Evening in the Palace of Reason
“The Chamber Orchestra of Boston’s inaugural concert of the 2011-12 season was equal parts intrigue and instruction”, writes Michael Rocha in the Boston Musical Intelligencer’s review of the November 5, 2011 program.
“All told, an immensely satisfying experience that left both heart and mind sated,” he concludes. “Thoughtful program selection, accomplished playing, helpful commentary: this event was engaging on multiple levels, and very warmly received.”
Passion and Tango
Noted Boston musicologist Steven Ledbetter weighed in on the COB’s popular Tango concert in February 2011:
“For a Valentine’s program a year ago, David Feltner offered an evening of tango music (including dance) with his Chamber Orchestra of Boston..Inspired by its success, he presented a new tango program at First Church in Boston for the Valentine’s Day weekend this year, again featuring dancers Julie Leven and Tom Jenkins in a half-dozen of the movements performed.
“The qualities that made last year’s concert so enjoyable were once again in evidence: expressive playing from the modest-sized orchestra….a fascinating and varied program featuring tangos old and new, plus some non-tango material, and the visual element of dance in the display tango style….”
Our last season wrapped up on Saturday, April 24 with Elvis Lives!, as the COB explored the intersection of classical music and popular culture.
Stravinsky’s timeless Soldier’s Tale marched into town, featuring award-winning actress Paula Plum as narrator. The evening capped with Michael Daugherty’s riotous Dead Elvis featuring Ron Haroutunian on the bassoon (and in full Elvis costume). Afterward, audience and musicians mingled to taste the King’s signature “PBB&B” sandwich and Southern treats at the free post-concert reception.
Steven Ledbetter reviews “Romance and Tango”
The noted musicologist and former program annotator for the Boston Symphony Concert reviewed this COB concert, and summed it up thus:
“A few familiar pieces scattered within a program of novelties and rarities, all played with style, energy, and grace, as each demanded, made for one of the most completely satisfying concerts that I have heard this season.
Boston Phoenix, October 8, 2004
By Lloyd Schwartz
I’VE ADMIRED David Feltner as a violist, and I’ve heard good things about the group he founded, the Chamber Orchestra of Boston. I finally got to hear it, and the concert was a knockout. Feltner certainly couldn’t go wrong with his guest soloist, pianist Judith Gordon, who played Bach’s heavenly and joyous Concerto in F minor BWV 1056, with its ravishing hymn-like slow movement, in which the more pianistic filigree she added, the more she revealed the eloquence of the ongoing melodic line. Her exquisite quiet playing made me yearn for more Bach on the piano (rather than on the usual harpsichord). She then played the Boston premiere of Polish composer Henryk Górecki’s 1980 Concerto for Harpsichord or Piano. “Jerry Lee Lewis meets Shostakovich,” Gordon has been quoted as saying. In the first movement, pounding chordal repetitions on the keyboard (minimalism meets boogie-woogie) are set against slow-moving strings that sound like huge organ tones. The juggernaut second movement is like a speeding train, with piano and orchestra alternating. It’s even more of a workout for the soloist. This is an exciting piece — and short! And the audience was — rightly — wowed.
Feltner ended with the 24-year-old Benjamin Britten’s tribute to and portrait of his teacher: Variations on a Theme by Frank Bridge, 10 colorful variations (March, Romance, Italian Aria, Viennese Waltz) that also served to remind us what we’d heard earlier in the evening (the Bourrée Classique recalling the Bach, the Moto Perpetuo bringing back Górecki’s relentless repetitions). The superb string orchestra (concertmaster Danielle Maddon has the same position with the Emmanuel Orchestra) was up to all the challenges, and Feltner led everything with rhythmic snap and a sense of the individuality and shapeliness of each piece. This outfit is a welcome addition to the list of Boston’s flourishing chamber orchestras.
Boston Globe, November 21, 2004
Filling the city with even more song (excerpt)
by Richard Dyer
Chamber Orchestra of Boston: This group of 16-20 professional players became “a going concern,” says founder David Feltner, in 2001. It has now begun its third season in Jordan Hall.
Feltner has been a busy freelance violist in town for many years. “I know many of the players and thought it would be fun to put together my personal dream team of people who enjoy playing music with each other.” The early concerts went so well that everyone decided to try to make the group on ongoing thing.
It focuses on unfamiliar repertory — the first concert this season featured the local premiere of Gorecki’s Piano Concerto with Judith Gordon as soloist. Feltner says one of the orchestra’s reasons for existence is “balance.” “There are a lot of wonderful early-music groups in town and wonderful new-music groups, too. I like to have a balance between old and new; I think it is a mistake to ghetto-ize new music.”
The next Chamber Orchestra of Boston concert is Feb. 27 in Jordan Hall — it brings the world premiere of a Double Concerto Grosso by Vuk Kulenovic with a Mozart Divertimento for two horns and strings. “We play things you won’t hear anywhere else,” Feltner says. “And I don’t worry about whether there are too many other groups competing for attention. It’s like asking the question, ‘Can there really be too much beauty in the world?’ “
“It was a delightful evening with superb playing from every musician. Feltner shaped each phrase with a keen sense of musical and emotional depth. He lived and breathed the music. His charismatic conducting had assurance, precision, elegance and grace in equal measure.” - Peter Laki, The Cleveland Orchestra