Conductor, Krzysztof Urbanski
Conner Prairie, June 19
The ISO opened the 29th season of Marsh Symphony on the Prairie with a program featuring emotionally biographical music highlighting a sense of place. Throughout, the ISO players met the challenge, playing with keen attention to the subtext intended by each composer.
Opening with Egmont, opus 84, Maestro Urbanski set the pace for personal commentary through music. Beethoven used his powerfully expressive set of incidental music pieces for Goethe's 1787 play, Egmont, to show his disdain for Bonaparte crowning himself Emperor in 1804.
Smetana's "The Moldau," No. 2, is a symphonic poem showing the ideals of late 19th century nationalistic music. One journeys along this majestic river from its origins of two small springs in Bohemia to its melding into the Elbe, experiencing life along its banks of gorgeous landscapes and through changing seasons. Its famous tune is an adaptation of an Italian folk song. Fifteen year-old cellist Austin Huntington, the 2010 Michael Ben & Illene Komisarow Maurer Young Musicians Contest winner, was the featured soloist for Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme for Cello & Orchestra, Op. 33, a 20-minute piece played without pause between its eight sections and without the usual longer orchestral interludes for the soloist to catch his breath.Huntington's richly lyrical cello and command of the work thrilled the audience. In the midst of a multi-hued sunset to the west and a half moon high in the south, the evening closed with Mussorgsky's popular Pictures at an Exhibition, as orchestrated by Maurice Ravel. Having also attended Dance Kaleidoscope's recent "Pictures at an Exhibition," images of that illustrative program's choreography resurfaced.