Now in the 11th year of its sometimes existence, the East Coast Chamber Orchestra arrived for its annual tour with a strong sense of what's necessary to keep this high-spirited bunch in a state of optimal engagement.
The 18-member conductor-less group consists of musicians who have other activities (Time for Three member Nick Kendall, for one) and so aren't about to converge for another Pachelbel's Canon.
Friday's concert at the Independence Seaport Museum was a tortured but singular program that fully tapped the group's resources but was not ideal for workweek-weary subscribers of the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.
Beethoven's huge, crazed Grosse Fuge was the tip-off: Nobody cracks this Icarusian product of the composer's detached-from-practicality late period that is perhaps best read on the pages of its score than actually heard. The passionate, vigilant ECCO performance was better than most that I have heard. But the greater feat was Schoenberg's Suite in G major.