In the middle of the Handel Concerto Grosso in B-Flat, which opened the concert by the Chamber Orchestra last night, the gentleman sitting behind me remarked in a loud whisper, "You really can't beat the Classics for beauty!" I cannot help agreeing with him, particularly when the works of Handel, Bach, and Mozart are performed as competently as they were then.
As the oboe soloist in the Handel work and the most distinguished performer in the last movement of Mozart's Divertimento in D Major, Wade Fite certainly deserves high praise. He is definitely a musician of great ability, and in both works he gave encouragement and support to the orchestra.
Receiving its first performance was the Sonatine for Clarinet and Strings by the conductor, Nicholas Van Slyck. A clarinet work is always awaited with some apprehension, but such fears were unjustified, for Aaron Johnson played eloquently and without a waver. The work is a very interesting one for its changing rhythms and themes. Step by step I think it has fascination, but at the close, I had little feeling for its unity.
The big work on the program was Bach's Triple Concerto in A Minor. The soloists, Lois Schaefer, flute, Uni Sprengling, violin, and Noel Lee, piano, worked well together, particularly in the second movement. The combination of piano and flute is never a very happy one; separately, however, both were played professionally. With absolute balance between the two instruments, the duo of flute and violin was perfect.
It is hardly worthwhile to find little faults with the orchestra. Van Slyck conducted with confidence, kept the players together at all times, and built the music logically and skillfully. I did object to the concertmaster's obtrusive leadership throughout all the music--in the Bach his pizzicato was louder than the soloist's. The few peculiar noises which eminted from the violin section did not appear during the Bach work, possibly because of the foundation which the piano provided. All in all, the concert was a great success, a combination of good programming and superior performance.