Collectively, the members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute make a fine, vigorous orchestra. A chamber-music concert Saturday evening, however, revealed that the sum is greater than the parts.
The Institute players are, after all, young students of greatly varying ability and musical maturity. The uneven performances, amounting to barely 45 minutes of music, could be duplicated by at least four local schools.
For the overflow crowd in the diminutive Recital Hall at Cal State Northridge, there were few thrills. The program allowed opportunity to members of each orchestral section except percussion, in ensembles coached by Los Angeles Philharmonic players.
The tightest, most stylish playing came in the most recent and trickiest music, which may mean these musicians simply need to have their minds challenged as much as their fingers. Valerie Potter (flute), Leanne Becknell (oboe), Owen Kotler (clarinet), Sue Heineman (bassoon) and John Reynolds (horn) gave Villa-Lobos' Stravinskyan "Quintette en forme de Choros" a reading of interpretive breadth and technical elan.
"Centone No. VI," five madrigals by Thomas Weelkes, arranged by Vern Reynolds, presented unexpected problems for John King and Ken Larson (trumpets), Ilene Chanon (horn), Steve Perdicaris (trombone) and Jay Hunsberger (tuba). They balanced their disparate tone productions nicely, but intonation or excessive speed harried most numbers.
Mozart's Oboe Quartet is really a concerto with accompanying trio, but violinist Luis Ibanez, violist Katrin Gilbert, and cellist Patricia Natanek proved unduly deferential. Oboist Elizabeth Tomorsky asserted herself handsomely, with bright, agile playing, lacking only the final degrees of style and grace.
Violist Ingrid Runde and cellist Cora Kuyvenhoven opened the proceedings with Beethoven's Duo in E-flat. They had the technical rigors of this rambunctious, early work generally under control, but brought their parts into real agreement only when compelled by pauses and cadences.