By virtue of being half an hour shorter and containing no lesser works for ballast, the second concert of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's Summer MusicFest was an improvement on the first.
Yesterday's all-Schubert program was nicely chosen, blended and performed. All it needed was a bit of explanation for the audience's appreciation.
Unfortunately, while there are question-and-answer sessions after all the MusicFest programs, these come too late for anyone wanting to understand the music as it happens.
The central work on the program was one of the loveliest pieces of music ever penned, the Piano Quintet in A major, subtitled the "Trout" because Schubert used his song "Die Forelle" ("The Trout") as the theme of the fourth movement and built a set of variations upon it.
Music director Pinchas Zukerman chose to preface the quintet with the song, performed by Janice Chandler, who has a truly celestial voice. However, despite her expressive singing, the BSO undercut her by not providing a text or translation. (Again. This impaired last weekend's all-Mozart concert as well.)
The players were Ariel Shamai, violin; Zukerman, viola; Gary Hoffman, cello; Robert Barney, bass; and Brian Ganz, piano, of St. Mary's College, substituting for Cecile Licad, who sprained her foot playing basketball, said a BSO spokesman. Ganz also accompanied Chandler. He proved to be no second-stringer but a glittering player who matched the out-of-town guest artists with his musicianship.
The symphony spotlighted four of its own at the start of the program: Ivan Stefanovic and Ellen Pendleton, violins; Peter Minkler, viola; and Kristin Ostling, cello, playing the "Quartettsatz," a stormy first movement to a regrettably unfinished string quartet.
The program ended with the "Great" Symphony No. 9 in C major, in a really exciting performance conducted by Zukerman. The second movement, usually played more staidly, he took as its tempo marking indicated, con moto ("with motion"), at a martial pace that had guts and drive. Suddenly, little military snippets in the trumpets and strings made sense, and a cello melody that usually gets lost was right where it belonged and easy to hear.
The next Summer MusicFest concert, an all-Beethoven program, is at 7: 30 p.m. Friday. For tickets: 410-783-8000.
Pub Date: 6/25/98