Baltimore Symphony performs at DCA

Dorchester Banner/Gloria Rojas
Dariusz Skoraczewski was one of the musicians who performed in Cambridge.

CAMBRIDGE — More than 300 years ago, a gifted craftsman in Milan, Italy produced a remarkable and beautiful cello. That instrument has sung, moaned, and enchanted music lovers for centuries. It did it again, on Sunday, right here in Cambridge.

Dariusz Skoraczewski, the principal cellist of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, played Bach’s Suite No. 3 in C Major with his precious cello. His fingers flew on the opening parts of the suite, and the instrument bore witness to his virtuosity. However, on the fourth segment of the Suite, the Sarabande, the cellist closed his eyes, not needing to look at written music.

Said Dariusz, “I feel it is my favorite, the slow, Spanish Sarabande.” It shows. He and the instrument were one as he rocked with the cello while the bow drew out the loveliest melody of the suite. It was magic, and that magic filled the Todd Auditorium at the Dorchester Center for the Arts on Sunday afternoon.

The crowd was larger than expected. Extra chairs appeared from nowhere to accommodate the many people who turned out for the performance of the Baltimore Symphony Musicians. (While the entire orchestra has been “locked out” in a labor dispute with management, talks may resume this week.)

This special traveling concert included Robert Schumann’s work, performed by pianist Daniel Pesca, while Colin Sorgi played the viola. They also played a selection from “Romeo and Juliet” by Prokofiev. You can hear Juliet, dancing around, and then stop when the unwanted suitor, Paris, enters. It’s easy to get it when a capable interpreter leads you.

Even if you are familiar with a recording, a live performance at close range is even better. It’s fascinating to watch the gifted hands, the facial expressions, and body movements that are intimations of the classical musician’s soul.

The last selection was special in several ways. The composer, Brian Prechtl, a percussionist, is a member of the Baltimore Symphony Musicians. He wrote music to accompany and interpret “A Child Said, What is Grass,” written by America’s great poet, Walt Whitman. Narrator Judith Krummeck. read the poem, accompanying the music.

A line from that poem, “Grass is the uncut hair of graves” has a touch of horror, well-suited to Whitman’s reality as he worked with the wounded and mourned the dead of the Civil War.

The sudden bursts of original music from drums, cymbals, and other assorted targets of drumsticks are extremely effective in producing appropriate reactions.

This year, 2019, marks the 300th anniversary of the cello we heard, and also, the 200th anniversary of Walt Whitman’s birth. Wouldn’t it be great if 2020 marked the return of the Baltimore Symphony Musicians celebrating the one-year anniversary of Sunday’s wonderful visit?

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