Not all touring orchestras put their best side forward at second performances; sometimes those performances reveal genuine weaknesses undisplayed on opening nights.
The Israel Philharmonic, which gave a second performance at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Music Center on Sunday night, only revealed more strengths in its Bach-Ginastera-Tchaikovsky program, conducted by its music director, Zubin Mehta.
The Israel brass remains as mellow a choir as may ever have been heard in the Pavilion; the woodwinds sing very handsomely; in most moments, the strings produce a lush and lustrous sound. And balances between sections seem effortless.
The important showcase of this program became Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony, long a Mehta specialty and a work that can expose the most accomplished symphonic body. The Israel Philharmonic seemed to revel in its musical challenges, its opportunities for display, even its pitfalls--those places at which laggard concentration can undermine the total structure.
Everything worked: Mehta upheld interest even in those moments when lack of motion can result in lugubriousness; he resisted all impulses to overinterpret the serendipitous second movement; likewise, he presided over a beautifully understated March, which he then caused to end in a masterful climax; most admirably, he found and delivered great poignancy in the Adagio finale, without succumbing (as have some illustrious colleagues) to too much inwardness.
Before intermission, what may have been (records are skimpy) the first Music Center performance of Alberto Ginastera's Harp Concerto showed off the work, the soloist--IPO principal Judith Liber--and the orchestra gratifyingly.
In a pungent harmonic style, Ginastera produced a thoughtful but attractive virtuoso piece. Liber sailed through it, revealing its beauties and its thorniness with equal panache.
To open this concert, Mehta led an ensemble from the orchestra in a neat, if not stylishly transparent, light or lean reading of Bach's Third "Brandenburg" Concerto.