Concert Review: Baltimore Symphony premieres Leshnoff’s “Starburst”

Posted on: May 3, 2010

Friday (4/30) on his Baltimore Sun blog Clef Notes, Tim Smith writes, “The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra made many an excursion into Russian repertoire during Yuri Temirkanov’s brief era as music director. Turns out that his successor, Marin Alsop, likes that repertoire, too, and she has done her fair share of programming it here. This week, she’s focusing on Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2. … The program included a welcome premiere by gifted Baltimore composer Jonathan Leshnoff and a sterling account of Stravinsky’s spicy Violin Concerto with stellar soloist Gil Shaham. … [Leshnoff’s] first BSO commission has resulted in a short, eventful score called ‘Starburst.’ It’s a curtain-raiser in the best sense of the word, full of energy and anticipation. The composer’s most distinctive talent may be for creating deeply lyrical themes, but, here, his focus is on propulsion and creating a sense of almost frantic searching. From a short, up-and-down melodic motive, Leshnoff creates considerable action as harmonies tighten and nearly minimalist motor rhythms help drive the music along. … It’s a colorfully orchestrated work, and Alsop had the ensemble articulating deftly.”

Posted May 3, 2010