THE audience which acclaimed the Suk Chamber Orchestra last Sunday in the newly-carpeted City Hall had four reasons for their praise. First was the honour of seeing the great-grandson of Antonin Dvorak. Second, seeing the grandson of composer Josef Suk. Third, hearing a distinguished violinist in his own right. And fourth, hearing Josef Suk conduct his grandfather's own music. The four motivations were all relatively fitting. Outside his lineage, Josef Suk and his 13-person chamber orchestra possessed the lucidity, charm and almost homely grace which one would expect of a fine Central European ensemble. Granted, the position of the string group - all except the cellists standing, without a conductor - made one inevitably think of London's Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. But within seconds of their playing, the difference was obvious. The Orpheus ensemble are so scrupulous and polished that one hears them with an awe bordering on fear. The Suk Chamber Orchestra are more likable, more human and more fallible. For the only serious work, Bach's Double Violin Concerto, the failings were too obvious. Second violinist Petr Macecek committed some bowing errors that were almost jarring. In the Largo movement of the same concerto, none of the pathos and passion came through, and the other movements seemed rather laggard. But Josef Suk's own playing was deliciously lyrical. What it lacked in momentum was recompensed with a suppleness and ease. What stood out most was the group's unaffected blend of instruments. Gifted they certainly are, but one felt this was less an orchestra or virtuosi than friend playing graceful music with the utter grace. The opening Divertimento by Josef Myslivecek, a Czech composer admired by Mozart himself, was jolly, lyrical and as ineffectually light as a divertimento by Mozart himself. It was in the Mendelssohn Tenth Symphony for Strings where this group finally came into its own. The one-movement piece itself has fiendishly difficult octave passages, which the whole ensemble essayed with seeming ease. The finale (save for two encores, by Janacek and Mozart) was Josef Suk's early Serenade, the only work with a conductor, grandson Josef Suk. Save for a few surprising modulations, it is a Dvorak clone (Suk was trying to satisfy his prospective father-in-law), but this hardly detracts from its immediate affability. The slow movement may be a bit twee (albeit with beautiful cello and violin solos), but the others are enchanting. The orchestra danced through the Serenade, playing with the delight born of artistry and heritage. Suk Chamber Orchestra, City Hall Concert Hall. February 27.