No foot-dragger, Andre Previn seems to have all flags flying in this, his first season with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The one he raised Saturday at Gindi Auditorium, for instance, was the orchestra's Chamber Music Society, a worthy post that had been sadly abandoned the last four years.
But whereas many another music director would want to encourage his musicians in such healthy pursuits as these exercises in affirmation, Previn does more than give the nod. He can, and actually does, sit down and make music with the players--a feat neither of his predecessors, Zubin Mehta or Carlo Maria Giulini, could pull off.
For that and for reminding folks that he is an eminently facile pianist, one who has only to call forth a virtuosity just casually acknowledged, Los Angeles can cheer. After all, there is little that inspires musicians more than having their leader interact with them as a cohort. It goes without saying that audiences flock to celebrity events; thus, in a minute, all three concerts in this newly resurrected series were sold out.
Of course, the little Gindi Auditorium at University of Judaism fills up quickly. So one disadvantage involves limited capacity. Otherwise--with its warm, bright sound that packs a mighty presence--the place is ideal for chamber music.
Those on the roster Saturday certainly grabbed up their opportunity with relish. What with the anonymity imposed on symphony players throughout their workaday schedules, chamber outings provide an invigorating stretch, a point made evident in Mozart's Oboe Quartet, K. 370.
It could hardly have been in better hands than those of David Weiss (oboe), Camille Guastafeste (violin), John Hayhurst (viola) and Barry Gold (cello), who went straight to the heart of this opening work's untroubled innocence and jaunty good spirits, the minor-keyed Adagio of which they tempered in deeply felt terms. Here and there one could discern unblended shadings in the string work, common to ad-hoc ensembles. But such trifles don't count when the playing is con amore .
Leaping forward to the 20th Century, Weiss and wind colleagues Anne Diener Giles, Lorin Levee, Alan Goodman and William Lane took up Barber's "Summer Music," exulting in the long-lined plaintive languor that alternates with neat, crackling metric structures, and making a taut little drama of it all.
Finally came the relative blockbuster, Mendelssohn's D-minor Trio. And here Previn took his place at a plush-toned Boesendorfer as violinist Alexander Treger and cellist Daniel Rothmuller joined for a wildly surging, big-boned account of this ultra-Romantic piece. Sterling musicians all, they imparted the joy of close-knit, heartbeat-apart ensemble that not even some slight scrambling in the last movement could dim.