ORANGE — The Orange County Chamber Orchestra demonstrated an ongoing commitment to enriching audience experience Sunday afternoon by programming one new work and one infrequently offered. And though the concert--played in a chilly St. Joseph Center in Orange--may not have been entirely familiar, it was not at all inaccessible.
As featured soloist, oboist Allan Vogel offered enticing entrance into Robert Cummings' Concerto for Oboe. The tonal work, receiving its first performance locally, is a celebration of melodic invention cloaked in traditional forms. Vogel brought an inviting tone, impeccable intonation and a masterly command of phrasing to its service.
Intelligence and energy permeated Vogel's approach. While in the foreground, he assumed sure control, speaking his line with sensitive attention to detail. But he also fit his part into the overall fabric of the piece with rapt attention to his orchestral partners.
The chamber orchestra accompanied skillfully. Under the personable command of conductor Micah Levy, the ensemble rose to the playful challenge uttered by Vogel's unaccompanied opening notes, maintained vitality through an overabundant use of tremolo, and engaged in vigorous dialogue with the soloist. Throughout this, and through the entire program, Levy could rely on the expertise of solid chamber players to weave transparent textures.
Orchestral members attended to clarity and detail with similar earnestness during the two 18th-Century works that flanked the concerto. In the less complicated Overture to William Boyce's "See, White Robed Peace," sectionally executed ornaments, in particular, attested to remarkable control. Thus nurtured, this early classical, English court music emerged graceful and intellectually untaxing.
Haydn's Symphony No. 82, nicknamed "The Bear" for its whimsical fourth-movement dance over a drone bass, stood alone on the second half of the program. Here, too, players etched lines with sharp distinction, achieving momentum through energetic use of accents. The results were playful, polished and compelling.