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Mitsumoto, Concordia at Japan America

July 15, 1991|Richard Ginell

A number of musical memorials--notably the one by Krzysztok Penderecki--commemorate the devastation following the dropping of the first atomic bomb at Hiroshima 46 years ago.

To this list of works one can certainly add Tomiko Kojiba's "Hiroshima Requiem" (1979), which received its local premiere at the hands of Masatoshi Mitsumoto and the Concordia Orchestra Saturday night at the Japan America Theatre.

Like Penderecki, Kojiba--a Hiroshima native--was only 27 when she wrote her memorial, and she too uses a string ensemble to moving effect.

The opening is the most striking portion of the work, a steady crescendo of quietly anguished strings that ultimately explodes into a brief episode of free-form frenzy. While one would like to hear a great string section tackle this 10-minute threnody someday, the Concordia group was able to convey adequately its emotional thrust.

The other highlight of the Concordia's Fifth Anniversary concert was a brilliant performance of Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 by Noriko Ogawa. Apparently she has everything the piece needs--irresistible forward propulsion tempered with delicacy, sharp accents, a spotless technique, the ability to give each variation in the second movement its own character. With the piano balanced way forward, the orchestra rumbled agreeably in the background.

In memory of his mentor Leo Arnaud (who died this year), Mitsumoto presented Arnaud's claim to fame, "Bugler's Dream"--otherwise known as ABC-TV's Olympic Games fanfare.

The evening ended with a lean, mean performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, in which the Concordians just did manage to keep up with Mitsumoto's nervous tempos as they seemed to accelerate within each movement.

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