What a chamber orchestra loses by performing without a conductor is some degree of ensemble cohesion, as well as an outside ear to judge balances, phrasing and interpretive choices. What it gains is independence, and that can energize a democratically oriented group. The Boston-based conductor-less chamber orchestra known as A Far Cry, heard on Saturday night to close out the Dumbarton Concerts series in Georgetown, was founded only in 2007, but it has already made quite a mark.
The group played two classics of its repertoire, beginning with Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,” a charming choice for a concert in a candlelit room. The musicians attacked it with crackling energy, and little details sprouted up everywhere, as here the violas, there the cellos brought out inner lines. The high-octane approach enlivened the sometimes spastic fast movements, even the menuetto, which was overly angular and quick, perhaps accounting for some sour intonation when a solo violinist took over some of the melodic lines in the trio. Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C had the same edge in the fast movements, exciting but a little overwrought, reaching a high point in the smoldering outer sections of the slow movement.