Alsop bustled and prodded, a hive of nervous energy on the podium, driving the drama tautly. Woodwind colour included some occasionally acidic clarinet tone. Alsop drew plenty of nuance in the Adagio, while the Scherzo poked in the ribs before pulling back to a genial pace for the Trio section. The Fourth is at its most rebellious in the finale and the OAE didn’t disappoint, bows clattering percussively, bassoon jabbering raucously, while timpani and brass underlined the punchlines in red.
With Alsop providing calm command, attentive to dynamic shading and rhythmic pulse, the orchestra revealed an expressive vitality that gave even the score’s slowest passages an extra tingle.
Since Alsop arrived at the BSO, pathbreaking composer and Baltimore native Philip Glass finally started to get the kind of attention he deserves in his hometown. The conductor brought his “Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists” into the orchestra’s repertoire on this occasion, a most welcome addition.
Alsop did her part to keep the orchestra underneath the soloists and choir in volume, putting a dynamic focus on the words, often set so impassionately by Mozart as he raced, unsuccessfully, against his own impending death to try to finish the work.
The composer himself revised the score several times, and there have been several attempts to rewrite the text, but Alsop opted to go back to the original; she clearly believes passionately in the viability of the Kaddish, and like her performance of the Jeremiah Symphony, it was superbly played and sung by the LSO and its Chorus, and blazed with conviction.
Alsop, a consummate partner in all this, led the orchestra smoothly through the last movement syncopations as though she and Vondracek shared a single mind. Standing ovations are way overdone in this town, but this one was well deserved.
Ten years ago, a tall, slim man with a ready smile left his job as director of a South Carolina high school band to enter the Peabody Institute as the first recipient of the newly formed BSO-Peabody Conducting Fellowship — a program of extensive skill-honing with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and its music director, Marin Alsop.
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra brought out a colorful assortment of the new and the old for the opening subscription program of the season and served it up engagingly.
Fortunately for Alsop, her followers are both many and devoted, and it was gratifying to see them turn out in solid numbers Saturday evening at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall for the BSO’s inaugural New Music Festival.
Well-packed with crowd-pleasers, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s final program of the season could have been just an autopilot affair, a safe way to wrap things up for subscribers until September. …
Alsop drew out the struggle’s contrasts in a vivid performance that enjoyed meaty playing from the orchestra, especially the snarling brass, and terrific singing by the University of Maryland Concert Choir. Lura Johnson phrased the piano solos deftly.
The evening’s main works, Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra mix the wittiest of gestures with deeply serious intent. Alsop achieved this balance, encouraging solos of individuality and panache while realising a resonant tone that belied the players’ relative youth.
What struck me most in Alsop’s performance was how well she shaped and conceived the piece as a whole, with the RPO producing an exemplary performance playing with granite determination, delicacy and fine detailing throughout and clearly feeling every note.
Alsop thus was required to function as much as a timekeeper as a conductor, keeping the lush orchestration percolating, aided by a video monitor in front of her. She and the Grant Park musicians did an airtight job of the presentation.
I think it’s great that the ESO is looking at ways to engage younger audiences. This has always been a concern for classical music lovers (even in 1930!) but today’s competition for young people’s time is truly formidable.
An Anglo-Saxon-Scot lineup of works packed with brilliant ideas and expressive depth fueled a hot concert from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Thursday night at Meyerhoff Hall.
Marin Alsop, an associate artist of the Southbank Centre, was greeted with enormous affection by the audience. Long may her association with the OAE continue.
Alsop brought out subtle nuances amid of the first movement’s bold sweep (some of that boldness needed even more punch). And she paced the funeral march with care, building the grand crescendo impressively…
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.
The question of assimilation has been on my mind a lot lately. Living in this great country where individuality is embraced, our current obsession with assimilation for those choosing the U.S. as their new home seems like a strange paradox.
…Alsop provides a blend of warmth and energy that particularly suits Glass’s lyrical side and his constantly shifting rhythms.
Conductor Alsop is a constantly energising presence. Rough edges notwithstanding, this is a lusty and in many ways extremely appealing version of Orff’s popular classic.
Alsop has the measure of the symphony’s structure, dramatic pacing and emotional content, drawing a bright sound from the São Paulo players, goading them into firm rhythmic propulsion and drawing out rich strands of string sound…
This is easily the most impressive of Alsop’s Dvorák cycle.
Alsop can be reserved or overly careful in some repertory, but she’s got Bernstein under her skin.
At center stage, standing before the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra with her baton raised high, Marin Alsop, the American conductor, unified the ensemble.
