- ICO concertmaster Emily Glover
Saturday evening at Butler U. was jam packed, with activities at Hinkle Fieldhouse, Clowes Memorial Hall and -- last and probably least the Howard L. Schrott Center, the latter hosting the second ICO Masterworks program. The smaller audience nearly filled that smaller auditorium, however, and were greeted by excellent playing in an unusual program.
Guest conductor Mischa Santora is the second of three finalist candidates to replace outgoing music director Kirk Trevor (after 27 years in that position). Throughout the concert he produced a tightly knit unit of players, and would be a good catch for the ICO.
He began with Hoosier native James Aikman's performance debut of Peacemakers--Second Excerpt (2014) which the ICO commissioned. Lasting about six minutes, it programmatically deals with Robert Kennedy's 1968 Indianapolis speech in which he extemporaneously eulogized the assassination that day of Martin Luther King Jr. Aikman's strings dominated the piece in a somewhat minimalist fashion.
The program's highlight was the solo appearance of recently appointed ICO concertmaster Emily Glover performing Samuel Barber's Concerto for Violin, Op. 14 (1941) -- the work known for its sweet, melodic and pastoral first two movements followed by a frenetic Finale filled with rapid, modernist figures. Glover gave us a brightly burnished tone, deftly managing the Finale's difficulties as well showing good tonal control over her sustained notes in the early movements. Another good ICO catch.
Following the break Santora led the orchestra in an arrangement by Anton Webern of Bach's "Ricercar" from his late written A Musical Offering, BWV 1079. To Bach's fantastic six-part fugue for harpsichord, Webern added only a myriad of orchestral colors, oftimes changing instruments with each note. He added no notes of his own, with the woodwinds and brass highlighting the textures. Well done!
Were it not for the ICO's splendid playing, I would have preferred a different Mozart symphony than the "Paris" (No. 31 in D, K. 297) which ended the program. Written for a large orchestra (including clarinets, which were never really heard) in a big, noisy "style galant" that reflected the Parisian taste of 1778, the symphony connotes a bit of Mozartian tongue-in-cheek for me--with its vapid harmonies, its formulaic progressions, and its continual, most uncharacteristic bar and phrase repetitions. Mozart tossed this three-movement work off with little effort -- because he knew it would please its intended audience. Still there are hints of the "greater" Mozart here and there. Nov. 22; Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts