The chamber orchestra is a unique musical animal, combining the fleetness of a string quartet with the power of a full symphony orchestra. Once the standard performance ensemble of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the chamber orchestra has experienced a renaissance e over the past few decades, courtesy of crack bands like the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and New York's own Orchestra of St. Luke's.
Add to that list the Australian Chamber Orchestra, who performed Sunday afternoon at Carnegie's Zankel Hall. Regarded as one of Australia's leading ensembles since it was founded 40 years ago, the ACO has been led for the past 25 years by lead violinist and artistic director Richard Tognetti, who performs with the buoyant enthusiasm of someone half his age.
The ACO began with Tognetti's own string arrangement of Prokofiev's piano cycle Visions fugitives, Op. 22. Performing while standing, the ACO, dressed stylishly in black, exuded energy and confidence in this music, filled with Russian fire.