ISO Classical Series – final program

Augustin Hadelich returned to Indianapolis to perform with the ISO last weekend.


stars - Hilbert Circle Theatre; Jun 3-5. A potpourri ended this season's

Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra's 20-program classical series — with ISO

associate conductor Sean Newhouse on the podium for his final indoor concert

before moving onward to Boston. Dominating the program were two of our 2006

International Violin Competition of Indianapolis laureates, gold medalist

Augustin Hadelich and sixth-place laureate Bella Hristova. But the two

violinists' domination in program time was possibly exceeded by Newhouse's

superlative job conducting Richard Strauss's first tone-poem masterpiece, Don


Op. 20 (1888), played just after the break. With this one work, Strauss defined

his mature style while launching the post-Romantic period with his expanded use

of percussion. He hardly duplicated thereafter Don Juan's perfect melding of

craft and inspiration. Newhouse and his players captured the lyric and heroic

spirit of the doomed libertine, finally defined by two plucked E-unisons in the

lower strings. The program began with a new work, Broken Crystal, by Ke-Chia Chen (b.

1979); she was present to accept the house's accolades. I found myself somewhat

indifferent to the piece's generic, contemporary construction. Hristova began

the laureate contribution with Henryk Wieniawski's superficial Polonaise


in D, which our sixth-place laureate got the best of. She followed with

Vaughan-Williams' more profound The Lark Ascending, Romance for Violin and

Orchestra (1920), splendidly interpreted. Hristova summed up her appearance

with Carmen, Fantasie brilliante by Jenö Hubay, the least known and least

interesting compilation of tunes for violin and orchestra from Bizet's opera;

better ones are by Pablo Sarasate and film composer Franz Waxman. Hristova

nonetheless had the chops to make it at least a bit compelling. Hadelich played

two pieces, the first, Samuel Barber's one and only Violin Concerto, Op. 14,

with its lovely, lyric first two movements and its thrashing Finale's escape

into Modernism. Then came Rachmaninoff's five-minute Vocalise, Op. 34 No. 14, a

wistfully nostalgic way to say goodbye to this ISO season. Especially

considering its violin version was played by the finest gold medalist of the

seven to which the IVCI has granted that award since its 1982 launch.

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