Devotees of the large orchestral climax are having a happy fortnight at concerts of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Last week, Esa-Pekka Salonen revived, for their delectation, Scriabin's "Poem of Ecstasy." This week, concluding his midwinter visit, the young Finnish conductor leads Sibelius' Fifth Symphony.
As heard in the Pavilion of the Music Center on Thursday night (with repeats scheduled at three matinees, concluding Sunday), this Sibelius Fifth is a consummation decidedly welcome--especially as shaped, illuminated and aurally explicated by Salonen's authoritative leadership.
At the first performance, this reading displayed a mastery already accomplished: a perfectly formed musical arch, encompassing in thought and sound-relations all content within its perspective. A tight balance between substance and mechanical detail. Purposeful and inspired playing from every constituent of the instrumental ensemble.
The conductor brought into focus all the musical materials in Sibelius' crowded horizon, giving each component its due, allowing every statement its relative impact.