Most local music organizations disappear when their founder retires. The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia is a glowing exception. Its founder, Marc Mostovoy, built it into a solidly established component of the local music scene during the four decades he ran it. He handed it to a new music director, pianist-conductor Ignat Solzhentisyn, and Solzhenitsyn eventually passed it to its current leader, Belgian conductor-composer Dirk Brossé. The Chamber Orchestra will open its 56th season with a program that includes most of the elements it has acquired from three very different directors.
Solzhenitsyn was a rising young musician with a good eye for up and coming soloists. Brossé has continued that tradition. The soloist in the main event will be Gabriela Martinez, a young Venezuelan pianist who made a big hit in her last appearance with the Chamber Orchestra. She’ll solo in Mozart’s 21st piano concerto—a piece that acquired a movie connection in the 1967 Swedish movie Elvira Madigan.
Mozart became a Chamber Orchestra specialty during Mostovoy’s tenure. Mozart’s music gains energy and zest when it’s played by the small orchestras it was written for. The movie connection ties the concerto to one of Brossé’s contributions to Chamber Orchestra programming. He’s an accomplished movie composer and he frequently schedules works by other composers noted for their movie music. The program will include another movie tie-in, Michael Nyman’s The Piano for Strings based on Nyman’s score for the award winning 1993 movie The Piano.
The opener will be a good example of the kind of music that won the Chamber Orchestra its first audiences—the March for the Royal Society of Musicians Haydn composed as a fundraiser for an 18th Century musician’s pension fund. The closer will be a type of entry Solzhenitsyn pioneered: a symphony that is normally played by big orchestras. Schubert’s Sixth Symphony was originally premiered by a small orchestra and a chamber orchestra performance should recapture some of the spirit of that first hearing.
What, When, Where:
The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia will present “Martinez Plays Mozart” on Sunday, October 6 at 2:30pm and Monday, October 7 at 7:30 pm at the Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, 300 South Broad Street, Philadelphia. Tickets are $27 to $95 and they’re available online and at the door.