Baltimore Symphony offers hot program with Juanjo Mena, Augustin Hadelich
Review by Tim Smith
The intrepid folks who ventured out Thursday night to Meyerhoff Hall heard a most rewarding concert by the Baltimore Symphony. The repeats there Friday night or Saturday at Strathmore would be well worth braving the black ice for. Every guest appearance by Spanish conductor Juanjo Mena over the years has been notable; this one is no exception.
Roberto Sierra’s Sinfonia No. 4, which the BSO helped to commission with 11 other orchestras. The composer’s knack for creating both razzle-dazzle and subtle shimmering from essentially traditional instrumentation was evident at every turn.
The first movement’s dark harmonies added a piquant flavor; the way the movement slowly ground to a halt, like an engine running out of fuel, produced an intriguing effect. The brassy, percussive punch of the second movement and the ultra-Latin dance band drive of the finale proved irresistible.
The ensemble seemed to share Mena’s obvious enthusiasm and delivered considerable technical and expressive fire. Acknowledging the warm ovation afterward, the conductor picked up the score from the podium and gave it its own bow.