Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Classical Series Program No. 12 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Jonathan Biss dominated last weekend's Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra program, one with "Bohemian" bookends - and guest conductor. Young Jakub Hrusa, born in the Czech Republic, began his program with "Sárka," the third of Bedrich Smetana's six-symphonic poem cycle: Má vlast (My Country). (The second poem is "The Moldau," which completely overshadows the other five as being by far the composer's most popular orchestral work.) Women dominating (and killing) men is the theme of "Sárka," and the orchestra roiled appropriately, if a bit imperfectly. Antonin Dvorak's Symphony No. 5 in F, Op. 76 - in its first ISO performance - ended the program. A surprisingly lovely work, anticipating Dvorak's popular No. 8 in G, the harmonized horns define the composer's characteristic orchestral colors. Its slow movement carries a theme identical to the second subject of Tchaikovsky's "Polish" Symphony's first movement. Astonishingly, both works originated in the same year, 1875: no copy catting here. Though well played, the work runs out of steam in the Finale with a bombastic ending. Biss, 28, an American Pianists Association Fellow, was the soloist in Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 in C, K. 467, and played the living hell out of it: virtuosic, beautiful control and touch - plus speed - as fast as I've heard the work in its outer movements. Biss needs to "smell the roses" a little more, as Lang Lang so deftly did a few years ago with Mozart's No. 17.


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Tom Aldridge

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