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James Conlon

Review: Conlon’s sumptuous performance of neglected rarities steers Baltimore Symphony in a fresh new direction

From Washington Classical Review

By Charles T. Downey

The evening was a sign of impressive things to come, beginning with the programming, two major symphonic works, one of which was heard for the first time in BSO history. In a passionate introduction, Conlon placed both pieces, William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony and Alexander Zemlinsky’s Die Seejungfrau, in the context of the Recovered Voices mission he has led for the past few decades… Conlon led [ Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony] with confidence that spread to all parts of the orchestra. Incisive gestures helped coordinate crisp unity in the exuberant syncopation that buoyed the climaxes of the movement… It was a joy to hear Conlon conduct Zemlinsky’s Die Seejungfrau again…The BSO reveled in Zemlinsky’s even more extravagant orchestration — two piccolos, four clarinets, six horns, two harps — with Conlon providing careful calibration of sectional balances…Conducting from memory, Conlon marshaled his forces cleanly, guiding both lush string serenades and the buffeting of storms in larger sections.

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