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Top Five of 2012: Classical Music 

click to enlarge Kuss String Quartet.
  • Kuss String Quartet.

5. Celeste Golden Boyer with Ronen Chamber Ensemble, Indiana History Center
2006 IVCI bronze medalist Celeste Golden Boyer joined the IVCI regulars and the Ronen Chamber players in an excellently rendered chamber concert. When she was awarded the bronze medal in the 2006 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, her name was Celeste Golden. In the interim she has married and become Celeste Golden Boyer - a top flight fiddle player by any other name. In the 2006 event, I felt she was exceeded only by that year's gold medalist, Augustin Hadelich. Her string talent has, if anything, improved since then. She played in all four works the program offered.

4.Indianapolis Early Music Festival: Hesperus, Indiana History Center
This six-program early music series ended in a blaze of glory with the four-player Hesperus group playing period music to a showing of the silent movie Robin Hood. Having created this extravaganza a decade earlier, Hesperus followed the action of this 1922 released film to a farthing, even supplying sound effects apropos to the screen action. Starring swashbuckling Douglas Fairbanks, the two-hour plus feature offered a diverting mix of action, intrigue and the comedic effects arising from a silent movie shown faster than normal speed.

3. Indianapolis Opera: Faust, Clowes Memorial Hall
For the first time in its history, Indianapolis Opera's large-scale, Clowes Hall production of Charles Gounod's Faust used mostly video projected sets onto scrims at varying stage depths with a mix of stills and motion. Credit for this unique production went to Joachim Schamberger, who enabled rapid changes of location from the front of Marguerite's house to the inside of a church - difficult, and very expensive to manage with live sets. The role of Marguerite, sung by soprano Maureen O'Flynn, was exceptionally done.

2. American Pianists Association Premiere Series: Sara Daneshpour, Indiana History Center
Of the three APA finalists heard to date in the association's Premiere Series, I have to pick DC-native Sara Daneshpour as the one who bore no nits on which I could pick. Her first-half recital featured pieces by Schumann, Granados and Prokofiev, the latter's arduous Piano Sonata No. 7 responding seemingly effortlessly to her flowing fingers. With the help of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra in the second half, Daneshpour dominated the fleet keyboard demands of Saint-Saëns' Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor.

1. Ensemble Music Series: Kuss Quartet, Indiana History Center
It's most unusual to hold an Indianapolis premiere of a quartet written in 1826, much less one of Schubert's greatest masterpieces. His Quartet No. 15 in G, D.887 is mostly avoided by quartet groups because of its extreme difficulty. Not only had it never been played in Ensemble Music history, but I had also never heard it live from my college days in Louisville. It should, in fact, be fully orchestrated as a symphony, which would put it at the top of Schubert's heap, as well as making it available to the symphony-going public.

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