Web version: Bronze medalist plays with golden sheen


Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra

IVCI Laureate Chamber Series

Indiana History Center

Sept. 16

She may have won only the bronze, pulling in third place in last year’s International Violin Competition of Indianapolis. But her playing of the Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2 last Sunday had a golden sheen to it — not to mention that her name is Celeste Golden. The IVCI Laureate Chamber Concerts joined forces last Sunday with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra to launch both series in a packed Indiana History Center Basile Theater.

Beginning a previously unheard of 20th Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra season, music director Kirk Trevor impressed on at least an equal level with Golden. He had his 35-piece orchestra honed to razor sharpness for the Beethoven Seventh Symphony. Its rhythmic incisiveness slipped past us at breathtaking speed, which allowed his rigid tempos to serve as a workable approach throughout. Surrendering to my penchant for the superlative, I’m tempted to submit that this was the most exciting account of any Beethoven symphony Trevor and his ensemble have given us to date. Fast without sounding runaway means careful control: clean, precise attacks — creating a dance like milieu that never faltered.

The ICO veteran gave us a hint of what was to come, opening with Rossini’s Overture to his opera “La Cenerentola (Cinderella).” The so-called “Rossini crescendo” seems a favorite device with this master of early-Romantic Italian opera-buffa in his overtures. We hear it in this, as well as in his “The Barber of Seville” and “Semiramide” Overtures, among a host of others. When well-played, these overtures make delightful aperitifs for any musical occasion. Trevor uses the Basile’s very dry acoustic (for an orchestra) to highlight all his instrumental colors unadorned by reverberation, which can somewhat mask ragged playing. The ICO music director gave us little or none to hear in this unmasked setting.

Serge Prokofiev wrote his Violin Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63 in 1935 when he was in the act of returning to the Soviet Union to live out his life in his native country. Like his concurrent “Romeo and Juliet” ballet music, the concerto, light-veined and balletic on the surface, conceals a complexity of rhythmic and harmonic structures which challenge any solo violinist. Celeste Golden showed herself equal to the task of surmounting these challenges, nicely blending with much solo instrumentation while delivering a rich, well-controlled, on-pitch tone throughout. I stated last year that I thought Golden deserved the silver medal rather than the bronze. I heard nothing this time to dissuade me from that view.

The ICO continues its concert series on Friday, Oct. 12 with guest storyteller Bill Harley and guest composer/pianist Becky Archibald joining in a Chamber Conversations program entitled “A Tale of Two Scales.” On Nov. 15, the IVCI’s second Laureate concert “crosses over” to an all jazz program, featuring violinist and 2002 IVCI participant Sara Caswell leading a combo in the IHC’s Lilly Hall — a cabaret setting.




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