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Last weekend's chance to compare two kinds of chamber groups - England's English Chamber Orchestra and New England's Boston Conservatory Chamber Players - gave several reasons to celebrate the New World's way with august European masterpieces.

Simply put, Boston Conservatory's program (at Cambridge's wonderful wood palace, Sanders Theatre) was more innovative, diverse, and downright interesting than the larger English ensemble's fare at Symphony Hall. And for execution, conservatory violinists Lynn Chang and Stephanie Chase stand up to any star the English group can bring in.

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The world-renowned English chamber group (privileged players at the royal wedding) happened to have brought the equally renowned Gidon Kremer to play Beethoven's Violin Concerto with characteristic fervor and aplomb.

But Stephanie Chase and cellist Ronald Thomas produced more pulsating sound and fixating rhythm in Zoltan Kodaly's Duo for Violin and Cello (Op. 7) than the entire 36-piece English orchestra in any piece of the evening.

The rest of program, Rossini (''L'Italiana in Algieri''), Mozart (Flute Concerto No. 2), and Haydn (Symphony No. 103) - more standard stuff - made the evening, frankly, far too long. The conservatory players not only threw in a piece distinctly more modern (Kodaly), they played the infrequently heard Brahms Quintet for Clarinet and Strings (Op. 115).

If you look beyond the safe celebrity of Symphony Hall to the more humble virtues of Sanders Theatre - like signing up for a schooner ride instead of the Queen Mary - you might find the more vibrant voyage of the musical mind you are looking for.

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