Chamber group's season of new sounds

The Baltimore Sun

For the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, the seemingly innocuous programming theme of string instruments has actually turned into a case of "and now for something completely different."

Sure, a standard violin concerto by Mozart has popped up along the way this season. But next month, in a concert postponed from a snowy Valentine's Day, the BCO will offer a violin concerto and other string instrument-focused works by a largely forgotten Beethoven contemporary, Ignaz Pleyel.

The season opened with a program featuring an ancient Chinese string instrument, the pipa. And tomorrow night, the BCO introduces its audience to an equally exotic item, the charango - described by BCO music director Markand Thakar as "a South American folk instrument vaguely related to a banjo."

The program includes Three Pictures From My Life for charango and string orchestra composed by charango virtuoso Hector Martinez Morales. Surrounding that intriguing novelty will be music by much more familiar fellows - Mozart (Divertimento in D, K. 136) and Tchaikovsky (Serenade for Strings).

The BCO performs at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at Goucher College's Kraushaar Auditorium, 1021 Dulaney Valley Road.

Tickets are $24 and $28. Note that the BCO has a new policy this season of free tickets for all students. Call 410-704-2787.

Period instrumentals

It looks like a good weekend ahead to hear music from the 17th and 18th centuries performed on period instruments.

The Pittsburgh-based Chatham Baroque will explore works by Handel, Corelli, Telemann and others in a program presented by Candlelight Concerts at 8 p.m. Saturday at Howard Community College's Smith Theatre, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia. Tickets are $12 to $29. Call 443-367-3123.

Baltimore's Pro Musica Rara will wrap up its subscription concert series with a focus on the two pre-eminent classicists - Haydn and Mozart - and the young Beethoven. Fortepiano expert Edmund Battersby and violinist Cynthia Roberts will join cellist and Pro Musica artistic director Allen Whear in the program at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Towson University's Center for the Arts, Osler and Cross Campus drives.

Tickets are $10 and $25. Call 410-704-2787 or go to

Monument Piano Trio

A full house greeted the Monument Piano Trio on Friday night at An die Musik for a concert dedicated to the memory of Phanos Dymiotis, a popular local violinist, teacher and composer who was killed in an auto accident last month.

The trio members had intended to perform a work by Dymiotis next season, but they decided to learn it right away and present it as a memorial.

This simply titled Piano Trio proved to be an attractive work with a light touch. Descriptive designations for the score's two movements - "Sweet and Sour" and "Tangy" - made clear that Dymiotis was aiming more for simple, hearty listening than deep rumination. The tango-inflected "Tangy" finale drew particularly flavorful playing from violinist Igor Yuzefovich, cellist Dariusz Skoraczewski and pianist Michael Sheppard.

Chopin's G minor Trio, a not-yet-mature, but interesting, example of his craft, found the three musicians short on subtlety and tonal variety, characteristics they showered to admirable, compelling effect on Dvorak's Dumky Trio.

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