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Violinist thrills audience at MSO's Winter Warmth

January 20, 2003|by KEVIN CLAPP

kevinc@herald-mail.com

Sarah Hurd stood at the rear of The Maryland Theatre at intermission of Sunday's Maryland Symphony Orchestra concert.

Minutes before, violinist Leonid Sushansky received his second ovation in as many days for his interpretation of Aram Khachaturian's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra.

Hurd, 16 and a member of the MSO Youth Guild, was in awe of Sushansky's performance.

"He was really able to showcase himself," said Sarah, a junior at Smithsburg High School who plays the oboe. "He just plays like it's just dripping off of his fingers, like water."

Normally holding court as MSO concertmaster, the Russian-born Sushansky took center stage as the orchestra cast a spotlight on one of its own.

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Also on the program, dubbed Winter Warmth, were Mikhail Glinka's Overture to Russlan and Ludmilla and Leos Jancek's Sinfonietta.

During Prelude, her preconcert discussion, MSO Music Director Elizabeth Schulze discussed how each work, steeped in traditional folk rhythms, creates a triumphant sound.

"It is a very uplifting work," she said about the Glinka piece. "We're really going to warm you up in this concert."

At intermission, Sushansky's work won raves from members of the audience.

Jeff Buser of Cumberland, Md., was impressed by the violinist's ability. Caught up in the soaring melodies, he also enjoyed seeing a member of the symphony given the opportunity to shine.

"I think that's an excellent idea. Why not show off some of the talent you don't get to see individually on a regular basis?" Buser said.

"It shows the riches of the members of the orchestra," agreed Sylvia Alimena of Alexandria, Va. "It just goes to show the members of the orchestra itself are equally at home in front of the orchestra as within the orchestra."

Asked during Prelude the difference between playing as a soloist and as a largely anonymous member of the orchestra, Sushansky said each role requires a separate set of skills.

A veteran soloist with other orchestras who has been with the MSO for three years, he said each possesses its own challenges and joys.

"It's almost like you have to adopt a different personality," he said. "I'm lucky I have the privilege to do both."

The MasterWorks series continues Saturday, Feb. 15, and Sunday, Feb. 16, with a Valentine's Day weekend pair of concerts with a romantic theme, featuring compositions by Copland, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky.

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