Two and a half stars

Indiana History Center; Oct. 18

The second Masterworks concert by the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra proved both novel and disappointing in equal measure. ICO music director Kirk Trevor dispensed with all his string players, effectively giving us a band concert, starting with Handel’s well-known Royal Fireworks Music. A Baroque suite instrumented here as it was first performed — with oboes, bassoons, flutes, trumpets, horns and timpani — this mostly martial, harmonically vapid music convinced no better than the full orchestral version. Richard Strauss’ ensuing Suite in B-flat for Wind Instruments, Op. 4, showed considerably more imaginative writing, plus the ICO’s best playing of the evening. But it was regrettably delayed by Trevor’s getting into a five-minute discourse on the history of the Handel piece (after it had been played), which was not only difficult to hear (Trevor used no microphone) but was constantly interrupted by his coughing — a poorly advised addition to this concert. Some horn burbling in the Strauss Romanze movement was more than compensated by Eli Eban’s lovely clarinet solo work. Kurt Weill (1900-1950) provided an even more unexpected concert conclusion with our forces offering his Concerto for Violin and Wind Orchestra, Op. 12 (1924). This composer of “Mack the Knife” and “September Song” gave us a practically atonal work, a style he seemed uncomfortable with. However, ICO concertmaster Larry Shapiro demonstrated excellent violin playing — with the material he was provided.

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