Four and a half stars
Hilbert Circle Theatre; Sept. 28-30
Except for the usual mediocre turnout, everything about the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s first classical series program was special. ISO music director Mario Venzago led the orchestra with exceptional verve, polish and inflection in three works: Richard Strauss’ tone poem Death and Transfiguration, Op. 24, Alexander Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy, Op. 54 and the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35 with guest soloist Augustin Hadelich — who happens to be the current International Violin Competition of Indianapolis gold medalist. Even at this early stage, I’m tempted once again to credit our new young concertmaster, Zachary de Pue, for elevating the sheen of all the strings, which I noted several weeks ago at the orchestra’s opening night Gala. Yet Venzago himself showed an exceptional mastery of his conducting art throughout the program. His Strauss recalled his exceptional reading of the German composer’s later, larger tone poem Ein Heldenleben, which he performed here a year ago. Venzago then equaled this caliber in a very exotic, sensual account of Ecstasy, with principal trumpeter Marvin Perry sailing through extensive solo work. Hadelich was marvelous in the Tchaikovsky in all criteria that matters. Except that his mellow timbres were often subsumed within the orchestra.