The Faculty Artist Concert Series at the University of Indianapolis often presents eclectic evenings with varied programs, with music new and old, and the Oct. 27 edition — billed as a Chamber Evening — was no exception. It was a thoughtful program, with the first half being comprised of rather short duets, as if they were appetizers for our ears to nibble on (if you'll forgive the grotesque imagery); the minute you settled in to listen to the work, it was over, leaving you looking forward to the next course. All the better to whet our musical appetites for the second half, which featured just one longer work.
The evening began with selections from Bela Bartok’s 44 Duos for Two Violins. Charming little Duos they are, and Austin Hartman and Sarah Page effectively conveyed their different characters, storylines and moods, playing with and off each quite well.
Andre Jolivet’s Sonatine for Oboe and Bassoon, which is made up of three compact movements, packed in all sorts of challenges for oboist Pamela French and bassoonist Mark Ortwein, who stayed on the ball through leaping intervals, syncopated lines and imposing rhythms. French’s luminous oboe contrasted in an intriguing way with Ortwein’s warm, broad bassoon, adding to the allure of Jolivet's curious, fascinating work.
Sweet might not be the usual word for a George Crumb work, but his Mundus Canis (“A Dog’s World”) for guitar and percussion is that, in many ways. It's a tribute to his dogs, each of the five movements conveying the personality — and bearing the name — of one of his pups.
Guitarist Nemanja Ostoich’s playing was pristine; each note he played from Crumb's piece, whether a part of a chord or individually, was clear and articulate. Paul Berns excelled at whatever percussion instrument Crumb asked of him, whether called upon to hit a drum or play a cymbal partially submerged in water. Counting is no easy feat in Crumb's world, but the two were an attentive team, working closely together.
Pianist Richard Ratliff joined violinist Austin Hartman and cellist Dennis McCafferty for a spirited and reflective reading of one of Franz Schubert’s last compositions, the Piano Trio No. 2 in E flat major, which filled up the second half of the program. It may be a long work at 42 minutes, but it didn't seem it. The varied thematic material, weaving in and out of the piece, kept listeners engaged, as did the sheer beauty of his Schubert's writing.
I’ve been attending UIndy concerts for a while, but I'd never seen an audience jump to its feet as quickly as it did after the Schubert. But that's no surprise: When the composer is in very capable hands, he often elicits such a response.