Pike Performing Arts Center; Oct. 26
A laureate series without a laureate; is that a first for the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis? Perhaps it is, but in collaborating with Pike Performing Arts Center’s own series, which deals in mostly lighter fare, the IVCI got itself a winner in engaging the 12-year-old Quartetto Gelato. Using an eclectic mix of classical, Latin, Parisian and Romanian pop and folk material, the group dazzled one and all with its highly virtuosic arrangements, and some shtick thrown in for good measure. Where else have you heard a violin, accordion, clarinet and cello — the violinist sometimes switching to singing as a tenor — banded together to play familiar stuff? Pieces from Rossini, Handel and Bach melded with “La Vie en Rose,” “Czardas,” “Bésame mucho” and “Romanian Caravan,” each intro-ed by a different player, all four taking their turns. Perhaps the most dazzling of the 14 offerings were two: Bach’s Toccata and Fugue (without the fugue) in D Minor, played on and arranged for accordion by Alexander Sevastian, who almost made you forget the deep bass you were missing without the organ for which it was written; and Kornel Wolak’s unbelievably nimble clarinet work in Sevastian’s arrangement of a Rossini Theme and Variations. Two Canadians, violinist/tenor Peter DeSotto and cellist Carina Reeves, completed the foursome. Quartetto Gelato is most reminiscent of Red Priest of London, who appeared here last July.