Concert Review: The Baltimore Chamber Orchestra

Markand Thaker Conductor

May 21, 2008 Baltimore, MD

The BCO presented Haydn’s Symphony Number 104 and Igor Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale.

Franz Joseph Haydn’s last symphony, number 104, was written and first performed in London in 1795. The four movement work has a richer texture than his earlier symphonies and also tends more towards the melodic side. This is especially apparent in the folk tune in the finale. (It is interesting to compare this to the jig-like theme in the Finale of Symphony 88 and the arpeggio laden melody in the first movement of Symphony 94.)

The Chamber Orchestra presented this piece with impeccable intonation with a relaxed, but enthusiastic manner. This is a vibrant work that is still refreshing to hear and was delivered in world class fashion.

Concluding the program, Markand Thaker conducted A Soldier’s Tale (L’Histoire du Soldat). The ensemble of violin, bass, percussion, clarinet, bassoon, cornet, and trombone shared the stage with a scaled back theatrical setting to present the story. The spoken parts were provided by Henry Fogel as the Narrator, Jonathan Palevsky as the Soldier, and Mac Steiner as the Devil.

The characters tell the story of a soldier who makes a deal with the devil for wealth and power and presents all the drama that unfolds from this choice. The music reflects Stravinsky’s flair for orchestration and use of odd meters, ostinatos, and incorporation of many genres into one that is also reflected in his other works. Because this version was scaled back from the original theatrical intent (which included ballet and spoken parts), the musical ensemble was the centerpiece of the music play and stole the show, though it would have regardless given the caliber of the performance. The ensemble precisely delivered the difficult passages and brought the piece to life with impeccable timing and awareness

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