Arts » Theater + Dance

Review: ISO Gala Opening Night

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3.5 stars

Hilbert Circle Theatre; Oct. 2. With the Circle appropriately festooned in greenery, flowers, three glass chandeliers hanging above the stage and a packed house augmented by our mayor, our senior senator and a large contingent of well-dressed non-symphony goers, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra embarked on its 81st season. Returning from 1984 — the Circle's ISO inaugural year — world-renowned violinist/conductor Itzhak Perlman made his second visit to this venue, both to conduct and to play. Following the season-opening National Anthem, Perlman began with two light-veined "movements" for violin and orchestra by Mozart: his Adagio in E, K. 261 and his Rondo in C, K. 323, neither of which are technically demanding. But Perlman's dulcet tones ought to be savored by many of our recent violin competition participants, who need to realize just how lovely a violin can sound, for those who seemed unaware of how to best "tone" their instruments. Perlman then mounted the podium to conduct Tchaikovsky's well-known Serenade in C for Strings, Op. 48. I mentioned those non-symphony goers because I assume they were the group applauding vigorously between the Serenade's four movements. Regular classical-season attendees "know better" than to do anything beyond coughing during those intervals. Though attempting to disguise it with humor just prior to the even better known and concluding Dvorak "New World" Symphony, this clearly irritated Perlman, as repeated attempts at applause were quelled by our guest conductor's hand signals to the audience. I found this behavior by Perlman unprofessional and uncalled for. It distracted from my enjoyment of the symphony, though well conceived but not quite executed with our orchestra's best spit and polish.

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