Conductor Dirk Brossé was out to charm his new audience Sunday in his first Kimmel Center subscription concert since becoming music director of Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. He addressed listeners with a lightness and humor one couldn't expect from predecessor Ignat Solzhenitsyn, and dedicated his new composition, Fanfare for Philadelphia, directly to them.
His music making, though, was anything but ingratiatingly safe. Seat belts were warranted for Mozart's Symphony No. 41 - not just for all the unexpected left turns and dramatic braking, but to keep you from leaving during his long, dramatic pauses.
I exaggerate to make a point: Brossé's audiences are dealing with an individualistic, slightly eccentric personality, a description that comes with more hope than judgment. His interventionist approach to Mozart isn't unprecedented in Europe - much-discussed Mozart specialist René Jacobs has more extreme tempo shifts - but is new to this community. Those who parted company with ex-Philadelphia Orchestra music director Christoph Eschenbach's use of Luftpausen - air breaks - might have a bigger problem with Brossé's similar tendencies, which come not from Eschenbach's pre-World War II Wilhelm Furtwangler tradition but up-to-date notions of historically informed performance.