The Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle’s Sunday afternoon concert was titled “Musical Landscapes” and consisted of light classical favorites designed for pleasant listening. It was dedicated to the enduring legacy and memory of the well-known and beloved friend of the arts, Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans.

The orchestra for this concert was supplemented with brass, including trombones and tuba, harp, and percussion which made for a very rich and full sound.

The Merry Wives of Windsor Overture by Otto Nicolai launched the program. It begins with a quiet opening and then the gossip of the merry wives takes over and other delightful happy tunes. The opera, a singspiel in German, remains popular in Germany and the Overture is frequently heard in orchestral concerts around the world. It was a bright and spirited opening under Lorenzo Muti’s skilled leadership.

Next on the program was Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in B minor “Unfinished.” Though labeled unfinished and consisting of only two movements this work is an incomparable gem; a masterpiece of melodic grace, striking harmony and vivid orchestral color. Though there are conjectures, musicologists disagree as to why Schubert failed to complete the symphony set aside some six years before his death. The performance was wonderful with exquisite solo work by several members of the orchestra.

Since the inception of the El Sistema inspired KidZNotes in Durham, the COT has supported and sometimes partnered with this worthy effort aimed at uplifting underprivileged children through knowledge and performance of classical music. Today the Executive Director of KidZNotes, Kathryn (“Katie”) Wyatt was guest conductor. She led the orchestra in a polished performance of Offenbach’s “Intermezzo” and the very familiar “Barcarole” from The Tales of Hofmann. Her knowledge of classical music and her skill as an accomplished violinist served her well on the conductor’s podium.

In 1829, at the age of 37, Giaochino Rossini retired from writing opera at the height of his career, the most popular opera composer in history. He lived for nearly forty more years and composed some sacred choral works and several light and short piano pieces. Several generations later, another Italian composer, Ottorino Respighi, selected a number of these light piano pieces and orchestrated them as La Boutique Fantastique (The Magic Toy Shop) for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Maestro Muti told us the story of the ballet. Two dolls in a toy shop that are attached to each other are sold to different customers. The other toys cause disruptions in the shop and with the customers until the two dolls are reunited. La Boutique Fantastique Suite is cast in eight movements, “Overture,” “Tarantella,” “Mazurka,” “Danse cosaque,” “Cancan,” “Valse lente,” “Nocturne” and “Galop,” all charming in their rhythmic, playful orchestrations. For example, even though the tarantella is not an Italian dance, it is quintessentially Italian in Rossini’s scrumptious melody and Respighi’s rambunctious orchestration. Likewise the “Danse cosaque” had irresistible charm. Ditto for the “Cancan” and all the rest.

The Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle continues to bring high quality concerts to audiences and this one was just pure pleasure.