The sounds emanating from Joshua Bell’s 1713 Stradivarius wowed the audience on Thursday night when the violin virtuoso appeared with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in Carmel at the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts.
An Indiana native, Bell was the main attraction in this concert, which featured him performing Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Concerto in D for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 35,” considered to be one of the most technically challenging works for violin.
Making its first appearance in Central Indiana’s newest major performance venue, the ISO next will return to its home at the Hilbert Circle Theatre, where it will present this same program tonight, May 6, at 8 p.m. and also on Saturday, May 7, at 5:30 p.m.
Making his ISO debut, Austrian Christoph Eberle, superbly guiding its exceptional musicians, opened the concert with “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers,” an exquisite piece by Zhou Tian, a 30-year-old composer who was born in Hangzou, China. He is a 2010-11 winner of the Marilyn Glick Young Composer’s Showcase.
According to Tian’s notes in the printed program, his composition is drawn from a Chinese proverb “that means a good relationship between two people always takes a thousand years of good prayers to bring about.” Tian also says he “wanted to write a piece to convey a sense of spiritual bliss.” In this effort he was thoroughly successful.
Unexcelled in his art, Bell then enthralled the audience with his dynamic, passion-filled interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s piece, first performed in 1881, and one of the best known of all violin concertos. Focused, yet emotionally unconstrained, Bell connected with the audience so profoundly in his solo part that he was given an instantaneous standing ovation between the second and third movements. It seemed clear that all present knew they were in the presence of a rare musical genius.
The concert concluded with Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36,” which has become a staple of orchestra repertoire. Consisting of four movements, this piece was written in 1878 and is dedicated to Tchaikovsky’s patroness, Nadezhda von Meck.
Very pleasing was the majestic opening fanfare, featuring horns and bassoons in the first movement; Oboist Roger Roe’s performance during the second movement introduction and throughout the entire piece; the strings playing pizzicato (plucking strings with the fingers rather than using a bow) in the third movement; and the entire orchestra’s replication of the musical equivalent of lightning bolts in the fourth movement.
The ISO will return to the Palladium on June 19 to perform Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9.” By then, any concerns that the Center for the Performing Arts will compete and somehow negatively affect ISO support should have dissipated. As observed Thursday night, huge potential for cross-promotion and audience development for each institution clearly exists.
For more information about the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, call (317 639-4300 or visit www.indianapolissymphony.org.