ISO Classical Series Program No. 15 

Last weekend we had yet another one of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s visual complements to a classical program: Brahms’ well-known Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56a was enhanced by members of the Virginia-based Todd Rosenlieb Dance, with choreography by Ricardo Melendez — the stage once again extended forward as in The Rite of Spring earlier this season. The company featured seven barefoot dancers — three men and four women, the men clad in casual street attire and the women in full, pleated skirts with tops showing cleavage and flaming red underpants revealed during spins. With pairs coupling and uncoupling, the dancing was quite sensual — erotic even. One wonders how Haydn’s St. Anthony Chorale theme bore any relationship whatever to the choreography. Pianist Louis Lortie then joined guest conductor Rossen Milanov for two Liszt display works: Fantasy on Motifs from Beethoven’s Ruins of Athens and his more familiar Totentanz, a set of variations on the Dies Irae plainchant. Except for rough double octaves, Lortie’s virtuosic work was more clean than thrilling. Dvorak’s tone poem, The Golden Spinning Wheel, Op. 109, ended the program, the music leaning heavily on the projection of the Czech fairy tale’s gruesome verses onto a screen. The orchestra’s playing, overall, was routine. —Tom Aldridge

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Tom Aldridge

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