BWW Review: ORPHEUS CHAMBER ORCHESTRA at Carnegie Hall

BWW Review: ORPHEUS CHAMBER ORCHESTRA at Carnegie Hall

BWW Review: ORPHEUS CHAMBER ORCHESTRA at Carnegie HallWhen one attends a solo recital, instrumental quartet, or any other small ensemble, there is no expectation of a conductor. These are situations in which the players must rely on each other to make beautiful music. A full orchestra, on the other hand, usually has a music director who makes all the artistic decisions. This person stands in front of the group to lead them through a performance of his or her choice of music, at his or her chosen tempo, gets the bow at the conclusion, and not coincidentally most of the glory.

Not so fast, says the collective voice of the 26 member Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Who needs a conductor? Not they! Founded in 1972, Orpheus has relied on a well- developed system of rotating leaders and a democratic method of determining how each composition will be performed. There is no "conductor". The collaborative Orpheus Process, as it is known, is trademarked and has been implemented in many venues both musical and otherwise.

An Orpheus concert can always be counted on to be a rich, exciting experience for the audience. The February 3rd 2018 concert was certainly no exception. The Overture to the opera "Il Signor Bruschino" by Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868) set the tone for a lively, exhilarating evening. While the opera may or may not be memorable, the overture, with violin bows and batons rapping on metal music stands at key moments, certainly makes a humorous impression. Everyone onstage was clearly having a great time with this piece.

The centerpiece of the concert was the Carnegie Hall debut of Norwegian trumpeter Tine Thing (Tina Ting) Helseth. Ms. Helseth performed two Baroque period works transcribed from other instruments. The first, Trumpet Concerto in D minor, Op.9 No.2 by Tomaso Albinoni (1671-1750) had been an oboe concerto in its first incarnation, played here on Ms. Helseth's piccolo trumpet. This is a much smaller version of the trumpet concertgoers are accustomed to hearing, and consequently has a much higher sound. It is a difficult, quirky little instrument, but Ms. Helseth made it behave with a soaring musical line, accurate intonation, and the exquisitely precise articulation of each and every note and rhythm. The same held true for Trumpet Concerto in D major after Vivaldi, BWV 972 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), also played on the piccolo trumpet. This piece, which started life as a violin concerto by Vivaldi, has gone through several adaptations, the most recent being Ms. Helseth's own in partnership with Norwegian guitarist and composer Jarle Storløkken. The organ accompaniment has been reworked for string orchestra. The Orpheus strings created a tight ensemble background for Ms. Helseth, who played the intricate music with the same perfect articulation, expression, and brilliance she displayed in the Albinoni. The string players were breathing with her, closely following every dynamic nuance. It was a masterful display, especially when considering the leadership of the entire group is practically invisible.

Brava to Ms. Helseth on an auspicious House debut.

In the second half of the concert, an ensemble within the ensemble performed a rarely performed work by Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), the Notturno in C major Hob.11:25. This piece showcased the fine work of the flute and oboe, while the two horns, two clarinets, two violists, the cello and the bass all had delightful moments in the solo sun as well.

For the final piece on the program, the full Orpheus Chamber Orchestra came out to make brilliant work of the Symphony No.40 in G minor, K.550, the penultimate symphonic composition of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). They gave an elegant reading of this famous masterpiece, starting with the snappy pacing of the first movement all the way through to the sparkle of the fourth movement.

The musicians, paying intense attention to each other's visual and aural cues throughout the evening, gave dazzling, virtuosic performances of every piece on the program. They filled Carnegie Hall with a sound easily of twice their actual number. And they ALL got the bow and glory at the end.


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From This Author Joanna Barouch

A New Jersey native and East Brunswick resident, Joanna holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Crane School of Music, SUNY College at Potsdam, (read more...)

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