"Two and a half stars

University of Indianapolis Faculty Artist Series; Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center; Sept. 24

This classics-to-moderns program went straight from the classical era to compositions of today. Josef Haydn’s was a fun little piece, with a flute instead of the usual violin. Richard Ratliff showed for the second week in a row his talent for playing repertoire of the classical era. I was let down by the cello part of this piece though; Dennis McCafferty’s playing often sounded harsh and insensitive in relation to what was going on around him. Skipping ahead about 200 years, we heard David Maslanka’s Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano, a piece that amazed me, but not in a good way. I’ve never heard a piece with so many notes in it, yet so little to say. It was a piece with seemingly no direction and no purpose, despite how well it was played. A work by Jim Beckel, principal trombonist of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and accomplished composer, finished the evening off. Musical Masque (for the seasons) is, like everything else I’ve ever heard from Beckel, a wonderful piece that captures feelings and concepts in a compelling way. It was a shame, though, to hear this warm and engaging composition brought down by a poor string section riddled with pitch issues, particularly in the violins.

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