At first glance, there was nothing unusual about the recent concert by the Baltimore Symphony at Strathmore. It was an all-Russian concert under the baton of guest conductor Dima Slobodeniouk, making his BSO debut. The program showcased works by Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich, so we all knew what we were in for.
Except we didn’t.
The Beethoven Orchestra Bonn was recently at George Mason University and appropriately performed an all-Beethoven concert (Beethoven was born in Bonn in 1770). However, if you were expecting a typical stormy Beethoven concert where the composer shakes his fist defiantly at the heavens all evening, you were in for surprise.
For their recent concert at Strathmore, the Bach Choir of Bethlehem sang like angels, but they made for less impressive pagans.
And you need some of both for the major work they performed recently at the Strathmore Music Center. Felix Mendelssohn never composed a mature opera, but his dramatic oratorio “Elijah” gives us a good glimpse at what an opera from this composer would have sounded like. If the composer never gave us an opera, he did give us one the most popular choral works of the nineteenth century.