Stories » Leon Fleisher brings energy, clarity to Prokofiev / Washington Post

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Leon Fleisher brings energy, clarity to Prokofiev / Washington Post

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In its centennial year, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra does color about as well as any orchestra around, and conductor Marin Alsop's programming plays to its strengths. Certainly the Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev, led by Alan Shulman's flashy "A Laurentian Overture" (dedicated to Tallulah Bankhead), that comprised the Sunday program at Strathmore gave the orchestra a lot of chance to strut its stuff.

But it was pianist Leon Fleisher, at 87 showing no signs of letting up, who offered the afternoon's most interesting music-making. He rolled avidly through the playful opening of the Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 4 for left hand only with a tap-dancer's crisp muscularity, still finding room to shape bits of the circular figures as they flew by without distorting the music's momentum and maintaining a clarity that the orchestra matched beautifully as it echoed the piano. In the lyrical second movement, his glowing sonorities injected a sweetness to wry orchestral textures, and the bright, determined energy of the piano in the martial third movement led to a recap of the opening's brilliant scramble, but lighter this time and conveying a sense of completion.