Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Music Review : Valdes Lets Symphony Shine on Its Own

November 18, 1994|DANIEL CARIAGA | TIMES MUSIC WRITER

COSTA MESA — The program clearly was designed to show off the orchestra. But Maximiano Valdes' guest appearance on the podium of the Pacific Symphony Wednesday still managed to make Mozart the focal point--as had the ensemble's season-opening agenda last month.

This time, situated between display pieces by French composers, Mozart's D-minor Piano Concerto, K. 466, provided the entree. Debussy's brilliant, five-movement "Images pour Orchestre" became the elegant salad; the familiar dessert was Ravel's "Bolero."

Valdes, the Chilean-born musician who for the past five years has been music director of the Buffalo (N.Y.) Philharmonic, may be an even stronger personality than he revealed in this series of well-paced performances at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. Obviously, what is most in his favor is his ability to let the orchestra--both as individuals and as choirs--play at its upper level of accomplishment, while getting himself out of the way. That in itself is a quality to be admired.

In the orchestra's playing of "Images" the conductor encouraged a modicum of symphonic transparency and a wide range of appropriate instrumental colors. Consequently, the entire ensemble, as well as the orchestral soloists, shone splendidly in this very exposing music. The Spanish character of "Iberia," for instance, was revealed in its careful detailing, which avoided undue bombast. Emotional drive, not mere speed, propelled this performance.

*

Despite a few rough edges, the playing in "Bolero" approached a similar level, even though the work's broadest dynamic range never materialized. Besides the fateful steadiness which gives this piece its backbone, what it must have is freshness and mystery, elements most difficult to elicit at this stage in its history.

The soloist for the Mozart concerto was Seung-Un Ha, a Korean-born pianist of fine sensibilities and abundant technique. On this occasion, she seemed hampered by a limited dynamic range--either that, or she chose to work within a small area of tone resources. Either way, the listener might have felt cheated. Ha's reading had a superficial polish but lacked pointed drama and clear delineation. One heard the flow of the work but not its beating heart.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|