When in doubt, go Russian--with a liberal helping of Tchaikovsky. The effect on the box office is immediate and, with luck, there can be artistic rewards.
The formula, as applied by Andre Previn and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, worked for half a program Thursday night; the second half touched new Philharmonic lows.
The bright spot of the affair was Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1, played by Alexander Treger, concertmaster of the Philharmonic. The work was last performed here in 1977 by Itzhak Perlman.
It is one of the longest, and for the soloist, most taxing of violin concertos. It is also one of the composer's most inventive and musically abundant compositions. The standard Shostakovich cliches are reduced to a minimum; the music is propelled by an inward urge and logic, from the opening in the growling lower depths of the orchestra to the frenetic Burlesque-finale. Between those extremes are a scintillant scherzo and an eloquent slow movement in the form of a passacaglia. The concerto is a major work by any standard.