One of the items bypassed by the Concertgebouw Orchestra in the "complete" Beethoven cycle it recently gave here was the the composer's Fantasy for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra, Op. 80. The omission was understandable, since the work is not quite a symphony and not quite a piano concerto (though it has elements of both), but it was also unfortunate. The Fantasy (unlike most of Beethoven's music for orchestra) is not heard nearly often enough; besides being completely charming music, it is specially fascinating as a sort of preliminary sketch for the last movement of the great Ninth Symphony. In it, one can see a miniature many of the ideas that later grew to colossal proportions.
The lure of the Choral Fantasy drew me to the McLean Community Center Saturday night for a concert by the McLean Chamber Orchestra and Chorale, which also included the Fifth Brandenburg Concerto, Debussy's Danses Sacree et Profane and two movements of the Pelleas et Melisande Suite of Faure.
A glance at that list indicates the conductor Dingwall Fleary has a flair for blending the popular and the relatively unknown in his programs. Technically, the playing was nowhere near Concertgebouw standards, but it was excellent for an amateur organization and, more important the spirit and style of the music were very well presented.