It has taken until this week for Ionarts to review a concert on the Library of Congress series, although I would have liked to attend the concert by the Moscow Sretensky Chorus last month. While the venue's winter-spring schedule is full, with 21 events we hope to review, the fall is a little sparse (I count 8 worth attending). True, there are three string quartets on the roster before Christmas: the Quatuor Ysaÿe (November 16), the Jerusalem Quartet (December 8) -- both admired by Ionarts in the past -- and the Formosa Quartet (December 14). Even better, the lineup of top historically informed performance ensembles continues this season, with Café Zimmermann and Céline Frisch (November 3), followed by Concerto Copenhagen (February 1), Ensemble Matheus and Jennifer Larmore (February 9), Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante (April 16), and John Holloway, Jaap ter Linden, and Lars Ulrik Mortensen (April 17). The total of 29 concerts is a marked improvement over last season's 21 review-worthy concerts, but other than the great early music lineup, there are fewer must-see concerts on their schedule. Today also happens to bring the disturbing news that the Library has lost track of an alarming portion of its vast collection.
This Auditorium for Chamber Music is the Gift of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, 1925
What finally drew me to the Library was Monday night's concert by the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra. The score of musicians, playing without a conductor, got a rough start on the opening work, Antonio Rosetti's Sinfonia in G Minor. This was a welcome discovery from the ensemble's homeland (it turns out that Rosetti was born in Bohemia as Franz Anton Rössler), with fast and sinuous outer movements that often reminded me of Mozart's 25th symphony. The third movement has a charmingly rustic Fresco B section, featuring the fine playing of the group's principal oboist, Jana Brožková. She also appeared as soloist in Alessandro Marcello's D minor oboe concerto on the second half, with grace, accuracy, and bubbling embellishments.
Robert Battey, Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra (Washington Post, October 24)
John Terauds, Czech orchestra falls flat on first Canadian tour (Toronto Star, October 16)
The rest of the program consisted of much more mainstream Classical repertoire, none the less welcome for it. Young violinist Barbora Kolářová, not coincidentally a student of the CPCO's concertmaster and director, Pavel Prantl, had an amiable outing in Mozart's third violin concerto. She played well, but her tone was nondescript, making the performance come off as a little polite, capable certainly but hardly memorable. The CPCO's playing was the best in the final selection, Haydn's 8th symphony (G major, "Le Soir"), especially in the brisk and perky first movement with noteworthy solos by flutist Jiři Valek, as well as the windswept encore, the fourth movement of Mozart's 29th symphony. All of this promise was overwhelmed by decidedly unpolished playing from the ensemble overall, including far too common intonation issues and missed notes, splats in the horns, and sometimes dolorous E string playing from concertmaster Pavel Prantl in the Haydn. This was not a concert that lived up to the group's reputation.
Mozart Violin Concerti:
You are advised not to miss the upcoming concert at the Library of Congress by Café Zimmermann and harpsichordist Céline Frisch (November 3).