ICO celebrates end of 30th season

Violinist Bella Hristova

Though Saturday's ICO concert lasted nearly 2 1/2 hours, I

was unaware of the passage of time. The second half was given over to a

complete performance of Mendelssohn's incidental music to A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61. To all the familiar excerpts we know

so well in concert performance, Kirk Trevor added two sopranos, a women's chorus and

a narrator..

. plus music we seldom hear. It was a celebratory selection for Trevor's final ICO concert as its music director.

In collaboration with the International Violin Competition

of Indianapolis' Laureate Series, we earlier heard 2006 sixth-place laureate

Bella Hristova play the Paganini "pot boiler," a more descriptive name for his

Violin Concerto No. 1 in

D, Op. 6. Trevor

began his final ICO concert with Manuel de Falla's Suite No. 1 from his ballet The Three-Cornered Hat, creating a truly

varietal program.

To begin at the beginning, Falla's Three-Cornered Hat music is a richly orchestrated example of

turn-of-the-20th-century Latin music; indeed his style is a Spanish counterpart

to Puccini's: lush harmonic instrumentation, memorable melodies and driving

rhythms. Though Falla employs continuing

castanets, a wordless men's chorus briefly chanting and a soprano near Suite

1's beginning, Trevor substituted his brass players, shortened

that opening and omitted the soprano and castanets. To those unfamiliar with the piece it

sounded fine. In fact, so did the remaining dances of that first suite, which

didn't provide any further alterations.

I termed the Paganini a pot boiler because it's a violin

display piece with a very low musical density (and an obnoxious bass drum

pounding on most of the strong beats), along with an interminably long first

movement. Yet

Hristova prevented it from being wholly boring by playing it beautifully over

its three movements. In

fact, I don't recall her playing this well in her 2006 competition appearance. She managed all the

"stuff" with aplomb that Paganini threw at her, and did it with a nicely

centered tone, all but equaling the finest laureates to emerge from the

competition. Plus

Trevor's orchestra easily held up their end of the bargain.

In 1826 when he was 17, Mendelssohn wrote and scored his

Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream,

a work he never equaled, much less surpassed in his later years (indeed even

Mozart up through that age had not written anything to equal it). When he was nearly twice that age in

1843, he was commissioned to write a complete incidental music to the

Shakespeare play--built around the Overture. All of it proclaimed Mendelssohn at

his greatest. Using

narrator Dr. Jeff Swensson, sopranos Leah Crane and Robin Tolbert, and the

Encore Vocal Arts women's chorus, Trevor conducted, for the first time I've ever

witnessed, the entire incidental music.

It was worth the wait; Trevor managed the cuing of the

orchestra, the narrator and the vocalists such as to indicate a thorough

rehearsal. To

the "Scherzo," the "Intermezzo," the "Nocturne" and the world famous "Wedding

March," we heard "A Dance of Clowns"--adapted from the Overture, and the Finale,

which added the Encore Vocal Arts to the early part of the Overture. I thought to myself

as I left the concert that if Mendelssohn had evolved musically after age 17 as

Mozart did, he would easily have been the world's greatest composer. May

16; Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts


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