BSO performs Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 3
In its centennial year, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra does color about as well as any orchestra around, and conductor Marin Alsop’s programming plays to its strengths. Certainly the Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev, led by Alan Shulman’s flashy “A Laurentian Overture” (dedicated to Tallulah Bankhead), that comprised the Sunday program at Strathmore gave the orchestra a lot of chances to strut its stuff.
Where the Prokofiev bubbles with optimistic humor and energy, the Rachmaninoff seems to wander in search of a center. Its mounting climaxes dissolve, and its recurrent thematic material doesn’t really hold it together. What it does have, however, is gorgeous textures and interesting instrumental combinations, and in these, the BSO reveled. Alsop got the balances just right, outlined the rhythmic structure nicely and made her way through an essentially directionless score with a sense of vision.