Ami Porat and the Mozart Camerata offered the ensemble's annual namesake birthday program Saturday at Santa Ana High School, and the results were mixed.
The biggest disappointment came in the Concerto No. 20 in D minor, as pianist Jerome Lowenthal offered a distant, businesslike interpretation. Lowenthal put off introspection, poetry and variety in shading, color and dynamics until the final movement, and ventured the first two with steely, cool, driven, fluent force.
This was muscular, surface Mozart, without vulnerability, warmth or lyricism, and the later shift in approach seemed incongruous and unconvincing.
Porat accompanied precisely and attentively, matching the soloist's penchant for quick tempos and concise, cutting phrases and rhythms. Matching, that is, until a moment in the last movement when Lowenthal suddenly went his own virtuoso way and left the orchestra hanging in mid-phrase.
Lowenthal began a rhapsodic, impromptu cadenza while the musicians looked momentarily nonplussed. Soon, however, the pianist segued into more familiar territory and everyone came back together again.