4 stars –
Indiana History Center; April 17.
In its sixth and
next-to-last season program last Saturday, the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra
featured Gleb Ivanov, a very large, very tall young man from Russia, who
pounced on a Steinway Model D as though he owned it. In doing so, he gave us a
seemingly effortless account of Maurice Ravel's brilliant Piano Concerto in G
(1931). With ICO music director Kirk Trevor leading his 32 players in this, the
orchestra's 25th, "sterling" season, Ivanov delivered sterling
virtuosity in Ravel's outer movements and sterling loveliness in the composer's
extended slow movement. This turned into one of the better performances I've
witnessed of this late work of the French post-Romantic. Trevor framed the
concerto with two other works, the first also by Ravel, this time his earliest
piece still holding the boards: Pavane pour une infant défunte ("Pavane for a Dead Princess"). Originally
written for piano in 1899, Ravel orchestrated it in 1910, starting a trend he
was to continue throughout his composing career. Though I would have preferred
a more seamless approach than Trevor's forces gave it, he nonetheless conveyed
its neo-Renaissance dance-like character with just the right touch of yearning.
Jumping from the Gallic to the Teutonic style of that era, Trevor concluded
with Richard Strauss's Le bourgeois Gentilhomme,Op.
60(1918), a suite for
petite orchestra in nine sections. A big departure from the gigantic tone poems
and operas he had produced theretofore, the work displayed much soloist
writing, containing noteworthy contributions from the violin, piccolo and
cello, with especially fine cello work by ICO principal Marjorie Lange Hanna.