GISÈLE BEN-DOR , conductor



The Baltimore Sun

Former Annapolis conductor proves her mastery of Latin American style

'Colorful' first recording done of Mexican piece
By Phil Greenfield

The recording studio continues to be a hospitable setting for the talents of Gisèle Ben-Dor, whose six-year stint at the helm of the Annapolis Symphony ended in spring 1997.

Ben-Dor, who maintains a bi-coastal career with the Santa Barbara (Calif.) Symphony and the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston, began her recording career auspiciously in 1995 with a well-received anthology devoted to the music of Hungarian Bela Bartok issued on the Centaur label.

Her second disc, also released in 1995, was devoted to the works of Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera. With the London Symphony and Israel Chamber Orhcestra in tow, Ben-Dor, Uruguayan by birth, demonstrated her affinity for the Latin style in feisty, expertly colored accounts of Ginastera's "Glosses on Themes of Pablo Casals" and "Varaciones Concertantes."

Now come two more additions to the Ben-Dor discography, both worthy entries to the classical catalog, especially for ASO fans wishing to keep tabs on the Annapolis alumna as she ascends the slippery ranks of her profession.

Ben-Dor's new recording for Koch International, the first-ever of Mexican Silvestre Revueltas' ballet suite "La Coronella," reaffirms her mastery of the Latin American idiom.

Ben-Dor's account is a white-knuckle ride through the score. Her command of the various Mexican idioms infused into the suite sounds plenty authentic to me, with atmosphere and hot-blooded brio lurking around every bend in the score.

Her Santa Barbara Orchestra is impressive in both the ballet and in "Itinerarios," a 9-minute lament spotlighting the plaintive sounds of a solo saxophone. The Califorania brass are first-rate, and while the strings could be weightier and the solo oboe less nasal, the overwhelming impression is of a talented orchestra playing its collective heart out.

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