Hilbert Circle Theatre; April 29 – May 1
My God! It's Scheherazade — done to a farthing! When one hears an overplayed warhorse put together with the shape, élan, forward motion and purpose guest conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya got from the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, it was like being exposed to Rimsky-Korsakov's scintillating oriental fantasy for the first time. This four-movement symphonic suite, programmatic of the 1001 Arabian Nights tales, is one I've not looked particularly looked forward to, as appears too often in symphonic programming — while Rimsky's equally exotic, four-movement Antar Symphony is virtually never played by anyone, though often recorded. But Bedoya's Scheherazade was so beautifully interpreted: From the opening "The Sea and Sinbad's Ship" through all the ensuing "orientalisms" to "The Ship is wrecked – Conclusion," conductor and players did not miss a nuance. Special plaudits go to ISO associate concertmaster Alex Kerr, who did a splendid job with the "Scheherazade" theme scattered throughout the 40-plus minutes. Next time Scheherazade is contemplated for programming, why not choose Antar instead, and give the public an equally gratifying exposure to Romantic exoticism — and a more varied repertoire? Guest cellist Daniel Müller-Schott joined the orchestra for two works preceding the Rimsky: the well-known Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 33 and an obscure, plaintive piece entitled Mariel by Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov (b. 1960). Müller-Schott played both beautifully with a somewhat rapid-but-evenly-centered vibrato and perfect passage-work control. Though contemporary, Mariel is a completely tonal work, remaining throughout in F minor, without even a modulation (home-key shift). Chilean composer Enrique Soro's completely Romantic Danza fantástica (1916) began this especially interesting program.