So it was the Camerata Klaipeda with their leader/founder Vilhelmas Cepinskas, the pianist Guoda Gedvilaite, and the violinist (and leader both of the Camerata Klaipeda and the Kremerata Baltica) Dzeraldas Bidva, with a light to middling programme. The Camerata Klaipeda is a very young orchestra, with very few, if any, players older than 30. It generally plays without a conductor, though if Cepinskas plays the solo, he makes some attempts at conducting. Otherwise Bidva leads it, very ably indeed.
It started with Chausson's concerto for violin, piano and string quartet, arranged for string orchestra. This is one of those French pieces which I hate, very melancholic, with not that many ideas, going no-where in particular. The first movement was called 'décidé'; the music might have been with that one motif, but it did not really come across. Quite often I could not hear the violin soloist over the rather metallic-sounding piano. The piece filled the first half completely, and I was glad when it was over. And contemplated going home.
But I am glad I did not! The second half was rather a mixed bag; starting with Chopin's Andante spianato and Grand Polonaise, arranged (?) for piano and the orchestra, who occasionally threw in a few chords. Seemed a bit of a pointless arrangement. The Chopin could have been played with a few more rubatos - it was played rather strictly according to the beat.
This was followed by Ysaye's short symphonic poem 'Exile' (apparently he spent part of the first world war in London), written only for violins and violas. The viola leader had a wonderful tone and lots of interesting passages. The piece was all right.
Then we had Paganini's 9th and 24th caprices, arranged for string orchestra. A cynical soul might say - so it takes a whole band to play this solo violin piece? The first arrangement worked better, I thought, though the second one had a few rather funky moments.
Gershwin's two pieces for two violins and string orchestra, arranged by Bidva and played by himself and Cepinskas, plus the bassist in the front row, were wonderful. The two soloists had a lot of fun and Cepinskas in particular was really good at the jazzy sounds (he said something about Grapelli when talking about this piece).
Finally they played a Moldovan dance, 'Hora' with some awesome fiddling by Cepinskas, and a small tete-a-tete with a young female violinist, as part of the dance's story.
And of course encore after encore, all quite funny. The band really plays with loads of energy and enthusiasm. I was trying to compare them in my mind with the Lithuanian chamber orchestra - and failed to do so. I hope the Camerata Klaipeda gets lots of engagements at home and abroad.