Review: BSO: All-Beethoven at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

Showcasing Beethoven’s pioneering range and imaginative ingenuity, Conductor Markus Stenz led the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in the Romantic and triumphant incidental music to Egmont last night, priming enthusiastic concertgoers to the brilliant German pianist Lars Vogt‘s performance of the first concerto, a homage to Mozart’s classical grandeur.

Markus Stenz. Photo courtesy of BSO.

Conductor Markus Stenz. Photo courtesy of BSO.

In rousing and captivating fashion, Stenz was a thrilling presence on the podium, seamlessly uplifting the BSO to deliver well-balanced tempos for Leonore Overture No. 2, opus 72a decorated with energetic movements, which capered along agilely, evolving with a graceful gait. The strings conveyed clean and pulsating playing; the trumpets added especially rich accents and intonations.

 Pianist Lars Vogt.

Pianist Lars Vogt. Photo courtesy of BSO.

The next piece, and perhaps the culmination of the evening’s production, was Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, opus 15, played by guest artist Lars Vogt. Vogt and Conductor Stenz produced an interesting interplay of dynamism and fluidity.

The piano was, in considerable measure, interwoven magnificently with the orchestra, enhancing the melodies exquisitely. Likewise, the ensuing movements were watertight and robust, concluding with a fervent standing ovation.

Soprano Lauren Snouffer.

Soprano Lauren Snouffer. Photo courtesy of BSO.

The final allotment of the night was Beethoven’s Overture and Incidental Music to Egmont, opus 84, which featured versatile soprano Lauren Snouffer and award-winning British playwright/actor/broadcaster and Center Stage Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah, further underscoring Stenz’s virtuosity as a conductor.

Astutely configuring the music such that it is not so much the muster of individual parts, but rather an unremitting whole which he artfully constructs to render distinctive textures, Stenz enhances Beethoven’s orchestral sequences to welcome two moving songs (beautifully sung by Snouffer) and dramatic narration (by Kwei-Armah). The succeeding experience is penetratingly pervasive, such that the piece propelled and clinched in celebratory conclusion.

 Narrator Kwame Kwei-Armah. Photo courtesy of BSO.

Narrator Kwame Kwei-Armah. Photo courtesy of BSO.

Running Time:  Approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.

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BSO: All-Beethoven is being performed tonight at 8 pm at The Music Center at Strathmore – 10701 Rockville Pike, in North Bethesda, MD and on Sunday, March 13, 2016 at 3 pm at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall – 1212 Cathedral Street, in Baltimore, MD. For tickets at Strathmore, purchase online. For tomorrow’s concert at The Meyerhoff, purchase  your tickets online.

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