font size=-1 class=small>February 5, 2000

Littleton center gives concert intimate feel

The Littleton Town Hall Arts Center has never been known as a venue for formal music concerts. But this weekend it is home to the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin, and the results are impressive.

While the space lacks reverberation, the compensation is that everyone is so close to the music, and the details are right up front and personal. In the hard-driving moments of Grieg’s "Holberg Suite," this means music-making that doesn’t get any better, given the sharp discipline of this youthful ensemble.

After all, in this setting, no one in the audience is farther than 30 feet away from the musicians. The excitement (or lack thereof) is immediate, and the music has an urgency it doesn’t get when the audience is at a distance.

The Chamber Orchestra Kremlin is an 18-piece string orchestra that, in its attack and uniform bowing, gives a real bite to its music. The program consisted of Grieg’s "Holberg Suite," Boris Tchaikovsky’s Sinfonietta (and no, this doesn’t seem to be a relative of the more famous Peter Tchaikovsky) and Dvorak’s Serenade in E Minor.

As a rarity, the Tchaikovsky work was of particular interest. In part it pays obeisance to the P. Tchaikovsky Serenade, but with a novel division all its own of sonatina, waltz, variations and rondo. The music, from a composer raised during Soviet times, is nice enough, but emotionally cool and devoted to niceties of form rather than deep communication.

This ensemble proved to be popular with the Littleton audience, with encores demanded - and received: Fibich’s "Poem," and Piazzolla’s "Four for Tango." There will be two additional performances, at 8 tonight and at 2 p.m. Sunday.