The latest concert by the Burlington Chamber Orchestra, held in the Redstone Recital Hall at UVM, was a smashing success. Under the baton of Music Director Michael Hopkins, they not only provided secure accompaniment for the young Russian cellist Sergey Antonov, they added a real jewel of a symphony by Haydn.
Antonov is a propulsive, somewhat combative young cellist with a huge set of technical skills and interesting musical thought. Both of these aspects of his musical personality/playing came through in his performance of the Variations on a Rococo Theme, op. 33, by Tchaikovsky. It was technically brilliant, and the final section was played with a bravura and certainty that allowed a breakneck tempo.
Other variations were quite lyrical and contained a long chant li line. At one point when the cello was in dialogue with the orchestra, Antonov would play his bit and then swiftly look at the first violinist as though to say: "match that... if you can," which added a certain edge to the entire performance. The audience responded passionately to the performance.
The program opened with a concerto grosso by Handel, the Opus 6, No. 6, which was beautifully played by this orchestra. It is a wonderful work and the fifth from this opus number that the chamber orchestra has essayed to play.
The real jewel of the evening was Haydn's Symphony no. 6 "Le Matin." Here is the composer who invented the Symphony form or solidified its growth, beginning a symphony with a sunrise, however brief, and working on to tempo changes and form changes to an allegro finale, using materials that were available to any composer at the time, but which Haydn used in definitive, creative ways that created challenges for the composers who followed him.
The performance was impeccable, bringing this young but very exciting and already indispensable group of musicians and its conductor to a permanent place in the Burlington musical hierarchy.