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Music Review : More Beethoven From Dichter, Flor

August 31, 1985|DANIEL CARIAGA | Times Staff Writer

As a second installment in a three-program, weeklong survey of Beethoven's piano concertos in Hollywood Bowl, Misha Dichter, Claus Peter Flor and the Los Angeles Philharmonic offered the Second and Third Concertos to an audience of 8,169 Thursday night in Cahuenga Pass.

It was a disappointing performance, though brief. Flor and the Philharmonic opened the proceedings with one of Beethoven's shorter overtures, that to "The Creatures of Prometheus." The small-boned B-flat Concerto followed; after an intermission, only the C-minor Concerto occupied the second half. The attentive audience was released at a quarter past 10.

Dichter remains the most diligent of pianists. He commands a fine fluency; his scales, arpeggios and passagework usually purl and ripple effortlessly, and he seldom punishes the instrument--indeed, he sometimes finds quiet passages to wallow in, a habit that some listeners may find a mark of seriousness, while others consider it merely willful and self-indulgent.

At any rate, he is a pianist of musical solidity, high achievement and technical reliability.

In these two landmarks of the repertory, however, as in the two concertos (Nos. 1 and 4) he played Tuesday night, Dichter failed to make an individual mark. So familiar are these works that Dichter's usually smooth performances of them served the odd function of reminding listeners of more interesting ones in their personal histories.

During the B-flat work, for instance, one became constantly reminded of past Philharmonic performances of the same piece by Alfred Brendel, Alicia de Larrocha and Vladimir Ashkenazy (in his Beethoven Concerto cycle with the orchestra during the bicentenary year of 1970). Each of these colleagues of Dichter found more character, a greater wealth of detail and an inescapable integrity in the work.

The same sense of incompleteness marked Dichter's playing of the great C-minor Concerto. A lack of intensity and projection kept the entire first movement on a pedestrian level; the pianist showed a bit more vitality in the cadenza (the composer's, as are all the cadenzas Dichter plays this week), but then reverted to navel-gazing in the coda to that movement.

In the finale, correctness and sobriety substituted for the buoyancy some pianists find there. And the concluding C-major portion, which ought to be cathartic, emerged only pleasant.

What Dichter played best in this program were the two slow movements, wherein he achieved fine dynamic gradations and a sense of continuity. Still, others have found more depth in these same waters.

After a bright beginning in the "Prometheus" Overture, Flor and the orchestra settled into their accompanimental duties routinely.

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