Review: Chamber Orchestra of Phila. Balances Contemplative Bartok, Flawless Mendelssohn

Philadelphia Inquirer review of Bartok Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta and Mendelssohn Symphony No. 3, which I conducted a few days ago in Philadelphia. 

You could have guessed that conductor laureate Ignat Solzhenitsyn was behind Sunday’s performance: He’s the kind of serious musician who will take on something this formidable and get the rehearsal time to pull it off. His chamber music appearances here mean he’s never away for long, but Solzhenitsyn emerges as a key part of the Chamber Orchestra’s season, maintaining a classical foundation as music director Dirk Brossé explores populist realms.

The piece can seem rather cerebral. But the first movement served notice that this performance would be an exception. Some conductors begin so softly as to be barely audible. Not here. The movement’s long-built climax, which can seem like a feat of compositional technique, became an existential crisis. Later movements had similarly imaginative strokes.
— David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer