You-review-it Monday: Super Bowl Village and more

January 30, 2012
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For me, the weekend included a few trips to the NFL Experience (see blog posts here and here) and a walk through Super Bowl Village.

What about you? Did you get to see any of the concerts at Super Bowl Village? Catch the closing weekend for the latest shows by Dance Kaleidoscope and/or the Indiana Repertory Theatre? Visit "Turf"?

What did you do on the A&E front last weekend?

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  • vonnegut
    went to a wonderful evening at KVML-reading of "Happy Birthday, Wanda June" the only play Vonnegut wrote.
  • Russian music with the ISO
    I attended two performances of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra last week. The Thursday morning concert featured Shostakovich ever popular Festive Overture, the Rachmaninoff Second Piano Concerto and the first movement of the Prokofiev Fourth Symphony. The Friday night concert added the remaining movements of the Prokofiev. Rossen Milanov, longtime Assistant Conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra and currently conductor of Symphony in C, the Princeton University Orchestra and the New Symphony in his home in Sofia, Bulgaria, was the guest conductor. The soloist was Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili. The Superbowl festivities downtown caused this series of concerts to be performed at Clowes Hall, home of the ISO from 1963 until the orchestra moved to the Circle Theater in the early 1980s. Milanov, who has conducted the ISO on several occasions, had the orchestra sounding full and with much energy. I really enjoyed watching him conduct, as he is very much a visual projection of the music. The Shostakovich overture started out in a slower opening fanfare than I usually hear, and that helped exaggerate the brilliant allegro that follows. David Bellman played the famed clarinet melody with smooth grace and the balance of the ensemble was terrific. The two performances of the Rachmaninoff were very different, especially in the beautiful slow second movement. The soloist must have felt very comfortable with the conductor and ensemble, as she worked many rhythmic nuances that were quite effective, and this was so much more interesting and personal than are some performances of this beloved work. Solo woodwinds played very well, as did the violins in that marvelous moment that they repeat the theme of the second movement. One instrument caught my attention. The cymbals are usually mentioned only if there is some disaster. Braham Dembar had the cymbal assignment on the first two pieces, which required the extreme ranges of sound and techniques; the overture calling for loud and flashy crashes while the concerto required extremely soft and precise crashes that accompany wind chords. Both were done very well indeed. Ms. Buniatishvili played different encores, the famed Liszt work Liebestraum on Thursday and a slow Chopin Etude on Friday.
    The Fourth Symphony of Sergei Prokofiev is an extraordinary work that is rarely performed. These were the first ever performances by the ISO, and Milanov led them through the full spectrum of emotions. The work has all of the energy of the more famous Fifth Symphony but has none of the bubbling optimism. This is music that could only have come from the Soviet Union, and it is most comparable in some ways to the Fifth Symphony of Shostakovich, with almost schizophrenic changes from factory floor poundings to tender caresses. Again the solo woodwinds sparkled, particularly in the exposed wandering melodies, often in octaves. The moments were a bit reminiscent of the woodwinds in Peter and the Wolf, but this music is anything but light hearted. Bravo to the orchestra, guest conductor and piano soloist for an outstanding weekend of Russian music, some new and some familiar and beloved.

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