravel): Pictures at an Exhibition

Beethoven Violin Concerto

* Feb. 2 and 3

Gisele Ben-Dor, conductor

Tzimon Barto, piano

Holst: The Planets

Shostakovich: Suite from "Age of Gold"

Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1

* March 1 and 2

Gisele Ben-Dor, conductor

Donald Spinelli, percussion

Brynn Albanese and Philip Spletzer, violins

Suzanne Orban, cello

Kerri LeJeune, piano

Ted Jones, trumpet

Macht: Concerto for Percussion

Shostakovich: Piano Concerto No. 1

Bach: Concerto for Two Violins

Saint-Saens: Cello Concerto in A minor

* April 19 and 20

Gisele Ben-Dor, conductor

Soloists: TBA

The Annapolis Chorale

American Work: TBA

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9

All concerts are at 8 p.m.

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