Symphony on the Prairie: "Venzago's Debut" concert review

 

Playing with spirited "oomph" and distinctive nuances, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra traversed a European musical landscape, digressing to South America. Throughout, Maestro Mario Venzago showcased soloists and sections and provided delightful introductions abetted by Matthew Socey, standing in for announcer Scott Hoke. A Scandinavian tour showcased Hugo Alfven's celebratory Festive Music, Op. 25, Jean Sibelius' sweeping Finlandia, Op. 2" and Edvard Grieg's rich Concerto in A Minor for piano and orchestra for which Hannah Carroll on piano combined melodic sensitivity with drama and pathos to partner seamlessly with the ISO for the "Allegro molto moderato" movement. Ravel's "Bolero" gained praise for a compendium of subtle variations for this seemingly repetitious composition. Second act opened with Gabriela Lena Frank's throbbing "Jungle Jaunt" from Three Latin-American Dances, dedicated to Leonard Bernstein. Soloists particularly sparked Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34 and Berlioz's "Roman Carnival." Verdi's dramatic Overture to "La forza del destino" sent us home richly rewarded, yet the evening ultimately belonged to the enigmatic Franz Liszt whose "Mephisto Waltz" was an unbridled, demoniac orchestral setting of a poem based on the Faust legend. Venzago and the ISO at its finest.

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