By Robert Battey, the Washington Post
Former National Symphony music director Leonard Slatkin was in town Saturday as the University of Maryland’s National Orchestral Institute presented the first of three full-orchestra programs at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Slatkin had only a few days to pull together this assemblage of college-age musicians into a cohesive orchestra. He was only partially successful.
Slatkin’s indifference to orchestral balances marred his National Symphony tenure, and he has not improved in this area. It is particularly unfortunate that he repeated this mistake with the NOI. The orchestra boasts a string section that numerically is at full symphonic strength; the section clearly would be able to produce glorious sounds if given a fighting chance. But vast swaths of important musical material were rendered inaudible by the brass and percussion players, who were never given anything but encouragement from the podium.