Hilbert Circle Theatre; Jan. 22-23.
Following Joshua Bell's appearance with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in November, last Friday's Circle Theatre enjoyed another full house. What immediately made this Classical series program better was that the full bloom of the Circle acoustics once again reappeared. In the Bell concert, the Circle's electronic acoustic enhancement was turned off, giving the ISO a dry, non-reverberant projection, like playing in a broom closet (well - perhaps not quite). Attention ISO management: With a full house, the hall must have this enhancement "on." Other issues are secondary, as the Bell program proved. This time, we saw a return of the young, dazzling Chinese pianist, Yuja Wang, from two years ago. Then it was Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto; now it was the very contrasting "Rach 3": Rachmaninoff's Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30, its fame and performance frequency now equal to Rach 2, with the latter's more familiar tunes. Wang showed astonishing finger work throughout the three movements using her own interpretive nuances, some of which worked better than others. Balances between Wang and the players led by ISO guest conductor, Cornelius Meister, were off on occasion, with her early passage-work in the opening movement covered completely - yet at other points she gave us a steely pounding, making her sounding above the orchestra seemingly an effort more than an effect. Given these caveats, Wang remains one of the more astounding virtuosos we've heard. From what she gave us two years ago, Beethoven seems more her style. Meister opened with an energetic reading of Beethoven's Fidelio
Overture, and closed with a vivacious account of Mendelssohn's "Italian" Symphony (No. 4 in A, Op. 90).