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Music Reviews : Clark, Pacific Symphony In Pasadena

May 23, 1987|DANIEL CARIAGA | Times Music Writer

A non-subscription concert far from its home auditorium brought the Orange County Pacific Symphony to Pasadena Civic Auditorium this week.

And, if you ask what the Santa Ana-based orchestra, which has just completed its first season at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, was doing in the Crown City on Thursday night, the answer would have to be: Not bad. Led solidly by its music director, Keith Clark, the Pacific Symphony gave a program comprising Berlioz's "Roman Carnival" Overture, Richard Strauss' "Ein Heldenleben" and (conducted by the composer) the world premiere performance of a violin concerto by Ronald Ravenscroft.

A smallish but enthusiastic audience, rather evenly spread out in the 2,964-seat hall, heard this agenda in strong performances. The enlarged Pacific ensemble, which played "Heldenleben" in Costa Mesa last November (that concert was reviewed in these pages), repeated its mostly polished, sometimes episodic reading. Playing within the new, resident acoustical shell, the Orange County orchestra sounded splendid, mellow and virtuosic.

Ravenscroft's new work, played with aggressive authority by soloist Alexander Horvath and the orchestra, proved atonal and pungent. Through most of its 30-minute length, it offers no easy accessibility to its Hindemithian rhetoric and distracted, colorful emotionalism.

There is one moment of respite, in the second movement, when the 33-year-old California composer resorts to an Ivesian device, juxtaposing a Renaissance-band passage with one resembling a Viennese waltz. Otherwise, there are no compromises; Ravenscroft seems never to court instant acceptance, or to sweeten the pill. A fascinating piece, one which should be heard again.

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