Something was noticeably absent when Henri Temianka led a contingent from his California Chamber Symphony at Ambassador Auditorium on Wednesday. The performances went off smoothly enough, and trumpeter Maurice Andre brought the expected suavity to his solo duties.
Yet, it just didn't seem like a Temianka concert without those endearing, often rambling monologues the conductor has favored in his long career.
Of course, Temianka was tongue-tied for a good reason. This wasn't really his show.
The California Chamber Symphony, in virtual hibernation for the past two years, was removed from cold storage when the originally scheduled Camerata Academica Salzburg canceled its U.S. tour, reportedly because of money problems. Someone had to play backup for Andre, the true star of this program (repeated Thursday).
The 13 string players and harpsichordist Owen Burdick acquitted themselves ably, maintaining a consistent warmth of tone and unanimity of attack in a pair of Divertimentos by Mozart (K. 137 and 138), Britten's "Simple Symphony" and a rather bloodless arrangement by Temianka of the fugue from Bach's unaccompanied G-minor Sonata.
Though the notes were in place, a control of dynamic shading eluded the conductor. Undiscovered, too, was the innocent charm lurking below the surface of the Mozart divertimentos.
Charm, of course, seems to be personified in the presence of Andre. The celebrated French trumpeter exudes a lovable modesty and irrepressible enthusiasm.
Though he was never remotely challenged in Concertos by Albinoni and Marcello (each transcribed from the original settings for oboe), Andre nonetheless delivered them with total commitment. Each formula-heavy phrase was delivered with a brilliant tone and effortless technique. A dance tune by Claude Gervaise was a solo encore.