Later came the jollifications of the second half, controlled by conductor Marin Alsop with just the right blend of relaxed good humour and brisk authority.
The conductor on Hillary Clinton, Leonard Bernstein, playing in jazz clubs – and preparing for her second Last Night of the Proms.
Ms Alsop spoke to The Economist about women in leadership, preparing for the Proms and the art of conducting.
For Ms. Alsop, having the instruments in front of her keeps alive the memories of her parents, and their playing.
The Finale showed us that today’s OSESP is ‘Marin Alsop’s OSESP’.
This was a unique experience because I wasn’t asked to pick my favorite recordings, but rather to select music that has meant the most to me over my lifetime. So the experience was far more personal and intimate.
Alsop brings a vigorous spring to the music’s step…At no point does her Mahler seem anything less than well considered and expertly groomed.
…these performances from Marin Alsop and her Brazilian orchestra are particularly arresting for their fusion of zest, rhythmic bite, strength of character and sure handling of Prokofiev’s orchestral palette.
Conducting Gustav Mahler’s First Symphony is an exhilarating and demanding task. Although it’s one of his shortest symphonies (at about 55 minutes), it is an epic journey that requires countless hours of analysis and examination of the score. Still, it is a thrilling process to peel back and reassemble the many layers of Mahler’s music.
There is much to admire about this lively and colourful recording, however, not least the manner in which the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Marin Alsop actively thrive on playing music that communicates in such an immediate and engaging way.
Alsop has a special sympathy for Barber and—thanks to her—all his orchestral music now available at Naxos prices.
Marin Alsop’s continuing Samuel Barber series for Naxos is exceptionally well planned. The standards of performance here are at least as high as on previous issues.
Marin Alsop and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra bring their six-disc survey of Samuel Barber’s complete orchestral works to a thrilling close with idiomatic performances of the sparky Capricorn Concerto and a handful of brilliant miniatures.
Lyricism and obsessive patterns are finely realised by the RSNO, while conductor Marin Alsop shows a keen sensitivity to both scores and balances their rhetoric with the clean-edged clarity of their textures.
These are fine performances. Alsop is especially good in the First Symphony, where her wisely chosen tempos and her restraint in the opening movement allow the music to build in a natural, unforced manner.
Two searing song cycles by Mark Anthony Turnage, both given great performances..[an] outstanding release…a triumph for Marin Alsop and the sensational LPO musicians and engineers.
These live LPO recordings are the best possible advert for new classical music…Thanks to Alsop’s flair the MacMillan has unrivalled intensity, the Adès goes with a swing and Higdon’s flimsy concerto sounds like a joyride.
Marin Alsop and the Bournemouth Symphony deliver heartfelt, sincere performances entirely in keeping with the spirit of the music, and they are very well recorded. I welcome this release with pleasure, and so will you.
It is rare to be able to say that a performance forces one to listen to a work anew, but this is exactly what Alsop’s reading achieves. Excellently recorded and with an elegant and witty performance of the Symphonic Variations as makeweight, this is a superb issue all round.
Alsop should please both the eager newcomer on the lookout for a recommendation and the seasoned collector who knows and loves the music but fancies listening between the staves. There’ll be no disappointment on either score.
The brilliantly captured moods of the Dance Symphony, derived from an early ballet score, round off a revelatory and richly recorded disc.
Marin Alsop’s reading is certainly fine: dark of hue, lyrical and long drawn, though never, even for a moment, comatose.
A highlight by any standard was the Brahms Second, a treat in Ms. Alsop’s assured reading, and a teaser for the release of her next recording.
The first in Marin Alsop’s bargain-priced series of Brahms symphonies proves that she is as capable as anyone of getting an orchestra to play this muscular music with real power.
I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to composer anniversaries but this year, marking 100 years since the birth of Benjamin Britten, has been absolutely fascinating for me. I am now living proof that such centenaries can indeed change the way we look at a composer and provide us with opportunities to explore their breadth and depth…
As Marin Alsop tells it, it’s rather like a fairy tale. She went to one of Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts at the age of nine, and had an epiphany. Conducting was what she wanted to do.
…the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and its conductor Marin Alsop held my attention as never before…The Fifth Symphony comes up trumps in a dramatic yet highly polished performance
Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra make persuasive champions for Puts’s Symphony No. 4
The Last Night of the Proms became a First Night for Women on Saturday when Marin Alsop walked onto the stage of the massive and festively adorned Royal Albert Hall and made a bit of history in this history-drenched country.
Marin Alsop: It exceeded my expectations. It was a great evening. It was really emotional and very moving to be involved in such a big celebration.
