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Treger Soloist : Russian Program By Philharmonic

February 21, 1987|ALBERT GOLDBERG

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.

Treger read it with impressive urgency and authority. His tone was round, rich and full, to an extent realized by few contemporary fiddlers.

The unrelenting technical demands put no strain on his equipment, and his endurance was fully equal to what must be the longest and perhaps most difficult cadenza of any violin concerto--unkindly placed by the composer toward the end of the piece. Treger was deservedly cheered by a grateful public.

Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony was a debacle. Previn's aim seemed to be to search out all the secondary inner voices and expose them at the expense of the familiar thematic material.

From the slow introduction onward, the process produced a topsy-turvy mess. Expressive ideas were lost in the welter of loud, brash and rough playing, with the unrestrained brass consistently blowing at the top of its collective lungs.

Rimsky-Korsakov's March from "The Tale of Tsar Saltan" opened the program innocuously.

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