The Kansas City Chamber Orchestra performed the final concert of its 30th season on Friday, in the lovely candlelit setting of Old Mission United Methodist Church. Outside, a blustery dusk was darkening, but inside was a convivial hum, the audience eager for the celebration of spring and display of virtuosity from the evening’s soloists. Music director Bruce Sorrell conducted a representative performance of what this ensemble is about: sophisticated repertoire, charming and not too contentious, and well played.
The program started with Samuel Barber’s “Capricorn Concerto,” the strings seated on the sanctuary’s main floor and the soloists on the risers behind. After the impetuous introduction, oboist Margaret Marco started the meandering, angular solo line, followed in turn by flutist Christina Webster, Julian Kaplan on trumpet, then cellos and opening up to violins. This steadily paced layering gave the work a settled effect, interspersed by pointed, animated sections in lively contrast. A section of clockwork rhythms motivated the second movement, deviating briefly to a sorrowful ode from oboe and strings, while the third was an energetic, elven exploration, a nostalgic moment of shifting tones from flute and strings, and an exuberant burst at the end.
Georg Philipp Telemann’s “Overture des Nations Anciens et Modernes” had all the stately charm of the Baroque. The orchestra was well balanced, enough so that the harpsichord always had a presence, even against the many florid lines, with nicely delineated the voices during the fugal sections, though as the piece went on uneven patches occurred in balance, cohesion and tuning.
The soloists for Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violins and Cello in D minor were typically ensconced in their sections — Anne-Marie Brown and Tony DeMarco on violin and cellist Lawrence Figg — but here carried the bulk of the melodic material and generated the most energy for an excellent interpretation of the piece, especially Brown’s sweet melancholic line in the Largo.
George Frideric Handel’s famous “Water Music” Suite in G Major again had some nice moments from Webster and Marco, though it was difficult to hear the violin voice along with them. Pure Baroque, the weighty downbeats gave it a grounded air, despite its nautical origins, and the effort was pleasingly grandiose.
They ended with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 3, featuring David Sullivan. In that effortless, universal style of Mozart, the work moved organically from charming to emotive to resounding. Sullivan, though capable of overpowering the group, played sensitively, with special care and placement for the delicate soft notes.
It was a concert delivered as promised and the spirited performance received a warm standing ovation.