ISO Classical Series Program No. 16


Hilbert Circle Theatre; April 29 – May 1

4.5 stars

My God! It's Scheherazade — done to a farthing! When one hears an overplayed warhorse put

together with the shape, élan, forward motion and purpose guest conductor

Miguel Harth-Bedoya got from the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, it was like

being exposed to Rimsky-Korsakov's scintillating oriental fantasy for the first

time. This four-movement symphonic suite, programmatic of the 1001 Arabian

Nights tales, is one I've not looked

particularly looked forward to, as appears too often in symphonic programming

— while Rimsky's equally exotic, four-movement Antar Symphony is virtually never played by anyone, though

often recorded. But Bedoya's Scheherazade was so beautifully interpreted: From the opening "The Sea and Sinbad's

Ship" through all the ensuing "orientalisms" to "The Ship is wrecked –

Conclusion," conductor and players did not miss a nuance. Special plaudits go

to ISO associate concertmaster Alex Kerr, who did a splendid job with the

"Scheherazade" theme scattered throughout the 40-plus minutes. Next time Scheherazade is contemplated for programming, why not choose Antar instead, and give the public an equally gratifying

exposure to Romantic exoticism — and a more varied repertoire? Guest

cellist Daniel Müller-Schott joined the orchestra for two works preceding the

Rimsky: the well-known Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 33 and

an obscure, plaintive piece entitled Mariel by Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov (b. 1960).

Müller-Schott played both beautifully with a somewhat rapid-but-evenly-centered

vibrato and perfect passage-work control. Though contemporary, Mariel is a completely tonal work, remaining throughout in

F minor, without even a modulation (home-key shift). Chilean composer Enrique

Soro's completely Romantic Danza fantástica (1916) began this especially interesting program.


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