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MUSIC REVIEWS : Falletta Directs a Program of Contrasts

March 27, 1995|SUSAN BLISS

The Long Beach Symphony divided its program between Romantic showmanship and the confident control of a 20th-Century master during its program at the Terrace Theater on Saturday night.

Chopin's Concerto in F Minor--the second according to date of publication, though it was actually written a year before the more popular E-minor Concerto--dominated the first half of the concert. In a performance distinguished for its focus and sensitivity, captivating in its dreamy meditation and bright-toned flair, pianist Eduardus Halim conjured images of the work as the virtuosic vehicle it must have been for its then 19-year-old composer.

Completed as an orchestral thesis at the end of Puccini's student days, at the Milan Conservatory, "Capriccio sinfonico" cries out for a heroic tenor, or at least a lustily consumptive soprano. It overflows with melodies of operatic character--some of which found ultimate fruition in later stage works. Music Director JoAnn Falletta led her band in a reading full of grand gestures that exploited its theatrical temperament with attentive verve.

"Mathis der Maler" reveals Hindemith as the consummate contrapuntist, as sure in his dramatic impact as in his craftsmanship. Here, the orchestra balanced transparent textures with compelling strength, well-supported by a powerful brass section. Falletta commanded a tight ensemble, convincing in its intertwining dialogues and evocative and urgent as it traversed shifting moods.

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