The conductorless, New York-based Orpheus Chamber Orchestra brought a richly varied and nourishing program to UCLA's Royce Hall on Sunday afternoon--and played it magnificently.
Four large-scale works, each for a different instrumental combination, were presented. To open, there was Haydn's Symphony No. 80, one of those terse, slow-burning and deceptively profound pieces by the composer that refuses to stick to one key (it is nominally in C minor) or to one mood.
Orpheus captured its vacillations in an appropriately tense, aggressive and clear-textured reading. It was Haydn with a cutting edge, and it was thrilling.
By way of the contrast, the peaceable pleasures of Mozart's Second Horn Concerto, K. 417, were suavely and charmingly projected, with William Purvis--an Orpheus stalwart for the last decade--sailing through the treacherous solo part with blithe, unassuming virtuosity.