Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Off the Cuff: A Season of Vivaldi’

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The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has some fun as they tackle Vivaldi as part of their Off the Cuff series. The series includes a smaller gathering of strings, about 35 in all, and an informal atmosphere that starts with a bit of a stand up routine by maestro Marin Alsop on the joy of Antonio Vivaldi and the origins of trumpets. They got to the music quickly with the “Concerto for Two Trumpets in C Major.” The trumpet began as the herald of royalty, not a part of an orchestra and some of that history shows in the fanfare opening to this piece, coupled with Vivaldi’s precision and the BSO’s usual artistry.

Marin Alsop. Photo courtesy of The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
Marin Alsop. Photo courtesy of The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

They moved quickly to his most famous piece The Four Seasons. He may hold the prize for the most posthumous fame, as it was 200 years – in the fifties – before anyone noticed him. It’s hard to say why this is so beloved to modern audiences, but Alsop does her best to discover why, taking each piece of each movement and painting a happy spring day, an angry summer storm, the fall harvest, and the winter ice with music.

The four iconic movements are in good hands with one of the best orchestras around. Violinist Jonathan Carney takes the solos with a lot of verve and almost as much dancing as playing. It was fun to hear his solos along with Alsop’s explanation of the trilling birds of spring or the flashes of lightning.

If you’ve ever sat through a concert wondering what they’re playing, why they chose that piece,and where the composer came from, these are the concerts for you. This is not the formal classical evening of old, hours long where nobody knows when to clap. This is a fun, light concert filled with top class music and the stories behind the arpeggios.

Running Time: One hour and 15 minutes, with no intermission.

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Off the Cuff Vivaldi played for one night, November 6, 2015, at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performing at The Music Center at Strathmore – 10701 Rockville Pike, in North Bethesda, MD. The second performance will take place tonight, November 7, 2015 at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall – 1212 Cathedral Street, in Baltimore, MD. For tickets, purchase them online.

RATING: FIVE-STARS-82x1555.gif