"Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Classical Special
Hilbert Circle Theatre
A flautist is defined as “a flutist, one who plays the flute,” whereas a flutist is simply “one who plays the flute.” Despite my preference for the second term, I’m tempted to label 66-year-old Irishman Sir James Galway a flautist extraordinaire. However, as either “flautist” or “flutist,” Galway is a larger-than-life presence on stage, his glitteringly golden mouth-pipe trailing down and forward to his right, the tone as commanding as the persona.
Galway appeared with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra last Tuesday in a concert special and a Spanish-themed program. The very young Alastair Willis of Seattle guest conducted, opening with Emmanuel Chabrier’s popular España (rhapsody) for Orchestra (1883).
Sir James then made his appearance with his own arrangement of the lovely, four-movement Fantasia para un gentilhombre (1954) by the “full”-20th-century Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo (1901-1999). Originally scored for guitar and orchestra, Galway’s recasting makes an adjustment in instrumental coloring, owing to the flute’s being able to sound only one note at a time while the guitar can strum many harmonies. Sir James’ burnished timbres worked well in this Spanish/neo-Renaissance delight.
Galway continued with yet another arrangement of themes from Bizet’s Carmen (Indianapolis Opera presents the full opera next weekend) — this one by François Borne (1840-1920). Also including much familiar material, Galway’s “Gypsy Dance” dazzled from start to finish.
Following a too-slow reading of the last part of Rimsky-Korsakov’s well-known Capriccio espagnole and a routine account of three dances from Manuel de Falla’s The Three Cornered Hat, Willis and the orchestra re-welcomed Sir James and introduced his flutist wife, Lady Jeanne Galway. They ended the program with its most interesting — and brand new — offering: The Magic Flutes (2006) by David Overton (b. 1942). This is a Mozart potpourri, a nearly countless number of his melodies skillfully bound together with a Mozartean-sized orchestra and our flute duo — and blended, one into another, without betraying a trace of contemporary technique. Deriving from all of Mozart’s genres, this 20-minute sampler — and the Galways — generated a perfect launch to a 20-concert, ISO Classical Series season.