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Review: Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, featuring Grace Fong

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4.5 stars

Indiana History Center; Oct. 1. I can't imagine more satisfaction at the opening of Indy's classical-music season then hearing Grace Fong guesting with any series. A year ago, this 2009 American Pianists Association Fellow shared her near matchless talents as a recital soloist at Butler University. This time she appeared with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra in the IHC'sBasile Theater, playing the Schumann A Minor Piano Concerto. In both, her seemingly effortless touch in coaxing all the music inherent in her selections made two especially memorable evenings for this listener. Moreover, Robert Schumann was at the height of his musical inspiration with this concerto. Fong seems to evoke near perfection in revealing every note through a controlled legato, gliding over the most difficult passages as though child's play, even through a couple of mild slips — which merely confirmed she is, after all, only human. Kirk Trevor, now in his 23rd season with an orchestra beginning its 26th, opened his program with Samuel Barber's perhaps most inspired work, Knoxville: Summer of 1915 for Soprano and Orchestra (1947), featuring local singer Leah Crane. Possessing a soft, lyric-soprano voice, Crane's words of William Agee's autobiographical sketch were not always audible. But Trevor's ensemble, Crane's pleasing vocalism and Barber's mood-capturing were sufficient to evoke the nostalgia inherent in Agee's recollection of the simpler times of his Knoxville childhood. Trevor concluded with Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 3 in A Minor ("Scottish"), Op. 56 — not quite up to the satisfaction level of the first two works, but giving his listeners a good, season-opening sendoff.

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