Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s October 15th season opening celebration featured much undifferentiated playing. The program was intelligently designed to showcase the New York premiere of Wolfgang Rihm’s Duo Concerto, written for a married duo, cellist Jan Vogler and violinist Mira Wang. It is difficult to assess their undoubtedly noble efforts past an orchestration thicker than caulk. Mr. Vogler played on a large podium stage center, but this did not aid to his projection as it did to the visibility of his physical gesticulations and the serious commitment of his hair to the performance.
The comely Ms. Wang managed more audibly to struggle through the contrapuntal tonalische miasmas, written in a harmonic language by the preëminent post-modernist German composer that could be simplistically called valedictory, like the late works of Alban Berg. This uninspired work punishingly asked the soloists to compete against colorless clotted textures; indeed, a concert companion aptly described it as “morose hysteria”.
Perhaps this work would be better scored as a string septet.