ASO's mix of modern, romantic

THE BALTIMORE SUN

This weekend's Annapolis Symphony Orchestra concert -- the fourth in the 2004-2005 series -- features guest conductor Robert Moody with a program of works by two Russian romantics and a contemporary Mexican composer, spotlighting cello soloist Zuill Bailey.

For Moody, the Phoenix Symphony conductor, this is a return trip to the ASO podium. He conducted the ASO's Family Concert last season.

A frequent guest conductor with orchestras across the United States, Moody has return engagements this season with orchestras in Detroit; Fort Worth, Texas; and Houston.

The program for tomorrow and Saturday nights will feature Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme for cello and orchestra, Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2 in E Major and Arturo Marquez's Danzon No. 2.

Considered Tchaikovsky's musical heir, the Russian Rachmaninoff -- like Tchaikovsky -- created sweeping melodies cherished by concertgoers.

Performing on a 1693 Matteo Goffriller cello formerly owned by Mischa Schneider of the Budapest Quartet, the charismatic American cellist Bailey makes his Annapolis debut at tomorrow's concert.

Praised for his technical skill, phrasing and rich tone, Bailey is also known for the passion he brings to his playing. Tchaikovsky's cello work should provide him adequate opportunity to create musical excitement.

Composed in 1876, Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme presents seven variations on a melody that the Russian wrote in tribute to his favorite composer, the Austrian-born Mozart. Beginning with a short introduction for the orchestra and the soloist's statement of the theme, the variations are separated by orchestral interludes.

Rachmaninoff wrote Symphony No. 2 in E minor in Dresden, Germany, in 1907. It was first performed in St. Petersburg, Russia, in February 1908 with the composer conducting what have become familiar melodies.

The symphony begins with a somber main theme, followed by the allegro, which is filled with lush melodies. The third movement, the adagio, contains some of Rachmaninoff's most recognizable themes. The finale, the allegro vivace, is highly energetic.

The Marquez composition brings a different flavor to the weekend performances.

In recognition of the importance of dance to urban music, Marquez based his 1994 work for full orchestra, Danzon No. 2, on salon dances that contain nostalgic melodies from Mexico City. The basic rhythm is Afro-Cuban, with some similarity to a tango. The work's initial, restrained theme gets fuller and more sensual as the dance develops.

The concerts begin at 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis. Free lectures will precede both concerts. Moody and pianist-musicologist Rachel Franklin will speak one hour before the performances.

For tickets, call the ASO box office at 410-263-0907.

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