Hilbert Circle Theatre; Feb. 23-24.
Seven Brahms Hungarian dances set the tone for last weekend’s Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra classical program, featuring young Norwegian guest conductor Arild Remmereit. Folk music was the theme, culminating in Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony. In between the Brahms and Dvorak, pianist Jonathon Biss joined the forces for Béla Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 3. so that we heard two sets of works deriving from Hungarian folk sources and one from … the “new world”? Well, not completely. Dvorak, it’s true, wrote his Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95, while in New York City, following an exposure to Native and African-American folk music. But the bottom line is that much of the symphony’s richly scored “folksiness” derives from the composer’s Bohemian roots. More importantly, as his final, most mature symphonic opus, its great worldwide popularity derives more from Dvorak’s mastery in melding his materials. Remmereit gave the symphony a nicely nuanced reading, with Roger Roe doing a ravishing job with the Largo theme on his English horn. Biss’ piano work equally captivated with what likely was Bartók’s last work (1945), mellowed and refined from an earlier spiky, craggy style that many have found “a challenge.”