Conductor Lorin Maazel is seeing his dream come true as the Castleton Festival, nestled in the Piedmont hills of Virginia, celebrates its fifth anniversary. On Sunday, Maazel introduced the afternoon’s orchestral concert with a plug for a new competition, for composers younger than 25 to have their works premiered at the festival. (Castleton already supports a summer training program for young musicians headed for professional careers.) This year’s winner was Philadelphia-born Charles Peck, whose “Metropolitan” for symphony orchestra was premiered before Rafael Payare conducted a stormy version of Mahler’s 70-minute Fifth Symphony.
The morning chamber music program received dazzling virtuoso playing for Johan Halvorsen’s takeoff on a Handel passacaglia. Violinist Eric Silberger and cellist Daniel Lelchuk raced through the set of variations requiring a wide variety of string techniques and expressive, tonal colors. The same players next took on Zoltán Kodály’s Duo for Violin and Cello, Op. 7, a three-movement paean to music that Kodály — with composer Béla Bartók, his comrade — had collected from Central European folk music. Both musicians tore into the score with passionate and rhapsodic, even improvisatory, styles.