If you were in the mood for petit fours and canapés, then Stewart Theatre on the NC State University campus was not the place to be on that bracing Sunday afternoon. There, the Raleigh Civic Chamber Orchestra served up nothing but good old main course entrees with minimal trimmings. Conductor Randolph Foy called the program “High Classical,” and he was not dealing in overstatement. Featured were three unflinchingly supreme selections from the classical age, by perhaps the two dominant practitioners who did so much to define that very age.
The players warmed up with a selection from Mozart, the “junior member” of the featured composing twosome. Their brisk treatment of his Overture to The Magic Flute seemed designed to match the admirable fall afternoon.
For solo duty in the Mozart Concerto in C minor No. 24, for piano and orchestra, Foy called upon Olga Kleiankina, an NCSU faculty member and gifted soloist who scarcely needed any introduction after her numerous and celebrated appearances hereabouts as well as in Europe. His high praise was justified as she brought a buoyant and confident touch to the Allegro and Larghetto movements. (Had Schubert composed a piano concerto, it probably would have sounded like her treatment of that slow movement.) Both soloist and players came on with more brawn in the Allegretto. The reeds deserve good marks for their work in the tutti, and indeed throughout.
Constituting the second half of the program was “Papa” Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 in D (a “London” symphony). Foy’s fine program notes pointed out that this last symphony of Haydn’s was originally (c. 1795) praised for its “fullness, richness, and majesty in all its parts.” Conductor and players brought to these four movements a disciplined reading, exhibiting the composer at his finest and most original. The Minuetto Allegro treatment was especially agreeable.
Were you interested in pure entertainment? Here was music generally considered of the highest order ever produced. How about educational value? Here was an expository program with supporting notes designed to leave you better informed.