REVIEW: (HT) Concert Orchestra: Saturday concerts bring cheers and applause from the concert-goers


MUSIC REVIEWS: Saturday concerts bring cheers and applause from the concert-goers

By Peter Jacobi H-T Reviewer |
January 21, 2013

Two items from Manuel de Falla’s opera “La vida breve” were sacrificed, but attendees listening to Saturday evening’s Concert Orchestra program in the Musical Arts Center shouldn’t have been too disappointed. In fact, they certainly didn’t seem so, considering the applause and cheering.

There was, after all, more music of a Spanish flavor, all of it exhilaratingly played by the orchestra, thanks to the astute and sensitively discerning leadership of conductor Arthur Fagen. And there were, in the program’s center, repeat performances of Joaquin Rodrigo’s evocative Concierto de Aranjuez, with a pair of exquisite interpretations by two young women who apparently tied as winners of a recent student concerto competition.

Their appearance deserves further explanation. The two soloists, Natalie Salzman and Alexandra Katelyn Mullins, are studying the harp in IU’s Jacobs School. The Rodrigo Concierto was originally written for guitar and orchestra, not harp, and as that, the piece is best known. But at the request of Nicanor Zabaleta, the 1940 original was, in 1974, transcribed by Rodrigo himself for harp. So, the harp version has come down to us with official approval.

Both Salzman and Mullins took Rodrigo’s lead, thereby contributing to the argument that their instrument serves the music. Indeed, they proved, through carefully designed and beautifully articulated interpretations, that the harp can honor the score. Actually, it was rewarding to hear the work twice, particularly that gripping, highly emotional second movement, the Adagio, to which both musicians gave a hauntingly elegiac quality. The orchestra’s collaboration added to the impact.

Maestro Fagen began Saturday’s concert with Emmanuel Chabrier’s “Espana: Rhapsody for Orchestra,” a Frenchman’s dazzling tone painting of Spain as a land of bright colors and catchy rhythms. He closed it with four infectious dances from de Falla’s ballet, “The Three-Cornered Hat.” Throughout, the orchestral work was tautly controlled and lush in sound. The conductor had sought and achieved exuberant readings that tumbled excitingly, often furiously forward, while also exuding gobs of atmosphere.

Copyright: 2013

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