Wednesday night's concert by the Janacek Chamber Orchestra was an auspicious start of the new Logan season for the Chamber Music Society. This orchestra of 12 string musicians from the Czech Republic played flawlessly in a program spanning several centuries of music, from the Baroque to the 20th century.
The orchestra, led by violinist Zdenek Dejmek, was well-balanced and played with a warm, full sound, giving the impression of a larger ensemble than just these 12 performers.It's interesting to note here that the orchestra has a unique approach to performing in that every musician, except for the two cellists, stood while on stage. This is quite unusual but did not in the least detract from the music.
The concert opened and closed with works by two Czech composers. In between these two, the audience was treated to a Vivaldi concerto and a composition by a lesser-known English composer, John Ireland. The audience enjoyed all four works and rightfully so. This was charming, melodic and utterly enjoyable music from beginning to end.
The opening work of the concert was the Sinfonia in A Major by a now-forgotten Bohemian composer, Josef Myslivecek, who lived from 1737 to 1781. This three-movement symphony is very melodic.
Myslivecek made a name for himself in Italy, and this symphony exudes the lighthearted Italian lyricism that undoubtedly contributed to his success. It's a shame that he's not better known today.
John Ireland's three-movement "Concertino pastorale," from the 1930s, is a well-written piece in neo-classical style with both somber, intense string writing alternating with bright melodicism.
Vivaldi's Concerto for Violin and Cello in B Major rounded out the first half of the program. The orchestra exhibited a fine balance between ensemble and soloists. The two soloists, Vitezslav Kuznik on violin and Ivo Fiser on cello, performed their parts brilliantly.
The second half of the concert consisted entirely of Dvorak's popular Serenade in E Major. This five-movement work of Slavic lyricism was the high point of the evening. This is an utterly charming work and a superb way to end the concert.