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MUSIC REVIEWS : Perick Leads Chamber of Schubert, Mozart


One of the eternal paradoxes regarding conductors and orchestras is that what an audience sees on the podium is not comparable to what it hears coming off the stage.

Highly detailed and persuasive performances sometimes happen when the baton-holder seems to be doing little; conversely, frenzied activity by the conductor can result in minimal audible results.

Such thoughts returned to bemuse the listener at the latest Ambassador Auditorium concert by Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Wednesday night in Pasadena.

Music director Christof Perick led the (on this occasion) 37-member ensemble through a handsome performance of works by Schubert and Mozart. Yet one felt that, had the conductor exerted less control, the musical results might have emerged even more smoothly.

Schubert's Rossini-colored Sixth Symphony closed this event, most of its ever-wondrous details and features standing out in bold relief and unforced clarity.

Engaging, charming, urgent but unhurried, Perick's reading usually let the work be itself, and the players themselves. With instrumental skills at these levels, that is an admirable approach.

For a bright overture, Perick and 10 of his LACO colleagues offered Jean Francaix's subtly spicy, airy arrangements for winds of two Military Marches by Schubert, then played them with gleeful virtuosity but no grandstanding.

The joy-giving players were flutists David Shostac and Susan Greenberg, oboists Allan Vogel and Kimaree Gilad, clarinetists Gary Gray and Gary Bovyer, hornists Richard Todd and Steven Becknell and bassoonists Kenneth Munday and Rose Corrigan.

Peter Frankl provided the contrasts of Mozartean drama and stoicism at mid-program in the profundities of the Piano Concerto in D minor, K. 466.

Understatement would seem to be Frankl's chief attribute, but it is an understatement that approaches perfection: Within a narrow dynamic range, the Hungarian-born English pianist creates a whole world of color, articulation and nuance, minutely gauged and well-spoken.

Each sixteenth-note has its place, and speaks its piece, yet the total flows naturally, and, of course, musically. At one time, this concerto was owned by the late Dame Myra Hess. No longer.

Even with an abundance of overplaying emerging from the orchestra in the Romanze, felicitous partnering was the rule here. When the finale arrived, nothing marred its wonderful emotional complexities.

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