The winking marquee of the old downtown Los Angeles Theater advertised a pair of war films--an unlikely location for one of the Da Camera Society's "Chamber Music in Historic Sites" events.
But once into the 1930s, mock-schlock Versailles lobby, with video game machines and automatic drink dispensers cheek-by-jowl with crystal fountains and cracking plaster gods, the theater palace environment proved surprisingly well-suited to the Mozart program presented on Monday by America's outstanding period-instrument band, the San Francisco-based Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra.
The vast rococo auditorium, badly in need of patching and sprucing, is worth saving from its intended fate as a swap-meet hangar--and not only for its kinky charm. The house has a warmly resonant acoustic, reminiscent of the courtly musical venues of Europe.
The Monday concert began suitably with the pretend-naivete of "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" in a reading of pristine elegance--an insistent ventilator-motor obbligato notwithstanding--by conductor Nicholas McGegan and his gentle-toned strings.