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Music And Performance Art Reviews : S.f. Valley Symphony

October 05, 1987|JOHN HENKEN

"Beethoven the Titan" it said on the program, which might lead one to expect music-making of the epic heaven-storming sort.

However, what conductor Lois Johnson and the San Fernando Valley Symphony offered Saturday evening at Reseda High School Auditorium put a premium on lean, crisp sound in cautious, well-planned readings.

Johnson took a quick, brusque approach to the "Leonore" Overture No. 3 and the Fifth Symphony. She was not able to enforce consistent articulation or seamless transitions, but her small, period-sized orchestra cooperated agreeably for the most part, in enervating heat.

The most distinctive feature of Johnson's interpretation was a very wide, tightly controlled dynamic range. This placed the big climaxes in strong relief, but at the soft end the playing would disappear for bars at a time into the roar of the ventilation system.

Eduardo Delgado brought light-fingered clarity to the Fourth Piano Concerto, and a good deal of poetry as well. Initially, however, there was some blurring in his passagework, and there were moments of cursory, mechanical timeserving.

But that probably reflected nothing more than the distractions of heat and noise. When concentrating fully, Delgado unfurled neat, well-balanced lines that made musical points with both allusive grace and blunt power.

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