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MUSIC REVIEWS : Camerata Takes On Challenge of Mozart

January 19, 1994|TIMOTHY MANGAN

The Mozart Camerata hadn't gotten around to playing much Mozart yet this season and when it finally did, Sunday afternoon at St. Andrew's Church in Newport Beach, it took on those twin peaks of perfection, the "Jupiter" Symphony and the Piano Concerto No. 21, K. 467.

To re-create perfection: That is the problem performers face with the great works of Mozart. Imagine having to repaint the "Mona Lisa" every time you wanted to see it and the magnitude of the task becomes clear. And there's always someone around to complain that the smile's not quite right.

Which is to say that the concert--conducted by music director Ami Porat, with Corey Cerovsek back again as both violin and piano soloist--went fairly well, except that certain things kept it earthbound.

The Canadian-born Cerovsek, now in his early 20s, opened with the Piano Concerto No. 21 and immediately seemed hampered by elements not entirely in his control: the tempo and the quality of the piano.

Porat took the first movement at what seemed a speedy clip for the majestic music at hand. Technically capable, Cerovsek had no finger trouble, but musically he could do little but run through the notes. The piano he played on proved brittle in tone and blunt in attack. Thus the second movement, which depends for much of its magical effect on sonority and touch, moved along routinely. Only in the finale did all the elements really mesh, the soloist comfortable and dashing.

Switching to violin, Cerovsek offered a clean, bright and sprightly reading of the Violin Concerto, K. 218, with a gently intense and intimate account of the slow movement. He sounds equally assured on both violin and piano and possessed of a natural, if not especially boisterous, musicality.

To close the concert Porat led a "Jupiter" at once robust in spirit and faceted in expression, yet robbed of some of its effect by ragged ensemble and a not too careful regard for instrumental balances (as too in the accompaniments to the concertos). In short, a performance that reminded one of the "Jupiter' s" greatness without actually capturing it.

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