BSO at Strathmore presents an evening of debuts and a long-forgotten concerto

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Photo - Violin, close up
Violin, close up
Entertainment,Music,Marie Gullard

A YouTube comment on a movement of Schumann's Violin Concerto years ago states: "This concerto definitely deserves more attention."

The celebrated German violinist Kolja Blacher agrees unequivocally as he prepares the composer's 1853 work for performance with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra this Thursday at the Music Center at Strathmore.

"I think the whole piece ... is a fabulous work with a sad history," Blacher noted. "But it's an absolutely beautiful concerto; difficult, but absolutely worthwhile playing."

Schumann composed the work near the end of his life for his friend, violinist Joseph Joachim, who held on to the piece believing that it was a product of his friend's increasing dementia -- indeed, his descent into madness. Except for a very small musical coterie, Schumann's only violin concerto was relatively unknown for more than 80 years.

Onstage
BSO performing Beethoven's mighty 'Eroica' and Schumann's Violin Concerto
Where: Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Info: $30 to $90; 410-783-8000; bsomusic.org

"A challenge [to the piece] is that you are always in the middle range of the instrument [and] so much on top of the orchestra that it's sometimes hard to get through," Blacher continued.

"I don't know how much this [concerto] is played in the States, but in Europe, people know it. In this case, I would like audiences to know me as somebody who believes in this piece, and if they are skeptical, I hope very much that I can convince them of it."

Blacher, who studied five years at Juilliard when he was very young, has spent most of his almost 30 years performing in Europe, Asia and Australia. Lately, he has been featured as a guest performer in San Antonio and in New York. Thursday's concert marks his debut with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

The evening's program, conducted by Markus Stenz (also debuting with the BSO), opens with French composer Jean-Fery Rebel's "The Elements: Chaos," which depicts the creation of the world in its chaotic state before the elements took their place in the order of nature.

Beethoven's masterpiece, Symphony No. 3, "Eroica," closes the evening in fiery distinction.

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