Andrew Litton carries on various conducting activities in addition to his being Exxon/Arts Endowment Conductor for the National Symphony. One such activity is that of leading the Virginia Chamber Orchestra, a 28-member ensemble that appeared in concert at the Wolf Trap Barns yesterday afternoon.
For this concert Litton brought along two members of the National Symphony as soloists. Daniel Carter's delicate and nearly flawless playing of Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 2 was appropriately scaled down to fit both the orchestra and the size of the hall. His approach resulted in a singularly intimate performance that was as enjoyable as it was uncommon.
Debussy's "Danses sacre'e et profane" provided a showcase for harp soloist Dotian Carter as well as for the string section, indisputably the strength of this orchestra. Carter's rendition was brilliant, colorful and thoroughly impressive, receiving perfect support through the warmth and rhythmic pliability of the string playing.
The remainder of the concert was devoted to symphonies, No. 33 in B-flat by Mozart and No. 5 in B-flat by Schubert. Much the same can be said for both, namely that the orchestra's unanimity of style and dedication to ensemble details were well suited to Litton's light and lyric interpretation. He coaxed plenty of vitality from his players but always with an ear for balanced sonority and melodic flow.