Before last night's program at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Great Falls, one couldn't help asking, "Does the Washington area really need another orchestra?" But when a group plays as distinctively as the newly formed Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, the answer is an unqualified yes.
The 31 local professional instrumentalists did their finest ensemble work in the second half of the program; Haydn's Symphony No. 88 in G Major was eminently satisfying. All four movements bubbled with the classical spirit, from the introspective Adagio to the lusty conclusion. The players' spontaneity pulled them through the ticklish places. This strength was best exemplified by the first violinists, who urged their colleagues on to a higher plane.
Led by the youthful Timothy Rowe, the orchestra began with Ravel's enigmatic "Le Tombeau de Couperin." For most new groups, only time together on stage can solve the numerous problems posed by formidable 20th-century music. This was true for last night's performance, although there were good moments.
Pianist William Lutes performed (with music) a work of the orchestra's namesake, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Concerto No. 17 in G, K. 453. Lutes seemed at home with this music, especially in the first movement cadenza, where he captured some true Mozartean charm.
If age improves a product's quality, then both the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra and its conductor will have much to offer listeners as the musicians mature and grow. The overall standard set at their first concert was a high one. Let's hope they persevere.