Having been for many years the harshest critic of the Calcutta Chamber Orchestra — supported by the Calcutta School of Music and financially assisted by the Kolkata Foundation — this reviewer humbly concedes that, owing to the right guidance, this orchestra has finally come into its own, worthy of accompanying a soloist of renown, like the flautist, Uberto Orlando.
On January 6, in the crystalline ambience of the Hyatt Regency ballroom, the Calcutta School of Music presented a charming evening of baroque music at a fund raising concert. Orlando was on a visit to the city to conduct chamber-music workshops, culminating in concerts like this, to display the potential of instruments other than the piano and strings, which have, so far, been the staples of Calcutta’s musical fare. The success of the evening’s concert was achieved by a collaboration between Orlando and the conductor of the CCO, Sanjib Mondol, in selecting a core group of exceptionally committed and disciplined players in the orchestra to form the Camerata, which accompanied the flautist in the concertos of the evening.
The conductor rose to new heights as he led the Camerata in a well-coordinated performance of J.S. Bach’s Suite No. 2 in B Minor with its Overture, Rondeau, Sarabande, Bourrée, Polonaise, Minuet and a scintillating Badinerie.
Special mention must be made of the leader, Sandip John Halder, and the principal cellist, Somnath Makhal, whose sensitive support lent an unobtrusive but distinctive colour to the accompaniment. Mr Orlando played a beautiful and lyrical flute.
The short interlude featured the entire orchestra in the romantic Petite Serenade by Yokoyama Shin-Ichiro and Gustav Holst’s St Paul’s Suite, of which they played two movements, the Vivace and Jig. Orlando came back on stage to play, with the Camerata, Vivaldi’s Suite for Flute/ The Night, (Op. 10 No. 1 in G Minor), consisting of seven short movements. This was a dramatic work, so recognizably Vivaldi in all its spirited contrasts of throbbing vitality and brooding tension.
Concluding the programme was the Goldfinch/Il Cardellino Suite — Vivaldi again. Orlando gave a splendid performance of the trilling and twittering goldfinch cadenzas, demanding instrumental virtuosity, while the orchestra provided the pastoral ambience in a fitting tribute to the composer.
Enthusiastic calls for an encore were responded to with a repeat of the Badinerie from the Bach Suite, only this time at a breathtaking speed.