‘I think EQ is more important than IQ in this day and age,’ says the musical director and conductor
After months of planning, The Last Night of the Proms finally arrived. I was going to conduct classical music’s biggest party of the year and, as news reports across the world made clear, become the first woman to conduct this august occasion.
Like Leonard Bernstein himself, there is absolutely nothing predictable about the music he wrote. None of the three amazing works Bernstein labeled as “symphonies” in any way resemble a conventional orchestral symphony.
As the first women to conduct the Last Night, Alsop has assured her place in Proms history.
To celebrate Marin conducting the Last Night of the BBC Proms, Gramophone has produced a special digital magazine bringing together critics’ reviews of her many recordings with Naxos.
For the first time in history, a woman will lead us through the annual burst of Land of Hope and Glory at the Last Night of the Proms. Can you believe men have kept this honour to themselves for 118 years? If you work in classical music, the answer is probably yes. It is a world that is notoriously duff when it comes to women at the top.
For the first time in 118 years, the conductor on the Royal Albert Hall podium will be a woman. It’s a chance she is keen to take to promote equality. Paul Bignell meets Marin Alsop
Previous reviews have praised just about every aspect of this new Naxos cycle, and while I admit to arriving somewhat late on the scene I have to admit that all expectations are realised.
There are few more heavyweight choral classics than the Brahms German Requiem, and I am pleased to report that the performance is sensitively contoured, intelligently paced and immaculately balanced.
The Proms has a very special and unique atmosphere. I had the wonderful experience of making my debut (and return) at the Proms with the Bournemouth Symphony when I was principal conductor and was really moved by the enthusiasm of the audiences and the sense of occasion we all shared.
“I’ve always noticed how the men in orchestras struggle with tails,” says Alsop. “It’s a lot of clothing, and it’s quite constricting, and it can get hot. And for the women, it’s hard for them to know what to wear. I was thinking, ‘Where are we headed with an orchestra in the 21st century?’ I don’t want to change the music, but the trappings? We’re wearing the same clothes we were wearing 200 years ago. It might be time for an update.”
Everything in the score clearly stands out under Alsop’s eagle eyes and ears, with syncopated rhythms and canonic passages securely aligned and the Bournemouth brass at their assertive best. Alsop’s brisk tempos serve the first movement’s insouciant asymmetry well, and she makes the third movement’s lyrical points through strict dynamic gradations and steady tempos (it’s so tempting to milk this music to death!). Yes, no one conducts Bernstein like Lenny, but Marin Alsop manages to make this music her own. And that’s no small feat.
Marin Alsop offers another welcome collection of her mentor’s music…Another lively and rhythmically vital performance from Alsop and her Bournemouth band. The upbeat, lively Divertimento makes a nice contrast with the more cerebral Serenade and Facsimile – though you can identify Bernstein’s unique voice right from the first bars.
Highest praise of all must go to Alsop, however. Having once been Bernstein’s pupil she has now become the most convincing advocate on disc for this previously problematic work. She holds together every strand of this endlessly diverse score, welding it into a convincing musical and dramatic whole.
Marin Alsop finds an ideal balance between the music’s facets of showpiece and dance, with its lurid storytelling never giving way to pure display. Alsop captures the rhythms and textural detail with an innate sense of the music’s style.
Richard Wagner was, and still is today, arguably the most controversial figure in classical music. A self-appointed deity and hyperdriven genius, Wagner is often considered the ultimate megalomaniac. He dreamed up and achieved a single-minded plan to change the course of classical music history…
Alsop brings out all the creeping horror of Bartók’s score in this superlative live performance. The singing is dramatic and committed, the balancing excellent. 5 Stars.
As with their earlier Bartók releases, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Marin Alsop gives a fine, colourful and insightful account. The opening, in which Bartók essentially re-imagines Das Rheingold, grows majestically from its initial murmur, and the ebb and flow of the dances is well paced. lvan Fischer’s Budapest account (Philips) is more ethereal in the mystical passages and more playful elsewhere, but it is only available on a three-disc set and, even without a filler, Alsop’s account belies its budget price.
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s admirable recordings with music director Alsop on the Naxos label have so far included a vibrant cycle of Dvorák symphonies and a sensational, Grammy-nominated account of Bernstein’s “Mass.” Now comes a burst of Bartók.
Under certain circumstances the partnership between American conductor Marin Alsop and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra can be electric. It’s happened again with this latest in Naxos’s ongoing survey of Samuel Barber.
In this collection of orchestral works Marin Alsop proves once again that she is one of the leading conductors in the world. She leads the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra here with clarity and precision, gaining from them a taut sense of rhythm and ensemble, and ravishing string colors. Highly recommended on all fronts.
