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Chamber Orchestra only occasionally inspired


Conducted by Steven McDonald.

Works by Bach, Handel and Haydn.

Lawrence Jones G and

Alain Tissier G, soloists.

Kresge Auditorium, Oct. 19, 8 pm.


THE MIT CHAMBER ORCHESTRA has certainly improved since its early days, but it's still questionable whether they were up to taking the Saturday evening Family Weekend slot in Kresge Auditorium. To start with, Kresge is the wrong place: they sound small and out of place there, and should return to Killian Hall for future concerts. But, most importantly, despite the efforts of conductor Steven McDonald, which did result in a number of inspired moments, the ensemble still sounds unsteady and not quite ready for the public stage.

The concert began with Bach's Concerto for Violin and Oboe, S. 1060, and it turned out to be the most successful performance of the evening. Oboe soloist Alain Tissier G produced many felicitous touches along with a strikingly plaintive tone, while violinist Lawrence Jones showed off some pleasing phrasing. The interplay between soloists was inadequate for some of the performance, but produced telling effects at times. The orchestra provided an adequate accompaniment, not without interludes of interesting expression, if marked by rather too much untidiness.

The orchestra did not successfully bring off Haydn's Symphony No. 90. Strings fell apart on the many difficult passages, and the orchestra as a whole sounded under strain. A performance of Handel's complete Water Music, to end the evening, also proved to be a mistake. Despite some splendid brass and captivatingly warbling winds, the orchestra lacked a sense of cohesion, and the music too quickly became tedious and over-taxing on the concentration. It would have been better to have done just one suite of Handel's colorful work, and done it properly.