COSTA MESA — Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto is a nobly poised and poetic work, but rarely has it sounded so autumnal and wistful as it did when Kurt Sanderling led the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a Beethoven program Saturday at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. Richard Goode was the soloist.
Goode opened the work with airy but intimate restraint. But Sanderling soon established a pattern of dampened dynamics, minimal tensions and retreat from bold, climactic statements.
Goode may have wished for more emphatic accompaniment; certainly his tendency to stamp his left foot implied he wanted heavier accents. But he also mirrored Sanderling's approach with fluent, if sometimes impish elegance, and injected more dramatic expressivity in the composer's cadenzas.
While the dialogue between soloist and orchestra was less than ideally contrasted in the second movement, Beethoven's brusque orchestration proved irrepressible in the last, despite Goode and Sanderling's preference for rounding over the main theme.
Originally the Philharmonic Society-sponsored program had listed works by Haydn and Mahler, but the orchestra requested the change, according to a spokesman for the society. To complete the program, Sanderling led the "Pastoral" Symphony, as he did recently in Los Angeles.