Marin Alsop leads a vigorous new recording of John Adams’s Nixon in China that affirms the opera’s status as a modern classic. This new recording is a testament to Nixon’s enduring status in the canon. Conductor Marin Alsop’s approach — vigorous and transparent — is apparent right out of the gate, as the pulsing A-minor scales begin their cyclical variations…Alsop makes the Colorado Symphony Orchestra sound like a force to be reckoned
If there were anyone still looking for evidence that Marin Alsop is a thoroughly good thing, this concert… will surely have settled things once and for all… Her appointment is …
In the first of two LPO concerts in The Rest is Noise series, Marin Alsop chose music by visitors to America – either by choice or, in the case of enslaved Africans, by force, with a marked split between a sense of loss and longing and a sense of adventure. Marin Alsop was in her element – charismatic, visionary and pragmatic – In a performance that yielded the work’s layers of distance with great clarity…
My first encounter with the name James P. Johnson was a fleeting reference to the composer in a liner note for a Gershwin recording, but it was enough to pique my curiosity. I contacted Robert Kimball, the author of the notes, and he gave me some intriguing background on Johnson. In addition to composing the singular piece of music that came to symbolize the 1920s in America…
Discovering Brazil has been a series of wonderful revelations for me. As principal conductor of the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra for the past year, I have been deeply moved and even changed by my exposure to this culture of passion and positivity…
I didn’t know what to expect when I visited the home of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, situated in an area of the Brazilian city known as Cracolândia – Crackland. It’s not a place to linger: prostitutes ply their trade on the platforms of a nearby station, drug addicts sleep in the park, and I witness a mugging while passing through in a taxi one evening. But I do make a point of having a wander round Crackland before a performance in Sala São Paulo, the orchestra’s beautiful, 1,500-seat concert hall. No one bothers me…
The Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra will become the first Brazilian orchestra ever to appear at the BBC Proms when it plays on 15 August. Chief conductor Marin Alsop says that although Brazil is not very well-known for its symphonic music, the Sao Paulo Orchestra has a unique energy and could become one of the best orchestras in the world…
Marin Alsop: It is, of course, a milestone season for the festival, and it deserves to be celebrated. I think it’s interesting to think of a new festival that has a real history, not simply a tradition. Maybe “legacy” is more what I mean. Some of what we will perform—the Carlos Chavez and the Lou Harrison—will be an opportunity for us all to reminisce together about that legacy, being secure and proud in what we are…
People keep asking me why I recorded Sergei Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony for my first CD release in my new post leading the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra. The simple answer is that it just felt right. But in thinking about it, I can now see many parallels — at least for me — between Prokofiev’s music, the city of Sao Paulo and the country of Brazil…
Tchaikovsky’s “Capriccio Italian” surged faster and faster as I sat on the stage of Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall amid the ranks of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Marin Alsop, the music director, was giving no quarter. The notes were rushing past, more quickly than my fingers could move. The train was leaving, and I wasn’t on it…
Musically speaking, Marin Alsop was born with a silver spoon in her mouth—and has been making the best of it for as long as she can remember. From busy kid to even busier adult, she has reached her present eminence by keeping her eye (and ear) fixed unswervingly on her lifetime’s goal: to make music, and through it to enrich the lives of listeners everywhere…
With the tour barely over (I’m writing this as we wend our way homeward), I’m still on a high from our thrilling final concert last night! (And feeling a bit exhausted from no sleep and too many hours in the plane, too!). Ending our first tour together in Eugene, Oregon—where I served as Music Director from 1989-1996—was a real treat for me…
Marin Alsop, the Eugene Symphony’s most famous alumna, comes back to town on a regular basis to see friends and to conduct her old orchestra. It was here she got her start as a conductor, leading the symphony from 1989 to 1996, before moving on to considerably greater fame and fortune around the world…
Marin Alsop became Principal Conductor of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra this month. Her premiere concert comprising works of three centuries is just one sample of the repertoire to mark her work with the orchestra…
São Paulo is a huge city: some sources claim it as the world’s third largest and it’s one with colossal ambition. As you fly in, it seems to stretch as far as you can see in every direction. And now it has opened a new era in the history of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra with a new music director, Marin Alsop…
Call it poetic injustice. In 1928, Carl Theodor Dreyer made a movie called “The Passion of Joan of Arc,” about the sainted maiden from Orleans who led French forces against the English and was burned at the stake for heresy in the 15th century. Shortly after its release, the original negative of the silent film was consumed, like Joan, by fire….