The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia almost never ventures so deeply into the core territory of the Orchestra Next Door as it did in its final concert of the season, an all-Tchaikovsky program under music director Dirk Brossé. And on Monday at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater, you could sense the suspicion in the air. But by the end, the concert was clearly the hit of its season.
The Serenade for Strings makes a certain amount of sense for chamber orchestras, but the Philadelphia Orchestra's illustrious string tone should have made the piece something for the second half of the program rather than the curtain-raiser status it was accorded here. But none of that even comes to mind when a performance of this marvelous piece is cooking, and heard in the close proximity afforded by the Perelman. I didn't love Brossé's slightly slack first-movement tempo, but everything that followed was strong-minded, with extra lilt in balletic sections and particular gravity when Tchaikovsky starts confessing his soul.