SAN DIEGO — A certain English chamber orchestra, known for its prolific catalogue of recordings, got its start by playing in a church that lent its name to the group. Perhaps Pacific Chamber Ensemble conductor Ethan Dulsky had the illustrious Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in mind when he launched his concert series at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Point Loma.
In any case, Dulsky's struggling group at this point could use some divine intervention on its behalf.
Barely into its first full season, financial constraints caused Pacific Chamber to cancel its December concert and reschedule last month's trumpet recital. On Monday night, however, Dulsky and crew got their show back on the road at the church, playing most of the previously announced concert for Feb. 10.
From its performance, it's clear that the group has definite musical potential. If Dulsky can keep his players together--the personnel of his first violin section is noticeably volatile--he could mold a respectable chamber orchestra. Their account of Mozart's Symphony No. 29 was unforced and sprightly; both conductor and players displayed a genuine feel for the work's classical style.
On the podium, Dulsky's style is spare, disciplined and self-assured. His programming Monday night seemed a trifle odd: three orchestral suites and one symphony. Although the Bloch "Suite Modale" calls for solo flute, its idiom is so understated that it's unlikely to pass for even a small-scaled concerto.