Heroism was the undisputed subject and apparent goal of Keith Clark's latest Pacific Symphony program, performed Wednesday and Thursday nights in Segerstrom Hall at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.
In a program listing Mozart's Overture to "Le Nozze di Figaro," the Cello Concerto by Dvorak and Richard Strauss' "Ein Heldenleben," Clark stayed on the subject and approached the goal. His enlarged instrumental ensemble, sensibly deployed on the stage floor--with woodwinds and brass on low risers at the rear--played splendidly and with remarkable precision throughout this exposing program.
Heard Wednesday night from halfway back in the orchestra section, the climax to the evening, though never a raucous one, was Strauss' compendium of orchestral effects, post-Romantic musical indulgences and colorful instrumental writing.
Here, Clark's understated podium rhetoric resulted in an admirably un-noisy reading of "Heldenleben," one which demonstrated the wide emotional range of the work and the broad dynamic palette of this orchestra. For some listeners, both had to be surprising.