Saturday's concert by the 28-member Polish Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra was an eventful one. The ensemble, conducted without podium or music by Wojciech Rajski, played with unflagging energy and a variety of sonorous timbres ranging from the full-throated to the glistening. Appearing at the University of Maryland, the group was joined by two sterling soloists, the English oboist Simon Dent and American pianist Christopher Taylor. The exuberant audience drew encores from both soloists and orchestra.
In Richard Strauss's late Oboe Concerto, Dent displayed his astonishing technical facility, stylistic insight and inventiveness. The piece tends toward a burlesque reflection of the composer's orchestral tone poems--with the visionary gestures of "Ein Heldenleben" and the teasing wit of "Till Eulenspiegel." Dent explored both aspects, soaring into seamless cantilenas or racing through quixotic passage work crisply defined by concise tonguing.
Taylor made the Steinway work, finding a curiously successful balance between the distinct articulation required for the terraced baroque textures and propelling momentum of the Allegros with the absolute legato of a Chopin cantilena in the Adagio. Taylor's encore, Scott Joplin's rag "Solace," was totally after-hours pensive. For Henryk Gorecki's "Three Pieces in Ancient Style" and Mozart's Symphony No. 40, the orchestra showed boundless intensity and precision except for a few misses in the strings and horns.