To be sure, Peled plays with undeniable power.
As so often happens, a wonderful concert by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra has been blighted by the contribution of a guest soloist.
Amit Peled is a gifted musician and outstanding cellist. But Friday night in Overture Center's Capitol Theater, he displayed total irresponsibility in devoting his major appearance to a completely fake and utterly discredited work.
In 1895, the "editor" Friedrich Grützmacher published a B-flat concerto identified as the work of Luigi Boccherini. It was taken up for almost a century as the Boccherini Cello Concerto, dutifully ground out by any cellist of professional pretensions.
But this score is actually a pastiche. Grützmacher took the flanking movements of one authentic concerto by Boccherini and pasted them together with a slow movement from another. Further, he "arranged" almost every measure to some degree or another, producing a travesty of the composer's music. Grützmacher's outrages have long been exposed. With the availability by now of 10 Boccherini cello concertos in authentic form, there is absolutely no reason for anyone to perform this fraudulent score. It is sad that a musician of Peled's talents should still waste them this way.
To be sure, Peled plays with undeniable power and technical security, his tone sturdy and richly projected. And he did indeed redeem himself in also playing the work of a modern Israeli composer, Mark Kopytman. His "Kaddish" for solo cello and strings is a transformation of the traditional Jewish funeral prayer into a dramatic dialogue between a departed father and the son who must say the prayer. It is a moving work, and Peled clearly played it from the heart.
Framing Peled's appearances were the greatest successes of the program. WCO music director Andrew Sewell should be given every encouragement to bring us music by composers of his native New Zealand, too little known here. Douglas Lilburn is outstanding among them, and his "Diversions for String Orchestra," five movements in all, were adroit and thoroughly engaging. And what a special thrill it was to hear the level of suave and lovely ensemble playing that Sewell now can draw from his string band -- which also met handsomely the demands of the Kopytman piece.
And then there was Haydn's "Military Symphony", No. 100 in G. This composer has long proven to be a Sewell specialty, evident as much in his loving shapings and phrasings as in his own joyous podium choreography. The symphony's name and character derive from Haydn's witty introduction, into two of the movements, some so-called Janissary music. Identified with military bands, it involves cymbals, triangle and clarinet. From the sidelines where I sat, the added bangers were around the corner and less prominent than I might have liked, but Sewell made sure their moments of added weight reached the hall.
Above all, how wonderful to have one of Haydn's pioneering symphonic masterpieces given its due, as the climax of a concert, rather than as an off-handed curtain-raiser at the beginning.